Topic Contributions


The EA movement’s values are drifting. You’re allowed to stay put.

I agree with this goal hierarchy framework - it's super super useful to appreciate that many of one's personal goals are just extrapolations and mental shortcuts of more distilled upstream goals 

Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer

I am sort of making a number up, since I didn't attend EAGxBoston, but I  would guess 30-50% . If they've been around for some years, have been donating some fraction of their income, have changed things in the life because of EA, then they're probably highly engaged. 

Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer

My impression of the Boston and London conferences is that most of the people there are "coincidental allies" by this framing. They'd be in their chosen careers regardless of whether it was an EA cause area. 

I feel like this is falsifiable, perhaps by handing out surveys or interviews asking participants around career path, and how they've updated over time. 

I suspect what you stated is true for many "median engaged EA's" but not true for highly engaged EA's. For me personally, my career direction is radically different as a result of becoming an Aspiring EA / being a member of my local group. 

Big EA and Its Infinite Money Printer

I think there's some misunderstanding of the figure. The figure is an EV that's probably  benchmarked off of cash transfers (i.e. givedirectly). The logic being, if Openphil can recruit for an AI researcher for any less than $20 million USD, they have made more impact than donating it to GiveDirectly. Not that they intend to spend 20 million on each counterfactual career change. 

Making Community Building a more attractive career path

Broadly speaking, I am sceptical that this is tractable or desirable.

Whilst I A) belive city and national groups will be absolutely vitally important B) impact from community building can be significantly reduced by an early departure. I also believe i) this is unlikely to change, increasing salaries won't help ii) long term employees may stagnate and prevent future growth.

One reason to think ii) is because "churn" in economics is seen as largely healthy (IIRC) - this may be something to do with stagnation, which can occur both to employees and organisations. We should expect a competitive and dynamic labour market, just like a competitive and dynamic industry, to have lots of movement, as different people flourish, stagnate and decline at different times.

Second reason for ii) if groups will gain funding or impact, then personal fit for employees (and talent pool that could work at the organisation) will change. A good example for this would be myself, its plausible that I was the best person for my CB job, because nobody else wanted the role (to my knowledge). But if the organisation gains significant funding and multiple employees, this could change. Having me seat-sitting, demanding a larger salary whilst having a poor grasp of the native language seems suboptimal. It's also possible that my competive advantages involve running or founding smaller organisations.

Some reasons I believe i) demographic EAs are academic, and likely to have families who value academic roles. I think there is tremendous pressure to get a job that your personal network will respect. I see this a lot with why people study to become medical doctors or PhDs . If your a CB, you'll mostly be doing: communications and event planning, 1-1 career guidance, ops, ect., And none of this seems likely to hit the "academic" spot that a lot of people are after. Put shortly, money won't help because it's more important that people think your earning a lot of money, rather than actually earning a lot of money.

Some notes on how to improve the role: 1) more secure funding would certainly make me happier 2) having a representative from the CBG grant, or the "wider ea world" to make themselves present to my team (as you do Ville) can be extremely helpful, because its possible for less experienced voices to be (relatively) overrepresented when it comes to key strategy decisions. 3) job titles matter, as suggested by Peter. We should probably immediately stop using the "community builder" job title.

Issues with centralised grantmaking

I would be very interested in doing this in Copenhagen. If anybody going to EA global has strong opinions this I would love to set up a meeting and chat about this

Issues with centralised grantmaking

[Quick thoughts whilst on mobile]

My takeaway: interested to hear what said grant makers think about this idea.

I find the arguments re: efficient market hypothesis pretty compelling , but also find the arguments re: "inferential distance" and unilateralist curse also compelling.

One last points, so far, I think one EA's biggest achievements is around truly unsually good epistemics, and I'm particularly concerned around how centralised small groups could damage that - especially since more funding could exacerbate this effect

GWWC has ambitious plans from 2022 onwards (we're hiring!)

I took the GGWC pledge in 2020 (IIRC) - I think it was a hugely symbolic gesture for myself, committing to altruism as my core focus. I would be interested to see how you can adapt the pledge to improve the effectiveness of this mechanism. 

[Quick Disclosure - I haven't thought about this for very long] I suspect the audience for Effective Donations is much larger than the audience for EA. - Perhaps 1-10% of the population? - I would be very interested in some market research into this target demographic. 

I am more sceptical of effective donors being a larger group than this, it simply seems like incentives and cognitive biases  have existed for a long long time, and are not likely to disappear too soon. 

Phil Torres on Against Longtermism

I think we would be happy to add some recommended readings which are critical of Phil , although the reading list is getting pretty long by this point (ha!) 

I am pretty confident that events with speakers critical of EA are a net positive.  I am surprised by those that think otherwise. Judging from those that have listed "going" on our Facebook event, the attendees will not be a group of people who are unexposed to the strongest arguments for long-termism (quite the opposite!). In order to make an impact inside longtermism, you likely need to be highly engaged, and highly engaged longtermists should be able to deal with rigorous debate.

I expect that one of the reason  critical speakers are not often platformed by EA-Orgs is due to the critique (real or expected) from doing so. In a risk averse community, it's hard to find the people with the confidence to run events like these. Which I think this is a shame because there's huge value to be gained from it. I hope in the future we can start to move towards congratulating those who share criticism of EA or common ideas inside EA. 

Regarding particular arguments Phil has made, I think the bar for "writing someone off" as no-longer worthy of being platformed should be extremely high. From speaking with Phil, it's clear he feels disappointed and perhaps even hurt from early attempts to silence him. I would love to say my experience from hosting this event has been quite the opposite. 

Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

Low quality/haven't thought about this for very long: 

It's unintuitive to me that a small organisation could make a big difference to an area of policy that (from the outside) seems to get a lot of focus. Take for example the changes the UK Government has made to planning permission in the last few years. Being from the south-east, everybody seems to have an opinion on housing supply, so it doesn't seem to be a neglected issue when it comes to public attention. 

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