All of SjirH's Comments + Replies

Event-driven mission hedging and the 2020 US election

Thanks for this post jh. It's an interesting idea that indeed seems worth exploring more. As an aside/Just musing, I wonder whether there are opportunities to correlate things that we'd like to be correlated with each other beyond philanthropy, e.g. in our careers or personal lives.

7jh4moThanks Sjir. Interesting thought to muse on. Just quickly riffing on the example in this post, if you have a great business idea that will only work under one politician you might bet on them. Or if you think one politician will be good for your current job, but the other could make it optimal for you to retrain and change jobs, then bet on the other. Or if one will make you want to leave the country, then bet on them to help with your moving costs.
Where are you donating in 2020 and why?

Hi George, thanks for sharing this! You wrote in your blog that you were considering investing your money, but that this was difficult in the UK. If you are referring to investing to give rather than just postponing for a year, FYI we'll likely have a Long-Term Investment Fund at Founders Pledge by the end of next year, which we might open up to the public and will likely be accessible from the UK. Do let me know if this would interest you, as knowing there is non-member interest might inform our decisions around opening it up.

1GMcGowan10moThanks for reading! I meant investing for a shortish period of time, and retaining control of the funds until I donate. So it would mostly be about deferring the decision for a bit while still getting tax benefits, as opposed to delegating the decision to the trustees of the Long-Term Fund. I lean towards giving sooner instead of later for "hinginess" reasons. I also think the vast majority of EA resources are already invested in some sense (in human capital, expansion orientated organisations or Open Philanthropy finances). I do think your fund is a good idea though, I can imagine changing my mind and there are certainly plenty of people who disagree with me!
Investing to Give: FP Research Report

Good question! There certainly is a strong case for funding global priorities research now, but there are multiple reasons why investing to give could still be better:

  • Certain insights make other insights easier to have: there might be a certain order in which insights need to be had, or at least a certain order might make things easier, and this could take time.
  • Funding to achieve these insights might be done by someone else in the counterfactual, and this other person or institution might not otherwise give to (as) high-impact stuff. Note that I'm not j
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The case for investing to give later

We certainly do, though we normally receive our funding from a small group of closely-connected funders rather than collecting donations publicly. But if you're interested in making a donation, please do reach out to :).

Investing to Give: FP Research Report

Thanks for your comment. Please note though that most types of "flow-through effects" (including those in your example, if I understand you correctly) are included in the analysis.

Investment-like giving opportunities (as defined in the report) are only a very small subset of interventions with substantial flow-through effects, namely those whose gains are reprioritised towards the highest-impact opportunities at a later point in time. Giving to them is similar to investing to give in that both can benefit from exogenous learning.

1bshumway1yI dont think that all flow through effects are (or even can be) quantified by this sort of analysis. It is surely much easier to measure the growth from an investment account than to quantify the impact of a human life or the downstream effects of improving a human life. As far as I am aware, efforts to quantify this sort of effect are not yet available to the level that I would feel very confident about a side by side comparison. If you are aware of something you believe allows for such comparison, I would be very interested in reading that.
The case for investing to give later
That is to say: if there's a sufficient compounding effect from movement building that we can't replace with money, then maybe we should spend a lot now on movement building.

I agree in principle, though it seems harder to ensure for other categories of movement-building that they will lead to prolonged compounding: encouraging investment seems the most straightforward way to make that happen, but not necessarily the only way.

4MichaelA1yRelevant quote from Philip Trammell's interview on the 80,000 Hours podcast [] : (I think he also discusses similar matters in his write-up [], but I can't remember for sure.)
The case for investing to give later

Thanks both! I largely agree and have incorporated an updated estimate into the new model (see above).

The case for investing to give later

Thank you MichaelA; happy to hear this was useful to you. I look forward to reading your post as well.

The case for investing to give later

Thanks! I largely agree with your comment on the risk of loss and have incorporated it into the new model.

The case for investing to give later
If (say) the total pool of EA-aligned funds grows by 50% over the next 5 years due to additional donors joining—which seems extremely plausible—it seems like that should make the marginal opportunity much more than 10% less good.

I'm not sure whether it would, considering, for example, the large room for funding GiveWell opportunities have had for multiple years (and will likely keep having) and their seemingly hardly diminishing cost-effectiveness on the margin (though data are obviously noisy here/there are other explanations).

But I do ... (read more)

GiveWell top charities are relatively extreme in the flatness of their returns curves among areas EA is active in, which is related to their being part of a vast funding pool of global health/foreign aid spending, which EA contributions don't proportionately increase much.

In other areas like animal welfare and AI risk EA is a very large proportional source of funding. So this would seem to require an important bet that areas with relatively flat marginal returns curves are and will be the best place to spend.

Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge

Thanks Siebe. On (3) the fund as we currently see it would indeed attempt to address both (e.g. via evaluation on both that FP would also do otherwise), but it's a useful distinction to make.

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

Hi Habryka, just wanted to draw your attention to the update above, which is in part referring to some of your comments that have been incorporated in the new version of the report. Thanks for those!

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

Hi Habryka,

This is to thank you (and others) once more for all your comments here, and to let you know they have been useful and we have incorporated some changes to account for them in a new version of the report, which will be published in March or April. They were also useful in our internal discussion on how to frame our research, and we plan to keep improving our communication around this throughout the rest of the year, e.g. by publishing a blog post / brief on cause prioritisation for our members.

I also largely agree with the views you express in yo... (read more)

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

Very quick reply as I don't have much time now: note that this statistic is about intimate partner violence and sexual violence (where there is a clear difference between men and women), not about violence as a whole. This is clear in the body of the report; the statistic was shortened (though still correct) for the executive summary. Of course this doesn't fully change your point, but it does influence it a little bit. (I agree that when looking at violence generally we should compare the two) Note also, as noted in the edit to the main post, that this re

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Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

No problem, thanks for your comments anyway and please let me know if any part of your critique remains that I haven't engaged with. (Please see edit in main post which should have cleared most up)

1Habryka3yI think most of my critique still stands, and I am still confused why the report does not actually recommend any GiveWell top charities. The fact that the report is limiting itself to charities that exclusively focus on women's empowerment seems like a major constraint that makes the investigation a lot less valuable from a broad cause-prioritization perspective (and also for donors who actually care about reducing women's empowerment, since it seems very likely that the best charities that achieve that aim do not aim to achieve that target exclusively).
Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations
Habryka: Did you see this line in the introduction of this post?

Thanks for pointing this out, Aaron! Happy that's cleared up.

On the other hand, it does seem like a specific GiveWell charity or two should have shown up on this list, or that FP should have explicitly noted GiveWell's higher overall impact (if the impact actually was higher; it seems like GiveDirectly isn't clearly better than Village Enterprise or Bandhan at boosting consumption, at least based on my reading of p. 5o of the 2018 GD study, which showed a boost of roughly 0.3
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Please see my updates in the main post and let me know if you still have questions about this. (Do you now understand why we didn't recommend any other specific GW- or FP-recommended charity in this report, but referred to them as a group?)

As I mentioned in the other comment, I am still not sure why you do not recommend any GW top charities directly. It seems like your report should answer the question "what charities improve women's health the most?" not the question "what charities that exclusively focus on women's health ar... (read more)

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

Just to clarify, at FP we don't take existing priorities/preferences as a given, but we of course do take them into account to some extent when making recommendations (if only because otherwise nobody would follow those recommendations!). We currently use something called the value-discovery approach, which is about asking members about the underlying values driving their preferences (e.g. do you care about people living in the future?), and then making cause/charity recommendations based on those rather than on cause/charity preferences themselves. We also spend quite some time on educating our community on EA/effective giving principles, e.g. this is a main focus of our Programmes team.

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

Thanks for these questions Siebe! And I take your point on sharing context; I'll edit in some points in the main post.

1. We have internally compared these charities on something close to a DALY-equivalent to aid our decisions (similar to what GiveWell does in their cost-effectiveness analyses), but have not included this in the report. This is not because of any assumptions the report makes on empowerment (note that it defines empowerment simply as 'improving lives'). It's mainly because of time constraints: we didn't think it was ... (read more)

Women's Empowerment: Founders Pledge report and recommendations

I'd distinguish between two ways in which a report can 'be' cause-neutral:

1. Whether its domain of focus/cause area was chosen purely through cause prioritisation

2. Whether its contents are of value from a cause-neutral perspective

Now I agree that this report is not cause-neutral on (1): it was written at least partially because many of FP's community members are interested in women's empowerment.*

However, note that cause prioritisation is just a heuristic to restrict our domain of search: what you want to compare in the end are th... (read more)

8Habryka3yI agree that comparisons of that type are valuable, but I don't think that this report helps me much in doing that kind of comparison. This report did no comparative analysis of the interventions against other near-term welfare interventions, and you used denominations that make that comparison quite difficult (as SiebeRozendal pointed out in another comment). See for example this: I don't know how to compare an increase in consumption with other near-term interventions, so as long as this number isn't shockingly high or low it's quite hard for me to judge whether this is a good intervention. So while your analysis helps me a bit in comparing Village Enterprise to other near-term welfare charities, it really doesn't help me much and I still need to put in the vast majority of work, which consists of building models about the world in how things like increases in consumption compare against direct reductions in disease burden (and then how those compare against increasing or decreasing the speed of technological progress, and other major methods of impact). The analysis has some use, but I think it's relatively minor for the cases I am interested in. I think the current framing of the post and report does not allow for the possibility of a negative recommendation, and I expect the casual reader to walk away with a mistaken sense that this has been chosen as a promising cause area comparable to other top cause areas. De-facto, even though the numbers seem on a first glance a lot worse than other top GiveWell recommendations, the post does not give a negative recommendation. I recognize that the report was written for a different audience than the core EA community, but I think that's what makes it lose most of its value to me.