Software engineer based in Minneapolis. Board member at Wild Animal Initiative. Interested in catastrophic risks and wild animal suffering. Opinions my own.


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The dangers of high salaries within EA organisations

It might help to put some rough numbers on this. Most of the EA org non-technical job postings that I have seen recently have been in the $60-120k/year range or so. I don't think those are too high, even at the higher end of that range. But value alignment concerns (and maybe PR and other reasons) seem like a good reason to not offer, say, 300k or more for non-executive and non-technical roles at EA orgs.

Jobs at EA-organizations are overpaid, here is why

I think EA orgs generally pay higher salaries than other non-profits, but below-market for the EA labor market (many of whom have software, consulting, etc as alternatives). I don't think they're anywhere close to "impact value" based on anecdotal reports of how much EA orgs value labor. I believe 80k did a survey on this (Edit: it's here). 

Some potential lessons from Carrick’s Congressional bid

Fundraising is particularly effective in open primaries, such as this one. From the linked article:

But in 2017, Bonica published a study that found, unlike in the general election, early fundraising strongly predicted who would win primary races. That matches up with other research suggesting that advertising can have a serious effect on how people vote if the candidate buying the ads is not already well-known and if the election at hand is less predetermined along partisan lines.

Basically, said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, advertising is useful for making voters aware that a candidate or an issue exists at all. Once you’ve established that you’re real and that enough people are paying attention to you to give you a decent chunk of money, you reach a point of diminishing returns (i.e., Paul Ryan did not have to spend $13 million to earn his seat). But a congressperson running in a close race, with no incumbent — or someone running for small-potatoes local offices that voters often just skip on the ballot — is probably getting a lot more bang for their buck.

US Citizens: Targeted political contributions are probably the best passive donation opportunities for mitigating existential risk

Note that large funders such as SBF can and do support political candidates with large donations via PACs, which can advertise on behalf of a candidate but are not allowed to coordinate with them directly. But direct donations are probably substantially more cost-effective than PAC money because campaigns have more options on how to spend the money (door-knocking, events, etc not just ads) and it would look bad if a candidate was exclusively supported by PACs.

Should you try to be a straight-A college student as a utilitarian?

If you're not planning to go to grad school (and maybe even if you are), getting straight As in college probably means a lot of unnecessary effort.

Where are you donating in 2021, and why?

I gave most of my donations to the EA Funds Donor Lottery because I felt pretty uncertain about where to give. I am still undecided on which cause to prioritize, but I have become fairly concerned about existential risk from AI and I don't think I know enough about the donation opportunities in that space. If I won the lottery, I would then take some more time to research and think about this decision.

I also donated to Wild Animal Initiative and Rethink Priorities because I still want to keep a regular habit of making donation decisions. I think they are the two best organizations working on wild-animal welfare, which is potentially a highly cost-effective cause area because of the very large number of wild animals in existence. I also donated to GiveWell's maximum impact fund.

What stops you doing more forecasting?

I did Metaculus for a while but I wasn't quite sure how to assess how well I was doing and I lost interest. I know Brier score isn't the greatest metric. Just try to accumulate points?

Ngo and Yudkowsky on alignment difficulty

What does "consequentialist" mean in this context?

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

A couple of years it seemed like the conventional wisdom was that there were serious ops/management/something bottlenecks in converting money into direct work. But now you've hired a lot of people in a short time. How did you manage to bypass those bottlenecks and have there been any downsides to hiring so quickly?

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