ruthgrace

343Joined Jun 2020

Comments
46

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

I'm a bit confused on where you stand on this: on the one hand, you seem to be suggesting that it's not possible to derive a decent estimate on the likelihood of success, but on the other hand you are still suggesting that you think it is worth funding.

i think any estimate would have a confidence interval so wide that it would be useless. (I said "variance" before; maybe that's a less well known term)

how often do these kinds of social movements/reforms work

I think I've cited a pretty good example with the conservative legal movement. My belief is that with a good strategy and the right movement, it will work IF there are people obsessed with getting it done over their lifetime. This is obviously a difficult belief to prove true or false.

I especially take issue with the idea of "luck" being factored into the model... it's exactly this kind of question/uncertainty (e.g., the likelihood that the environment will be favorable or that people will be in the right place at the right time) that needs to be made more explicit.

This is difficult for me to swallow because "luck" is a huge factor in how getting things done in politics works. Something happens in the news and suddenly your cause area becomes super easy or super hard to advance. I'm not sure how this can be made more explicit in a model. Here's an example in criminal justice reform that I was recently reading about: ALEC is a big conservative think tank. You would never think that they would be for criminal justice reform. But some outreach from pro-reform conservatives over time PLUS media outrage about their "Stand your ground" law that people blamed for the killing of Trayvon Martin made it possible.

Curious where the crux of our disagreement is: Would you agree that some things that can't be measured are still worth doing? And is your belief also that pushing the abundance agenda can't possibly be more cost-effective than donations to AMF?

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

I don't think it's possible to do an analysis that makes sense at all, given that outcomes are so high variance and depends so much on the skill and strategy and luck of the people working on it. That doesn't mean no one should work on it. Open Philanthropy and the FTX future fund are uniquely positioned to be able to get effective at this kind of work and drive the kind of results no one else can

And I think they know this and have been trying; OpenPhil has done work in land use reform and criminal justice reform, for example. I'm not complaining about what people choose to do or not do, but I think my original statement about EA being biased against difficult-to-measure things is correct and makes sense with an evidence-based ideology

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

the only organizations I know that are trying to get low-income countries to become high-income countries are the World Bank, IMF, and Growth Teams

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

I think I'm convinced that getting low-income countries to develop into high-income countries is more important than the abundance agenda. OpenPhil has so much money that I'm pretty sure they should do both. As far as I know, they aren't doing either. A country is not going to develop through malarial net donations.

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

Yes, this is an interesting problem with new smart/planned cities! Probably not a problem with New York, San Francisco, and San Jose though

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

Thank you Vaidehi! I worked really hard on this and I'm glad it shows :)

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

appreciate your comment! Thanks for posting

I agree on the natural areas point; I would hope that we can increase density without decreasing the density of parks and playgrounds (though I would definitely be okay with decreasing the size of big ones that don't serve that many people)

I am wary of arguments that we need to do other difficult to do things like improving transit before we can build housing because the practical result is that nothing is going to be done at all, which is worse than if we build more housing and then people had to campaign or lobby to get the transit fixed to accommodate.

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

What do you think of what I wrote in the post about the USA being like a low income country within a high income country when it comes to health and poverty? I think there's value in making that not happen in high income countries , and it seems more tractable to me than developing a low income country because of the money is already there to do it

Open Philanthropy should fund the abundance agenda movement

thanks for your comment! I'm sure a lot of people reading this are thinking the same thing. Effective altruism in general is biased against systemic change due to it being difficult to measure and outcomes being diffuse. From my post

Pushing an abundance agenda means working towards a world where everyone expects business and government decisions to prioritize the supply of essential goods and services.

This isn't a list of policies, this is a cultural shift. Sure, I've listed a bunch of directly positive effects in my examples, but if this goal was actually achieved, it would mean a restoration of democracy[1] and trust in government. This is mitigating future harm done when business interests propose policy that stalls innovation and leads to shortages. And lack of trust in government and other public institutions is one of the big reasons it has been so difficult to fight this pandemic. You would never be able to calculate the value of building the kind of movement that reflects a change in public opinion in of QALYs. But I think it's really important that this work be done, especially in the context of people who are doing large scale movement building for non altruistic reasons, continually eroding democracy and trust in government. Without willingness to accept these kinds of diffuse outcomes, the scale of change that effective altruism can accomplish is limited.


  1. legislators disproportionality responsive to economic elites and business lobby that influence of average citizen is zero. Paper: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B Washington Post article responding to criticisms: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/05/23/critics-challenge-our-portrait-of-americas-political-inequality-heres-5-ways-they-are-wrong/ ↩︎

It's OK not to go into AI (for students)

I disagree with 2) because I think the movement will be able to get more done with more diverse backgrounds of people who are really good at different things. Even if AI is the most important thing, we need people who understand communications, policy, organizing grassroots movements, and also people who are good at completely unrelated fields who can understand the impact of AI on their field (manufacturing, agricuture, shipping logistics, etc) though there aren't those opportunities to do that work directly in AI right now.

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