In a similar vein, I'd like to see more people asking "Can anyone DM me a quick review of [EA org] as a place to work / service provider?"
If you don’t want to engage with comments but feel awkward saying nothing, you can also share a link to this post and leave a comment response that just reads: Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it, but will not engage further.
If you don’t want to engage with comments but feel awkward saying nothing, you can also share a link to this post and leave a comment response that just reads:
Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it, but will not engage further.
You can also add a similar note to the end of a post, e.g. "Note: I may not respond to all comments but at least intend to read them all."
Interactive graph previews when you hover over each link! 😍
Thanks for doing this! Quick question: Are the survey questions still available somewhere?
I think occasionally I hear people argue that others focus on longtermist issues in large part because it's more exciting/creative/positive etc to think about futuristic utopias, then some of those people reply "Actually I really miss immediate feedback, tangible results, directly helping people etc, it's really hard to feel motivated by all this abstract stuff" and the discussion kind of ends there.
But the broader Social Capital Concern is something that deserves more serious attention I think. The 'core' of the EA community seems to be pretty longtermist... (read more)
I like this. I was surprised it hasn't received more upvotes yet.
I suspect what's going on is that most people here are focused on the arguments in the post - and quite rightly so, I suppose, for a red teaming contest - and are thinking, "Meh, nothing I haven't heard before." Whereas I'm a bit unusual in that I almost always habitually focus on the way someone presents an argument and the wider context, so I read this and am like, "Omg EA-adjacent person making an effort to share their perspective and offering a sensible critique seemingly from a place of ... (read more)
Following my own advice: I will not be offended if I see someone asking "Has anyone used Pineapple Operations who can send me a quick review in DM?" on the Forum or on Slack etc (although I think we're pretty low-cost to use at the moment, so maybe not the best example).
Problem: It's costly for EAs to find out which EA-run services will actually help them.
From the Forum user manual:
Posts that focus on the EA community itself are given a "community" tag. By default, these posts will have a weighting of "-25" on the Forum's front page (see below), appearing only if they have a lot of upvotes.
I wonder if this negative weighting for the Frontpage should be greater and/or used more, as I worry that the community looks too gossip-y/navel-gazing to newer users. E.g. I'd classify the 13 posts currently on the Frontpage (when not logged in) as only talking about more object-level stuff around half of the time:
Tagged... (read more)
I agree that -25 may not be enough at the current stage, maybe -75 or -100 will be better.
Upvoted for your perseverance in trying again, the levelheadedness with which you seem to be taking feedback into account, and the courage it takes to invite public suggestions for improvement.
Data point: I understood "Any feedback on my EAIF application?" as intended.
Do you use Virtalent UK?
[Edit: The following aren't exactly "good leads," but I thought it would still be useful to share some of the comments I've heard on options people in this community have tried.]
"Fancy Hands is a team of US-based virtual assistants".
Comments I've heard on them from a couple of EAs:
I used various assistants over a couple of months for in total maybe 30 tasks, each about 20 minutes long (their limit per one credit). I would say that the quality varied a lot and most of the time, they did not save me any time if included coordination cos
Mati Roy is an EA with some US-timezone friendly VAs: https://bit.ly/PantaskServices (on the website it says "We hire mainly in North America and Europe" but I think they still generally prefer to share the Google doc).
[Edit: And before anyone wastes time on CampusPA - another EA-run PA agency that I sometimes hear mentioned - I'm pretty sure they're dead now.]
So pleased that you've started this conversation, james! I'm really keen to see more EAs publicly sharing their experiences with various PA services.
I’ve started using 3 remote personal/executive assistants for my work projects. Our remote assistants have been awesome and super useful...Happy to answer any questions
Do you know if these 3 have more capacity and if Virtalent UK allows clients to request specific VAs? (You're the only person I've come across so far who's given a completely positive review of a VA service - reviews tend to be pretty mixed and ... (read more)
Currently ~half of the PAs we list publicly or suggest privately are in the US and every one is open to working remotely.
The main differentiators from standard VA services are currently that:
A closely related idea that seems slightly more promising to me: asking other EAs, other grantmakers and other relevant experts for feedback - at conferences or via other means - rather than the actual grantmakers who rejected your application. Obviously the feedback will usually be less relevant, but it could be a way to talk to less busy people who could still offer a valuable perspective and avoid the "I don't want to be ambushed by people who are annoyed they didn't get money, or prospective applicants who are trying to network their way into a more fa... (read more)
Upvoted because this comment was on -1 karma, I suspect unfairly given that the FTX Future Fund website says "Please post any questions you might have as public comments here" in lieu of a contact form.
Oh yes I know - with my reply I was (confusingly) addressing the unreceptive people more than I was addressing you. I'm glad that you're keen :-)
Nice. And when it comes to links, ~half the time I'll send someone a link to the Wikipedia page on EA or longtermism rather than something written internally.
Maybe you want to select for the kind of people who don't find it too boring! My guess, though, is that the project idea as currently stated is actually a bit too boring for even most of the people that you'd be trying to reach. And I guess groups aren't keen to throw money at trying to make it more fun/prestigious in the current climate... I've updated away from thinking this is a good idea a little bit, but would still be keen to see several groups try it.
Agreed, hence "I don't even think the main aim should be to produce novel work". Imagine something between a Giving Game and producing GiveWell-standard work (much closer to the Giving Game end). Like the Model United Nations idea - it's just practice.
Aye and EA London did a smaller version of something in this space focused on equality and justice.
I wonder if the suggestion here to replace some student reading groups with working groups might go some way to demonstrating that EA is a question.
I don't even think the main aim should be to produce novel work (as suggested in that post); I'm just thinking about having students practice using the relevant tools/resources to form their own conclusions. You could mentor individuals through their own minimal-trust investigations. Or run fact-checking groups that check both EA and non-EA content (which hopefully shows that EA content compares pretty well but... (read more)
This feels much closer to how I experienced EA student groups 5-7yrs ago - e.g. Tom and Jacob did exactly this with the Oxford Prioritisation Project, and wrote up a very detailed evaluation of it.
My first thought on reading this suggestion for working groups was "That's a great idea, I'd really support someone trying to set that up!"
My second thought was "I would absolutely not have wanted to do that as a student. Where would I even begin?"
My third thought was that even if you did organise a group of people to try implementing the frameworks of EA to build some recommendations from scratch, this will never compare to the research done by long-standing organisations that dedicate many experienced people's working lives to finding the answers. The co... (read more)
| I think the solution here is to create boundaries so you're not optimizing against people.
I prefer 80,000 Hours' 'plan changes' metric to the 'HEA' one for this reason (if I've understood you correctly).
| Separation from friends and loved ones: Happens accidentally due to value changes.
I hope by this you mean something like "People in general tend to feel a bit more distant from friends when they realise they have different values and EA values are no exception." But if you've actually noticed much more substantial separation tending to happen, I personally think this is something we should push back against, even if it does happen accidentally. Not just for optics' sake ("Mentioning other people and commitments in your life other than EA might go a long ... (read more)
When I was working for EA London in 2018, we also had someone tell us that the free books thing made us look like a cult and they made the comparison with free Bibles.
One option here could be to lend books instead. Some advantages:
Implies that when you're done reading the book you don't need it anymore, as opposed to a religious text which you keep and reference.
While the distributors won't get all the books back (and that's fine) the books they do get back they can lend out again.
Less lavish, both in appearance and in reality.
This is what we do at our meetups in Boston.
I believe that EA could tone down the free books by 5-10% but I am pretty skeptical that the books program is super overboard.
I have 50+ books I've gotten at events over the past few years (when I was in college), mostly politics/econ/phil stuff the complete works of John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith, Myth of the Rational Voter, Elephant in the Brain, Three Languages of Politics, etc (all physical books). Bill Gates' book has been given out as a free PDF recently.
So I don't think EA is a major outlier here. I also like that there are some slightly less "EA books" in the mix like the Scout Mindset and The AI Does Not Hate You.
I'm not sure what campus EA practices are like - but, in between pamphlets and books, there are zines. Low-budget, high-nonconformity, high-persuasion. Easy for students to write their own, or make personal variations, instead of treating like official doctrine. ie, https://azinelibrary.org/zines/
assuming this is constrained by the number of PAs, though I have no idea whether it is
EA values talent more broadly and valuable candidates should be developed and supported beyond any one hiring cycle.
Quick wins for EA hiring managers:
(This does often happen, but often does... (read more)
I loved this post but ignored it the first time I saw it because I had a poor sense of what it would be about. But the title does act as a nice summary after someone's read the post if they're trying to find it again. Have you considered adding a tl;dr? E.g.
I've only just seen this Forum Question from Sep 2020: Has anyone gone into the 'High-Impact PA' path?
Oh, I read it as more the former too!
I read your post as:
I thought Sam's com... (read more)
Just noticed Sam Bankman-Fried's 80,000 Hours podcast episode where he sheds some light on his thinking in this regard.
I think the excerpt below is not far from the OP's request that "if there is no BOTEC and it's more 'this seems plausibly good and we have enough money to throw spaghetti at the wall', please say that clearly and publicly."
I think that being really willing to give significant amounts is a real piece of this. Being willing to give 100 million and not needing anything like certainty for that. We’re not in a position where we’re like, “If
Relevant comment from Sam Bankman-Fried in his recent 80,000 Hours podcast episode: "In terms of staffing, we try and run relatively lean. I think often people will try to hire their way out of a problem, and it doesn’t work as well as they’re hoping. I’m definitely nervous about that." (https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/sam-bankman-fried-high-risk-approach-to-crypto-and-doing-good/#ftx-foundation-002022)
Yeah hopefully the "low status" aspect is starting to change, but I think it's a reality of operations work in general that the crew will never get the glory of the cast, no matter how important they are to the final outcome (...which is sometimes a relief to those of us who don't like the pressure of being in the limelight!).
| Out of interest, did you read the post as emotional? I was aiming for brevity and directnessAh, that might be it. I was reading the demanding/requesting tone ("show us your numbers!", "could FTX and CEA please publish" and "If this is too time-consuming...hire some staff" vs "Here's an idea/proposal") as emotional, but I can see how you were just going for brevity/directness, which I generally endorse (and have empathy for emotional FWIW, but generally don't feel like I should endorse as such).
Yeah personally speaking, I don't have very developed views on when to go with Spaghetti-wall vs RCT, so feel free to ignore the following which is more of a personal story. I'd guess there's a bunch of 'Giving Now vs Giving Later' content lying around that's much more relevant.I think I used to be a lot more RCT because:
Good to see a post that loosely captures my own experience of EAG London and comes up with a concrete idea for something to do about the problem (if a little emotionally presented).
I don't have a strong view on the ideal level of transparency/communication here, but something I want to highlight is: Moving too slowly and cautiously is also a failure mode.
In other words, I want to emphasise how important "this is time consuming, and this time is better spent making more grants/doing something else" can be. Moving fast and breaking things tends to lead... (read more)
A related thought: If an org is willing to delay spending (say) $500M/year due to reputational/epistemic concerns, then it should easily be willing to pay $50M to hire top PR experts to figure out the reputational effects of spending at different rates.
(I think delays in spending by big orgs are mostly due to uncertainty about where to donate, not about PR. But off the cuff, I suspect that EA orgs spend less than the optimal amount on strategic PR (as opposed to "un-strategic PR", e.g., doing whatever the CEO's gut says is best for PR).)
Thanks so much for this comment. I find it incredibly hard not to be unwarrantedly risk averse. It feels really tempting to focus on avoiding doing any harm, rather than actually helping people as much as I can. This is such an eloquent articulation of the urgency we face, and why we need to keep pushing ourselves to move faster.
I think this is going to be useful for me to read periodically in the future - I'm going to bookmark it for myself.