Software developer, environmentalist and community organiser
Thank you for sharing this. I'd just like to add that broadly promoting positive values (or even more narrowly focusing on a specific skill like empathy) would have the added benefit of drawing a greater diversity of backgrounds and views to Effective Altruism which would enrich the movement and discussions within it.
In my (admittedly limited) experience with EA, i find that it tends to attract people that are very strongly analytical and technical in their outlook. There's nothing wrong with that, but any particular outlook, brings with it unconscious biases that people from other backgrounds or with different outlooks would help to identify.
To give an example, another item on the list - "Improving individual reasoning or cognition" - would seem to rest on the assumption that better reasoning will lead to quantitative or qualitative improvements in altruistuc behaviours, yet the decision to behave altruistically, to give importance to the well-being of others is primarily an emotional decision rather than a rational one. Sadly there are many examples of both individuals and institutions that have made very effective rational decisions but with defective moral reasoning resulting in great harm.
Improving rational decision making could have negligible impact if distributed evenly, or a negative impact if such improvements are taken up disproportionately by institutions making poor moral decisions.
Similarly, there may well be opportunities for great advances that are currently overlooked that people from more diverse interest areas would help to identify.
Thanks for this. Have you seen the reports produced by BreakThrough
The authors argue that:
I don't have the expertise to describe how the calculations you've done above would be affected by this, but hopefully someone else will.