MS

Matt_Sharp

841 karmaJoined Oct 2014

Bio

I'm just a normal, functioning member of the human race, and there's no way anyone can prove otherwise

Comments
124

This sounds potentially valuable. However, it's important to establish what the added value of this project would be. 

What current processes/systems/databases do scientists currently use to identify relevant research and bacteria? What about these existing processes/systems/databases is most in need of improving? Which scientists in the field have you spoken to about this in order to identify the main challenges they face when using existing systems?

Also...is there a reason for only focusing on antibiotic producing bacteria and not including fungi?

https://www.socialchangelab.org/ might have some relevant insights here. They've done some work on which factors matter most for protest movements. Though I'm not sure what they're currently working on, or if they have any relevant quantitative estimates and comparisons with other interventions.

Thanks for clarifying! 

Interesting point about Drinkaware - I didn't know it was partly industry-funded. Given this, even though I'd hope the information they provide is broadly accurate, I'm assuming it is more likely to be framed through the lens of personal choice rather than advocating for government action (e.g. higher taxes on alcohol).

I presume the $5-10M also only refers to alcohol-specific philanthropy? I would expect there to be some funding for it via adjacent topics, such as organisations that work on drugs/addiction more broadly, or ones that focus on promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyles. 

Some excellent points.

In addition, I'm confused about the figure of $5-10m for spending on alcohol. This is roughly how much is spent by just two alcohol charities in the UK (Drinkaware and Alcohol Research UK). So global philanthropic spending on alcohol is presumably much higher - and then there's also any government spending.

Perhaps the $5-10m figure is supposed to only apply to low and middle income countries, or money moved as part of development assistance for health?

I'm no longer going to engage with you because this comes across as being deliberately offensive and provocative.

Assuming that first claim is true, I'm not sure it follows that deferred donation looks even better. You'd still need to know about the marginal cost-effectiveness of the best interventions, which won't necessarily change at the same rate as the wider economy.

The cost-effectiveness of interventions doesn't necessarily stay fixed over time. We would expect it to get more expensive to save a life over time, as the lowest-hanging fruit should get picked first. 

(I'm not definitely saying that it's better to donate now rather than investing and donating later - the changing cost-effectiveness of interventions is just one thing that needs to be taken into account)

Points (1) and (3) relate to the value of the intervention rather than the value of the life of the beneficiary. If the intervention is less likely to work, or cause negative higher-order outcomes, then we should take that into account in any cost-effectiveness analysis. I think EA is very good at reviewing issues relating to point (1). Addressing point (3) is much trickier, but there is definitely some work out there looking at higher-order effects.

Point (2) relates to the difference between intrinsic and instrumental value (as previously noted by Richard). From a utilitarian perspective, it seems accurate that the economic productivity is an instrumental reason for favouring saving lives in wealthier countries. 

However, this is not the only consideration when deciding where to donate. Firstly, it is typically much more expensive to save a life in a wealthy country, precisely because it is a wealthy country with relatively well-funded healthcare. Secondly, there are consequences beyond economic productivity. For example, people in wealthier countries may be more likely to regularly eat factory-farmed animals and contribute to climate change (on the other hand, because they are in a wealthier country with more resources, perhaps they are more likely to help solve these issues while also contributing to them). 

This is a useful analysis, and collectively I agree it suggests there has been a negative impact overall.

However, I think you may be overly confident when you say things like "FTX has had an obvious negative impact on the number of donors giving through EA Funds", and "Pledge data from Giving What We Can shows a clear and dramatic negative impact from FTX". 

The data appears to be consistent with this, but it could be consistent with other explanations (or, more likely, a combination of explanations including FTX). For example, over the past couple of years there has been very high inflation across many countries, and a big drop in the value of many cryptocurrencies. Both might be expected to reduce the number of donors and the amount they donate.

Just a guess, but I assume the Nobel Peace Prize is typically given for more sustained behaviour over months/years, rather than one-off actions.

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