Doing stuff @ Effective Altruism Israel
4414 karmaJoined Nov 2018Working (6-15 years)Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel



Hey! I'm Edo, married + 2 cats, I live in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and I feel weird writing about myself so I go meta.

I'm a mathematician, I love solving problems and helping people. My LinkedIn profile has some more stuff.

I'm a forum moderator, which mostly means that I care about this forum and about you! So let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

I'm currently working full-time at EA Israel, doing independent research and project management. Currently mostly working on evaluating the impact of for-profit tech companies, but I have many projects and this changes rapidly. 


Topic Contributions

Any thoughts on the effectiveness of reducing antimicrobial use in factory farming? Say, GFI gave this some attention recently (GFI blog post, and a corresponding commentary piece on Nature Foods), and made the argument that similar problems can (and should) be solved in the cultivated meat industry

Maybe make it configurable? I'd prefer the regular, colorful, style (because it's easier to understand at a glance)


this is how I generally try to up/downvote, but I agree that it isn't at all clear. I now see that the hint is about how much you "like" this:

This seems like it can be improved

Thanks for your perspective Conor! Looking into these activities in more detail, I have some notes:

  1. UGAP - I don't know much about this program, unfortunately. The reports I've seen seem to maybe encourage more member-first but I'm not sure. Regarding their KPIs for university groups, it seems like they used HEAs but write that they don't like it and want to use other metrics. I'd be interested in what comes up with that.
    1. I am also not that familiar with OpenPhil's university program, which I imagine to be mostly hands-off. I guess that they are thinking of community building in a more cause-oriented way, but I don't know.
  2. City & National Groups - I'd be interested in understanding the considerations involving which groups to fund and which activities seem most important.
  3. Virtual programs
    1. Open programs
      1. The Precipice reading group (cause-first)
      2. Introductory EA program (follows the Handbook, which is arguably cause-first)
      3. In-Depth EA Program (mostly methodological, member-first)
      4. How to (actually) change the world (member-first, even though it's hosted by Non-Trivial which seems strongly cause-first)
    2. Past programs
      1. cause-specific (alt. proteins, animal advocacy, ML safety and AGI safety)
      2. career-specific: US policy (very practical, seems member-first, even though likely motivated by x-risk concerns), Law (cause-first, maybe due to good pedagogical reasons).
  4. Events - definitely a mix of the two. Helping members coordinate is done both for intra-cause reasons and to broadly support EAs in their EA endeavors. 
  5. Forum - also definitely a platform for both cause-first and member-first discussions, but I think its goals are leaning more member-first. 

only insofar as you think it can be trusted

Note that if you place a high degree of trust, then the correct approach to maximize direct impact would generally be to delegate a lot more (and, say, focus on the particularities of your specific actions). I think that it makes a lot of sense to mostly trust the cause-prioritization enterprise as a whole, but maybe this comes at the expense of people doing less independent thinking, which should address your other comment


Thanks, that makes sense. Can you say a bit about what has changed, and in what way you now focus more on impact?


When people say that they want EA to stay weird, they mean that they want people exploring all kinds of crazy cause areas instead of just sticking the main ones (in tension with your definition of cause-first).

I think this is an important point, and I may be doing a motte and bailey here which I don't fully understand. Under what I imagine as a "cause-first" movement strategy, you'd definitely want more people engaging in the cause-prioritization effort. However, I think I characterize it as more top-down than it needs to be. 

Also: one the central arguments for leaning more towards EA being small and weird is that you end up with a community more driven by principle because a) slower growth makes it easier for new members to absorb knowledge from more experienced ones vs. from people who don't really understand the philosophy very well themselves yet b) lower expectations for growth make it easier to focus on people with whom the philosophy really resonates vs. marginally influencing people who aren't that keen on it.

This feels true to me.


(I generally don't feel that happy with my proposed definitions and the categorization in the table, and I hope other people could make better distinctions and framing for thinking about EA community strategy. )

I don't quite share your intuition on the couple of examples you suggest, and I wonder whether that's because our definitions differ or because the categorization really is off/misleading/inaccurate.

For me, your first example shows that the relation to deference doesn't necessarily result from a choice of the overall strategy, but I still expect it to usually be correlated (unless strong and direct effort is taken to change focus on deference).

And for the second example, I think I view a kind of "member first" strategy as (gradually) pushing for more cause-neutrality, whereas the cause-first is okay with stopping once a person is focused on a high-impact cause. 


now I am much more cause-first when I'm thinking about how to have the most impact.

Do you mean, "the most impact as a community builder"?


I'm glad that I tricked you into sharing more of your thoughts :) 

I think you give good reasons for the harms of an incoherent community-building strategy. 

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