All of Vincent_deB's Comments + Replies

What is the expected effect of poverty alleviation efforts on existential risk?

This is useful but doesnt entirely answer William's question. To put it another way: suppose GiveDirectly reduced extreme poverty in East Africa by 50%. What would your best estimate of the effect of that on xrisk be? I'd expect it to be quite positive, but havent thought about how to estimate the magnitude.

My Cause Selection: Michael Dickens

I expect there's a high probability (maybe 50%) that factory farms are just as bad for chickens as they are for humans, and a somewhat lower probability (maybe 25%) that they are just as bad for fish. I expect it's more likely that factory farms are worse for humans than that they're worse for chickens/fish, so in expectation, they're worse for humans, but not much worse.

Woaha, I didn't realize that anyone thought that, it would make me change my views greatly if I did.

My Cause Selection: Michael Dickens

Can you talk more about what convinced you that they're a good giving opportunity on the margin?

I asked Tobias Pulver about this specifically. He told me about their future plans and how they'd like to use marginal funds. They have things that they would have done if they'd had more money but couldn't do. I don't know if they're okay with me speaking about this publicly but I invite Tobias or anyone else at REG to comment on this.

I heard - all be it second hand, and last year - of two people involved, Lukas Gloor and Tobias Pulver, saying that thou... (read more)

Impact purchase round 3

Is the number of reads really relevant? How come? I figure people who read content generally don't act on it, and certainly not in high impact ways.

I don't think it's that important, but I certainly think it's relevant. I expect better and more impactful pieces to be read more often. It's cited mostly because it's a relevant fact that you couldn't infer from public info.
Impact purchase round 3

What do you think the average (mean) expected value of an EA group is?

The average is very sensitive to how many small groups there are and how many of them we choose to count as an EA group. I don't know the answer, and it doesn't seem very informative about the value of any particular group. Perhaps it would be easier to talk about the average EV per participant-hour, and $20 of EA donations was our guess of that (though it will depend on the kind of participant---there are lots of ways of recruiting participants that I would evaluate lower, and some I would evaluate higher).
Well if you haven't already, then join us!
An update on Project Healthy Children

I look forwards to seeing it there! Will it be a slightly different version taking into account feedback?

0Hauke Hillebrandt7y
Of course, it takes into account the feedback - but I didn't get that much feedback this time, so it'll be very similar.
June Open Thread

Yes, I agree. 'Effective altruist' appears to me to be a label picking out a very particular and narrow movement and group of people, despite the broadness of the words we happen to have adopted as a label.

An update on Project Healthy Children

Like the GoogleDoc you posted before, I think this would get the best response on the Giving What We Can blog, or as a quick link on the Effective Altruists facebook group :-) It could go in a forum open thread too!

1Hauke Hillebrandt7y
Have already posted this on the FB group - and it'll go up on the Giving What We Can blog after the review!
June Open Thread

George Monbiot – an effective altruist in spirit

What makes you say that? Could someone pitch effective altruism to him? He's a UK author, right?

His unusual concern for the balance of evidence (e.g. pro-nuclear environmentalism), his animal welfarism, environmental x-risk, and his transparency about his interests. Some examples: * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] Good idea to pitch directly. I'll draft something to send to him.
June Open Thread

It works for me now - but I've since noticed other Vox articles doing the same thing for a few minutes, then working again. I'm using Google Chrome too, trying it on a Mac now, but maybe it is a browser issue.

Room for more funding: Why doesn’t the Gates foundation just close the funding gap of AMF and SCI?

Looks like a very in-depth analysis, congratulations. What I've read so far has effectively reassured me that room for more funding isn't ultimately a worry here and that global health is an excellent cause taking it into account. Do link to the final Giving What We Can blog version here, though I imagine most of us who are interested will spot it there and in the newsletter.

Solving donation coordination problems

I agree insofar as having clear measures for success for suborganizations or projects which sometimes don't get met, resulting in suborganization sometimes getting shut down, would give me a good deal more confidence as a donor.

June Open Thread

That Vox article gives an infinite looping error - is there another copy of it?

It's called "You have $8 billion. You want to do as much good as possible. What do you do?." It works fine for me in Google Chrome.
June Open Thread

What were the referrers for the forum traffic, and which ones increased?

Most of the increase in acquisitions was from referrals (a lesser amount was from social media and search), including, slatestarcodex, and others.
1Diego_Caleiro7y []
Should you give your best now or later?

Many tycoon personality types favour other charities where they're the main patron. This is pure speculation but others may want to leave room for typical individual donors, as these charities are particularly well suited to them.

Suggestions thread for questions for the 2015 EA Survey

This would make it especially valuable to get people on the fringes of EA (who've been exposed but not wholely 'signed up') to take the survey. I remember it was open to them and anyone else last year.

Suggestions thread for questions for the 2015 EA Survey

W/r/t the diet question, I think that's incredibly valuable and useful information for EAA.

That's likely true, but I presume the reason for considering removing it was that people would feel uncomfortable/judged/guilty and so stop completing the rest of the survey, which would be a large cost. Last year I was happy or even keen for people to know all my other answers, but didn't want to be judged on failing to be vegetarian.

0Peter Wildeford7y
EA is kinda inherently judgey in this way.
People might also feel judged if asked how much they donate, but asking this is part of assessing what part of EA principles they're adopting, and how effective EA is at actually driving behavior change in self-identified EAs, which is sort of the point of the survey.
The Outside Critics of Effective Altruism

As to why this is a critique: I worry that the marketing strategy for EA whitewashes how radical its underlying premise truly is: that we owe the same duty to someone across the world as we do to someone right in front of us. Fully embracing that premise can lead us to extraordinarily counterintuitive (and unpalatable for many) places.

That I agree with. Obscuring/whitewashing it may be tactically wise however, and I think there's been some posts here about whether EA really is consequentialist.

The Outside Critics of Effective Altruism

all of those Ivy league graduates who went to work in the charity industry were behaving unethically.

It's better to say they were behaving suboptimally.

Vincent, your comment goes to the point I was trying to make. If a rich person has two options: (a) give money to charity; or (b) buy a yacht, and chooses (b), we (or at least I) don't say he is behaving sub-optimally but that he is behaving unethically. Putting aside whether the Ivy league grad would enjoy working for a charity more than working in finance, how is her choice any different from the rich person's choice? If she takes a job at a charity (assuming one for which she is entirely replaceable), rather than taking a job in finance and giving away half of her salary, she is effectively throwing away the money should could have made in finance rather than donating it to charity. How is that different than taking the job and buying a yacht? It seems intuitively different because her motives are different, but that's irrelevant if you're a consequentialist (which seems like part of EA's fabric). From a marketing perspective, I see why we don't want to encourage stealing (which I still think could be done in a utility-maximizing manner) or claims that charity-minded Ivy league grads are as bad as yacht-buying millionaires, but if the only reason we don't go there is for marketing reasons, that seems like a problem. As to why this is a critique: I worry that the marketing strategy for EA whitewashes how radical its underlying premise truly is: that we owe the same duty to someone across the world as we do to someone right in front of us. Fully embracing that premise can lead us to extraordinarily counterintuitive (and unpalatable for many) places.
The Outside Critics of Effective Altruism

If there were I'd expect them to be well-researched and discussed by non-altruists. I haven't heard of any, and would expect to have.

Thanks very much. Some interesting points: * only 293 of 705 (41.6%) of the people who applied to join GWWC have returned their pledge forms. * The fraction of people who claimed to be fulfilling the pledge in 2011 (I take it GWWC does not have tax receipts etc.) was basically unvarying by year of pledge: 64% of 2009 pledges, 71% of 2010 pledges and 64% of 2011 pledges. This suggests that the 'more keen people join first' and 'people drop out over time' effects perfectly canceled out. (Though the sample size is small). However 65-70% claimed retention after 0-2 years suggests a relatively short half-life for members.
The Importance of GWWC Cohort Data

I’m sorry it’s been a little while since the previous one (done by Nick Beckstead).

Here is that impact analysis. It's well worth a read, particularly the section 'Overview of GWWC’s performance so far' as this speaks to many of Dale's questions.

Your link just points to this post?
EA Advocates announcement

As I understand it, it's one of the core things that EA Outreach is working on in advance of Will's book - they raised funds for doing so as part of their funding announcement here. So it would still be using these people for EA Outreach projects.

Presumably in formulating the plans for EA outreach, CEA looked for the areas of greatest importance and tractability. It would be very surprising if, in forming anther initiative centred on public communication, there wasn't significant overlap. If there wasn't, I would think EA outreach had ignored an important problem. I'm not sure why you would label all such important, tractable topics 'CEA things'.
EA Advocates announcement

Are you only going to use people who sign up to promote things the Centre for Effective Altruism is working on, like the books by Will and Peter that EA Outreach is working on (and in Will's case is even written by the founder)? Are there any specific non-Centre for Effective Altruism things that you plan to promote?

The main things we know in advance that we'll focus on this year are those two books and the EA Global summit. We're also keeping an eye out for unexpected situations where a social media response could be useful. For example, when Will MacAskill's ice bucket challenge article [] received widespread attention last year, a coordinated response could have helped direct readers of that article to the follow-up article [] that went into greater depth about impact metrics. It would be good to know when a lot of people in the group are interested in coordinating to promote something CEA might not already be thinking about, though. In the short term we can discuss possibilities on the Facebook group (invitations for that will be going out by email soon).
Peter Singer's book is not a CEA project.
January Open Thread

A big question but why?

I am Samwise [link]

I've heard people who've worked at EA organisations say that the people doing that work struck them as some of the most altruistic, because it didn't have the rewards or glory or fun associated with more visible work.

The Outside Critics of Effective Altruism

Here is someone's initial exploration of a potential criticism:

(A poll about whether a nonprofit with a charismatic and intelligent leader and an unfalsifiable premise of how their charities does good would succeed in getting funding from the EA community.)

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Have you written up anything about the 1:1 tools for anywhere?

Seconded. Also, what are the current ways in which proto-EAs can get one-on-one interaction, and what are the things that we can leverage to increase this?

Effective Altruism Outreach needs your donations this Christmas!

Currently the only person we know who is working on this full time is Tyler Alterman from Leverage, and we work so closely with him that he practically feels like part of the team!

Interesting - is what Tyler or Leverage are doing written up anywhere?

We've been talking with Tom Ash and looking for ways that we can best collaborate with, which hosts many .impact projects.

Likewise interesting - what are the options for this?

We've been talking with some of the German EAs about their plans to create "superteams" to wo

... (read more)
Not as of yet. I'll let Tyler decide when is a good time to write some things up. I'm talking to Tom later today. One obvious plan include linking to more .impact projects from . This could be the sort of thing EA Ventures might fund. I think EA Ventures will be in a position to fund a diverse range of projects including for-profits, nonprofits and projects that are valuable, but too small to be considered a full-fledged startup.
Open thread 5

Yes, that was a good argument that EAs aren't obligated to be vegetarian, even if reasonable people can disagree about the numbers.

Open thread 5

[Your recent EA activities]

Tell us about these, as in Kaj's thread last month. I would love to hear about them - I find it very inspirational to hear what people are doing to make the world a better place!

(Giving this thread another go after it didn't get any responses last month.)

I've volunteered for CSER. Also, I've done most of Andrew Ng's Coursera course on Machine Learning. It seems like a valuable skill to acquire, so I think that belongs on the list.
Happy Birthday, Giving What We Can!

Thank you, that review of 2011 and 2012 looks like a very interesting, detailed read. It does seem to cast doubt on the exponential growth model that I was excited about which is a shame, but I still think that could happen. I couldn't see information about how many GWWC members would be donating significant sums without GWWC on my first read, am I missing that? Will it be in the next impact review?

Happy Birthday, Giving What We Can!

Ah, great that they make this public - where would I find it, and the working behind it to answer my question?

We do a review of the organisation each year or so. I'm currently working on the review for 2013 (we have to do it the following year, so that we have all the data on donations etc). The one for 2011-2012 is here [] A brief summary of that / general review is here []
Kidney donation is a reasonable choice for effective altruists and more should consider it

I would be interested to hear whether readers do or don't consider doing this.

Happy Birthday, Giving What We Can!

Cool, it would be great if they could sustain exponential growth! I imagine this may happen from people getting into these ideas and then telling their friends, who tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so on. That seems a good hypothesis to explain the exponential trend.

Does GWWC know how many of these members would have been donating significant sums without GWWC? Presumably they share this information with donors? I realise this is hard to work out, as people who are interested in these ideas would likely have come across GiveWell and EA at some point anyway.

On your second point of how much people would have donated without signing the pledge, people who sign the pledge are asked "What percentage of your income would you have donated over your lifetime if you had not come across Giving What We Can?" I'm pretty sure the answer to this question is used in figuring out the money moved figure.
Effective Altruism at Your Work

Finding an 'excuse' to talk about EA like this seems like a good idea.

Aim high, even if you fall short

Yes this is pretty good - not quite as good as dairy, but close.

Open Thread 4

[Your recent EA activities]

Tell us about these, as in Kaj's thread last month. I would love to hear about them - I find it very inspirational to hear what people are doing to make the world a better place!

Outreaching Effective Altruism Locally – Resources and Guides

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.

Perhaps weeatquince could ask someone from The High Impact Network to comment?

Vincent, thank you referencing The High Impact Network, which stimulated my further comment to Uri, and an opportunity to meet Brooklyn members of THINK.
Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

GWWC has also done quite a bit of work in learning how to create a cohesive community and encourage people to join, which might be quite time-consuming to replicate.

I'm not sure how strong that rationale is. You could use the same reasoning to argue that GWWC should be the only organisation where people make commitments or donation plans, and that other pledging organisations like The Life You Can Save should be subsumed into it which does not seem plausible. What does GWWC's work on maintaining a cohesive community and encouraging people to join on the... (read more)

Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

I can see it's hard and I'm sure you put a lot of thought into it. I'd suggest making it as direct as possible - if "people in developing countries, now and in the years to come" means "present and future people in developing countries", you could say that.

Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

I do feel as though GWWC is and should remain an important haven for those committed to poverty, who - in other EA orgs - often seem to be looked on as incomplete or fledgling EAs, an attitude which surely wouldn't help if it developed within GWWC as well.

Very much agreed, that's why I was concerned to see this comment. Having an influx of people to the members groups who think that donating to poverty charities is many many times less good than giving to AI work or meta causes could create that sort of attitude, making the old members feel crowded out.... (read more)

You could just as easily say that x-riskers (or anyone else not explicitly covered by the pledge) currently feels crowded out. I personally feel excluded because the pledge does not extend its circle of caring to nonhuman animals, and others have expressed the same feeling. For that matter, a pledge that opens up to any cause with strong evidence of effectiveness still crowds out non-EAs.
FWIW, if that's the Joey I think it is, I don't think he meant to imply he agreed (IIRC he regards animal welfare causes most highly). There are also quite a few CEA staff who do support the more traditional stuff, last I heard, though they're probably a minority (but among the minority, unsurprisingly concentrated in GWWC).
Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge?

I'm in favour of the change - you know this, but I'm saying it here because I'm concerned that only people with strong disagreements will respond to this post,

I think it'll pull the other way - I've felt awkward about explicitly stating my disagreement, whereas it's much easier to say 'Great!'

I think ultimately having a broader pledge will better represent the views of those who take it and the community, and agree that having a clear action which becomes standard for all EAs could be very beneficial.

I don't find this a convincing reason, because GW... (read more)

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