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Investigating how technology-focused academic fields become self-sustaining

This was really cool! Thanks a bunch for writing it up :) 

For those interested, it somewhat reminded me of Some Case Studies in Early Field Growth and Establishing a research field in the natural sciences.

One quick observation that is probably a small thing or not right: 

For the 8 fields that reached establishment, the median time between a field’s origin year and establishment year[3] was 18 years, with the quickest field (Genetic Circuits) becoming established after 5 years, and the slowest (Clean Meat) becoming established after 63 years (the full list of times to establishment for the 8 fields, in years, is: 5, 16, 16, 17, 19, 26, 26, 63).

For Clean meat it looks like you use something like the date of postulation as the initial time point to measure the length of time to field establishment.

I don’t have a great understanding but have a feeling that for Genetic Circuits something like the date of postulation point maybe isn’t the initial time point used when measuring the length of time to field establishment? 

If so, that might be doing most of the work in setting Genetic Circuits as the quickest and Clean Meat as the slowest. 

Animal Welfare Fund: July 2021 grant recommendations

This round, we report five anonymous grants after receiving advice from internal and external advisors, and further weighing the pros and cons of public reporting. We consider these grants to have a high expected impact, and report that there were no conflicts of interest in evaluating them. 

Animal Welfare Fund: July 2021 grant recommendations

Thanks for this post! I believe this is the first time that the Animal Welfare Fund is giving anonymous grants, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong. I was aware that the EAIF and LTFF are now able to do this, but I wasn't aware that the AWF is now able to do this too.

Thanks! Yeah, that is right, this is the first time. 

Anyway, maybe EA Funds should indicate in their Apply for Funding page and the application form that the AWF will consider funding applications from grantseekers who wish to remain anonymous in public reporting? It currently says that only the EAIF and LTFF do this.

Good point! Thanks for pointing it out :) 

We should have those updated shortly. 

What are the EA movement's most notable accomplishments?

Somewhat building on one that is currently mentioned on the page. Advocates have secured thousands of corporate pledges for cage-free eggs globally since 2015. That’s built global pressure for legislation, e.g. the European Commission, UK governments, and various US states have cited corporate progress as a major motivator for them to act. (I think as of latest figures about ~100M (?) US hens were cage-free vs. about 20M in 2015, when the campaigns started ramping up.) In the US, the cage-free flock size has dramatically increased in size these past few years. See, e.g., p.4. 

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Right. So I still might not be fully understanding. 

I guess it seems hard for me to understand thinking both: 

A) Diet change has more negative effects on wild animals than positive effects on farmed animals. 

And B) Diet changes’ negative effects on wild animals are in expectation greater than the positive effects from further work on wild animal welfare (e.g., of the sort WAI completes). 

But maybe I am misunderstanding. Do you think both of those? 

Separately, and another quick thought, it could be helpful to more formally model it, as that could help with intuitions here. 

Part of what seems to be going on in my head is very roughly something like, some diet change CEE gives say a 95% CI [60,140] utils/$, excluding impacts on wild animals. So say mu=100, sigma=20(?) 

Then impacts specifically on wild animals cause the estimate to shift somewhat downward. Impacts on wild animals may be, say, [-1000, 900]. Say, mu=-50, sigma=~450 

In my head that additional consideration on wild animals just doesn’t shift the mean util/$ estimate much. That is because the variance on that estimate is so large compared to the variance on the original. 

I think what may end up mattering a lot for this type of thing is the ratio of the variance on the cee for utils/$ of diet change intervention for farmed animals, compared to the variance on the impact of diet change on wild animals.  

 How does that all sound to you?:) 

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!


Very quickly, here are a few ideas/interventions that seem interesting to me:

  • Helping scope whether large and respected enviro groups may lobby on this if funding was available  
  • Helping establish additional university-affiliated research centers that focus on research into pb alts 
  • Helping establish trade associations in important places that don’t really have them right now

Honestly, I think there’s just a lot of underexplored territory in the area. To some extent it is now about us diversifying somewhat, trying a number of different approaches, and then re-evaluating as to what has traction. The value of information from exploring some different interventions feels like it could be pretty high to me.

Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Yeah, I think I would be interested in a variety of scoping projects. 

Briefly, some ideas that seem top of mind for me now are:

  • Someone thinking more about some very preliminary things that could be done in the policy space 
  • Or more about an organization that might focus on wild animal welfare within cities 
  • Or even more about a generalist group that may be to wild animals what GFI is to alt-proteins (some variety of programs and decent emphasis on movement-building) 

However, I think the bottleneck here may be more about finding talented people to do this type of work, rather than the outlining of specific ideas. 

Honestly, if readers have an idea for something that they would like to explore with regards to wild animal welfare, I expect I would probably be interested in hearing about it!

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