Peter Wildeford

Co-CEO @ Rethink Priorities
17699 karmaJoined Aug 2014Working (6-15 years)Glenview, IL, USA


Along with my co-founder, Marcus A. Davis, I run Rethink Priorities. I'm also a Grant Manager for the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund and a top forecaster on Metaculus. Previously, I was a professional data scientist.

How others can help me

My goal is to scalably employ many well-qualified researchers to work on the world's most important problems.


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Oh ok, thanks! Sorry for my confusion.

I’m confused - elsewhere you identify yourself as the author of this post but here you are commenting as if you have independently reviewed it?

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To be clear, I don't think people have turned against earning to give as a concept, as in they think it's no longer good or something.

But I do think people have turned against "donating $5K a year to GiveWell[1] is sufficient to feel like I'm an EA in good standing, that I'm impactful, and that I can feel good about myself and what I'm doing for the world" as a concept. And this seems pretty sad to me.

Moreover, there's been a lot of pressure over the past five more recent years of EA to push people onto concrete "direct good" career paths, especially at the (elite) university level, and this is likely a good thing, but I think the next step is that people feel like failures if they don't succeed along this path, when that wouldn't be the emotions I would recommend.

  1. Feel free to substitute in Animal Charity Evaluators, non-profits working on existential risk, Rethink Priorities, etc. as "GiveWell" specifically is not the important part of my point. ↩︎

The TV show Loot, in Season 2 Episode 1, introduces a SBF-type character named Noah Hope DeVore, who is a billionaire wonderkid who invents "analytic altruism", which uses an algorithm to determine "the most statistically optimal ways" of saving lives and naturally comes up with malaria nets. However, Noah is later arrested by the FBI for wire fraud and various other financial offenses.

It's been lost a bit in all the noise, but I think people should still be very excited and satisfied about "earning to give" and donating.

Anyone who can donate $5000 via GiveWell can save a life.

Possibly you can do even better than that per dollar if you're okay accepting some premises around nonhuman animal welfare / sentience or risks from emerging technologies.

I think this is all very cool.

Moreover, while a $5000 donation is a big commitment, it is also achievable by a rather wide array of people. Many people are wealthy enough to do this donation, but do not do it, or donate far less effectively. You could have the same philanthropic power as a multi-millionaire philanthropist by allocating better.

If you earn a median income of ~$40K USD/yr[1] and spend $32,400[2], that gives you $7600 left over to donate each year, which could potentially save three lives every two years.

  1. As a single American. ↩︎

  2. Spend $6K/yr on taxes. Then spend $1K/mo on rent and $100/mo on utilities which is doable in most metropolitan areas in a small apartment or if you have roommates. Then maybe spend $300/mo on groceries and $300/mo on other things. Then save 15% of your income ($6K/yr), which is pretty standard financial advice. ↩︎

Bold move launching this apparently quite serious new process on April Fools Day.

Rather than give a price tag for each (as there's many), maybe you or other donors could flag the ones you're most interested in and I could let you know? (Also this may be helpful for our internal prioritization even if there weren't any money on the line.)

Hey, thanks for the feedback. I do think reasonable people can disagree about this policy and it entails an important trade-off.

To understand a bit about the other side of the trade-off, I would ask that you consider that we at RP are roughly an order of magnitude bigger than Lightcone Infrastructure and we need policies to be able to work well with ~70 people that I agree make no sense with ~7 (relatively independent, relatively senior) people.

Is it possible to elaborate at all on why they'd be particularly good fits for individual donors? I imagine in many cases the answer is a bit sensitive as to why OP may prefer to fund an org more but the org itself may prefer not to be funded by OP more but instead funded by individual donors. And I certainly can use my own private information to make some of those guesses. But reading this list it's actually pretty hard to tell what is going on.

Thank the heavens my prayers have been answered! My birthday wish came true! I’ve been waiting so long for this moment and it’s finally here! This is the true meaning of the holiday season!

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