I thought it worth pointing out that this statement from one of your comments I mostly agree with, while I strongly disagree with your main post. If this was the essence of your message, maybe it requires clarification:
"Politics is the mind killer." Better to treat it like the weather and focus on the things that actually matter and we have a chance of affecting, and that our movement has a comparative advantage in.
To be clear, I think justice does actually matter, and any movement that would look past it to “more important” considerations scares me a litt
I have similar objections to this post as Khorton & cwbakerlee. I think it shows how the limits of human reason make utilitarianism a very dangerous idea (which may nevertheless be correct), but I don’t want to discuss that further here. Rather, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you are factually & morally correct. What can we learn from disasters, and the world’s reaction to them, that we can reproduce without the negative effects of the disaster? I am thinking of anything from faking a disaster (wouldn’t the conspiracy theorist love that
Yes, you are correct and thank you for forcing me to further clarify my position (in what follows I leave out WAW since I know absolutely nothing about it):
EA funds, which I will assume is representative of EA priorities has these funds a) “Global Health and Development”; b) “Animal Welfare”; c) “Long-Term Future”; d) “EA Meta”. Let’s leave D aside for the purposes of this discussion.
There is good reason to believe the importance and tractability of specific climate change interventions can equal or even exceed those of A & B. We have not done en
The assumption is not that people outside EA cannot do good, it is merely that we should not take it for granted that they are doing good, and doing it effectively, no matter their number. Otherwise, looking at malaria interventions, to take just one example, makes no sense. Billions have and will continue to go in that direction even without GiveWell. So the claim that climate change work is or is not the most good has no merit without a deeper dive into the field and a search for incredible giving / working opportunities. Any shallow dive into this cause
This is a great question and one everyone struggles with.
TL;DR work on self improvement daily but be open to opportunities for acting now.
My advice would indeed be to balance the two, but balance is not a 50-50 split. To be a top performer in anything you do, practice, practice, practice. The impact of a top performer can easily be 100x over the rest of us, so the effort put into self improvement pays off. Professional sports is a prime example, but research, engineering, academia, management, parenting, they all benefit from working on yourself.
Wildlife conservation and wild animal welfare are emphatically not the same thing. "Tech safety" (which isn't a term I've heard before, and which on googling seems to mostly refer to tech in the context of domestic abuse) and AI safety are just as emphatically not the same thing.
Anyway, yes, in most areas EAs care about they are a minority of the people who care about that thing. Those areas still differ hugely in terms of neglectedness, both in terms of total attention and in terms of expertise. Assuming one doesn't believe that EAs are the only people wh
I feel sometimes that the EA movement is starting to sound like heavy metalists (“climate change is too mainstream”), or evangelists (“in the days after the great climate change (Armageddon), mankind will colonize the galaxy (the 2nd coming), so the important work is the one that prevents x-risk (saves people’s souls)”).
I say “amen” to that, and have supported AI safety financially in the past, but I remain skeptical that climate change can be ignored. What would you recommend as next steps for an EA ember who wants to learn more and eventually act? What are the AMF or GD of climate change?
Nothing you've written here sounds like anything I've heard anyone say in the context of a serious EA discussion. Are there any examples you could link to of people complaining about causes being "too mainstream" or using religious language to discuss X-risk prevention?
The arguments you seem to be referring to with these points (that it's hard to make marginal impact in crowded areas, and that it's good to work toward futures where more people are alive and flourishing) rely on a lot of careful economic and moral reasoning about the real world, and I think
I wonder how much of the assessment that climate change work is far less impactful than other work relies on the logic of “low probability, high impact”, which seems to be the most compelling argument for x-risk. Personally, I generally agree with this line of reasoning, but it leads to conclusions so far away from common sense and intuition, that I am a bit worried something is wrong with it. It wouldn’t be the first time people failed to recognize the limits of human rationality and were led astray. That error is no big deal as long as it does not have a
In my own mind I would file this post under “psychological hacks”, a set of tools that can be extremely useful when used correctly. I am already considering how to apply this hack to some moral dilemmas I am grappling with. I share this because I think it highlights two important points.
First off, the post is endorsing the common marketing technique of framing. I am not an expert in the field, but am fairly confident this technique can influence people’s thoughts, feelings & behavior. Importantly, the framing exercise is not merely confined to the con
Great post, thank you. If one accepts your conclusion, how does one go about implementing it? There is the work on existential risk reduction, which you mention. Beyond that, however, predicting any long-term effect seems to be a work of fiction. If you think you might have a vague idea of how things will turn out in 1k year, you must realize that even longer-term effects (1m? 1b?) dominate these. An omniscient being might be able to see the causal chain from our present actions to the far future, but we certainly cannot. A question this raises for me is ... (read more)
I know there is a death toll associated with economic recessions. Basically, people get poorer and that results in worse mental and physical healthcare. Are there any studies weighing those numbers against these interventions? Seems like a classic QALY problem to me, but I am an amateur in any of the relevant fields.
Also, people keep suggesting to quarantine everyone above 50 or 60 and let everyone else catch the virus to create herd immunity. Is there any scientific validity behind such a course of action? Is it off the table simply because the ”agism” of the virus is only assumed at this point?
First of all great article.
I just wanted to point out that I am looking for a robo-advisor and having talked with WealthSimple, they wrote back the following:
"we do support the option to gift securities without selling the asset. There is a short form via docusign we'll send you anytime you'd like to take advantage of this option."
Could you by any chance use a few hours of software development each week from volunteers?
I love the depth you went to with this post, and just wanted to share a bit of personal experience. In the past few years my religious practice has flourished, as has my involvement with EA. I doubt this is an accidental coincidence, especially since my highest aspirations in life are a combination I took from EA and religion (sometimes I refer to them as the guiding or organizing principles of my life). Religion gives me the emotional and spiritual support I need, EA fills in the intellectual side and provides practical advice I can implement here and now... (read more)
For the sake of argument I will start with your definition of good and add that what I want to happen is for all sentient beings to be free from suffering, or for all sentient beings to be happy (personally I don't see a distinction between these two propositions, but that is a topic for another discussion).
Being general in this way allows me to let go of my attachment to specific human qualities I think are valuable. Considering how different most people's values are from my own, and how different my needs are from Julie's (my canine companion), I think... (read more)
Great thought provoking post, which raises many questions.
My main concern is perhaps due to the limitations of my personal psychology: I cannot help but heavily prioritize present suffering over future suffering. I heard many arguments why this is wrong, and use very similar arguments when faced with those who claim that "charity begins at home". Nevertheless, the compassion I have for people and animals in great suffering overrides my fear of a dystopian future. Rational risk / reward assessments leave me unconvinced (oh, why am I not a superint... (read more)
For anyone who might read this thread in the future I felt an update is in order. I revisited my numbers, and concluded that opening a local outreach EA chapter is very cost-effective. The reward/risk ratio is high, even when the alternative is entrepreneurship, assuming the time you invest in outreach does not severely hurt your chances of success and high profits.
Previously I wrote that: "Assuming after 1 year I get 10 people to take GWWC's pledge, which I consider phenomenal success, my guesstimates show the expected dollars given to charity will b... (read more)
I will start my reply from the end. Your intuition is right. My investment will simply go into another share holder's pocket, and the company, socially responsible or otherwise, will see none of it. However, this will also decrease the company's cost of capital: when they go to the markets for additional funds, investors will know there is a market for these stocks and will be willing to pay more for them. I have no data on the extent of this impact.
As for your AMF example, I have no way of quantifying the good my SRI (socially responsible investing) may d... (read more)
I have a small amount of money I want to invest. If all goes well, I will eventually donate the appreciated stock, but there is a small chance I might need the money so I don't want to donate it now. I was wondering what would be more effective altruism: to focus on socially responsible investing at the possible cost of lower returns, or to maximize returns so I can donate a larger sum to the most effective charities in the end?
I stumbled upon this article on the subject, which I find interesting, but wanted to hear more opinions: https://blog.wealthfront... (read more)
If you have a chance within the next 22 hours, you should go to the Project for Awesome website (http://www.projectforawesome.com/) and vote for effective charities. Search for GD, DtW & AMF.
Project for Awesome is an annual YouTube project run by the Vlogbrothers, that raises awareness and money for charity. The participants (video creators, viewers, donors, etc.) are probably relatively young and this is a great way of introducing EA to them.
Should we try to make a mark on the Volgbrother's "Project 4 Awesome"? It can expose effective altruism to a wide and, on average, young audience.
I would love to help in any way possible, but video editing is not my thing...
Full disclosure: I fear I do not completely understand your idea. Having said that, I hope my comment is at list a little useful to you.
Think about the following cases:
(1) I donate to an organization that distributes bednets in Africa and receive a certificate. I then trade that certificate for a new pair of shoes. My money, which normally can only be used for one of these purposes, is now used for both.
(2) I work for a non-profit and receive a salary. I also receive certificates. So I am being paid double?
The second case is easily solved, just give th... (read more)
Thank you for your offer to help me further, but having reviewed the link posted by Vincent, I am certain I do not have the time to start a local chapter right now.
Hi Ilya, thanks for your reply. I may have misunderstood you, but your example seems not to take into account the overhead of managing a larger team, or the diminishing returns of each additional staff member. This goes to the heart of my question: what would be the most effective way for each individual to further EA causes? Should they work full time and donate more, or work part time and do other things (this question may only apply to those who are earning to give).
This question can best be determined on a case by case basis of course. It relates to ... (read more)
Thank you for this very important post, this is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time.
Do you know of any work that has been done comparing the effectiveness of outreach to other activities effective altruism supporters can take? I refer specifically to the limited kind of outreach suggested here, such as opening a local chapter, and not the kind of outreach Peter Singer is capable of.
I will give you an example of what I am thinking about.
A year ago I changed my career plan and started a technology startup. If my startup succeeds, it wil... (read more)