All of kyle_fish's Comments + Replies

A huge opportunity for impact: movement building at top universities

Wow, I’m thrilled about this! I’ve been wondering recently why EA “Campus Centres” aren’t more of a thing, and am delighted to see a big push in that direction. Thank you for an excellent plan and write-up!

We’re Rethink Priorities. Ask us anything!

What is your process for identifying and prioritizing new research questions? And what percentage of your work is going toward internal top priorities vs. commissioned projects?

[This is like commentary on your second question, not a direct answer; I'll let someone else at RP provide that.]

Small point: I personally find it useful to make the following three-part distinction, rather than your two-part distinction:

  • Academia-like: Projects that we think would be valuable although we don't have a very explicit theory of change tied to specific (types of) decisions by specific (types of) actors; more like "This question/topic seems probably important somehow, and more clarity on it would probably somehow inform various important decisio
... (read more)
How can we make Our World in Data more useful to the EA community?

A few things that jump to mind:

  • Data on the development of EA-related fields (e.g. growth of AI safety/alignment as an academic discipline, including things like funding, number of publications, number of faculty/graduate students, etc.)
  • Data on the history of philanthropy (e.g. how much have private philanthropists spent over the years, and on what?)
EA Forum engagement doubled in the last year

This is great to see! Do you have a sense of what fraction of the EA community is engaging with the forum? I'm curious how much of this growth is driven by the increased size of the EA community, versus an increased percentage of community members using the forum.

A couple of people have already posted some data sources, but I will add one more: my attempt [] to identify the percentage of people who engaged with one CEA program that went on to use the Forum in the next year. This relied on naïve matching of email addresses, so it’s probably a substantial underestimate, but found 25-40% of event attendees read a Forum post within 2021. I also track a data set of people who are in leadership positions at EA organizations, and this group averages reading 0.7 posts/day (i.e. they are super engaged on the Forum). Penetration is substantially lower among people who are newer to EA. Over the next year, we are considering focusing more of our attention on them.
Among respondents to the EA Survey, in 2020 [] , 38% of respondents were EA Forum members. In 2019 [href]it was 30%. In 2018 it was 20%. Those numbers are doubtless inflated though, because EA Forum members (a very disproportionately highly engaged group: >80% are levels 4-5 out of 5 [] in self-reported engagement) are more likely to take the survey. The question is how many less engaged (who are less likely to be on the Forum) there are, which is less easy to estimate, although there is a model in this post [] .
Would be useful to see the number of unique users over time, rather than just engagement hours.
Announcing the Patient Philanthropy Fund

This is huge, congrats on the launch! I'm so excited for this fund to exist. How did you decide on the growth targets for the different phases? And will the balance be visible publicly (á la EA Funds) or disclosed some other way?

Thanks Kyle! The growth targets will of course always be somewhat arbitrary, but they are based on a number of considerations: * $1m was based on what we thought was achievable (based on "market research"/early conversations) + is large enough for people to feel good about making $100k+ contributions post-launch, which is the ballpark we're aiming for among FP members + is a nice round target of course * $10m came from discussions in the FP investment committee on what is roughly a size at which you can start making private equity investments from a transaction costs, risk management and access perspective * $100m is based on all investment options being open at that point + a size at which a Fund could reasonably fund itself + a size at which the Fund is too much of a responsibility for the FP board to want to carry + a size at which it's too large a part of FP's overall product for it to make sense to stay within FP. The trigger for spin-out is either $100m or 10 years with minimum $10m at that point, because we wanted to be really clear about committing to spinning out the Fund at some point. On the Fund's balance: we'll be sharing regular and milestone updates with the Fund's funders, on our blog and on the Fund webpage. I like the idea of having a (near-)live counter on the Fund's page at some point, and will raise this with our tech team to see if we can implement it.
Introducing High Impact Professionals

Could you elaborate on your definition of "high impact professionals" as your target audience? I'm not sure I understand who exactly you're hoping to reach. Some examples (real or fictitious) of the types of people you have in mind would be helpful! 

Hi Kyle, thanks for your question. With ”High Impact Professionals” we mean working EAs who understand their main path to impact as NOT through their day-to-day work and want to increase their impact besides their regular jobs.

We can imagine a lawyer or a web-designer who wants to offer pro-bono services, a banker or consultant doing earning to give, a successful entrepreneur who wants to mentor growing charities or someone at a startup or a big tech company who wants to promote impactful initiatives in their company, like hosting fundraising events or introducing donation matching.

4Alex Barnes 8mo
Great question! I like User Stories as a format to explain things like this: As an X, I want to Y, so that I can Z For HIP, one example that describes what I'm looking for is: * As a mid-late career professional, I want to learn how to leverage my professional network to advance EA causes and help EA organizations, so that I can have an immediate high impact. Specific actions along this line would include: * Building connections between the University of Toronto BioZone []and EA groups such as Effective Environmentalism [] From what I've seen, one HIP User Story might be written: * As a working professional, I want to learn how to build a workplace EA group, so that I can align my professional interests with my EA interests. Devon / Federico: I'd love to hear some User Stories from your perspectives!
The crux of the cultivated meat feasibility debate

The core of our disagreement seems to be here:

This estimate assumes that all biological functions in an organism can be replicated with technologies, and that these technologies can reach the same efficiency as the biological functions that reached high efficiency due to evolution and natural selection.

I don’t think this is realistic. Perhaps in isolation you could build systems that efficiently accomplish some of these functions, but in the case of cultured meat they all have to be compatible with/support the growth of animal cells and tissues. This is an... (read more)

Yes this is what I meant by "cars are not mechanical horses" in an earlier thread, thanks for putting it in more precise terms. 

I think I have two related counterarguments to the OP:

1) the car vs horse and plane vs bird reference classes/analogies seems to me to be moderately strong or even very strong evidence that humans are eventually capable of something that can accomplish what nature does cheaply and well, but only weak evidence for any specific strategy. Maybe plant-based or cultured meat is how we get there, but maybe it'd look entirely differ... (read more)

New Intuitions for Cultured Meat

We might not have to replicate the animal systems precisely, but we'd definitely need cheap solutions to the problems of contamination (3rd sentence), sensitivity/robustness (5th sentence), waste management (6th sentence), and scalability (7th and 8th sentences). All of these are currently huge issues for any biomanufacturing.

For the contamination sentence: what's wrong with equipment and media sterilization? Why wouldn't we just grow meat in sterilized equipment in managed facilities? Also, couldn't we just sterlize after the fact? For the sensitivity / robustness: why does it need to be robust? Can't it just be grown in a special facility? It's not like you can mimic the Doritos production process [] at home, but that doesn't stop a lot of Doritos being made. Why would the bioreactor need to placed outside? For waste management: This does seem necessary. But months / years of continual operation don't seem necessary (though more efficient if it can be pulled off). If the bioreactor is shut down and sterilised intermittently, that seems like it would suffice. For scalability: I believe you that scalability is an issue, but the examples in the 7th and 8th sentences seem unnecessary and unlike any other (roughly) nature-mimicking process we've chosen. Why should the bioreactor need to grow? If the volume needs to change over time, couldn't this be achieved with a piston-like mechanism? In general, we produce things on factory lines, not via creating replicating machines. Useful replicating machines are certainly far beyond our capacity to make de novo (though we can tweak nature's small self-replicating machines)
New Intuitions for Cultured Meat

I don't think cars, solar panels, and recombinant insulin are analogous technologies here. Cars and solar panels won out because they are completely new approaches to transportation and solar energy capture that are not constrained by the biology of the systems they're replacing. Cultured meat seems severely handicapped by its reliance on the growth of animal cells and tissues. 

Recombinant insulin is still manufactured in biological systems (bacteria and yeast), but they are much simpler than mammalian cells and can efficiently express a protein that is only present in tiny amounts in the pig pancreases it used to be purified from. 

New Intuitions for Cultured Meat

There's been some discussion over the years of genetically engineering farm animals so they don't experience pain, but I don't know of any efforts to remove sentience entirely. 

New Intuitions for Cultured Meat

This is a good point. I don't want anyone to write off cultured meat on the basis of my argument alone, but I do want to push us toward much more nuanced conversations. Ideally, discussions of feasibility will include an evaluation of all relevant systems and the ways in which they could improve over animals, weighed against their limitations. I’d refer anyone who is interested in a more rigorous and technical evaluation to the Humbird report.

That said, for me the relevant question isn’t whether it’s strictly possible to make cultured meat competitive in t... (read more)

Cultured meat predictions were overly optimistic

As a former cultured meat scientist, I think these predictions have been off in large part because the core technical problems are way harder than most people know (or would care to admit). However, I also suspect that forecasts for many other deep tech sectors, even ones that have been quite successful (e.g. space), have not fared any better. I’d be curious to see how cultured meat predictions have done relative to plant-based meat, algal biofuels, rocketry, and maybe others.

There is also the interesting thing that, as far as I can tell, New Harvest, [] founded in 2004, basically failed, and we had to wait until the Good Food Institute came to push things along in 2016. (as a point of comparison, New Harvest claims to have raised ~$7.5M in its frontpage (presumably during the whole of its existence), whereas the GFI spent $8.9M in 2019 alone [] )
3Dario Citrini10mo
I've also wondered what reasons there might be for the apparent discrepancy between these predictions and reality. I feel like the point re technical problems you emphasised is probably among the most important ones. My first thought was a different one, though: wishful thinking. Perhaps wishful thinking re clean meat timelines is an important factor for explaining the apparently bad track record of pertinent predictions. My rationale for wishful thinking potentially being an important explanation is that, in my impression, clean meat, even more so than many other technologies, is tied very closely/viscerally to something – factory farming – a considerable share (I'd guess?) of people working on it deem a moral catastrophe.
A Comparison of Donor-Advised Fund Providers

fidelity: their "open an account" page ( directs to their program guidelines (, with the relevant info on page 17. on closer inspection, it looks like disbursement of 5% of net assets per year could be a policy for fidelity charitable as a whole, not necessarily for each individual account. even so, they claim to require active grantmaking and say they will start making grants from any accoun... (read more)

even so, they claim to require active grantmaking and say they will start making grants from any account that hasn't disbursed anything for two years (top of page 18). i don't know if this policy is commonly applied, but at the very least it's a risk. 

After a number of years Fidelity required me to make a $50 disbursement, so I think this requirement might be de minimis

A Comparison of Donor-Advised Fund Providers

another relevant minimum is minimum account activity—have you or others incorporated this into your comparisons? for example, it looks like fidelity requires disbursement of 5% of net assets per year (averaged over 5 year periods), whereas vanguard requires at least one $500 grant every 30 months.

Where are you getting that info? I thought Fidelity Charitable had no distribution requirement. Distribution requirement is definitely relevant if there is one.