All of Sebastian Schwiecker's Comments + Replies

Introducing TEAMWORK - an EA Coworking Space in Berlin

Very rough monthly cost all in (rent, insurance, electricity, heating, cleaning, internet... ) is around 3.500€. In addition we had some upfront costs (mostly furniture) of around 11,000€. We currently also tend to buy a lot of new stuff which adds up to a couple of hundreds of Euros every month (e.g. we got a Microwave today, last week we bought an air purifier... ). Next week we will get some phone booths which will luckily be paid for through a grant from the EA Infrastructure Fund though (around 14,000€ for 4).

So currently we are still subsidizing the ... (read more)

What are the 'PlayPumps' of cause prioritisation?

Great project. Really looking forward to it.

One example that came to mind is this old blog post by GiveWell comparing "saving a child’s life in Africa to that of helping improve a child’s education in the New York City":

Effektiv Spenden - Fundraising and 2021 Plans

Our own fundraiser was quite successful so we should be covered to pursue our original plans without limitations till at least the beginning of 2021. But since the donation volume in 2020 turned out to be much bigger than expected (at least a 6x increase compared to 2019 according to preliminary numbers) we are in the process of updating our plans and have some ideas how to use additional capital in a promising way (eg internationalization). So I'm happy to talk if you know someone... ;-)

Effektiv Spenden - Fundraising and 2021 Plans

Hi Chi!

Thanks for your comments. We'll most likely start to "gender" once we relaunch the website somewhen in the next couple of quarters. The reason why I'm reluctant to do this is because I'm quite certain that this will decrease the mass appeal of the website. So when we do it we'll do it with the expectation of decreasing the amount of donations. Reasons are: 

- Currently our site is kind of gender neutral already since we don't just use the male version but male and female versions alternate (see (read more)

2MaxRa10moI recently discussed this with a friend and found a poll among Wikipedia authors from 2019, showing that a clear majority prefer the generic masculine over gender-neutral alternatives. [] I’m still unsure about this, but personally I found that discussing this topic for a few hours has not convinced me of the importance of using those new gender-neutral forms, except insofar it is really important for some fraction of students who tend to be politically active and open to EA ideas and who feel like women are kind-of actively excluded in the common language. It also feels to me a bit like an in-group signal of progressive groups and I cringed a few times when I felt socially compelled into using it.
The German Effective Altruism Network - recap 2020

I'm also not sure if Germany is leading on climate issues but the work of John Halstead's and Johannes Ackva (and also Hauke Hillebrandt through Let's Fund) have been very valuable to the effective giving efforts through

2jared_m10mo(I should clarify my informal statement about "leadership on climate issues." Without getting into CDU/CSU vs. SPD vs. Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen, et al [or Macron vs. Merkel] debates, many climate advocates from the U.S. and the U.K. give: — Germany credit for its efforts in making renewables widespread and affordable [] , both in Europe and beyond — Merkel credit for her pressure on climate skeptics within the EU [] and elsewhere, which led many to consider her the de facto "leader of the free world" in 2017-2021 [] Again this is one North American's perspective on dynamics in Berlin and Brussels that may be a skewed perception of reality, but wanted to share the reasoning behind the comment!) Thanks for also giving me the impetus to check out, and the Die besten Organisationen im Bereich Klimaschutz! section, for the first time.
Effektiv Spenden - Fundraising and 2021 Plans

Hi Brian!

There is a breakdown for all individual organizations:

Against Malaria Foundation: 111,147.50 Euro
Deworm the World: 149,701.57 Euro
GiveDirectly: 251,463.61 Euro
Malaria Consortium: 116,394.15 Euro 

Clean Air Task Force: 83,174.71 Euro
Coalition for Rainforest Nations: 142,242.56 Euro
ITIF: 62,650.22 Euro 

Good Food Institute: 66,687.53 Euro
The Humane League: 43,532.53 Euro


It's important though that we only offered GiveWell recommended charities for the first 7 month and that most of the ... (read more)

AMA: Tobias Baumann, Center for Reducing Suffering

Thanks for the reply. With regard to drugs I think it depends on the situation. Many people drink alcohol even if they are in a good mood already to get even more excited (while being fully aware that they might experience at least some kind of suffering the next day and possibly long term). In this case I think one couldn't say they do it to avoid suffering (unless you declare everything below the best possible experience suffering). There are obviously other cases were people just want to stop thinking about their problems, stop feeling a physical pain etc.

7antimonyanthony1yI don't think that if someone rejects the rationality of trading off neutrality for a combination of happiness and suffering, they need to explain every case of this. (Analogously, the fact that people often do things for reasons other than maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain isn't an argument against ethical hedonism, just psychological hedonism.) Some trades might just be frankly irrational or mistaken, and one can point to biases that lead to such behavior.
AMA: Tobias Baumann, Center for Reducing Suffering

One of my most confusing experiences with EA in the last couple of month has been this poll where you and your colleauge Magnus stated that one day of extreme suffering (drowning in lava) could not be outweighed by even an (almost) infinite number of days experience extreme happiness (which was the answer with the most upvotes). Some stated in the comments that even a chance of “1 in a gogol probability of 1 minute in lava” could never be outweighed by an (almost)... (read more)

Concerning how EA views on this compare to the views of the general population, I suspect they aren’t all that different. Two bits of weak evidence:


Brian Tomasik did a small, admittedly unrepresentative and imperfect Mechanical Turk survey in which he asked people the following:

At the end of your life, you'll get an additional X years of happy, youthful, and interesting life if you first agree to be covered in gasoline and burned in flames for one minute. How big would X have to be before you'd accept the deal?

More than 40 percent said t... (read more)

I don’t think this view is necessary to prioritise s-risk. A finite but relatively high “trade ratio” between happiness and suffering can be enough to focus on s-risks. In addition, I think it’s more complicated than putting some numbers on happiness vs. suffering. (See here for more details.) For instance, one should distinguish between the intrapersonal and the interpersonal setting - a common intuition is that one man’s pain can’t be outweighed by another’s pleasure.

Another possibility is lexicality: one... (read more)

4 For me it seems like people constantly trade happiness for suffering (taking drugs expecting a hangover, eating unhealthy stuff expecting health problems or even just feeling full, finishing that show on Netflix instead of going to sleep… ). Those are reasons for me to believe that most people might not want to compensate suffering through happiness 1:1 , but are also far from expecting 1:10^17 returns or even stating there is no return which potentially could compensate any kind of suffering.


One counterargument that has been raised against this is... (read more)

EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

Thanks for the nice words.

I also think there could me more Unconferences in the future. Every month might be a bit much, but every quarter or every 6 month might work. Currently we (or at least I) have no plans to organize another event but that might change soon. In case you are interested, please feel free to start planning. 2019 - Year in Review

Yeah, you are right that although we didn't emphasize it some journalists asked about EA and made it part of their coverage. I don't think that this has been negative but one challenge might be not to give the wrong impression that EA is only about donating money (we are at least aware of it). 2019 - Year in Review

Yes, but concerning tax deductibility Austria seems to be one of the hardest countries to get into. You actually have to get on a small list of tax exempt Organizations provided by the Austrian financial authorities which might take years. Therefore it currently is not a priority for us but we might get back to it one day. 2019 - Year in Review

Thanks for your questions/comments.

With regards to we plan to ran it as an independent project with some community input and at least initially oversight from the EAF. The outreach strategies will be different and overall much less active for

With regards to the Media our biggest successes have been to be portrayed in German television several times (see eg or ). Thisc... (read more)

Sebastian, those two media reports seem rather positive and you outline your cause very well. I also realize that this is something you have less control over, but both of those clips have a clear association with EA. They both talk about William MacAskill as the founder of EA, the second one has a tag calling you "Supporter of Effective Altruism", while the first one has a separate interview with an anonymous person who is being introduced and interviewed as a member of the EA community. Thus at least those two clips *did* have a strong emphasis... (read more)

Why and how the EA-Movement has to change

What kind of activities would you like your local group to offer and what is stopping you from implementing these changes (within or even outside of the local group)? This is meant to be an honest question. Maybe other people could help you (from CEA, from other groups, people here in the forum... ).

1Hans Waschke-Wischedag1yGreat Question. I just think that along with the social aspect of a local group, the group should mainly provide feedback and help. I have of course tried to speak about what I do to improve the world we live in. The problem really is that (at least within this group) new ideas are extremely rare and do not get a lot of reception. It is more like a echo chamber of confirmation for the group members. I am very unsure wether I should bother CEA with this since it might waste their time as well.
AMA: Rob Mather, founder and CEO of the Against Malaria Foundation

Obviously anecdotal evidence but I don't know anyone who responds faster to email than you do (especially for people with similar responsibilities). Is this a habit that you consciously cultivate? If so, why?

Yes, I try and respond quickly (meetings, calls, other commitments etc notwithstanding) out of courtesy and a desire to allow others to keep going with their projects and work, without me holding them up. The speed with which I am able to respond to an email will also depend on whether the response is clear and simple, meaning a quick response is possible, or requires more thought, data collection, liaising with others etc, which leads to a longer response time.

AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

Why do you recommend Oxfam but not The End Fund (recommended by GiveWell)?

7Jon_Behar2yHere’s how our Oxfam information page describes why we recommend them. (FYI, on each charity’s information page we have an FAQ explaining our recommendation). The fact that we don’t recommend The End Fund definitely shouldn’t be interpreted as a negative assessment of their work. Rather, it relates to your other question [] about the “paradox of choice.” We recommend SCI and Evidence Action (which runs Deworm the World), and generally don’t want to recommend many charities performing similar interventions without a compelling reason, as we think this will be confusing to donors. In some cases, we do think there’s a good reason to have multiple charities performing similar interventions. For instance, we added Malaria Consortium to our list (which already included AMF) when GiveWell rated the former’s marginal cost-effectiveness as higher than the latter’s. We also have multiple food fortification recommendations which were added at the same time, and which we didn’t feel like we had good reason to distinguish between, but once those were already on our list we declined to add the Food Fortification Initiative when GiveWell later added it as a standout charity. As the previous examples show, there’s some path dependency to our list (i.e. the order in which we add charities matters). This reflects our belief that 1) all else equal, we want our list to be simple for donors with minimal overlap and 2) we think removing a charity from our list because we added a similar one that might be slightly better would send an inappropriately negative signal about the charity we removed.
AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything!

If I get it right you target not only EAs but also "the average donor". In this case have you ever thought that it might be confusing to offer so many charities and that this could lead to a paradox of choice kind of situation? Eg several charities working on deworming (an intervention "the average donors" probably has never heard of before).

This is another excellent question. I think before I became involved with The Life You Can Save (TLYCS) and the Giving Games Project, I personally underestimated how much “the average donor” decides where to donate at least partially based on an interest in or personal connection to a particular issue. Given these considerations, The Life You Can Save present our recommended nonprofits with diverse focus areas, types of interventions, and location of operations. Jon goes into more detail about why we sometimes recommend nonprofits which overl... (read more)

What should Founders Pledge research?

Mental health (especially in developing countries --> eg a more thorough look at Strong Minds etc.).