Gage Weston

16Austin, TX, USAJoined Jun 2020

Bio

Economics major at UT Austin class of spring 2022. President and founder of EA Austin university/local chapter. Ran city of Austin EA chapter from 2020-2022. Learn more about me at linkedin.com/in/gageweston

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What's the role of donations now that the EA movement is richer than ever?

I'm curious why you and many EA's who focus on longtermism don't suggest donating to longtermist cause areas (as examples often focuses on Givewell or ACE charities). It seems like if orgs I respect like Open Phil and long term future fund are giving to longtermist areas, then they think that's among the most important things to fund, which confuses me when I then hear longtermists acting like funding is useless on the margin or that we might as well give to GiveWell charities. It gives me a sense that perhaps there's either some contradiction going on, or I'm missing something, but either way it makes it very difficult for me to get others excited about longtermism if they won't enter it with their career and even the die-hard longtermists are saying marginal funding is useless or at least worse than GiveWell charities.

What's the role of donations now that the EA movement is richer than ever?

While I agree there is a good signaling benefit, I think you need to be a bit more rigorous in figuring out just how impactful it is, and what the ultimate goal of signaling is. Taking your $100k/year example with Givewell's ~$5k/life saved, that'd mean that the signaling of one's donations below this amount are better than saving about 20 lives. That doesn't seem right to me... And if you think that signaling is valuable for community building, it's probably way more effective to just donate to community building (e.g. EA infrastructure fund) than anything else under your assumptions. I do donate to EAIF so I think community building is the most effective thing right now, but I don't think the main benefit of my donations is the signaling, I think it's the actual resources being moved. 

Most people won't get your signal since most donations just go into an org's bank account without some news headline or anything. There's probably much cheaper ways of signaling EA, like maybe wear a $15 EA t-shirt every day and save your $100k. (I'm not suggesting that's the most effective thing, but I'm just taking the signaling argument to its extreme).

Book Giveaway Impact Analysis (Doing Good Better in NZ)

I am now starting a book giveaway based on these data/arguments at my EA Austin fellowship, and I managed to buy a bunch of used versions of EA books for an average of $6-7 per book including shipping, so with a bit of thrift you can get some great deals! Amazon and eBay at least in US make buying used books quite cheap 

gagemweston@gmail.com's Shortform

I have an idea to increase EA donation matches on Facebook's Giving Tuesday, and I want your feedback! PLEASE FILL OUT THIS GOOGLE FORM here https://forms.gle/Kb9ieaN8ZvxBkrZz6 and leave a comment after reading this.

I am considering creating and distributing an automated tool that can schedule and execute donations immediately when matching begins, even if the donor is asleep or AFK. Last year, about 50% of the $1.2m+ donated by EA's was matched. With this tool, this percentage could easily approach 100% (increasing match funds to EA causes by $500k+) since the main reasons people didn't get matched were 1. people couldn't click buttons within the 13 seconds it took for matches to be met, and 2. people didn't want to get up as early as 5 AM in parts of USA. People would likely be more willing to donate since the odds of getting matched are higher, and they don't have to incur the cost of waking up early or of practicing for the match.

However, I (and others I have spoken to) are worried this tool might have some negative outcomes that could outweigh the benefits, such as:

1. it could garner negative press for EA or the orgs that the tool's users donated to by displaying unfair practices since no one else is using automation.

2. It might violate facebook's terms, stating "You may not access or collect data from our Products using automated means", although I wouldn't consider this "accessing" or "collecting" data. There's also no statement FB's GT policies mentioning automation.

3. might not get matched by FB if the automation were detected

4. Non-EA's might find or recreate the tool and now we're no better off

5. Facebook might change GT rules or shut down GT if automation enters the game

I am considering the following options (for you to vote on in the form):

1. SCALE IT: Distribute the automation to EA community to use on 2020's Giving Tuesday at full scale
2. TEST IT: Only distribute it to a select number of people in 2020 in order to see if the tool works, if we get any backlash from FB or from the public, etc. Pending test results, we may then decide whether or not to SCALE IT in 2021
3. KILL IT: Do not distribute an automation at all.

In addition to voting on this, please let me know in the form what your thoughts are regarding the arguments for/against, if you have any new arguments/information that'd be relevant, and if you have any advice for how to best create and distribute the tool or message me if you want to help in this process (assuming we decide not to KILL IT!). The form answers will be open to all viewers in the form.

YOUR FEEDBACK IS VITAL AND WILL BE LISTENED TO. PLEASE VOTE AND COMMENT.

https://forms.gle/Kb9ieaN8ZvxBkrZz6