Jonas Vollmer

I'm a co-founder and co-executive director at the Berlin-based Effective Altruism Foundation, a research group and grantmaker focused on preventing s-risks from AI. I also advise the Long-Term Future Fund.

My background is in medicine (BMed) and economics (MSc) with a focus on health economics and development economics.

Jonas Vollmer's Comments

EA Organization Updates: December 2019

It was written correctly in the Google Doc though ;)

EA Organization Updates: December 2019

(Nitpick: It should say "Foundational Research Institute" rather than "Foundational Research Initiative".)

The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR)

I was thinking that you can always use a name that's different from the legal name. E.g., GiveWell's legal entity is called "The Clear Fund" but nobody cares/knows. Similarly, the Future of Humanity Institute has a "Centre for the Governance of AI" which isn't a separate legal entity. So it seems like the brand (and/or shorthand term) you use publicly is somewhat independent of the legal name.

The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR)

Thanks, that makes sense. What do you think about the other points I mentioned?

The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR)

This is great news, congrats on making this happen!

I guess you are doing this partly for legal reasons? I'm curious, have you considered going for "Athena Hotel" (the previous name of the hotel) as the main name of the project, regardless of what the legal entity is called? Might be easier to memorize/pronounce. I worry that otherwise, EAs will continue referring to CEEALAR as "EA Hotel", which could be a missed opportunity given that there's some reputational risk involved with the hotel.

Edit: More generally, it seems desirable to have a shorthand name for the hotel that's easier to spell, pronounce, and remember than "CEEALAR".

Some ideas: Athena Hotel, Athena Centre, Blackpool Hotel, Blackpool Centre, Learning & Research Centre.

(Someone pointed out to me that "Athena Hotel" might work particularly well because Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom.)

EA Hotel Fundraiser 6: Concrete outputs after 17 months


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EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid

Update: We've hired someone part-time (a couple of hours per month) to help ensure good implementation of the initiative.

Intervention Profile: Ballot Initiatives
You should correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the proposals were eventually weakened to the point that conservation of resources became the primary (perhaps sole?) focus.

"Primary focus" seems correct. The resulting legal texts didn't mention plant-based food anymore, if I recall correctly, but still led to a reduction in meat consumption/portions, so in that sense they were still somewhat successful.

Intervention Profile: Ballot Initiatives

As I already mentioned via email, I think this is an excellent post.

I just noticed that I overlooked one point when giving feedback: The main idea behind Sentience Politics' "sustainable nutrition" initiatives was also to promote animal welfare and expand the moral circle (through reducing meat consumption). The environmental benefits are also significant, but weren't the primary motivation.

Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020

Thanks! I think I don't have the capacity to give detailed public replies to this right now. My respective short answers would be something like "sure, that seems fine" and "might inspire riskier content, depends a lot on the framing and context", but there's nuance to this that's hard to convey in half a sentence. If you would like to write something about these topics and are interested in my perspective, feel free to get in touch and I'm happy to share my thoughts!

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