ren

I'm Renan Araújo, a Research Associate at Rethink Priorities.

I work in the General Longtermism team, where my primary focus involves making sense of how to prioritize among megaprojects and how to operationalize them. Currently (April 22), my work leads me to think about scalable movement building in LMIC.

Previously, I worked as a predoctoral research fellow at the Legal Priorities Project. There, I look into how constitutions protect future generations, what research should be done in space governance, and how extortion law may help reduce s-risks.

In a previous life, I considered following an academic career in criminology, did a master's in criminal justice policy at LSE, led a criminal justice reform volunteer group in Brazil, and earned a law degree.

You can reach out to me through my personal page and my LinkedIn. I'm happy to have 1-1s about various subjects, from career advice to space governance :)

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Recommended activity for local groups: Intro Crash Course

Thanks for sharing this experience in such detail! I appreciate learning more about different movement-building strategies. I have some questions:

  • In total, the crash course lasts 8 weeks, which seems like a similar length to intro fellowships. Have you considered making it more intensive, like over an extended weekend?
  • How did you select participants? Were there more people interested than vacancies available in any of the iterations?
  • Are the sessions themselves more active than traditional reading group sessions? If yes, do you think this made a difference in engagement?
  • Do you have data on how successful the fellowship and the "practical ethics" course have been? I'd be curious to compare results and learn more about the local context – would you say something particular about EA Israel or the universities you targeted influenced the outcomes?

Also, a suggestion: try a more descriptive title for this post, such as "EA Israel movement-building strategy and results: intro crash courses". I didn't expect this content from the title.

[$20K In Prizes] AI Safety Arguments Competition

"No one really likes safety, they like features" – Stefan Seltz-Axmacher lamented in his open letter announcing the end of Starsky Robotics in 2020. After founding and leading a company obsessed with making  driverless trucks safer, reducing the chance of fatality accidents from 1 in a thousand to 1 in a million, he announced they had to shut down due to a lack of investors' interest. Investors weren't impressed by the thousandfold increase in safety that Starsky Robotics achieved. Instead, they preferred the new features brought forth by Starsky's competitors, such as the ability to change lanes automatically or drive on surface streets. This crooked incentive structure favors businesses willing to take on risks that are clearly destructive in the world of driverless vehicles and can lead to catastrophic consequences as AI systems progress at large. If features are appealing but safety isn’t, who will invest on making sure language models are convincing writers but don’t massively deceive the public? Who will ensure weaponized AI systems efficiently react to threats but also accurately interpret blurred human values like the law of war? As AI capabilities advance, it will be necessary to prioritize safety over features in many cases — who will be up to the test?

Introducing Canopy Retreats

Loved the name! Could you give examples of what kinds of events you aim to provide assistance for? Retreats for highly-engaged EAs (eg, most pre/post-EAG retreats, team retreats), EA intro camps, rationality camps (eg, SPARC), all of these?

Advice on people management from EA Global

I've found versions of the Ben Readme document called "how to work with me" or "manuals of me" docs particularly useful. This is suggested by Notes on "Managing to Change the World", which links to Why you should write a “how to work with me” user manual.

Announcing What We Owe The Future

Is there a difference between ordering from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or somewhere else?

Operations is really demanding

But if GiveDirectly, Against Malaria Foundation, or any org that delivers aid/goods are within the scope of "high-impact organizations," then operations might be the org's core competency, rather than something (relatively) behind-the-scenes. Their operations teams are responsible for delivering the products.

I hadn't thought it those terms before. Thanks for this post!

Paul Farmer (1959 – 2022)

He apparently subscribed to "liberation theology" (roughly: Catholic socialism). This is perhaps one of the larger anti-poverty movements in the world, but it has zero mentions on the forum, since it is triply distant from us: religious, Latin American, and politically activist.

 

It's great you mentioned liberation theology. Here's some extra information since I've had some contact with it through social activism in Brazil:
 

  • Liberation theology grew especially strong in Brazil during the military dictatorship of 1964-1985, under the leadership of Dom Hélder Câmara. This guy names streets, schools, hospitals, and all sorts of things you can think of in the region where he worked as Archbishop (Recife, where I live). He's considered a saint by many.
  • The influence of liberation theology and its charismatic leaders is perceived well beyond the church. I worked with social movements in several cause areas and almost all of them are influenced by it to some extent: criminal justice,  land use (farmers), housing, education, public health, etc. There is a big "social movement forum" that gets all of these activists together to take the streets on Worker's Day every year. I'd guess they manage to gather 10-20k people on average. The" forum" is named after Dom Hélder Câmara.
  • However, the content of the ideology is fuzzy. I didn't come across people referring to seminal written works or clear concepts in the context of social activism. Mostly, being socialist and Catholic as Gavin described is as deep as it goes for most activists.
  • I guess the main merit of the ideology is to make altruistically-minded people care about politics and systemic change. It's a call to arms for Catholics to go beyond isolated acts of charity and work to change the system more profoundly, even if this means going against traditional values or the political establishment. This focus on actual change rather than aesthetic altruism may relate to EA to some extent.
  •  Dom Hélder's most famous saying, in the context of the far-right military dictatorship: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."
The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Generous prizes to attract young top talent to EA in big countries

Effective altruism

Prizes are a straightforward way to attract top talent to engage with EA ideas. They also require relatively low human capital or expertise and therefore are conceivably scalable for different countries. Through a nationwide selection process optimized for raw talent, ability to get things done, and altruistic alignment, an EA prize could quickly make the movement become well-known and prestigious in big countries. High school graduates and early university students would probably be the best target audience. The prize could come with a few strings attached, such as participating in a two-week-long EA fellowship, or with more intense commitments, such as working for a year on an EA-aligned project. Brazil and India are probably the best fit, considering their openness to Western ideas and philanthropic investment (in comparison to China and Russia). Other candidates may include the Philippines, where EA groups have been relatively successful, Indonesia, Argentina, Nigeria, and Mexico.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

CEA for the developing world

Effective Altruism

The main EA movement building organization, CEA, focuses primarily on talented students in top universities of developed countries. This seems to be due to a combination of geographical and cultural proximity, quantity of English speakers, and ease of finding top talent. However, there is a huge amount of untapped talent in developing countries that may be more easily reached through dedicated organizations optimized for being culturally, linguistically, and geographically close to such talent, such as a CEA for India or Brazil. Such an organization would develop its own goals and strategies tailored to their respective regions, such as prioritizing nationwide prizes over group-by-group support, hiring local EA talent to lead projects, and identifying and partnering with regionally influential universities and institutions. This project would not only contribute to increasing diversity in EA, but also foster organizational competition by allowing different movement building strategies, and better position the EA movement for unexpected geopolitical power shifts.

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