All of Sanjay's Comments + Replies

How to help the Amazon Rainforest (fires)

Hi Iris Amazon, thank you for your interest in helping the Amazon rainforest in the most effective way possible.

I founded SoGive, an organisation which aims to help donors get EA-based answers to questions such as these. We have not done a careful review of this question, so this comment is off-the-cuff.

I suspect that the best way to help the rainforest is probably to support an animal welfare charity.

  • Avoiding deforestation is intrinsically effective at preserving the rainforest, and also deforestation is likely to cause forest fires (see, e.g., Cardil et
... (read more)
How would you run the Petrov Day game?

One thing that confused me about the game/ritual was that I had the power to inflict a bad thing, but there was no obvious upside.

All I had to do was ignore the email, which seemed too easy.

This seems to be a bad model for reality. People who control actual nuclear buttons perceive that they get some upside from using them (even if it's only the ability to bolster your image as some kind of "strong-man" in front of your electorate).

Perhaps an alternative version could allow those who use the "nuclear" codes to get an extra (say) 30 karma points if they use the codes?

3BenMillwood18dI think this correctly identifies a problem (not only is it a bad model for reality, it's also confusing for users IMO). I don't think extra karma points is the right fix, though, since I imagine a lot of people only care about karma insofar as it's a proxy for other people's opinions of their posts, which you can't just give 30 more of :) (also it's weird inasmuch as karma is a proxy for social trust, whereas nuking people probably lowers your social trust)
Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable

When I started thinking about these issues last year, my thinking was pretty similar to what you said. 

I thought about it and considered that for the biggest risks, investors may have a selfish incentive to avoid to model and manage the impacts that their companies have on the wider world -- if only because the wider world includes the rest of their own portfolio!

It turns out I was not the first to think of this concept, and its name is Universal Ownership. (I've described it on the forum here)

Universal Ownership doesn't go far enough, in my view, but... (read more)

What EA projects could grow to become megaprojects, eventually spending $100m per year?

As I alluded to in a comment to KHorton's related post, I believe SoGive could grow to spend something like this much money.

SoGive's core idea is to provide EA style analysis, but covering a much more comprehensive range of charities than the charities currently assessed by EA charity evaluators.

As mentioned there, benefits of this include:

  • SoGive could have a broader appeal because we would be useful to so many more people; it could conceivably achieve the level of brand recognition achieved by charity evaluators such as Charity Navigator, which have high
... (read more)
Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable

I believe that in time EA research/analysis orgs both could and should spend > $100m pa.

There are many non-EA orgs whose staff largely sit at a desk, and who spend >$100m, and I believe an EA org could too.

Let's consider one example. Standard & Poors  (S&P) spent c.$3.8bn in 2020 (source: 2020 accounts). They produce ratings on companies, governments, etc. These ratings help answer the question: "if I lend the company money, will I get my money back". Most major companies have a rating with S&P. (S&P also does other things like i... (read more)

1Jan-WillemvanPutten2moInteresting thougts Sanjay and I agree that we neglect the 60% for profit sector My biggest concern with your solution in one sentence: as long as people mostly care about money they want to act on advice that maximises their financial return. Of course we could " subsidise" a service like that for social profit, but as long as it is not in the systems interest to act on our advice it's useless. So changing the incentives of the system (through policy advocacy) or movement building (expanding the moral circle) seem more promosing from this viewpoint. On the other hand: once enough people are really interested in social profits we need to have the insights which companies do good and which do not. Maybe it's more a question of the right timing...
Part 3: Comparing agency organisational models

An EA-specific agency would have to be low-bono, offering major discounts to EA orgs - otherwise it would be indistinguishable from the countless existing for-profit agencies.

I think this needs justification. I'm currently aching for a tech agency I would trust, and I'm happy to pay market rates to get a decent agency to implement some EA projects.

If you told me you had such an agency, and it was peopled with EAs, that would be even better!

If you told me that you needed to pay your developers decent salaries, I could cope with paying a small premium.

2Stefan_Schubert3moI think the quoted passage isn't right - it would be distinguishable from existing for profit-agencies even if it didn't have any discounts.
1Arepo3moI had good interactions with Bitzesty. 8th Light also have a good reputation. I'm surprised you haven't been able to get other good word of mouth recommendations if you're happy to pay full price - what's been the challenge there?
How to explain AI risk/EA concepts to family and friends?

Not sure how good the Robert Miles channel is for mums (mine might not be particularly interested in his channel!) but for communicating about AI risk Robert Miles is (generally) good and I second this recommendation

EA needs consultancies

Just a quick comment to say that SoGive would be well positioned to be another consultancy providing services like Rethink.

We have collaborated with Rethink before (see this research) and are in moderately frequent informal contact with them.

We have c10 analysts who are a mixture of volunteers and staff. Mostly volunteers, as the organisation is funded solely by me, and there is a limit to what I can afford.

I'm open to the idea of us doing more of this sort of work, although it would need a discussion before we commit to anything, as we already have a sepa... (read more)

ESG investing needs thoughtful trade-offs

Thanks for this, good question!

I agree with your point that investors have some blind spots, in particular that some areas of finance are not good at incorporating long term considerations.

So I think you're right, the ESG concept probably could achieve some impact by helping address that sort of blind spot.

I probably should have said something more like "To judge whether I, as someone working in ESG investing, is having material impact, we need to see if I'm actually having an influence on scenarios where there is a tension/trade-off". This is because ESG-related work is already working to address that blind spot.

ESG investing needs thoughtful trade-offs

Sorry I didn't spot your comment earlier. Yes, more than happy for this to be shared more widely. Feel free to use this link if you wish: https://effectiveesg.com/2021/05/24/esg-investing-needs-thoughtful-trade-offs/ 

SoGive's moral weights -- please take part!

Thanks very much for pointing out that error -- now corrected. I've looked at the answers which have been recorded, and they include an answer which includes comments similar to the comment you made here, so I think it's been recorded. Thank you very much!

The $100trn opportunity: ESG investing should be a top priority for EA careers

I have now expanded the acronym when it's used in the first sentence.

1landfish6moThanks!
AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd

How nervous should we be about talking about/recommending action on AI risk?

I think a lot of people in the EA community worry that AI risk is "weird", sufficiently weird that you should probably be careful talking about it to a broad audience or recommending what they donate to. Many would fear alienating people or damaging credibility. (Especially when "AI risk" refers to the existential risks from AI, as opposed to, e.g., how algorithms could cause inadvertent bias/prejudice)

A thought experiment to make this more concrete: imagine you were organising a big sponsored event where lots of people would see 3 recommended charities. Would you recommend that (say) MIRI would be one of the recommended charities?

7Tom Chivers7mothis is a complex question. But I think I agree with whoever it was (Eliezer?) who said that there are weirdness points: you are allowed to be only so weird before people stop taking you seriously. You can decide to spend those weirdness points how you like, but once you spend them, they're gone. AI risk is obviously a lot more expensive in weirdness points than, say, deworming. So you'll be able to talk about it less before people start thinking of you as the weird AI-obsessed guy. I do think, though, that you can still do it, if you can explain that you're using the same processes - expected value etc - to reach the conclusions in AI as you did with more prosaic things like bednets or deworming. That's sort of what I did here [https://unherd.com/2020/08/what-worms-can-teach-us-about-the-ai-apocalypse/]. And if you try to pretend that AI/X-risk isn't part of what you're worrying about, then it looks like you're doing a scientology and hiding the weird stuff behind a friendly facade. All that being said, in your concrete example, I wouldn't include MIRI unless you're really sure that that is where you want to go. I speak as someone who really likes MIRI! But if it's a "this is your first taste of effective altruism" deal, then you're already asking people to take on board the idea that, actually, donating to Cancer Research UK is severely suboptimal and you should give it all to very specific infectious-disease charities in sub-Saharan Africa or whatever. That's weird and counterintuitive enough already, and I think taking people along that route one step at a time is probably wisest.
Why I'm concerned about Giving Green

Thank you to Alex for writing this piece, which I think is really helpful.

I am a Founder and Director of SoGive. We support donors to achieve more impact, and we influence c£1m per annum, the majority of which is from a very small number of major donors.

In this comment, I will say that I think the thrust of Alex's concerns are valid and still stand, to my mind. But first:

I want to take my hat off to the guys at Giving Green. 

My first tentative forays into getting SoGive going were as early as 2015 and the official start date was 2017, so it's taken a ... (read more)

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

There is a low cost to signing the petition, so no harm in doing so.

However a petition will have minimal upside too.

No MP will be surprised to know that some people are in favour of maintaining the 0.7%, but they will largely imagine those people to lefties who would never vote for a Conservative MP anyway.

Emails to your MP are more valuable because they help to bring you, an aid supporter, to life.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks Matt. One of our team is in close contact with Oxfam. Thank you.

1Matt C10moBrilliant - best of luck!
Update on the 0.7% (£4bn for the poor)

Thanks for your message sindirella.

Our approach came about as a result of conversations with people who know generally what works best in influencing lawmakers/lobbying, and specifically in the UK.

Agreed with alexrjl re opinion polls. Implementing a poll/survey is straightforward for us (I used to run a research team when I was a strategy consultant). The reason we're not doing it is that our discussions with experts suggest that there is not much value in doing this.

Update on the 0.7% (£4bn for the poor)

Great question! We want to do this, but there are a few practicalities we are working through. Also I think your experience would be really valuable for us -- I'll ping you a message.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks for the suggestion. 

We reached out to that MP and several other MPs and parliamentarians in the days immediately after the announcement, and are also in conversation with several NGOs active in this space, and other groups.

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks for asking OHR. One idea is set out in the comment which starts "Thank you very much Will K and Id25 for asking how you can help."

However a group of us have had our first meeting and in practice we have all been thinking through the connections and communities we belong to and working out ways to activate and work with them.

If anyone has the capacity to help, it would be great to have you involved. Ping me an email on sanjay_joshi { a t } hotmail.co.uk. 

£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thank you very much Will K and Id25 for asking how you can help.

Based on the conversations I've had with people thus far, I think the gap is for organisers/liaisers. I.e.

  • we will run some social media ads
  • most ads viewers will do nothing, some of the ad viewers will send an email to their MP (as requested), some will want to engage more
  • For those who want to engage more, we'll need people to talk with them -- these are the organisers/liaisers. We don't know yet how many of these people will be needed.

At the time I wrote this post, I thought there might be a g... (read more)

2Adam Binks1yAlongside social media ads, could one possible strategy be asking highly motivated constituency members in targeted areas (eg EAs, people that email their MP) to post similar content to the ads, to local Facebook groups and their own social media networks? Zero cost, and might extend reach beyond paid adverts. One risk is that if they're not very well informed they might misrepresent the message. In which case the campaign could provide materials for them to post (maybe identical to the ad content).
£4bn for the global poor: the UK's 0.7%

Thanks very much!

  • Timeline -- fairly urgent. There will be a bill going to parliament to change the law, and I don't think anyone knows exactly when that will be, but it can't be this side of Christmas (nothing works that quickly) and it will probably be before April (which is when the financial year starts). Given that they want it to go through and may anticipate opposition, I would guess late January.
  • Plan: which Tory MPs are relevant: for those which are bound to follow the whip (either because they always follow the whip, or because they are dead agains
... (read more)
1Sindy_Li1yThanks for your reply! Please keep us posted here on your plan and how to donate etc. as you figure them out. Another thought: may be helpful to work with some experienced NGO or someone experienced in political campaigning to craft the fb ads, targeting strategy etc. Seems like a pretty specialized thing worth drawing from existing expertise to maximize the chance of success.
Net value of saving a child's life from a negative utilitarian perspective?

I don't think they do. I seem to remember that this topic was debated some time back and GiveWell clarified their view that they don't see it this way, but rather they just consider the immediate impact of saving a life as an intrinsic good. (although I would be more confident claiming that this is a fair representation of GiveWell's views if I could find the place where they said this, and I can't remember where it is, so apologies if I'm misremembering)

Net value of saving a child's life from a negative utilitarian perspective?
Answer by SanjayOct 29, 202012

How I think of the impact of saving a life (by donating to the likes of AMF):

  • a life is saved, and the grief caused by that death is averted
  • the person whose life is saved lives the rest of their life
  • Total fertility rates reduce because of lower child mortality
  • In terms of total number of lives lived, the saving-lives effect and the reducing-fertility rates effect probably roughly cancel each other out in places were the current fertility is high (source: David Roodman on GiveWell blog)

So saving the life helps us, one life at a time, to transition to a world ... (read more)

1throwaway8551yThanks, Sanjay! David Roodman's findings had trickled through to me with a distortion, and it's very good to have that corrected. Saving lives somewhere like Chad or Niger (where apparently the offset is significantly less than 1:1) doesn't come into the career decision I'm making right now, so it looks like I'm safe. Though I think I'll want to make sure to do more reading on this before I donate to the GiveWell Maximum Impact Fund again. Unless they've made it a policy not to support life-saving work in places where the fertility-mortality offset is weaker?
The Vegan Value Asymmetry and its Consequences

Sorry if I misunderstood, but does this rest on the assumption that farmed animal welfare is net negative? More on this here: http://interestingthingsiveread.blogspot.com/2018/12/veganism-may-be-net-negative-but-we.html

1EricHerboso1yNo, the OP's argument is assuming that the lives of farmed animals is net negative. It's saying that farmed animal welfare might at most be neutral, which would mean that, on expectation, farmed animal welfare is harmful. Nevertheless, it would be less harmful than ignoring farmed animal welfare would be, which means farmed animal welfare is still net positive. Meanwhile, the argument in your link argues that farmed animal welfare may be net negative, but it relies on the opposite assumption that the lives of farmed animals may be net positive.
How can we improve online EA social events?

I've tried using gather town, and it's fine except for the minor detail that the tech often fails! Another platform called mingle space seems to have enough of the same good features, and seems to work more robustly.

Technology Non-Profits I could volunteer for?

If it's not too self-serving for me to mention this, the mental health chatbot that I run is in need of volunteers: more info here https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yWGaezWTuPY6LcJ4f/tio-a-mental-health-chatbot

I also run SoGive, an organisation with an exciting mission to expand our analysis to a broad range of charities. We need help with updating our website, so coders, especially those with frontend experience, would be great!

TIO: A mental health chatbot

Thanks very much Kris, I'm very pleased that you're interested in this enough to write these comments.

And as you're pointing out, I didn't respond to your earlier point about talking about the evidence base for an entire approach, as opposed to (e.g.) an approach applied to a specific diagnosis.

The claim that the "evidence base for CBT" is stronger than the "evidence base for Rogerian therapy" came from psychologists/psychiatrists who were using a bit of a shorthand -- i.e. I think they really mean something like &qu... (read more)

TIO: A mental health chatbot

Thank you for your comment Kris.

I'm unclear why you are hesitant about the claim of the potential to revolutionise the psychology evidence base. I wonder if you perhaps inadvertently used a strawman of my argument by only reading the section which you quoted? This was not intended to support the claim about the bot's potential to revolutionise the psychology evidence base.

Instead, it might be more helpful to refer to Appendix 2; I include a heavily abbreviated version here:

The source for much of this section is conversations with existing profes
... (read more)
1KrisMartens1yThanks for your reply, I hope I'm not wasting your time. But appendix 2 also seems to imply that the evidence base for CBT is for it as an approach in its entirety. What we think that works in a CBT protocol for depression is different than what we think that works in a CBT protocol for panic disorder (or OCD, or ...). And there is data for which groups none of those protocols work. In CBT that is mainly based on a functional analysis (or assumed processes), and that functional analysis would create the context in which specific things one would or wouldn't say. This also provides context to how you would define 'empathetic responses'. (There is a paper from 1966 [https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1966-04313-001] claiming that Rogers probably also used implicit functional analyses to 'decide' to what extent he would or wouldn't reinforce certain (mal)adaptive behaviors, just to show how old this discussion is. The bot might generate very interesting results to contribute to that discussion!) Would you consider evidence that a specific diagnosis-aimed CBT protocol works better than a general CBT protocol for a specific group as relevant to the claim that there is evidence about which reactions (sentences) would or wouldn't work (for whom)? So I just can't imagine revolutionizing the evidence base for psychological treatments using a 'uniform' approach (and thus without taking characteristics of the person into account), but maybe I don't get how diverse this bot is. I just interacted a bit with the test version, and it supported my hypothesis about it potentially being (a bit) harmful to certain groups of people. (*edit* you seem to anticipate on this but not encouraging re-use). But still great for most people!
TIO: A mental health chatbot

Thank you very much for taking the time to have a look at this.

(1) For links to the bot, I recommend having a look at the end of Appendix 1a, where I provide links to the bot, but also explain that people who aren't feeling low tend not to behave like real users, so it might be easier to look at one of the videos/recordings that we've made, which show some fictional conversations which are more realistic.

(2) Re retention, we have deliberately avoided measuring this, because we haven't thought through whether that would count as being creepy ... (read more)

Crowdfunding platform tips?

We used kickstarter when we did one. I think we were swayed by the possibility that Kickstarter might recognise how wonderful our project was and we might be selected as one of the projects that people see when they arrive on the main page. If you get this, it's essentially hugely valuable free publicity.

In retrospect, I think this was naive, and probably a mistake. Kickstarter takes (if I remember correctly) 5% of the funds, which is quite a bit.

1Ryan Wilcox1yHi Sanjay, thanks for sharing your crowdfunding thoughts. I just put my first campaign together for Suvita (all about increasing immunization rates in India). www.gofundme.com/f/suvita [http://www.gofundme.com/f/suvita]. Feel free to share. It was helpful to hear your thoughts and check out your Kickstarter. I appreciate it.
1Ryan Wilcox1yThank you for the info, Sanjay!
What types of charity will be the most effective for creating a more equal society?
Answer by SanjayOct 12, 202045

This question appears to be unpopular -- at time of writing it has a karma of -6.

However I'd like to defend/steelman this question.

First, let's try to understand those who appear not to like this post.

The post makes the claim that inequality is the "the root cause of most of society's ills", however it does not provide evidence for this claim.

I'm not going to try to defend this claim.

What I will say is that whether or not the claim is correct, I would like the Effective Altruism community to be able to help with the question r... (read more)

No More Pandemics: a grassroots group?

Cool, I'd never heard of him, thanks!

Getting money out of politics and into charity

I would find it extremely surprising if compromising on charity choice led to you getting 10x more donations. Based on past experience, I'd surprised if it got you 10% more donations.

Many people would express preferences about where to donate if asked if they have preferences. However if they are going through a donation UX, every time they have one fewer click it's a win for them, and very few donors have preferences strong enough to overcome their desire for a clean UX. (I think this is intuitive for many non-EA people).

Hence my recommendation to focus on just one charity (or basket of high impact charities), but allow users the option to donate to anything if they don't like the default choice.

No More Pandemics: a grassroots group?

Allfed's work is very exciting, and I hope you all do great things and ensure we are all kept safe.

My intuition says that the No More Pandemics concept would resonate more with the voting population (and, perhaps as important, would seem to the typical political representative to resonate more with the voting population) than a backup plan concept. But I could be persuaded otherwise.

No More Pandemics: a grassroots group?

As far as I'm aware (and it might be worth finding/doing some research to verify this?)

  • The *response* to the pandemic is politicised, and more so in the US than elsewhere (or at least more so than the UK, and probably elsewhere too)
  • The view that pandemics are bad and we should prevent them if we can has bilateral support
  • Hence I think it's probably more straightforward for this group to be on the side of defeating pandemics, and not take sides politically

However that's lots that I don't know about politics, esp in the US, so if someone knows more than me about this I'm happy to hear alternative views.

Getting money out of politics and into charity

Re veterans' charities:

I don't have a strong opinion on this, because my experiences are more based on the UK than the US, which may be different.

However if your intuition said that veterans charities are more likely to appeal to Republicans than Democrats, Democrats might have the same intuition

What I can say is that veterans' charities (certainly in the UK, and probably in the US too) are rich with organisations whose impact enormously underperforms AMF. By several orders of magnitude. So if you did decide to include a veterans' chari... (read more)

1UnexpectedValues1yThanks. Basically the way I'm thinking about this in my head is: we have some effective charities, and some charities that are meant to encourage people to participate. If we end up getting 10 million in donations, only a quarter of which goes to effective charities, I think that would be a bigger success than getting 1 million in donations, all of which goes to effective charities. I'm thinking about the most effective way to get the platform off the ground, because if it doesn't get off the ground then no money will be sent to charities anyway, and at least my intuition is that it may be helpful to have some charities that are not effective but appealing. (On the other hand, what some people have said about people not wanting to choose between charities and being okay with whatever has made me update against this.) Do you think this strategy would be misguided?
If you like a post, tell the author!

I am supportive of this. May I also suggest that there's more than one way to tell the author?

  • I have occasionally received a comment at the bottom of the post, saying something like "I liked this post", or "this was really interesting, thank you!". I have liked these comments.
  • Occasionally, people have taken the effort send a message via the EA Forum's messaging mechanism to tell me how much they like a post. This has been really lovely.
Getting money out of politics and into charity

What a beautiful idea! De-escalating the political campaigning spend arms race and redirecting the money to high-impact charity sounds lovely! I have some thoughts, not all encouraging.

(1) I suspect your platform might not actually generate much donations

Getting donors to actually navigate to a donation platform is notoriously hard.

My intuition says that the idea is cute enough that it will get some attention (including, perhaps, from the press) but not enough to move lots of money.

However that's just my intuition. Don't trust it. A better guide... (read more)

6Jamie_Harris1yYou (the OP) could also think of collaborating with an existing platform as a lower cost test of the idea. If it works well in that situation and you later realise that the lack of a tailored platform is a barrier to scaling up, you could seek to create one at that point. Another thought on the lower cost test idea: try to get buy-in from Republicans before spending as much time on outreach to Democrats. If you're failing to get interest from Republicans, the idea might not work. (Also, like Sanjay, I really like the idea in principle.)
1UnexpectedValues1yThanks -- that was really helpful! The 4x rule of thumb you mentioned makes sense and is good to know. We may contact you about collaborating; we're probably not yet at the stage where we'll be making this decision, but we'll keep you posted! And your "nudging" suggestion makes sense, especially in light of what Ryan Carey said about people hating choosing between charities. I did find one thing you said a bit odd, which is that veterans' charities strike you as political. To me they seem fairly apolitical, as people all across the political spectrum support veterans (even if Republicans tend to feel more positively). I don't think a Democrat would feel negatively about someone donating to a veterans' charity. But I'm curious whether other people think veterans' charities are political. (Because I do think that we will ultimately need to make a concerted effort to appeal to Republicans, and this feels to me like a way to do that without alienating Democrats.)
No More Pandemics: a grassroots group?

Thank you!

How long until the world risks under-reacting to a pandemic?

There's an uncertainty over how long we'll remain well-prepared for a future pandemic. For example, this study (conducted by my organisation SoGive) surveyed some biorisk orgs. To see the answers, I suggest looking at this comment, and reviewing the answers to the first question:

"Do you think that the world will handle future pandemics and bio risks better as a result of having gone through the current coronavirus pandemic?"

As can be seen, there were several pessimist... (read more)

1--alex--1yGradual changes in institutional norms and traditions in other domains can provide transferrable lessons. For example, economists and politicians handled the 2008 Financial Crisis far better than the 1930s Great Depression. Perhaps if they hadn't disregarded the lessons from the depression they could have prevented the financial crisis altogether. I've been reading Arguing with Zombies by Paul Krugman and the long-term challenges with "No More Pandemics" (great branding, btw) sound similar. Scott Alexander nicely summarizes this tension between tradition and rationality in his review of Joseph Henrich's The Secret of Our Success [https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/04/book-review-the-secret-of-our-success/] :
No More Pandemics: a grassroots group?

Thanks Matt, this is very much appreciated.

I agree that exhorting government to just "do something" sounds clearly suboptimal, and possibly unhelpful.

Using the initial steps that I've taken thus far as a model, it's involved speaking to existing biosecurity experts closely to work out precisely what to ask for (a process which is still ongoing).

Considering exactly who is the right group to lobby does indeed make sense, thank you for raising this.

Feedback Request on EA Philippines' Career Advice Research for Technical AI Safety

Good work Brian! I'm guessing it would be a good idea to cross-post this to the AI Alignment forum: https://www.alignmentforum.org/ (although I'm not mega familiar with the norms on that forum)

1BrianTan1yThanks Sanjay! I've applied to be a member of the AI Alignment forum yesterday, but I haven't heard back. It seems like they have a high bar to who they allow to post there and what types of posts they post there. I've gotten a couple of comments from Ryan Carey and Rohin Shah so far though on the article, and that might be enough for me.
What actually is the argument for effective altruism?

I don't think I would have the patience for EA thinking if the spread weren't big. Why bother with a bunch of sophisticated-looking models and arguments to only make a small improvement in impact? Surely it's better to just get out there and do good?

1tomstocker1yCertainly there's a risk that it turns into a community wide equivalent of procrastination if the spreads are low. Would love someone to tackle that rigorously and empirically!
2jackmalde1yDepends. As Ben and Aaron explain in their comments, high identifiability should in theory be able to offset low spread. In other words, if the opportunity cost of engaging in EA thinking is small enough, it might be worth engaging in it even if the gain from doing so is also small.
Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs?
Answer by SanjaySep 08, 202016

Hi Marcus, I think this sounds like a great idea.

There are a number of communities that have been created across the EA space which bring together people with a professional affiliation (I see Aaron has mentioned REG, which is likely the most similar to your concept). I don't believe this has been done with pro athletes before.

I founded and run a group called SoGive which raises funds and does analysis on charities.

I would be happy to connect with you and support you if that would help; I'll send you a direct message on the EA Forum.

1Marcus Daniell1yThanks Sanjay, I'll pm you!
We're (surprisingly) more positive about tackling bio risks: outcomes of a survey

Thanks Soeren, this is a useful point to help to tease out the thinking more clearly:

  • Agree that major institutions/governments will invest better in pandemic preparedness for some (unknown) number of years from now (better than recently, anyway)
  • Also expect that this work will be inadequate, by (for example) overindexing/overfitting on what's happened before (flu with fatality rate of 2.5% or less, or another coronavirus), but not anticipating other possible pandemics (Nipah, Hendra, or man-made)
  • If you had asked me in (say) early April, I would have gu
... (read more)
2SoerenMind1yMakes sense. I guess then the question is if the work of everyone except the x-risk focused NGOs helps reduce r x-risk much. I tend to think yes since much of pandemic preparedness also addresses the worst case scenarios. But that seems to be an open question.
Risks from Atomically Precise Manufacturing

I raised a similar question on the Effective Altruism fb group last year.

Notable responses included the comment from Howie Lempel which reiterated the points in the Open Phil article about how it seemed unlikely that someone watching the field would fail to notice if there was a sudden increase in capabilities.

Also Rob Wiblin commented to ask to make it clear that 80,000 hours doesn't necessarily endorse the view that nanotech/APM is as high a risk as that survey suggests.

What is a good answer for people new to EA that request advice on volunteering?

SoGive offers volunteering opportunities doing charity analysis. If you're interested, get in touch with me via sanjay [at] sogive.org

1C Tilli1yThanks!
Quotes about the long reflection

I'm slightly confused about the long reflection.

I understand it involves "maybe <...> 10 billion people, debating and working on these issues for 10,000 years". And *only after that* can people consider actions which may have a long term impact on humanity.

How do we ensure that

(a) everyone gets involved with working on these issues? (presumably some people are just not interested in thinking about this? Getting people to work on things they're unsuited for seems unhelpful and unpleasant)

(b) Actions that could have a long term im... (read more)

4MichaelA1yOn (b): The first thing to note is that the Long Reflection doesn't require stopping any actions "that could have a long term impact", and certainly not stopping people considering such actions. (I assume by "consider" you meant "consider doing it this year", or something like that?) It requires stopping people taking actions that we're not yet confident won't turn out to have been major, irreversible mistakes. So people could still do things we're already very confident are good, or things that are relatively minor. Some good stuff from The Precipice on this, mainly from footnotes: Also: Also: Somewhat less relevant: With this in mind, we can tweak your question to "Some actions that could turn out to be major, irreversible mistakes from a the perspective of the long-term future could be taken unilaterally. How could people be stopped from doing that during the Long Reflection?" This ends up being roughly equivalent to the question "How could we get existential risk per year low enough that we can be confident of maintaining our potential for the entire duration of the Long Reflection (without having to take actions like locking in our best guess to avoid being preempted by something worse)?" I don't think anyone has a detailed answer to that. But one sort-of promising thing is that we may have to end up with some decent ideas of answers to that in order to just avoid existential catastrophe in the first place. I.e., conditional on humanity getting to a Long Reflection process, my credence that humanity has good answers to those sorts of problems is higher than my current credence on that matter. (This is also something I plan to discuss a bit more in those upcoming(ish) drafts.)
2MichaelA1yI think being left slightly confused about the long reflection after reading these quotes is quite understandable. These quotes don't add up to a sufficiently detailed treatment of the topic. Luckily, since I posted this, Toby Ord gave a somewhat more detailed treatment in Chapter 7 of The Precipice, as well as in his 80k interview [http://I’ll be starting a fellowship with the Center on Long-Term Risk in August, but I wrote this post in my personal capacity, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the views of other people at CLR. (Also, I don’t personally subscribe to suffering-focused ethics.)]. These sources provide Ord's brief thoughts on roughly the questions you raise. Though I still think more work needs to be done here, including on matters related to your question (b). I've got some drafts coming up which will discuss similar matters, and hopefully MacAskill's book on longtermism will go into more detail on the topic as a whole. On (a): I don't think everyone should be working on these questions, nor does Ord. I'd guess MacAskill doesn't, though I'm not sure. He might mean something like "the 10 billion people interested and suited to this work, out of the 20+ billion people alive per generation at that point", or "this is one of the major tasks being undertaken by humanity, with 10 billion people per generation thus contributing at least indirectly, e.g. by keeping the economy moving". I also suspect we should, or at least will, spend under 10,000 years on this (even if we get our act together regarding existential risks). Ord writes in The Precipice:
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