Ula

I work as a Digital Media Manager at Charity Entrepreneurship. I come from Poland and live in London. I hold a PhD in Philosophy and wrote a book (in Polish) about the moral status of animals. I’ve been a vegan and animal activist for 20 years now.

Topic Contributions

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Altruism as a central purpose

I like it, it’s a nice framing for what I call “hardcore EA’s or hardcore effective altruism” :) I also like this side note “I don’t think you have to make effective altruism your purpose in order to make a difference in the world, or to join the movement”. I usually say about myself “I am part of the Effective Altruism community”, because I don’t identify as an EA, but I want to make a difference in the world, I am part of the movement by my job, I am also a utilitarian-thinking person and animal activist. I think effective altruism is not my purpose but an aspiration. I also make decisions less based on what is popular to do in the community, but more based on my ethical convictions (that are sometimes closer sometimes further from maximizing impact in the way the EA community is doing it). I can see the commitment that the purpose brings... I would say e.g. my core purpose in life, that I am very sure of and I prioritize is making sure my mum does not have to suffer in her life (so I want to be able to provide her any kind of financial or physical support that would be needed, so she has a good life). Then on top of that my purpose would be “make a positive impact in the world” - it can be in many ways, but at the moment it’s realized through my work. But maximizing impact is not my purpose per se... it’s more like aspiration or an effect coming from other purposes. So e.g. I would sacrifice a ton for my mum’s wellbeing, I would sacrifice less for having some kind of positive impact on the world, I would sacrifice even less for following impact maximization e.g. through donations, etc. I can see how this can differ between the people I have seen in the EA community. I think I am lucky to work with at least a few individuals who have effective altruism as their purpose, and you can see that... they take lower salaries, they spend less on pleasurable things, they put more time into work or making decisions about donation options. When offered more money, they would usually redirect them to something effective instead of improving their comfort. That’s why I see it more as an aspiration for me.

Who is protecting animals in the long-term future?

Great to learn about your paper Fai, I didn't know about it till now, and this topic is quite interesting. I think when longtermism talks about the far future it's usually "of humanity" that follows and this always scared me, because I was not sure either this is speciesist or is there some silent assumption that we should also care about sentient beings. I don't think there were animal-focused considerations in Toby Ord's book (I might be wrong here) and similar publications? I would gladly then read your paper. I quickly jumped to the conclusion of it, and it kinds of confirm my intuitions in regards to AI (but also long-term future work in general): 
"Up to now, the AI fairness community has largely disregarded this particular dimension of discrimination. Even more so, the field of AI ethics hitherto has had an anthropocentric tailoring. Hence, despite the longstanding discourse about AI fairness, comprising lots of papers critically scrutinizing machine biases regarding race, gender, political orientation, religion, etc., this is the first paper to describe speciesist biases in various common-place AI applications like image recognition, language models, or recommender systems. Accordingly, we follow the calls of another large corpus of literature, this time from animal ethics, pointing from different angles at the ethical necessity of taking animals directly into consideration [48,155–158]..."
 

Effectiveness of a theory-informed documentary to reduce consumption of meat and animal products: three randomized controlled experiments

This might be a stupid question, but do you know if anyone looked at how many new activists can a documentary make? :) I met some people who were animal activists because they watched some inspiring movies about animal suffering. I wonder if despite the fact that the movies don't work as a thing that makes people change their diet, they might make some very specific people into animal activists? :) Probably the cost of producing them would not justify the results of getting like 100 activists out of one movie. But on the other hand, if the activist will later work in an organization that leads to a major policy change in a country, maybe it is worth it? :) Just some fun speculations about flow-through effects :) I wonder also about things like effects on the press coverage of animal-related topics, effects on influencers and celebrities, effects on the perception of animal suffering (e.g. would there more likely vote on a law that e.g. forbade using crates in farming systems, or more likely sign a petition to the government). We all know by now that habits are very hard to change, but opening minds to a different viewpoint - maybe not as hard.

Meat Tax: Why Chickens Pay The Price

I am very happy that you showed us how SARP can be in place in this context. I think I have not seen any articles so far that would analyze this ask from this perspective, so this is very helpful in my view. In Poland, the EU Green Party was proposing a meat tax, motivated by health risks, but there were no details in their postulates as far as I recall, and I can see now how this can be a slippery slope. 

The EA Hub is suspending new feature development (with plans to retire)

Basically, I would just copy the EA Hub if you want to create something useful. 
For me, the filter system is extremely important. The ability to contact people via LinkedIn (where everyone is), via direct message.
I mean one can be using EA Hub for everything: contacting potential mentors, contacting experts in the given area for research purposes, contacting people "open to job offers", contacting people who can advise you. I mean there is no other place, where we can see what people's interests are and reach out to them based on that. 
Let's look at the filters - maybe I am looking for an editor in the UK time zone - I can filter through "open to job offers", "interested in communications", "interested in specific cause area". I mean isn't this amazing? Everyone should be there. It's the easiest way to connect for useful, impactful stuff. 

The most impactful thing is that EA Hub is open. I know that different orgs have huge people databases but because they collect their data for the organization, they can't share it under GDPR. EA Hub, therefore, is extremely important, it allows the connections that are not facilitated anywhere else. 

Why you just don't take over the management of EA Hub if the current team can't afford to run it any longer? I mean building a similar system will take you ages, no? Like, people are already there. Are you going to ask each person to come to your new system? Are you going to transfer people's profiles to the new system? As I understand it, it took a very long time (years) to build the EA hub and its functionalities. I can't imagine you will be able to create a whole, equally useful thing, fast. 

I would consider just buying/taking over and promoting creating accounts there. Treating it like LinkedIn for EAs. 

You can just create one bigger page like EA community, part of this page will be the forum, part of the page will be EA Hub, and part of the page will be EA Work e.g.
If you will have a skilled full-stack developer, they can probably nicely put this stuff together.

It's very common in the startup world that each new developer hates working on other developers' code, and says: oh I will better build something new. But it's very common later for them to underdeliver or take ages. It would be sad if all this work that is already done, and the database of amazing people that signed up, just vanished or was stopped from developing. 

Maybe there is a third way to go about it? What do you think?
 

The EA Hub is suspending new feature development (with plans to retire)

"CEA told us that they are unsure if they will pursue any of those specific ideas." I think the huge value of EA Hub is that tons of EA people have a profile there and that I can search through their interests,  experience, and try to contact them with relevant opportunities or connect. Would be great if this was kept alive since it's very valuable. It would be terrible if e.g. the site stopped working and there would be no alternative for it. As I understand it, you will keep it going until there is a strong alternative. So maybe another 2 years? I think things go very slow in the EA space, so just maybe worth taking this into account, and making sure the hub stays alive. Also in this transition period, I would be afraid that people will be discouraged to add their profiles to EA Hub, with no alternative to it really. And that would be a loss I think. 

Ukraine: How a regular person can effectively help their country during war?
Answer by UlaFeb 26, 202212

Great question! I am upvoting!  Also just want to say that I am very sorry that Ukraine is left alone and as a Polish citizen (now living in London) I will try to help in whatever capacity I can. My friends are already helping in Poland with transport and housing for refugees. We stand with Ukraine! We are very sorry that the World is just standing and watching this, we hope there will be more sanctions and weapons delivered soon. 

And yeah I join your problem - also not sure what are the best opportunities to donate to. So far I supported Polish Humanitarian Action, because they already were helping in Ukraine, so they know organizations on the ground, and they are respected and trustworthy (they helped in many war zones since 1992, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Chechnya). However, I would like to donate to a Ukrainian organization but it's hard for me to understand where is the best place to donate.

I will however support Ukrainian refugees directly. Either with money, transport,  or housing in London if needed. 

All the best to you! I hope your friends and family are safe! 

What are effective ways to help Ukrainians right now?

I did something for the Afghan crisis (like donating, taking part in multiple protests) and I am doing something for Ukraine (like donating, supporting people with contacts to opportunities). Just want to show that not everyone thinks like Charles.

What are effective ways to help Ukrainians right now?

I know people from Belarus living in Poland, who are partly buying the propaganda, that it's all USA fault, that Ukraine should give away Donetsk and Luhansk and stay away from NATO, and that now afraid Ukrainians will attack Belarus. But my mum is talking to them, showing other perspectives, also explaining why Poland wanted to be in EU and in NATO, why we have more prosperity etc. 

The other side is my family in Belarus who we tried to call, but who can't talk to us about anything Ukraine-related. They just say "it's hard" on the phone and that's it :( But we are pretty sure they don't support any war, and Russian propaganda, they are just afraid to express that in any single way. That's why all these people protesting on the streets are heroes! Getting arrested and still protesting the war. Such bravery.

What are effective ways to help Ukrainians right now?

The bottleneck is now transport for women and children from different cities in more central Ukraine.

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