MvdSteeg

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Doing vs Talking at EA Events

vegan friends who eat beef—because beef cattle suffer the least

While I'm all for inclusive veganism this seems to be going a bit far! :') it seems like it's on the good side of the Omni spectrum, though. The argument is pretty sound (though bivalves would be better and also have less environmental impact).

Regarding your main question... I'm going to give it some thought and come back later if I come up with anything worthwhile ;)

Public Opinion about Existential Risk

One issue that I think hasn't been addressed (unless I missed it) is that if you were to ask them to what extent you believe the government does/should prioritize near future issues, you may find similar results. Or any other specific issue (e.g. education or healthcare). I suspect people will want way more things "prioritized" than is realistically possible.

Fisher & Syed on Tradable Obligations to Enhance Health

It seems strange to me that only pharmaceutical companies would have to achieve said index. What is it about a Viagra company that makes them more responsible for solving global health issues than e.g. IKEA?

The only thing I can come up with on the fly is that they take up resources from the same pool of researchers. I'm not sure that's a satisfactory reason for disadvantaging one company over another, though.

What if nation-wide company taxes were raised by a tiny margin and pharmaceutical companies could compete for DALY-subsidies?

(I realize the chance of me having a better idea than the writers of the book is rather miniscule. Just looking for holes in my view)

When causes multiply

I guess when I say "more impactful" I mean "higher output elasticity".

We can go with the example of x-risk vs poverty reduction (as mentioned by Carl as well). If we were to think that allocating resources to reduce x-risk has an output elasticity 100,000 higher than poverty reduction, but reducing poverty improves the future, and reducing x-risk makes reducing poverty more valuable, then you ought to handle them multiplicatively instead of additively, like you said.

If you'd have 100,001 resources to spend, that'd mean 100,000 units against x-risk and 1 unit for poverty reduction, as opposed to the 100,001 for x-risk and 0 for poverty reduction when looking at them independently(/additively). Sam implies the additive reasoning in such situations is erroneous, after mentioning an example with such a massive discrepancy in elasticity. I'm pointing out that this does not seem to really make a difference in such cases, because even with proportional allocation it is effectively the same as going all in on (in this example) x-risk.

Anyway, not claiming that this makes the multiplicative approach incorrect (or rather, less correct than additive), just saying that in this case which is mentioned as one of the motivations for this, it really doesn't make much of a difference (though things like diminishing returns would). Maybe this would have been more fitting as a reply to Sam than you, though!

EA Funds - An update from CEA

Regarding the first point: if there's much more incoming donations than they can effectively allocate, I can imagine they automatically lower their standards by some margin so less funds would remain unallocated. If there's no expectation of more effective options showing up in the future that wouldn't get covered by new incoming donations, then this could be seen as a good thing, money spent on a fairly effective charity is better than not spending it at all. However, in addition to the responsibility of allocating the resources they have as well as they can, I think the fund managers have a responsibility to also communicate when they feel like their fund is hitting diminishing returns. This is difficult to quantify, but e.g. last dollar vs first dollar impact ballpark might suffice.

It is very much possible that the funds are -nowhere- near the point where this should cause any worry, and I'm not at all trying to say that any fund manager has neglected to give such a signal, because there may not have been any cause for it. However, I'm not sure if, as a (potential) donor, there's a way for me to tell this right now. Maybe I could deduce it from notes on past grants.

I would expect a red light to be given if at any point a fund manager feels like their fund will not be able to allocate their resources to the standard they hold for themselves. It would be helpful if there was also an explicit green light when this is -not- the case. I'm not sure this can be derived from just the current fund balance, because it does not say anything about future opportunities coming up. We might see a fund is holding 1 million after a series of grants, conclude that this means it cannot use our donations right now, while in fact the next batch of grants could have easily handled another 500k or more.

Glad to hear the Netherlands is high on your priority list in terms of expanding registrations! I don't suppose you're willing to risk any kind of ETA, right? ;)

EA Funds - An update from CEA

Thanks for the update!

I'm glad to see the fund balance is up to date now. One piece of the puzzle that does still seem to be missing to me is an indication of how much money the fund managers expect to be able to allocate effectively, as without this the fund balance can only be interpreted relative to past balances and past grants.

I was also curious if there are any plans to register as a non-profit in other countries than the US and the UK. Looking at the registration process for the Netherlands this doesn't seem like a lot of work, and would increase effectiveness of Dutch donations by up to 80% (if I got the math right). Are there some obstacles here that I fail to see which prevent CEA/EA Funds from applying in other countries? Even if you had only a handful of donors per country it seems worthwhile.

When causes multiply

While it's hard to disagree with the math, would it not be fairly unlikely for the current allocation of resources to be close enough to the actual allocation of resources that this would realistically lead to allocating an agent's resources to more than one cause area? Like you mention, the allocation within the community-building cause area itself is one of the more likely candidates, as we have a large piece of the pie in our hands (if not all of it). However, the community is not one agent, so we would need to funnel the money through e.g. EA Funds, correct?

Alternatively, there could be top-level analysis of what the distribution -ought- to be, and what it -currently is-, and suggest people donate to close that gap. But is this really different from arguments in terms of marginal impact and neglectedness? I agree your line of thinking ought to be followed in such analysis, but am not convinced that this isn't incorporated already.

It also doesn't solve issues like Sam Bankman-Fried mentioned where according to some argument one cause area is 44 orders of magnitude more impactful, because even if the two causes are multiplicative, if I understand correctly this would imply a resource allocation of 1:10^44, which is effectively the same as going all in on the large cause area. I think that even in less extreme cases than this, we should actually be far more "egalitarian" in our distribution of resources than multiplicative causes (and especially additive causes) suggest, as statistically speaking, the higher the expected value of a cause area is, the more likely that it is overestimated.

I do think this is a useful framework on a smaller scale. E.g. your example of focusing on new talent or improving existing talent within the EA community. For local communities where a small group of agents plays a determining role on where the focus lies, this can be applied much more easily than in global cause area resource allocations.

Effective Advertising and Animal Charity Evaluators

Regarding #2: The direct goal of EA is to do the most good, not to grow the community of people that identify with EA as much as possible. The latter is a means to the end. If their current approach directs a lot of money from non-EA animal lovers to effective charities, then that does a lot of good regardless of whether said animal lovers then assimilate into EA. Furthermore, I don't think people who like the utilon approach are necessarily turned away just because there is a cute animal picture present. So long as the cute animal picture is merely a hook and not the main message, then there seems little to no harm to people who are likely receptive to the EA message, while being highly beneficial for non-EA animal lovers. I'm not seeing this as a likely downside...