All of HaukeHillebrandt's Comments + Replies

Decreasing populism and improving democracy, evidence-based policy, and rationality

Sorry for being unclear, I didn't mean that populism must necessarily be anti-democratic- I've made a small edit to say that populism has any of the three features 'anti-democratic, illiberal, or anti-technocratic' to make this more clear - thanks for the feedback!

I've used my own rough and fuzzy definition of populism as a bit of a catch-all term for some things that are not liberal democracy, where illiberalism violates minority rights. So for example the Swiss Minaret controversy, where a majority banned the building of a Turkish Minaret through a popul... (read more)

A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good

Very cool - thanks for doing this. 

I agree that EA-related resources  are skewed towards the US tech sector (see Ben Todd's recent post) and that should definitely be taken into account.

An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app

Cheers- thanks for the comment!

I'm using the term zero marginal cost colloquially as is common parlance in the tech sector. 

Your app might spread through word of mouth, the server costs are trivial and then you can scale at ~zero marginal cost.

As you say in practise tech firms often spend a few dollars on acquiring new users/customers.

An evaluation of Mind Ease, an anti-anxiety app

Yes, excellent point- I go into more detail about this in the full report:

"Anxiety is a highly prevalent condition, with lifetime rates for its derived mental disorders between 14.5% and 33.7% in Western countries (Alonso and Lepine, 2007; Kessler et al., 2012), and global estimates across countries between 3.8% to 25.0% (Remes et al., 2016). 

Many more might have trait social anxiety which is not quite clinical yet still causes suffering. Indeed, trait social anxiety may have evolved to protect our ancestors from social threat. Similarly, generalized ... (read more)

A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good

I can't follow this either but a study cited in Radical Markets suggests that a randomly chosen portfolio of as few as fifty stocks achieves 90% of the diversification benefits available from full diversification across the entire market.

Given that FAANG's market cap  alone is already $3 trillion and for almost 10% of the U.S. stock market's total market capitalization of $31 trillion, AND you could further diversify then this, wouldn't you get quite a lot of the diversification benefits?

50 randomly-chosen stocks are much better diversified than 50 stocks that are specifically selected for having a high correlation to a particular outcome (e.g., AI development).

This paper provides some more in-depth explanation of what I was talking about with the math. It's fairly technical, but it doesn't use any math beyond high school algebra/statistics.

The key point I was making is that, if markets are efficient, then you shouldn't expect a 5% (or even 4.7%) geometric mean return from the AI portfolio. Instead, you should expect more like 1.3%. I migh... (read more)

A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good

@Jonas: I think your model is interesting, but if we define transformative AI like OpenPhil does (" AI that precipitates a transition comparable to (or more significant than) the agricultural or industrial revolution."), and you invest for mission hedging in a diversified portfolio of AI companies (and perhaps other inputs such as hardware) , then it seems conceivable to me to have much higher returns - perhaps 100x of crypto? This is the basic idea for mission hedging for AI, and in line with my prior, and I think this difference in returns might be why I... (read more)

Decreasing populism and improving democracy, evidence-based policy, and rationality

Excellent point.

I think there's a continuum going from highly educated to those that are most at risk of populism.

I haven't researched this carefully but my hunch is there are actually lots of translation of civic education memes to people who are at risk of populism (not only from experts). It seems to me that on the margin,  high-quality, easily -accessible information for educated people is more neglected.

related citation: IQ of the top 5% better at predicting GDP - does that suggest that increasing the epistemics of the TOP 5% is better than comba... (read more)

Decreasing populism and improving democracy, evidence-based policy, and rationality

Yes, agree that there are some low-hanging fruit for economic reform and progress can be made. I actually cite OPP's macroeconomic stabilization policy efforts in the post that Alex Berger refers to. But as he says impact is hard to attribute, and given that their funding of this area seems somewhat small, I'd be surprised if you could lower interest rates of central banks significantly with only a few million dollars in advocacy funding. 

I agree that there's some progress on '"free-market progressive" policies on zoning reform, occupational licensing... (read more)

2evelynciara2moYeah, this makes total sense.
What are some skills useful for EA that one could learn in ~6 months?

Writing - especially this course:

and this book:

The Coursera link is broken, I suspect you mean this course:
Writing in the Sciences | Coursera

US bill limiting patient philanthropy?

If we were to increase annual percentage of the endowment foundations need to to payout from 5% to 10%, then endowments would be spent down because it exceeds usual investment returns.

3Brendon_Wong3moI agree that this is a possible outcome (perhaps there would be loopholes in the law, foundations and DAFs would pursue other investment strategies like using leverage to achieve higher returns, or philanthropists would shift funds into alternative non-regulated entities), and if spending down endowments is the outcome, this certainly seems like it would have major ramifications on the entities subject to this regulation. If these regulations persist in the long-run, I would imagine that patient philanthropy would transition to storing funds in other entities, like corporations, that are not subject to these regulations. Entities like corporations are not tax advantaged, so funding going into those organizations would be fully taxable. Investment gains might be fully or partially taxable ( current regulations [] state that C Corps can only write off 25% of their total income for donations). A C Corp could switch to directly paying for products/services to avoid the limit of write-offs, or make those "purchases" through other entities like charities, so there would probably be ways to make the investment income non-taxable. Either way, the primary mechanism of impact for patient philanthropy—the effect of compounding interest over many years—would be preserved even if regulation to increase disbursements perpetually into the future were to pass.
What are some key numbers that (almost) every EA should know?

World population: ~7bn (India, China, Africa, Europe, the Americas, all have populations of ~1bn)

World GDP: ~$100trn (the EU, US, China all have GDPs of ~$20trn)

What are your favorite examples of moral heroism/altruism in movies and books?

Haven't watched it yet, but there's also a new documentary called "Hilleman" who was a leading American microbiologist who and developed over 40 vaccines, estimated to save 8 million lives each year. There's a biography as well.  He grew up in poverty on a farm in Montana, one of 8 children  and apparently had an "interesting" personality:  "Hilleman was a forceful man who was at the same time modest in his claims. None of his vaccines or discoveries are named after him. He ran his laboratory like a military unit, and he was the one in comma... (read more)

5Linch4moI watched the documentary today with roommates on your recommendation and enjoyed it!
3Abby Hoskin5moThis is cool, thanks for sharing! Looks like Lucius Caviola's and Stefan Schubert's research projects are already on your radar ;)
HaukeHillebrandt's Shortform

Working on human rights were just an example, because of the comparison you raised,  it could also be CSET type work.

HaukeHillebrandt's Shortform

That was precisely my point actually—just like Hirsi Ali might be well-placed to advocate for women's rights within Islam, people from Hong Kong might be well placed to highlight e.g. human rights issues in China. 

Ahh, in that case I agree that HKers, or even better Uighurs, would be well placed. But my impression was that 80k etc.'s concerns about China mainly revolved around things like improving Western-Chinese coordination to reduce the risk of war, AI race or climate change, rather than human rights. I would think that putting pressure on them for human rights abuses would be likely to make this worse, as the CCP views such activism as an attack on their system. It is hard to cooperate with someone if they are denouncing you as evil and funding your dissidents. 

HaukeHillebrandt's Shortform

~140,000 people from Hong Kong might move to the UK this year (~322k in total over the next 5 years [source]).  

Are they particularly well placed to work on Sino-Western relations? (Because they're better at bridging cultural (and linguistic) gap and are likely highly determined). Should we prioritize helping them somehow?

0Larks5moI would have thought they would be unusually badly placed, because the regime will view them as traitors, for the same reason I would not recommend using apostates for outreach to muslims.

Hong Kong linkup is a organisation for Brits to help their HK peers settle in. If you'd like a way to get to know the community of new HK immigrants, it's probably a good option. I've signed up already.

6NunoSempere6moSee also: []
Law school vs MPP in Australia for those who have strong verbal skills but are weak at maths

I am told that quantitative analysis is an important part of an MPP


I recently heard of an MPA at Columbia that has a non-quantitative economics stream: 

3Douglas_M6moThanks Hauke, Some of the MPPs at the top policy schools in Australia also offer specializations in non-quantitative aspects of public policy. However, they still have core topics in economics and statistics, which I believe may drag down my GPA relative to what I could achieve in law. I'm also a bit worried about the idea of studying an MPP and applying for policy roles with my weak aptitude for quantitative reasoning. Might it be better for people who are more quantitatively talented to take those positions? I am trying to think of my comparative advantage in this sense, though it's possible I'm missing something. I get the sense that even if policy work which focuses on economics is a higher priority within the EA community, such work is probably beyond my reach. It may be better for me to try and excel at lower priority policy work which primarily involves verbal reasoning, and I do wonder whether much of that policy work involves law, or at least would be enhanced by studying law (more so than an MPP). Finally, I'm so early in my career that I'm not completely certain whether policy work would be a good personal fit for me. From what I've heard, a law degree offers one more options overall than an MPP.
Please stand with the Asian diaspora

I agree that LAAUNCH seems quite high upside because they do research which I feel is often more neglected and can be quite high impact (e.g. they conduct "A comprehensive, national assessment of attitudes and stereotypes towards Asian Americans in the US – one of the few such studies in the last 20 years").

Please stand with the Asian diaspora

JPAL had some links to some orgs here:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice--Atlanta 

Edit: I also found Asian Americans Advancing Justice - this seems to be one of the biggest civil rights charities focusing on low income Asian Americans. They seem to have a good track record.  One can donate without paying any fees via PayPal Giving Fund here. 

Might also be worth to ask @chloecockburn who had some BLM recommendations.

Thanks. I'm currently planning to donate to Laaunch as they seem the most disciplined and organized of the groups. I couldn't actually tell what Hate is a Virus wants to do from their website--for instance a lot of it seems to be about getting Asians to advocate for other racial minorities, but I'm specifically looking for something that will help Asians. Laaunch seems more focused on this while still trying to build alliances with other racial advocacy groups.

What do you make of the doomsday argument?
  1. The distinction between humans and other lifeforms is arbitrary.
  2. ~10^30 lifeforms have ever lived.
  3. Thus, there'll likely be another ~10^30 lifeforms.
  4. But it's equally likely that this will be:
    1. ~10^30 non-human animals, if we do go extinct (life originated ~5bn years ago and life will end in ~5bn years when the sun dies).
    2. ~10^30 (post-) humans, if we don't go extinct (as per Bostrom's calculation).
  5. And so the doomsday argument doesn't tell us anything about x-risk or the far future.
jushy's Shortform

Slate Star Codex had an interesting review on the Fabian Society and how advocacy can backfire.

Open Philanthropy Project has an interesting review of the Center for Global Development.

4MichaelA7mo[I think the disagreements we have here don’t matter much. That said...] I think the point about suspicious convergence is correct. I also think it’s very reasonable to claim that B. Obama’s memoir will be more useful to the average EA than many of the things on my list - especially the things which are rated as below average usefulness to me. But I still think it’s worth saying “more valuable to the average EA” rather than “clearly more valuable from an EA perspective”. One reason is related to precisely the point about intellectual/worldview homogeneity and echo chambers which you highlighted; I think we should be careful about saying things that could easily sound to people like “all EAs should do X”. (This is also related to issues like 80k highlighting a career pathway or problem area as particularly important on the margin on average, and there sometimes being an overreaction to this, including people switching out of other good paths towards this new path that isn’t a good fit for them. My impression is that 80k is now more careful to add caveats and stuff to reduce how much this happens. Of course, the stakes are far lower for a Forum comment, about books rather than careers, deep into a very large thread!) I’ve emphasised not just that it’s not authoritative but also that it’s “not quite a list of book recommendations”, and that it includes things I didn’t find useful. I think it’s plausible that someone could interpret the bottom ranked book as a recommendation, but not that that would be reasonable - they’d have to have ignored text right near the top and right below that recommendation.
A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Thanks -I think this is a good point and something to watch out for people not feeling tokenized. Also, again, I'm not necessarily advocacting for "strong community norms" - I was not saying we always need to have complete diversity everywhere.

In this specific case I was not very worried about this because:

  • There are 50+ books here including those linked to (as opposed to say 10), so there's a bunch of reading by non-white men that clearly dominates this reading list. I'm not recommending people read the Obama's memoirs or Thinking in Bets over David Foster
... (read more)

[This comment of mine focuses just on two specific statements of yours which aren't very related to the topic of demographic diversity; i.e., this comment is sort-of a tangent from the main point of the thread.]

I'm not recommending people read the Obama's memoirs or Thinking in Bets over David Foster Wallace, the Hungry Brain, or Moral Mazes etc. for the sake of more representation - they're just clearly more valuable to read from a EA point of view.

FWIW, I started listening to Barack Obama's memoir after you mentioned it the other day and I'm now a quarte... (read more)

A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Another way would be writing relatively low-effort commentaries, criticism, analysis, original thoughts, etc. as EA Forum posts, without doing proper literature reviews. 


I agree that active learning and writing doesn't have to be a literature review-and all these formats actually also work. Perhaps we're coming full circle and it does actually connect to the point in the other thread: we need to encourage people to write more commentaries.

A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Thanks for the courteous reply. Agree with much of this! 

To be clear, I didn't mean to criticize you or anyone personally. Though judging by the downvotes I got, people might think that I'm EA's wokest and hardest virtue-signalling SJW, but I actually only realized and was able to flag this issue because I'm guilty of recommending a very similar set of male authors too much myself. So this is something that should be improved more generally (in the community). Also, I agree that we shouldn't spend much time on finding a precise 'quota' and I'm not say... (read more)

To be clear, I didn't mean to criticize you or anyone personally. [...] Also, I agree that we shouldn't spend much time on finding a precise 'quota

Yeah, to be clear, I didn't get the impression of being criticised in a way that singles me out quite specifically, and my points about being inclined not to discuss the precise amount of (2) and (3) I should do was not me saying "You've said too much about this already!", but rather "I'm a little concerned that this thread could become overly spicy and contentious" (and I primarily had in mind other people jump... (read more)

A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Yes agree with much of this!

Also, that comment seems to presume that most or all readers of this list will want to be researchers? I think a lot of EAs should be doing things other than research. 

I see your point and agree to an extent. My point was that I recommend people to focus more on active learning is often better than passively consuming content, even if they do not want to be a researcher. Just like at university you do not merely read things but also write essays. 

I think the best way to learn things is roughly:

  1. write a review of somethi
... (read more)
8MichaelA7moThe point about active rather than passive learning, even just for learning's sake rather than producing original work, is a good one. But I think there are many more ways to do that than writing literature reviews. One way that seems especially time efficient is making Anki cards (as I suggest in this post), since that can be done quickly in little gaps while doing chores etc. Another is writing up "key updates" from a thing one has read - not just copying key passages, but saying how the ideas in the book have changed one's beliefs or plans. This is something I'm now trying out, and an example can be seen here [] . Another way would be writing relatively low-effort commentaries, criticism, analysis, original thoughts, etc. as EA Forum posts, without doing proper literature reviews. So maybe we can imagine a dimension from very active to very passive learning, and another dimension for how much non-background time is required, and we'd like people to find activities that hit the best tradeoffs on those two dimensions for the various parts of their day/week. These are indeed the main benefits of podcasts for me, but one other benefit [] is that they sometimes contain ideas that haven't yet been properly written up anywhere. (That obviously doesn't apply to non-fiction books.)
A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Yes, I was referring to Aaron's comment, but not saying that anyone wanted to intentionally canonize this list, but rather take on a life of its own. I agree with much of your comment (though still think the central point of my criticism is a valid and as a community we need to be more mindful about this).

6Aaron Gertler7moTo clarify my comment to Michael: I was excited to see him share his list because I'd like lots of people to share their lists, and I think that people are more likely to share once they've seen someone else do it. I don't think Michael is a particularly good judge of books or anything like that -- the whole point is to get a broad set of viewpoints on a variety of books. If someone ever compiles all the lists together and tries to establish some kind of "canon" based on that, I'd be wary, but this personal list created by a single person to describe his own reading experiences doesn't feel at all canonical to me. ***** Possible point of confusion: In my comment, I said that I hoped Michael's list would become one of the most-upvoted in the "EA Books" tag. That's because I expect that tag to be used by people looking for book recommendations, and I expect this post to be useful to them, because it recommends many books. I'd hope that a more diverse or comprehensive list would get even more upvotes in the tag -- I just want posts with tags to be useful to people looking at those tags.
Charges against BitMEX and cofounders

Justifying potentially bad stuff with "the stakes of the work EA does" feels like a slippery slope and a bit fanatic.  There should be principled reasons that holds true for all charities, the cost-benefit approach you use the second part of your comment is better. Related: this thread on whether it's okay to work in the Tobacco industry.

A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate this and your other contributions!

Sorry that I've been unclear. There are actually two separate issues here: 

  1. You only list male authors and lists that only feature male authors: all of them are WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). Sometimes it's fine for a reading list to only feature male authors. I vote on the margin: If you had gotten downvoted, I might even have upvoted. But on the margin, if this particular long general list became another canonical one as had been suggested,
... (read more)

Regarding your first point, I do worry that strong community norms against having book lists include only male authors risks the perception that female authors that do get included are only there to fulfill some imaginary quota rather than on their merits. Not saying that there isn't an important conversation to be had about fostering diversity of viewpoints and representation along gender or other demographic lines, but in my view that is at least a pretty strong downside to this approach.

But I think when prioritizing their reading lists people should add a "neglectedness in the EA community score" to avoid echo chambers. 

Yeah, I agree with this.

Consider how much original insight and valuable disentanglement research you can really add if you spend years reading the same 50 pop non-fiction books that everyone else has read. 

As noted in my other comment, I really don't think that all things on this list are widely read in EA. 

And I think that reading (let's say ) 5-30 books on lists like this one (of which there will hopefully... (read more)

But on the margin, if this particular long general list became another canonical one as had been suggested...

Do you mean suggested by me? I definitely didn't mean to suggest that. My hope is that this list will be useful for some people, and that it'll prompt more people to publish book recommendations/anti-recommendations, not that this comes to be one of 4 lists that pretty much all EAs draw from. As I say near the start:

These rankings are of course only weak evidence of how useful you'll find these books


I'd welcome comments which point to reviews/s

... (read more)

First I want to say that I think your original comment and this one both express reasonable views, and do so in a civil manner. (Also, just in case you or anyone else was wondering, I've neither upvoted nor downvoted either comment.)

Also, while I think I disagree with you to some extent on some points, I think your comments have made me think more about things worth thinking about. I think they've also improved this post, via prompting me to add the following to the introductory section:

(Edit: I think that recommendations that aren't commonly mentioned in

... (read more)
1AnonymousEAForumAccount7moNot only are all the authors male and WEIRD, they're also all white presenting.
A ranked list of all EA-relevant (audio)books I've read

Thanks, I appreciate the effort, but downvoted because this reading list and those you link to are not diverse enough (edit to clarify: e.g. they skew heavily towards male authors) and also, relatedly, these titles should not become even more canonical in the EA community than they already are (I fear this might lead to an echo chamber). This is something my reading list tends to be guilty of as well, so I'd love for people to post reading lists with more diversity.

Some recommendations:

... (read more)

This is a fair point, Hauke -- sounds like you used the downvote as a way to signal "I think this should be somewhat less accepted/get less attention from the community", which makes sense given your concerns. 

While I share your concerns, I still thought this post was a really good initiative and upvoted it; I think it's likely to expose people to useful suggestions, and I think it's extremely unlikely to accidentally enshrine a "canon" (instead, if it inspires more people to write about other books that they liked, it hopefully has the opposite effec... (read more)

FWIW, I think -7 karma is an inappropriately low karma level for Hauke's comment. I don't totally agree with Hauke's views in this thread, and I'm inclined to think it would've been slightly better if he commented his points without also downvoting my post. But I think it's good that he made his comments, because I think they:

  • express reasonable views
  • do so in a civil manner
  • have made me think more about things worth thinking about
  • prompted me to edit this post in a way that has made the post better

Relatedly, I think that downvoting his comment to negative kar... (read more)

2MichaelA7moBtw, I've now edited the post to say:

Hi Hauke, thanks for commenting to explain the downvote; I don't think I would've guessed that as a reason, so the comment makes the feedback more useful.

And also thanks for adding your own recommendations. As I say in the post, I welcome people doing that. 

Personally, I think the thing I'm most likely to read due to your recommendation is Barack Obama's memoir - in retrospect it seems obvious that I should've read a biography/autobiography/memoir of a modern leader of a liberal democratic country. (Also, btw, I previously wrote a commentary on the Be... (read more)

I agree there are some costs to having some canonical books, but I think there are also some real benefits: for instance it helps to create common knowledge, which can facilitate good discussion and coordination. Also maybe some books are sufficiently important and high-quality that ~all EAs should read them before reading a broader variety of books (e.g. maybe all EAs should read The Precipice and a few other books, but then they should branch out and read a variety of things). 

I don't think that everything on Michael's list should be canonical, but ... (read more)

This is a nice idea,  but I agree with Hauke that this risks increasing the extent to which EA is an echo chamber.  Perhaps you're not aware of the (over)hype around some of these books in EA.  

 I think  Rationally Speaking is particularly good at engaging with a range of people and perspectives.  

The worry about EAs reading too much of the same ideas is a good point. I wonder if there are strategies that could help us as a community to explore more literature. For example somebody could scrape the reading lists from members of the EA goodreads group and create an exploration reading list with the books that many people have on their reading list but haven't actually read. Or maybe a reading list with non-fiction books that are suspiciously lacking from EA reading lists.

Let's Fund Living review: 2020 update

That's a great question.

Does this mean you're considering fading out the fundraising aspect of your work?

I'm currently deprioritizing the fundraising, and eventually, it's very likely that it'll be faded out. And the research wouldn't be funding oriented anymore either and less applied - not unlike the piece on growth.

There are many reasons- I want to write more about the role of philanthropy in EA in the future. 

In brief, the crucial consideration is that multiobjective optimization is generally less effective than single objective optimization and t... (read more)

2vaidehi_agarwalla7moThat sounds really interesting - are there any topics on philanthropy and EA you are planning to write you could share at this stage?
Let's Fund Living review: 2020 update
  • How many total donors did you have for each grantee?


For we had about 50 donors with the majority of the funding being bigger donors and the Longterm future fund. Many of them were from the EA community.

For we had about 1000 small donors, mostly from outside of the EA community, the biggest donations were $75k and $50k.

  • What marketing strategies did you engage in?
  • What were the top ways donors found out about the giving opportunities? I know you mentioned the Vox article & Bill Gates' tweet, bu
... (read more)
4vaidehi_agarwalla7moThanks for the reply and the link - I missed it when I was looking at the 2019 report. It was really interesting!
Let's Fund Living review: 2020 update

The Case Against Randomista Development was exceptionally well received. Do you know of any direct impact it had? (say in terms of money moved or follow-up research done). Generally, how do you think about the impact it has?

Inside EA: The post was the most commented on research post on the EA forum, and roughly 10k in views. It also had 26 "citations" (see'pingback' on the post). 

I talked to an analyst at Charity Entrepreneurship last year who considered the growth arguments  charity incubation program. Founders pledge also did some research on i... (read more)

2EdoArad7moThanks for the response and for taking the time to add references! I'm glad to see two EA orgs have put substantial effort into this, and it's terrific that it had such a direct and potentially impactful impact on someone's career (and I'd bet that there are many others undocumented).
Let's Fund Living review: 2020 update

Thanks for the comment!

Quick clarification: we're not crowdfunding for global health. The best place to donate to hits-based global health initiatives is Givewell's maximum impact fund.

4Benjamin_Todd7moYes - I was thinking of the writing on economic growth research - that's still helping to advance a hits based approach to helping the global poor.
Why I'm concerned about Giving Green

Thank you for great comment - I agree with a lot of this and a lot of the criticism in this thread. 

Some more related general thoughts: 

  • I think the marginal vs. average impact is one of the most frequently misunderstood aspects of EA and should be highlighted even more.
  • The value of grassroots advocacy (vs. grass tops / top down policy advocacy) is an under-explored research topic.
8Jon_Behar9moInteresting talk- thanks for sharing! Stefan’s framework (which I largely agree with) would argue that the potential funding base for multiplier organizations is quite small due to their complexity, and is probably limited to the EA community (or a subset thereof). So I’m trying to do a little market research to learn more about what that audience thinks about multiplier organizations. The talk also argues for focusing on the largest donors, which in EA usually means Open Phil. But that’s less of an option for multiplier organizations as Open Phil’s EA [] “program does not fund organizations focused primarily on raising money for effective charities or organizations primarily focused on animal welfare or global poverty (though organizations in these categories might qualify for support under another focus area, animal welfare []).”
HaukeHillebrandt's Shortform

"RCTs in the Field of Development - A Critical Perspective" is a book that was recently published. Description below.

We cite one the chapters extensively in our "Growth and the case against randomista development" piece. 

The individual chapters seem all available for free in preprint version (e.g. ).


In October 2019, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer jointly won the 51st Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty... (read more)

Clean technology innovation as the most cost-effective climate action

Excellent post - strong upvote!

Your analysis of the climate impacts of clean protein is really interesting and the dual benefits of clean protein R&D on the environment and animal welfare are definitely worth highlighting, but I agree that in the long-term it's unlikely to be competitive with clean energy R&D.

However, I think what's more interesting is: 

  1. That there are just so many similarities in modelling the problem of climate change and factory farming  i.e. benefits of clean energy R&D and clean protein R&D.
  2. The resulting "Extr
... (read more)
7guzey9moI agree with Jason about the S-curves and the importance of distinguishing between within-area progress and between-area progress and he's making some really good points about ways to think about these issues in the linked posts. I also have a giant essay about this paper coming out soon and I'm very skeptical of its findings - lmk if you'd be interested in reading the draft

I think ideas get progressively harder to find within any given field as it matures. However, when we create new fields or find new breakthrough technologies, it opens up whole new orchards of low-hanging fruit.

When the Web was created, there were lots of new ideas that were easy to find: “put X on the web” for many values of X. After penicillin was invented, there was a similar golden age of antibiotics: “check out X mold or Y soil sample and check it for effectiveness against Z disease”. At times like this you see very rapid progress in certain applicati... (read more)

BenMillwood's Shortform

I'm sure if I thought about it for a bit I could figure out when these two mutually contradictory strategies look better or worse than each other. But mostly I don't take either of them very seriously most of the time anyway :)

I think these strategies can actually be combined:

A patient philanthropist sets up their endowment according to mission hedging principles.

For instance, someone wanting to hedge against AI risks could invest in (leveraged) AI FAANG+ ETF ( (read more)

BenMillwood's Shortform

it's possible to make money this way

Agreed, but I don't think there's a big market inefficiency here with risk-adjusted above market rate returns. Of course, if you do research to create private information then there should be a return to that research.

Trading based on private information is sometimes illegal, but sometimes not, depending on what the information is and why you have it, and which jurisdiction you're in. [...[

True, but I've heard that in the US, normally, if I lobby in the U.S. for an outcome and I short the stock about which I am lo... (read more)

Michael_Wiebe's Shortform


Related: "Some programs have received strong hints that they will be killed off entirely. The Oxford Policy Fellowship, a technical advisory program that embeds lawyers with governments that require support for two years, will have to withdraw fellows from their postings, according to Kari Selander, who founded the program."

Can my self-worth compare to my instrumental value?

most of the impact is achieved by a few, very impactful people could also make the people who perceive themselves as having potential for high impact particularly vulnerable, since the gap between their intrinsic value or self-worth and their instrumental value would seem even wider.


Not sure if relevant to what you're saying, but there's this very interesting paper that shows:

Suppose that all people in the world are allocated only two characteristics over which they have (almost) no control: country of residence and income distribution within that co

... (read more)
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