Kelly_Witwicki

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Sentience Institute 2017 Accomplishments, 2018 Plans, and Room for Funding

Thank you Kieran! I will look into global numbers for farmed bait fish and fish mortality, and either update the sheet on that or qualify it with info about this if I cannot find/make estimates. Will update our US estimates too, and also qualify about these numbers being vertebrates. :)

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Since I'm already working on inclusionary practices myself, there's not much else to do but private or public discussion.

The private discussions I have had explicitly around the issue have varied a lot in their content and purpose and can be characterized as any of the following or a combination thereof: Listening to people's experiences; sharing my own; discussing solutions; actively (beyond just listening) supporting people who were treated poorly; sharing information and concern about the issue with people in a better or still good position to do something about it; trying to discuss why this or more specific issues of exclusion are a problem with people who prefer the status quo; or endeavoring to show people why something they did was a problem and what they should do differently.

Dealing with a bewilderingly amateur situation myself and working to privately help the people responsible to understand the problem and improve took a month out of my life, and with a really important counterfactual, and that's strictly in time spent on the issue that I don't think I would have had to lose in e.g. the animal advocacy community, and not accounting for the emotional toll. I have good reason for (cautious) optimism that that was fruitful but also a red flag restraining that optimism and regardless only time will tell.

Basically I've spent a huge amount of time on those private and often solution-oriented conversations and have been hanging over the precipice of burnout with the community since day 1 several years ago. (The broader community at least, not the animal advocacy sub/intersected-community. And disclaimer that there are great individuals throughout the broader community who are my friends and/or whose presence in the community I am so happy for, etc.) And I'm definitely not alone in that.

I can do more to have private conversations with people in better positions than myself to make change here (such as people who are looked up to in the community by the people whose behavior could be more inclusionary, or donors to EA orgs), and I might if this post and the discussion here doesn't inspire other people to take more action on this issue, which is my hope.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

I think we score quite a bit worse on "feeling" than most altruistically-driven communities and individuals, men included.

[Edit: Point being, yes we're lacking in feeling, but "thinking vs. feeling" is not a tradeoff we have to make to increase our A (or our gender parity, which isn't an inherent problem but is tightly related to our problems). EA's whole purpose is to combine both and we should aim to recruit people who score high on both, not just one or the other. Sorry for the excessive edits.]

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Risk does come with greater publicity of such behavior, but that's part of the point of making it more public (in addition to the information value for people who want to avoid or address it). This is the first I've ever publicly said something about these issues in EA, after three years of many private conversations that seem to have resulted in limited or no impact. Greater publicity means greater accountability and motivation for action, both for the people who behave poorly and the people who let them do so without consequence.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Regarding your "red flags":

1) The post does not advocate for identity categories over competence, but competence over identity categories. As I've argued, we're missing out on a lot of people because they don't match irrelevant criteria.

2) No skepticism of questionable claims has been suspended. You are welcome, as others have, to point out what claims are too confident and why. You'll note that I've edited the post to qualify a claim I made that a commenter pointed out is debated in the literature, and an implication I made that a commenter convinced me I made too confidently.

You are also welcome to provide arguments for the position you seem to take that the status quo (or an even more exclusive community, which we may be becoming) is better than a more inclusive community. Bringing up the risk is a valuable contribution to this discussion and I really appreciate it. Let's go further with our analysis of tradeoffs and discuss specific steps we can take to become more inclusive while limiting the risks in either direction, and let's have a healthy skepticism of the status quo.

3) A dismissal of the whole project of inclusion because of the risk that it will go too far is itself something of a silencing of dissenting opinions and an abandoning of free speech. As I said very explicitly in my comment about free speech, the term is often used to justify speech that pushes people out and reduces the diversity of opinions in the community and the freedom that people have to speak. The question is where the line is -- and it's probably a blurry, messy one -- and how we should address transgressions of it to keep our debates as free and productive as possible.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

I already commented this on your earlier, similar comment, but since you're repeating this here I will too so it's not missed:

I entirely appreciate the concern of going too far. Let's just be careful not to assume that risks only come with action -- the opposite path is an awful one too, and with inaction we risk moving further down it.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

I entirely appreciate the concern of going too far. Let's just be careful not to assume that risks only come with action -- the opposite path is an awful one too, and with inaction we risk moving further down it.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Animal advocates definitely discuss inclusion in their movement(s) more, or at least more productively. A small organization was even established in the space recently to increase racial inclusion in the movement. EA discussion on the issue has led to far less action and results in a lot more pushback and hostility. If EAs do discuss it more, I'd say the excess is in people expressing frustration and that not going anywhere.

(My source is observation -- I have been heavily involved in both communities for several years.)

In terms of wider society, it's an issue that people and institutions from governments to non-profits that exist to solve the issue to tech companies are putting a lot of discussion and action into. BLM isn't something separate, it's part of the discussion in wider society. And IIRC US companies spend $8bn on diversity programs annually. (How effectively they're spending it is another matter, but the point is it's getting a lot of attention.)

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

The same person, in response to the point "Don’t dismiss or trivialize the altruistic concerns ordinary people have," said:

Agree – this is one of the most alienating parts of EA groups I have come across. Charity snobbishness has become quite extreme in some contexts I’ve been in, and I found it to be a somewhat closed-minded approach to altruism generally. At one point, I became persuaded by this attitude and even noticed myself becoming judgmental with the people around me. It was only when my mum told me she thought I had become more judgmental, and not for the better, that I took initiative to really analyse why I was behaving like I was, and to understand that this is not a way to do the most good for people around you nor for trying to encourage people to give their time and money more effectively. I think many people in EA should take a step back and realise that in their attempt to do the most good, they are acting in a closed-minded way, which is actually preventing them to be able to achieve the most good they can.

Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA

Someone who prefers to remain anonymous shared with me that there were multiple issues that made her and other women interns feel excluded at an EA organization, but she felt it was too intimidating to bring them up because the staff seemed too tight, including the women, and the interns felt too separate from them.

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