9799Joined Sep 2014


Topic Contributions


Do you think if I clicked on every member of that list it would go away?


The tax treatment of these promotions in Massachusetts seems to be unsettled; however, companies may end up being able to deduct promotional bets from their taxable income, as they can in other states. 

That seems like the straightforwardly correct way for things to work. Offering these promos is an expense for the company, reducing profits, just like if they had spent the money on advertising. Since corporate taxes are levied on profits, anything that reduces your profits should reduce your taxes.

Of course, if the promotion is effective, it will overall increase their revenue and profits - and hence the taxes paid - again just like an advertising campaign. 

The same argument could be applied to any discount that any firm offers - should people feel guilty for buying clothes on clearance sale, or accepting a free sample at the supermarket, as this also reduces profits and hence taxes? I don't think people should feel guilty about 'it is possible that this activity might be taxed in a manner consistent with other activities.


Is there (or could there be) a way to remove the 'Recommendations' section? I don't understand what algorithm generates these, but for me it is determined to tell me I should click on posts I read a long time ago (10 years ago in some cases!). I don't think I have ever seen a recommendation there that I've been tempted to click on.


As best I can tell, the idea of a “capped-profit” organization was introduced by OpenAI in 2019, but I have not seen any discussion of it in the context of broader policy options. I do not claim to have any especially novel ideas here, but I apologize if I've missed someone else's work on this.

There has been some prior work you might enjoy reading, labeled under 'Windfall Clause'. See the collection of posts here, the original proposal here, and my criticism here.


Yeah I don't think partiality is wrong in general, it's just that your dog (like most things) is not an EA project.


Interesting project, thanks for working on this. I was wondering if you could explain a little more about how this this works? 

You mention that Zakat is generally (perhaps with some exceptions) only meant to be given to Muslims. I'm not convinced by this interpritation - it seems pretty plausible to me that Dimmi should be included also, and in a way it seems a shame to have an EA-org adopting the Wahhabist/Salafist stance, vs more moderate approaches, but I understand why this could be good for appealing to a larger number of muslims.

How does this work in practice? Your Zakat compliance certificate says you will not give to non-Muslims:

GiveDirectly will only distribute Zakat to poor Muslim beneficiaries.


Zakat will not be distributed to:
• A person not eligible for Zakat according to this policy.
• A non-Muslim.

But your website suggests you serve people without regard to their religion:

GiveDirectly has no political, religious, or sectarian affiliations, and is committed to serving people in poverty across the globe regardless of their tribe, religion, sex, and political beliefs.

Presumably in general this is not a huge issue here, because the vast majority of people in Yemen are Muslim. But presumably some are not. Does GiveDirectly do any vetting about whether the recipients are Muslim, and reject them if not? If an otherwise eligible family informed you they were actually Christian, or some other non-Islamic faith, would you decline to distribute?


Thanks for raising this, I am definitely pretty sympathetic to this concern.

My view here is that a muslim person giving in this way is not acting in accordance with the principles of effective altruism, because they are displaying extreme partiality. However, facilitating GiveDirectly to be Zakat compliant could be a valuable EA project. There are a lot of poor muslims in the world, and a lot of Zakat giving in the world also, so improving its efficiency could be quite valuable.

In this regard I actually think this proposal comes out looking a lot better than most 'what is the EA way to do X or help Y' posts, which typically imply the author wants their own partial donations to be counted as EA, not that they just want to make other people's donations better from an impartial perspective.


These seem like arguments for OpenPhil to hire people with a broad range of perspectives, and to solicit contest submissions from a broad range of people, but not to adjust the judges. It doesn't benefit OpenPhil at all if, having put e.g. a social conservative on the board of judges, the winner does so by appealing to her with arguments that OpenPhil does not find compelling. OpenPhil is uniquely qualified to judge what arguments they have found informative.

Answer by LarksMar 13, 2023158

Here is a classic piece on the subject by Toby. Brief quote from one line of argument:

Absolute NU is completely indifferent to happiness (over and above any merely instrumental effects it has on reducing suffering). Suppose there were a world that consisted of a thriving utopia, filled with love, excitement, and joy of the highest degree, with no trace of suffering. One day this world is at threat of losing almost all of its happiness. If this threat comes to pass, almost all the happiness of this world will be extinguished. To borrow from Parfit's memorable example, they will be reduced to a state where their only mild pleasures will be listening to muzak and eating potatoes. You alone have the power to decide whether this threat comes to pass. As an Absolute Negative Utilitarian, you are indifferent between these outcomes, so you decide arbitrarily to have it lose almost all of its overflowing happiness and be reduced to the world of muzak and potatoes.

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