Topic Contributions


The EA movement’s values are drifting. You’re allowed to stay put.

While I agree with Vaidehi's comments on whether "value drift" is the right descriptor, I think it's true that proportion of in-practice-priorities has probably shifted.

As someone who endorses the overall shift towards longtermist priorities, I still do agree with this post. I think it's important people be thinking for themselves and not getting tugged along with social consensus.

If EA is no longer funding constrained, why should *I* give?

My answer is that you should primarily be focused on saving, so that you have the financial freedom to pivot, change jobs, learn more, or found an organization. Previously, I recommended new EAs (esp. college students) give 1%, save at least 10% (so that they were building at least some concrete altruistic habits, while mostly focusing on building up slack).

I think this remains good practice in the current environment. (Giving 1% is somewhat a symbolic gift in the first place, and I think it's still a useful forcing function to think about which organizations are valuable to you). But also, as long as you're concretely setting aside money and thinking about your future, I think that's a pretty good starting point.

Results from the First Decade Review

I'd fine it helpful with the spreadsheet to also have people's usernames listed beside the post.

Greg_Colbourn's Shortform

I agree with this, and think maybe this should just be a top-level post

Effective Altruism: The First Decade (Forum Review)

(LW Developer here: there's a code update ready-to-ship that updates the /reviewVoting page to show the outcome. It's been a bit delayed in merging roughly because JP and I are in different timezones)

Earning to Save (Give 1%, Save 10%)

I definitely still stand by the overall thrust of this post, which I'd summarize as:

"The default Recommended EA Action should include saving up runway. It's more important to be able to easily switch jobs, or pivot into a new career, or absorb shocks while you try risky endeavors, than to donate 10%, especially early in your career. This seems true to me regardless of whether you're primarily earning to give, or hoping to do direct work, or aren't sure."

I'm not particularly attached to my numbers here. I think people need more runway than they think, and I think 6 months of runway isn't enough for most people. But I'm not sure if it's more like 12 months or 36.


The world is shaped a bit differently than in 2018 though. There's more cryptorich people around. This has some impact on the strategically landscape but I'm not sure exactly how it shakes out. 

I think it mostly points towards earning to save being more important. We are bottlenecked more on agency, and good ideas, than we are on money. There's even more money now, so the main value of your money is in giving you flexibility to pursue really high value career paths.

(This might depend somewhat on how longtermist you are. Longtermism is sort of defined as 'you think the the most important things are the things with the worst feedback loops', and are most bottlenecked on knowledge.


One question is whether, if you got to pick one article to summarize this argument, you should go with my article here, or 80k's similar article. It looks lik they've updated their post to say "save enough for 6 - 24 months of runway." (The comments on this post suggest Ben Todd originally wrote "6 - 12". I think 6-12 is clearly too little, but 6-24 seems plausible.")

I haven't read the 80k article in detail, but suspect it is more thorough than my post here. I do  also suspect it could use a better headline/catchphrase to distill the advice down. 

I couldn't easily find that post on the EA Forum and am not sure how to crosspost it for the Decade Review, but it seems worth considering.

You Have About Five Words

I wrote a fairly detailed self-review of this post on the LessWrong 2019 Review last year. Here are some highlights:

  • I've since changed the title to "You have about Five Words" on LessWrong. I just changed it here to keep it consistent. 
  • I didn't really argue for why "about 5". My actual guess for the number of words you have is "between 2 and 7." IConcepts will, in the limit, end up getting compressed into a form that one person can easily/clumsily pass on to another person who's only kinda paying attention or only reads the headline. It'll hit some eventual limit, and I think that limit is determined by people's working memory capacity (about 4-7 chunks)
  • If you don't provide a deliberate way to compress the message down, it'll get compressed for you by memetic selection, and might end up distorting your message.
  • I don't actually have strong beliefs about when the 2-7-word limit kicks in. But I observed the EA movement running into problems where nuanced articles got condensed into slogans that EAs misinterpreted (i.e. "EA is Talent Constrained"), so I think it already applies at the level of organization of EA-2018.

See the rest of the review for more nuanced details.

Proposed Longtermist Flag

Oh man, this is pretty cool. I actually like the fact that it's sort of jagged and crazy.

What I learned from working at GiveWell

This was among the most important things I read recently, thanks! (Mostly via reminding me "geez holy hell it's really hard to know things.")

Mentorship, Management, and Mysterious Old Wizards

That is helpful, thanks. I've been sitting on this post for years and published it yesterday while thinking generally about "okay, but what do we do about the mentorship bottleneck? how much free energy is there?", and "make sure that starting-mentorship is frictionless" seems like an obvious mechanism to improve things.

Load More