I thought "EA hotel" was pretty great as a straightforward description, good substitutes might have a word for "ea" and a word for "hotel". So like:Bentham's BaseHelpers' HouseSwap with Lodge, Hollow, Den if alliteration is too cute e.g. "Bentham's House", "Bentham's Lodge" both sound pretty serious.Or just forget precedent and brand something new e.g. Runway (or Runway Athena)Some "just kidding" alliterative options that I couldn't resist:Crypto crib, Prioritization Place, Utilitarian's Union, Consequentialist Club, Greg's iGloo
What would it take to get the information that people like you, MichaelA, and many others have, compile it into a continually maintained resource, and get it into the hands of the people who need it?
I guess the "easy" answer is "do a poll with select interviews" but otherwise I'm not sure. I guess it would depends on which specific types of information you mean? To some degree organizations will state what they want and need in outreach. If you're referring to advice like what I said re: "indicate that you know what EA is in your application", a compilatio... (read more)
Heh, I was wondering if I'd get called out on that. You're totally right, everything that happens in the world constitutes evidence of something!
What I should have said is that humans are prone to fundamental attribution error and it is bad to privilege the hypothesis that it's evidence of real skill/experience/resume signalling/degree etc, because then you risk working on the wrong things. Rejections are evidence, but they’re mostly evidence of a low baseline acceptance rate, and only slightly evidence of other things.
I can imagine someon... (read more)
Another factor which may play a role in the seeming arbitrariness of it all, is that orgs are often looking for a very specific thing, or have specific values or ideas that they emphasize, or are sensitive to specific key-words, which aren't always obvious and legible from the outside - leading to communications gaps. To give the most extreme example I've encountered of this, sometimes people don't indicate that they know what EA is about in their initial application, perhaps not realizing that they're being considered alongside non-EA applicants or that i... (read more)
Also don't worry about repeated rejections. Even if you are rejected, your application had an expected value, it increased the probability that a strong hire was made and that more impact was achieved. The strength of the applicant pool matters. Rejection of strong applicants is a sign of a thriving and competitive movement. It means that the job that you thought was important enough to apply to is more likely to be done well by whoever does it.
Rejection should not be taken as evidence that your talent or current level of experience is insufficient. I thin... (read more)
Counter-point: If you are interested in an EA job or grant, please do apply to it, even if you haven't finished school. If you're reading the EA forum, you are likely in the demographic of people where (some) EA orgs and grant makers want your application.I just imagined the world where none of my early-career colleagues had applied to EA things. I think that world is plausibly counterfactually worse. Possibly a world with fewer existing EA adjacent orgs, smaller EA adjacent orgs, or fewer high impact EA jobs. I think dynamic where we have a thriving commu... (read more)
Thanks for hosting this event! It was a pleasure to participate.
Without making claims about the conclusions, I think this argument is of very poor quality and shouldn't update anyone in any direction.
"As taxpayer funding for public health research increased 700 percent, the number of retractions of biomedical research articles increased more than 900 percent"
Taking all claims at face value, you should not be persuaded that more money causes retractions just because retractions increased roughly in proportion with the overall growth of the industry. I checked the cited work to see if there were any m... (read more)
This matches my understanding, however, I think it is normal for non-profits of the budget size that the EA ecosystem currently is to have this structure.
Bridgespan identified 144 nonprofits that have gone from founding to at least $50 million in revenue since 1970...[up to 2003]...we identified three important practices common among nonprofits that succeeded in building large-scale funding models: (1) They developed funding in one concentrated source rather than across diverse sources; (2) they found a funding source that was a natural match to their mis
This time last year, I started working at Charity Entrepreneurship after having attended the 2019 incubation program (more about my experience here). I applied to the 2019 incubation program after meeting CE staff at EAG London 2018. Prior to that, my initial introduction to EA was in 2011 via LessWrong, and the biggest factor in retaining my practical interest sufficiently to go to a conference was that I was impressed by the work of GiveWell. The regular production of interesting content by the community also helped remind me about it over the years. 80k... (read more)
It's a cool idea! Athletes do seem to have a lot of very flexible and general-purpose fundraising potential, I think it makes a lot of sense to try to direct it effectively. Charity Entrepreneurship (an incubation program for founding effective non-profits) works with Player's Philanthropy Fund (a service which helps athletes and other entities create dedicated funds that can accept tax-deductible contributions in support of any qualified charitable mission) to help our new charities who have not completed the fairly complex process of formally r... (read more)
I think that what is causing some confusion here is that "value drift" is (probably?) a loanword from AI-alignment which (I assume?) originally referred to very fundamental changes in goals that would unintentionally occur within iterative versions of self improving intelligences, which...isn't really something that humans do. The EA community borrowed this sort of scary alien term and is using it to describe a normal human thing that most people would ordinarily just call "changing priorities".
A common sense way to say this is th... (read more)
Cool write up!
Before I did research for this essay, I envisioned Bentham as a time traveller from today to the past: he shared all my present-day moral beliefs, but he just happened to live in a different time period. But that’s not strictly true. Bentham was wrong about a few things, like when he castigated the Declaration of Independence
Heh, I would not be so sure that Bentham was wrong about this! It seems like quite a morally complex issue to me and Bentham makes some good points.
what was their original their only original grievance? That t
Idk but in theory they shouldn't, as pitch is sensed by the hairs on the section of the cochlea that resonates at that the relevant frequency.
A forum resource on ToC in research which I found insightful: Are you working on a research agenda? A guide to increasing the impact of your research by involving decision-makers
Yes, but ToC don't improve impact in isolation (you can imagine a perfectly good ToC for an intervention which doesn't do much). Also, if you draw a nice diagram, but it doesn't actually inform any of your decisions or change your behavior in any way, then it hasn't really done anything. A ToC is ideally combined with cost-benefit analyses, the compa... (read more)
The tricky part of social enterprise from my perspective is that high impact activities are hard to find, and I figure they would be even harder to find when placed under the additional constraint that they must be self sustaining. Which is not to say that you might not find one (see here and here), just that, finding an idea that works is arguably the trickiest part.
for-profit social enterprises may be more sustainable because of a lack of reliance on grants that may not materialise;
This is true, but keep in mind, impact via social enterprise may be &quo... (read more)
However, I'm sceptical of charity entrepreneurship's ability to achieve systemic change - I'd probably (correct me if I'm wrong) need a graduate degree in economics to tackle the global economic system.
It might plausibly be helpful to hire staff who had graduate degree in economics, but I think you would not necessarily need a graduate degree in economics yourself in order to start an organization focused on improving economic policy. Of course it's hard to say for sure until it's tried - but there's a lot that goes ... (read more)
I've never done this myself, but here's bits of info I've absorbed through osmosis by working with people who have.-Budget about 50-100 hours of work for registration. Not sure which countries require more work in this regard.-If you're working with a lot of international partners, some countries have processes that are more recognized than others. The most internationally well-known registration type is America's 501(c)(3) - which means that even if you were to for example work somewhere like India, people are accustomed to workin... (read more)
I posted some things in this comment, and then realized the feature I wanted already existed and I just hadn't noticed it - which brings to mind another issue: how come one can retract, overwrite, but not delete a comment?
What evidence would you value to help resolve what weight an EA should place on dignity?
Many EAs tend to think that most interventions fail, so if you can't measure how well something works, chances are high that it doesn't work at all. To convince people who think that way, it helps to have a strong justification to incorporate a metric which is harder to measure over a well established and easier to measure metrics such as mortality and morbidity.
In the post on happiness you linked by Michael, you'll notice that he has a section on comp... (read more)
Why effective altruists should care
Opposing view: I don't think these are real concerns. The Future of Animal Consciousness Research citation boils down to "what if research in animal cognition is one day suppressed due to being labeled speciesist" - that's not a realistic worry. The vox thinkpeice emphasizes that we are in fact efficiently saving lives - I see no critiques there that we haven't also internally voiced to ourselves, as a community. I don't think it's realistic to expect coverage of us not to include these ... (read more)
a) Well, I think the "most work is low-quality aspect" is true, but also fully-general to almost everything (even EA). Engagement requires doing that filtering process.
b) I think seeking not to be "divisive" here isn't possible - issues of inequality on global scales and ethnic tension on local scales are in part caused by some groups of humans using violence to lock another group of humans out of access to resources. Even for me to point that out is inherently divisive. Those who feel aligned with the higher-power group will tend ... (read more)
I've seen a lot of discussion of criminal justice reform
Well, I do think discussion of it is good, but if you're referring to resources directed to the cause area...it's not that I want EAs to re-direct resources away from low-income countries to instead solving disparities in high income countries, and I don't necessarily consider this related to the self-criticism as a community issue. I haven't really looked into this issue, but: on prior intuition I'd be surprised if American criminal justice reform compares very favorabl... (read more)
What are some of the biases you're thinking of here? And are there any groups of people that you think are especially good at correcting for these biases?
The longer answer to this question: I am not sure how to give a productive answer to this question. In the classic "cognitive bias" literature, people tend to immediately accept that the biases exist once they learn about them (…as long as you don't point them out right at the moment they are engaged in them). That is not the case for these issues.
I had to think carefully abo... (read more)
What are some of the biases you're thinking of here?
This is a tough question to answer properly, both because it is complicated and because I think not everyone will like the answer. There is a short answer and a long answer.
Here is the short answer. I'll put the long answer in a different comment.
Refer to Sanjay's statement above
There are some who would argue that you can't tackle such a structural issue without looking at yourselves too, and understanding your own perspectives, biases and privileges...But I worried that tackling t
I broadly agree, but in my view the important part to emphasize is what you said on the final thoughts (about seeking to ask more questions about this to ourselves and as a community) and less on intervention recommendations.
Is EA really all about taking every question and twisting it back to malaria nets ...?... we want is to tackle systemic racism at a national level (e.g. in the US, or the UK).
I bite this bullet. I think you do ultimately need to circle back to the malaria nets (especially if you are talking more about directing money than about direc... (read more)
But when it comes to acknowledging and internally correcting for the types of biases which result from growing up in a society which is built upon exploitation, I don't really think the EA community does better than any other randomly selected group of people who are from a similar demographic (lets say, randomly selected people who went to prestigious universities).
What are some of the biases you're thinking of here? And are there any groups of people that you think are especially good at correcting for these biases?
My impression of the EA bubble is that
Super helpful, I'm about to cite this in the CE curriculum :)
I get much more than $0.43 of enjoyment out of a year's worth of eating animal products
I think we would likely not justify a moral offset for harming humans at (by the numbers you posted) $100/year or eating children at $20/pound (100*15 years / 75 pounds). This isn't due to sentimentality, deontology, taboo, or biting the bullet - I think a committed consequentialist, one grounded in practicality, would agree that no good consequences would likely come from allowing that sort of thing, and I think that this probably logically applies to meat.
I ... (read more)
Charity Entrepreneurship is incubating new family planning and animal welfare organizations, which will aim to operate via principles of effective altruism - potentially relevant to your interests.
Since you are asking "who" should do it (rather than whether more or less people in general should do it, which seems the more relevant question since it would carry the bulk of the effect), I would wish to replace any anonymous donors with people who are willing to take a degree of responsibility for and engagement with the resulting child and their feelings about it, since looking at opinion polls from donor conceived people has made me think there's a reasonable chance they experience negative emotions about the whole thing at non-negligible rates and it is possible that this might be mitigated by having a social relationship to the donor.
Spend some time brainstorming and compare multiple alternative courses of action and potential hurdles to those actions before embarking on it, consider using a spreadsheet to augment your working memory when you evaluate actions by various criteria, get a sense of expected value per time on a given task so you can decide how long it's worth to spend on it, enforce this via time capping / time boxing and if you are working much longer on a given task much than you estimated then re-evaluate what you are doing, time track which task you spend your work... (read more)
Any discussion of how much it might cost to change a given economic policy / the limiting factor that has kept it from changing thus far?
(I think this is also the big question with health policy)
"Rejecting" would be a bit unusual, but of course you should honestly advise a well qualified candidate if you think their other career option is higher impact. I think it would be ideal if everyone gives others their honest advice about how to do the most good, roughly regardless of circumstance.
I've only seen a small slice of things, but my general sense is that people in the EA community do in fact live up to this ideal, regularly turning down and redirecting talent as well as funding and other resources towards the thing that they belie... (read more)
I went to the program, was quite impressed with what I saw there, and decided to work at charity entrepreneurship.
Before attending the program, as career paths, I was considering academia, earning to give, direct work in the global poverty space, and a few other more offbeat options. After the program, I'd estimate that I've significantly increased the expected value of my own career (perhaps by 3x-12x or more) in terms of impact by attending the program, thanks to
1) the direct impact of CE itself and associated organizations. I can say that in ... (read more)
I'm sure there's a better document somewhere addressing these, but I'll just quickly say that people tend to regret starting smoking tobacco and often want to stop, tobacco smoking reduces quality of life, and that smokers often support raising tobacco taxes if the money goes to addressing the (very expensive!) health problems caused by smoking (e.g. this sample, and I don't think this pattern is unique). So I think bringing tobacco taxes in line with recommendations is good under most moral systems, even those which strongly prioritiz... (read more)
For global health, don't forget Givewell's newsletter!
For meta, CharityEntrepreneurship has one as well (scroll to the middle of the page for the newsletter)
Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers? If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you're supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn't. Odds are you just think what you're told.
Not necessarily! You might just be less averse to disagreement. Or perhaps you (rightly or wrongly) feel less personally vulnerable to the potential consequences of stating unpopular opinions and criticism.
Or, mayb... (read more)
I agree that more people trying to do cost effectiveness analyses is good! I regret that the tone seemed otherwise and will consider it more in the future. I engaged with it primarily because I too often wonder about how one might improve impact outside of impact-focused environments, and I generally find it an interesting direction to explore. I also applaud that you made the core claim clearly and boldly and I would like to see more of that as well - all models suffer these flaws to some degree and it's a great virtue to make clear claims that are d... (read more)
I think the biggest improvement would be correcting the fact that this model (accidentally, I think) assumes that improving any arbitrary high budget charity by 5% is equally as impactful as improving a Givewell equivalent charity by 5%. Most charity's impact is an order of magnitude smaller.
You could solve this with a multiplier for the charity's impact at baseline.
If I understand correctly, you figure that if you become a trustee of a £419668/year budget charity, if only you can improve the cost effectiveness by 5%, then you can divide that by... (read more)
brainstorming / regurgitating some random additional ideas -
Goodhart's law - a charity may from the outset design itself or self-modify itself around Effective Altruist metrics, thereby pandering to the biases of the metrics and succeeding in them despite being less Good than a charity which scored well on the same metrics despite no prior knowledge of them. (Think of the difference between someone who has aced a standardized test due to intentional practice and "teaching to the test" vs. someone who aced it with no prior exposure to standa... (read more)
I think this description generally falls in line with what I've experienced and heard secondhand and is broadly true. However, there are some differences between my impression of it and yours. (But it sounds like you've collected more accounts, more systematically, and I've actually only gone up to the M.A. level in grad school, so I'm leaning towards trusting your aggregate)
Peer review is a disaster
I think we can get at better ways than peer review, but also, don't forget that people will sort of inevitably have Feelings about get... (read more)
I think it's worth pointing out that "longtermism" as minimally defined here is not pointing to the same concept that "people interested in x-risk reduction" was probably pointing at. I think the word which most accurately captures what it was pointing at is generally called "futurism" (examples ,).
This could be a feature or a bug, depending on use case.
The way I feel when the concept of a person in the abstract is invoked feels like a fainter version of the love I would feel towards a partner, a parent, a sibling, a child, a close friend, and towards myself. The feeling drives me to act in the direction of making them happy, growing their capabilities, furthering their ambitions, fulfilling their values, and so on. In addition to feeling happy when my loved ones are happy, there is also an element of pride when my loved ones grow or accomplish something, as well as fulfillment when our shared values are ... (read more)
That very EA survey data, combined with Florida et all The Rise Of The Megaregion data which characterizing the
academic/intellectual/economic output of each region. It would be a brief post, the main takeaway is that EA geographic concentration seems associated with a region's prominence in academia, whereas things like economic prominence, population size, etc don't seem to matter much.
Here's some stuff which I may consider writing when I have more time. The posts are currently too low on the priorities list to work on, but if anyone thinks one of these is especially interesting or valuable, I might prioritize it higher, or work on it a little when I need a break from my current main project. For the most part I'm unlikely to prioritize writing in the near future though because I suspect my opinions are going to rapidly change on a lot of these topics soon (or my view on their usefulness / importance / relevance).
1) Where Does ... (read more)
I super agree with the title, but I think the text actually really undersells it! Runway not only increases your flexibility to not earn, but also reduces your stress and removes all sorts of psychologically difficult power dynamics that come with having a boss or otherwise being beholden to external factors for your well being (Yes, you may still have a boss or external factors, but now you won't need their continued approval or success to pay bills, and that makes all the difference). Also, frugality enables you to really splurge without worrying wh... (read more)
You've laid out your opinions clearly. It is well cited, and has interesting and informative accompanying sources. It's a good post. However, I disagree with some portions of the underlying attitudes, (even while not particularly objecting to some of the recommended methods)
In an ideal world where all people are rational, the ideas mentioned in this forum post would be completely useless.
The thing is, this is a purely inside view. It sort of presupposes effective altruist ideas are correct, and that the only barrier to widespread adoption is ... (read more)
I think part of the "continuity" comes from the fact that things that were "ahead of their time" tended not to be useful yet and get lost. Or worse, perhaps several people had to independently come up with, and support, and learn about an idea enough to use it for it to be actually adopted, or it just ends up sitting in some tinkerer's basement or a dusty old tome.
So, you can flip this question: Which discoveries and inventions seem to have occurred after their time (e.g. they were technologically possible, the prerequisite ideas w... (read more)
Well, firstly, how much credence should we assign the actual analysis in that post?
Before we begin talking about how we should behave "even if" the cost per life saved is much higher than 5k - is there some consensus as to whether the actual facts and analysis of that post are actually true or even somewhat credible? (separate from the conclusions, which, I agree, seem clearly wrong for all the reasons you said).
As in, if they had instead titled the post "Givewell's Cost-Per-Life-Saved Estimates are Impossibly Low" and concluded &... (read more)
Dropping in late to note that I really like the meta-point here: It's easy to get caught up in arguing with the "implications" section of a post or article before you've even checked the "results" section. Many counterintuitive arguments fall apart when you carefully check the author's data or basic logic.
(None of the points I make here are meant to apply to Ben's points -- these are just my general thoughts on evaluating ideas.)
Put another way, arguments often take the form:
It's tempti... (read more)
I don't think the post is correct in concluding that the current marginal cost-per-life-saved estimates are wrong. Annual malaria deaths are around 450k, and if you gave the Against Malaria Foundation $5k * 450k ($2.3B) they would not be able to make sure no one died from malaria in 2020, but still wouldn't give much evidence that $5k was too low an estimate for the marginal cost. It just means that AMF would have lots of difficulty scaling up so much, that some deaths can't be prevented by distributing nets, that some places are harder to... (read more)
I think that's a little unfair. It wasn't just have an "unexamined assumption", he just declared that solidarity was the best way and named some organizations he liked, with no attempt at estimating and quantifying. And he's critiquing EA, an ideology whose claim to fame is impact evaluations. Can an EA saying "okay that's great, I agree that could be true... but how about having a quantitative impact evaluation... of any kind, at all, just to help cement the case" really be characterized as "whataboutism" / methodology war?
(I don't think I agree with your