All of PaoloFresia's Comments + Replies

[Linkpost] Some Thoughts on Effective Altruism

Following the publication of our article about where we believe EA adds to the philanthropic landscape and where it fails to encourage a deeper, much-needed reflection, we have been excited to receive a high level of engagement. In particular, we appreciated the reactions by members of the EA community, and the many thoughtful responses on the EA Forum. We applaud many of such post’s focus on a constant quest to find solutions to the world’s problems, rather than to be 100% right. We also don’t aim to definitively solve the debate or to argue for one side ... (read more)

[Linkpost] Some Thoughts on Effective Altruism

Hello, I'm Paolo, one of the authors of the article. We were pointed to this thread and we've been thrilled to witness the discussion it's been generating. Romy and I will take some time to go through all your comments in the coming days and will aim to post a follow up blog post in an attempt to answer to the various points raised more comprehensively. In the meantime, please keep posting here and keep up the good discussion! Thanks!

One consideration that came to my mind at multiple times of the post was that I was trying to understand what your angle for writing the post was. So while I think that the post was written with the goal of demarcating and pushing "your brand" of radical social justice from EA, you clearly seem to agree with the core "EA assumption" (i.e., that it's good to use careful reasoning and evidence to try to make the world better) even though you disagree on certain aspects about how to best implement this in practice. Thus, I would really encourage you to engage with the EA community in a collaborative and open spirit. As you can tell by the reactions here, criticism is well appreciated by the EA community if it is well reasoned and articulated. Of course there are some rules to this game (i.e., as mentioned elsewhere you should provide justification for your believes) but if you have good arguments for your position you might even affect systemic change in EA ;)

Hi Paolo, I apologise this is just a hot take, but from quickly reading the article, my impression was that most of the objections apply more to what we could call the 'near termist' school of EA rather than the longtermist one (which is very happy to work on difficult-to-predict or quantify interventions). You seem to basically point this out at one point in the article. When it comes to the longtermist school, my impression is that the core disagreement is ultimately about how important/tractable/neglected it is to do grassroots work to change the political & economic system compared to something like AI alignment. I'm curious if you agree.

You mention that:

Neither we nor they had any way of forecasting or quantifying the possible impact of [Extinction Rebellion]

and go on to talk about this is an example of the type of intervention that EA is likely to miss due to lack of quantifiability.

One think that would help us understand your point is to answer the following question:

If it's really not possible to make any kind of forecast about the impact of grassroots activism (or whatever intervention you would prefer), then on what basis do you support your claim that supporting grassroots act... (read more)

I'm excited to hear that! Looking forward to seeing the article. I particularly had trouble distinguishing between three potential criticisms you could be making:

  1. It's correct to try do the most good, but people who call themselves "EA's" define "good" incorrectly. For example, EA's might evaluate reparations on the basis of whether they eliminate poverty as opposed to whether they are just.
  2. It's correct to try to do the most good, but people who call themselves "EA's" are just empirically wrong about how to do this. For example, EA's focus too much on short
... (read more)