All of kato's Comments + Replies

EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

Nope, I think that is mostly (though not 100%) correct. My impression is that OpenPhil in particular is both more opportunity- and operationally-constrained than it is by funding. I do think though that they (and other funders) ought to do more active grant-making  to try to identify non-CWR opportunities to fund (though they could very well already be doing this).

I also agree with your point that few if any other approaches could absorb significant amounts of money currently (though I also expect that there's many orgs you could talk with trying more... (read more)

EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

Regarding the concern about whether it's useful to think about how to end factory farming, my intuition is that having an endgame in mind will do much to help guide us there. Even if the endgame is just more humane animal farms, I think making that more explicit will help us shape strategies today.

The project of improving farmed animal welfare is a decades-long project, and it seems highly suboptimal to not plan what outcomes we'd like to be achieving decades on down the road.

7saulius4mo
I'm not saying that we shouldn't think about ending factory farming at all. I was just arguing against favouring interventions just because it's easier to imagine how they would completely eliminate factory farming because it's so far away. Also, I wouldn't think about the endgame a lot at this stage when we are so far away from it. Apart from reasons I discussed in the original comment, I'd like to mention one more reason why I think that. It's very likely that due emerging technologies (AI, cultured meat, large-scale insect farming, etc.), environmental problems, political changes, possible global catastrophises, etc., the World might look very different by the time we are in the endgame (which I imagine in at least 50 years). And it's difficult to predict how it will look. Hence it's also very difficult to plan for it. Furthermore, interventions that are tractable now may not stay tractable forever (e.g. people may grow numb to corporate campaigns). Hence, any plan we come up with now will likely need to be changed anyway. It still makes sense to think a bit whether our current actions will be valuable in various plausible future scenarios though.
EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

I'm sympathetic to a lot of what you say in this, including the fact that welfare reforms can and are an important part of the road to ending factory farming. It just unlikely that they will be all of that road (or even most of it).

Regarding the concern about whether we ought to even seek to end factory farming (or animal farming broadly), my views on this have been updated towards the affirmative to this based on Jeff Sebo's arguments (EAG talk and paper). Essentially, he argues along the moral circle expansion angle: If we're the sort of people who toler... (read more)

4saulius4mo
There should be easier ways to argue against exploitation of digital minds than taking down a growing industry worth trillions of dollars and employing a significant portion of the World's workforce. E.g., direct advocacy for digital minds which can happen in the future when digital minds start being a concern. Future advocates will have a comparative advantage in helping digital minds so it might make sense for us to use our comparative advantage for helping current animals, especially since the EA movement is likely to grow. Also, I think that what Sebo argues in his talk though is there being more advocacy for animal rights and veganism. That would be enough to have some of the effects that he is talking about. Also, I do wish that people advocating for changing people's views would be much more concrete about future scenarios where this end up mattering a lot. That would allow to see if what they are advocating is really the best way to influence those scenarios.
EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

Last point on this: Even if the animals impacted by these reforms suffer only have as much, that's still thousands of hours of equivalent annoyance level suffering per animals (per your spreadsheet). Though this takes nothing away from the good done by these reforms, to me this still qualifies as pretty horrible factory farming.

We should be happy by the progress we have made, but there is still a long road ahead.

EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

All in all I'm now thinking that switching from battery cage to cage free averts ~60% of suffering (per your figures), and switching from conventional to BCC-approved broilers averts 30-40% (your figures plus a downward estimate for the breeds growth rate concern I mention in the other comment).

EAA is relatively overinvesting in corporate welfare reforms

Thanks for this Saulius. This is a slightly positive update for me that both cage free and broiler reforms are more impactful than I thought.

One  concern I have with the Welfare Footprint study (caveat: I have no experience in animal welfare science or with the BCC). The Welfare Footprint study people say (bolding added by me):

We analyzed the following scenarios, for which data on broiler welfare was available: (1) a baseline scenario represented by the use of conventional fast-growing breeds (e.g., Aviagen Ross 308, 708, Cobb 500) reaching a slaughte

... (read more)
7saulius4mo
This sounds like a legitimate concern that I don't remember seeing raised elsewhere. Thanks for raising it! We'll pass it along to the Welfare Footprint Project.