Community Organiser for EA London


Can we drive development at scale? An interim update on economic growth work

Leopold Aschenbrenner has written about this here.

"The same technological progress that creates these risks is also what drives economic growth. Does that mean economic growth is inherently risky? Economic growth has brought about extraordinary prosperity. But for the sake of posterity, must we choose safe stagnation instead? This view is arguably becoming ever-more popular, particularly amongst those concerned about climate change; Greta Thunberg recently denounced “fairy tales of eternal economic growth” at the United Nations.

I argue that the opposite is the case. It is not safe stagnation and risky growth that we must choose between; rather, it is stagnation that is risky and it is growth that leads to safety.

We might indeed be in “time of perils”: we might be advanced enough to have developed the means for our destruction, but not advanced enough to care sufficiently about safety. But stagnation does not solve the problem: we would simply stagnate at this high level of risk. Eventually, a nuclear war or environmental catastrophe would doom humanity regardless.

Faster economic growth could initially increase risk, as feared. But it will also help us get past this time of perils more quickly. When people are poor, they can’t focus on much beyond ensuring their own livelihoods. But as people grow richer, they start caring more about things like the environment and protecting against risks to life. And so, as economic growth makes people richer, they will invest more in safety, protecting against existential catastrophes. As technological innovation and our growing wealth has allowed us to conquer past threats to human life like smallpox, so can faster economic growth, in the long run, increase the overall chances  of humanity’s survival.

This argument is based on a recent paper of mine, in which I use the tools of economic theory—in particular, the standard models economists use to analyze economic growth—to examine the interaction between economic growth and the risks engendered by human activity."

Jamie_Harris's Shortform

Does this include how it might limit your ability to move for work, which might be the most important factor in salary/impact?

Cause/charity selection tradeoffs

Could you turn that google doc into a post Sam?

I think it would be valuable to share with others how someone has thought about their morals.

What is a good answer for people new to EA that request advice on volunteering?

I wrote up some thoughts on this after getting this question a few times recently ( taking from some of the previous posts mentioned).


With volunteering it will depend on the motivation behind wanting to volunteer, which can be one or more of the following.

  • Giving back outside of work/donations
  • Connecting with a community
  • Career capital/building skills
  • New experiences/friends/having fun


Once you know what the main driver is, that can determine the best ways to search for a role. If thinking about impact there are some useful heuristics from this 80,000 Hours article.

  • Volunteer for cost effective, labour constrained organisations
  • Use your skills
  • Don’t do replaceable tasks

For career capital it will involve staying up to date with the fields/organisations you're interested in, seeing if volunteering opportunities open up, contacting them to see if there is a way you can help, or spotting a way that you can help them independently.

For connecting with a community it will depend on the community, if you want to connect with your neighbourhood there are organisations like Do It to help match volunteers to opportunities in the UK.

For EA London here is a post by one person on how they decided to find an impactful role in this space. Here are their suggestions

  • Consider how you’d like to weight Direct Impact, Self Care, Career Capital, and any other criteria you’d like to focus on.
  • Identify your personal fit/comparative advantage by looking at past achievements and asking a friend or colleague.
  • Make a list of a wide range of opportunities.
  • Seek out opportunities that will do well on specific criteria.
  • Ask around about opportunities.
  • Consider independent projects that may be high-impact.
  • Make a copy of our spreadsheet (in linked post) and use it to narrow down your options.
  • Create a short-list of the best opportunities. (These might not be the highest-scoring opportunities on the spreadsheet.)
  • Try to get more information about your top options e.g. by talking to someone you’d be working with.
  • Make a consistent, long-term commitment. Volunteering can be net negative if it wastes the time of a staff member or another volunteer at a high-impact charity.


If you're interested in supporting an EA group it may be worth considering the following options.

  • Is there a task you enjoy doing/have experience in that is currently missing in your group?
    • Social media
    • Intro conversations
    • Event organising
    • Giving talks
    • Web design
    • Interviewing people
  • Is there a cause/career area you want to explore more? You could create your own subgroup for others in that community to get together and share ideas


A few other posts on volunteering and EA

Geographic diversity in EA

There is a group here that it might be worth posting this to - Altruismo Eficaz América Latina

Looking for a career planning accountability partner

Hi Bianca, thanks for posting here, there are a few resources that you might find useful.

EA Student Career Mentoring - They offer personalised mentorship for students and recent graduates

WANBAM - WANBAM connects and supports a global network of women and non-binary Effective Altruists through mentorship

Directory of cause/career groups - there may be people in the same area that would want to do this

EA London directory - although most people are based in London a few have written down a similar interest in having an accountability buddy

EA Updates for May 2020

OPP sometimes add grants that were made months ago to their public database, so rather than just highlight the ones added in the last month, I highlight everything added since I last sent out the update.

EA Directory & Groups Discussion Board

As an update, I think trying to combine a directory, forum and wiki into a new website didn't work.

I've redirected the links to a directory on the EA London website and think that using Facebook groups as the place for these discussions makes more sense as it is where people already are.

Should I claim COVID-benefits I don't need to give to charity?

I think the guiding principles from CEA would suggest that this is a bad idea

"Because we believe that trust, cooperation, and accurate information are essential to doing good, we strive to be honest and trustworthy. More broadly, we strive to follow those rules of good conduct that allow communities (and the people within them) to thrive. We also value the reputation of effective altruism, and recognize that our actions reflect on it. "

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