casebash's Comments

Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations

I think percentages are misleading. In terms of influencing demographic X, what matters isn't so much how many people of demographic X there are in these organisations, but how well-respected they are.

Racial Demographics at Longtermist Organizations

I'm generally against evaluating diversity programs by how much diversity they create. It's definitely a relevant metric, but we don't evaluate AMF by how many bednets they hand out, but the impact of these bednets.

Making Impact Purchases Viable

I guess that seems so far off that I wasn't focusing on it. I'm more interesting in how to establish a working impact purchase in the mean time.

Making Impact Purchases Viable

"These people where encouraging me to use my last savings to retrain to a risky career, but putting in their money was out of the question" - Yeah, I'm sorry you had that experience, that seems unpleasant. Maybe they didn't understand the financial precariousness of your situation? Like many EAs wouldn't find it hard to land a cushy job in normal times and likely have parents who'd bail them out worst comes to worst and might have assumed that you were in the same position without realising they were making an assumption?

Making Impact Purchases Viable
Or if you think an outcome was mostly bad luck, fund them more than just impact purchase

Yeah, luck is another argument I considered covering, but didn't get into. Sometimes the impact of a project is just a matter of being at the right place in the right time. Of course, it's hard to tell; to a certain extent people make their own luck.

But in most cases I would suggest straight up impact purchase, because anything else is is really hard and you'll probably get the adjustments wrong.

I guess this would be a key point where we differ. I haven't thought deeply about this, but my intuition would be that adjustments would greatly improve impact. For example, a small project extremely competently implemented and a big project poorly implemented might have the exact same impact, but the former would be a stronger signal.

The Case for Impact Purchase | Part 1

I wrote up my thoughts in this post: Making Impact Purchases Viable. Briefly, I argue that:

  • Restrictions on sellers are necessary to fix and imbalance between the size of the buyer's market and seller's market
  • Restrictions are also important for providing sufficient incentive for a reasonable proportion of the impact to be counterfactual
  • Another issue I don't have a solution to is the potential of impact purchases to lead to bitterness or demotivate people
Making Impact Purchases Viable
That line of reasoning also suggests that EA orgs should ask each of their employees whether they will work for free if they don't get a salary; and refuse to pay a salary to employees who answer "yes".

Maybe, but I imagine that the number of people who'd work just as hard long-term would be about zero, so more of the impact would be counterfactual.

Effective Altruism and Free Riding

Even though fair trade is ineffective on an individual level, it may be effective on a collective level because enough people find it appealing for broad adoption. Deciding to ignore it weakens any attempt to establish buying fairtrade as a society.

EAs don't arise out of a vacuum, but out of society. If society is doing well, then EAs are more likely to do well too and hence to have more impact. So by not donating to a local charity, you are refusing to invest in the society that provided you the chance to have an impact in the first place.

Not saying you should donate locally or buy fair trade, just pointing out one worry with ignoring them.

Effective Altruism and Free Riding

Thanks so much for writing this. I've had similar worries regarding local charity and things like fair trade for a while.

The Hammer and the Dance

It's hard to do a summary without encouraging people to read the summary instead of the article.

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