JE

Jacob Eliosoff

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I'd say from a grantee pov, which is I guess a large fraction of the highly-engaged EA community (eg commenters on a post like this), Dustin/GV/OP have mostly appeared as an aggregate blob - "where the money comes from".  And I've heard so much frustration & disappointment about OP over the years!  (Along with a lot of praise of course.)  That said, I get the spirit of your comment, I wouldn't want to overstate how negative people are about Dustin or OP.

And for the record I've spent considerable energy criticizing OP myself, though not quite so far as "frustration" or "disappointment".

It's also noteworthy that Dustin/GV/OP is both by far the largest EA donor and the one EA folks most often single out to express frustration & disappointment about.  I get why that is but you gotta laugh

There are 8.1 billion people on the planet and afaict 8,099,999,999 of them donate less to my favorite causes & orgs than @Dustin Moskovitz.  That was true before this update and it will remain true after it.  Like everyone else I have elaborate views on how GV/OP should spend money/be structured etc but let the record also show that I appreciate the hell out of Dustin & Cari, we got so lucky 🥲

Before caring about longtermism, we should probably care more about making the world a place where humans are not causing more suffering than happiness (so no factory farming)

No, I'd argue longtermism merits significant attention right now.  Just that factory farming also merits significant attention.

I agree with you that protecting the future (eg mitigating existential risks) needs to be accompanied by trying to ensure that the future is net positive rather than negative.  But one argument I find pretty persuasive is, even if the present was hugely net negative, our power as a species is so great and still increasing (esp if you include AI), that it's quite plausible that in the future we could turn that balance positive - and, the future being such a big place, that could outweigh all present and near-term negativity.  Obviously there are big question marks here but the increasing power trend at least is convincing, and relevant.

This is great, thank you!  I'm so behind...

Really pretty much everything Sam says in that section sounds reasonable to me, though I'd love to see some numbers/%s about what animal-related giving he/FTX are doing.

In general I don't think individuals should worry too much about their cause "portfolio": IMHO there are a lot of reasonable problems to work on (eg on the reliable-but-lower-EV to unreliable-higher-EV spectrum) - though also many other problems that are nowhere near that efficient frontier.  But like it's fine for the deworming specialist (or donor) to mostly just stay focused on that rather than fret about how much to think about chickens, pandemics, AI...  100 specialists will achieve more than 100 generalists, etc.

This just becomes less true for a behemoth donor like Sam/FTX, or leaders like MacAskill & Ord.  They have such outsized influence that if they don't fine-tune their "portfolio" a bit, important issues can end up neglected.  And at the level of the EA movement, or broader society itself, the weighting of the portfolio becomes key.

My underlying thesis above is that the movement may be underweighting animals/factory farming right now, relative to longtermism, due to the biases I laid out.  I didn't explicitly argue this: my post is about "biases to be aware of," not "proof that these biases are currently resulting in misallocation" - perhaps another day.  But anyway even if this thesis is correct, it doesn't imply that a) risks like AI safety and pandemic prevention don't deserve a significant chunk of our portfolio (I think they do), or that b) broader society isn't hugely underweight those risks (I think it is).

As I read Bryan's point, it's that eg malaria is really unlikely to be a major problem of the future, but there are tailwinds to factory farming (though also headwinds) that could make it continue as a major problem.  It is after all a much bigger phenomenon than a century ago, and malaria isn't.

But fwiw, although other people have addressed future/longtermist implications of factory farming (section E), and I take some of those arguments seriously, by contrast in this post I was focused on arguments for working on current animal suffering, for its own sake.

Yeah, this wasn't my strongest/most serious argument here.  See my response to @Lukas_Gloor.

I don't take point D that seriously.  Aesop's miser is worth keeping in mind; the "longevity researcher eating junk every day" is maybe a more relatable analogy.  I'm ambivalent on hinginess because I think the future may remain wide-open and high-stakes for centuries to come, but I'm no expert on that.  But anyway I think A, B and E are stronger.

Yeah, "Longtermists might be biased" pretty much sums it up.  Do you not find examining/becoming more self-aware of biases constructive?  To me it's pretty central to cause prioritization, drowning children, rationalism, longtermism itself...  Couldn't we see cause prioritization as peeling away our biases one by one?  But yes, it would be reasonable to accompany "Here's why we might be biased against nonhumans" with "Here are some object-level arguments that animal suffering deserves attention."

My arguments B and C are both of the form "Hey, let's watch out for this bias that could lead us to misallocate our altruistic resources (away from current animal suffering)."  For B, the bias (well, biases) is/are status quo bias and self-interest.  For C, the bias is comfort.  (Clearly "comfort" is related to "self-interest" - possibly I should have combined B and C, I did ponder this.  Anyway...)

None of this implies we shouldn't do longtermist work!  As I say in section F, I buy core tenets of longtermism, and "Giving future lives proper attention requires turning our attention away from some current suffering.  It's just a question of where we draw the line."  The point is just to ensure these biases don't make us draw the line in the wrong place.

The question from A is meant as a sanity check.  If millions of humans were in conditions comparable to battery cages, and comparably tractable, how many of "our" (loosely, the EA movement's) resources should we devote to that - even insofar as that pulls away resources from longtermism?  I'd argue "A significant amount, more than we are now."  Some would probably argue "No, terrible though that is, the longtermist work is even more important" - OK, we can debate that.  The main stance I'd push back on is "The millions of humans would merit resources; the animals don't."

Btw none of this is meant as an argument for veganism (ie personal dietary/habit change), at all.  How best to help farmed animals, if we agreed to, is a whole nother topic (except yes, I am assuming it's quite tractable, happy to back that up).

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