EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

post by CristinaSchmidtIbáñez, Sebastian Schwiecker (EA-Basti) · 2020-06-08T11:07:59.107Z · score: 94 (65 votes) · EA · GW · 88 comments

In addition to the main event of EAGxVirtual 2020 on June 13th and 14th, there will be another chance to speak up, present your thoughts, discuss your paper, raise a question, host a discussion…

If you think there was anything missing during the first weekend, we would love for you to join the EAGxVirtual Unconference on Saturday, June 20th. The EAGxVirtual team will provide the schedule and tech support, and will help spread the word, but we’ll need you to come up with the actual content.

This event is especially meant for people who haven’t had a chance to discuss their ideas or research with a broader audience before, or who want to get feedback on novel ideas. Your presentation could be pure theory, or a concrete proposal for a project or a startup.

Currently, we plan to have two session blocks:

Each session will last 30 minutes, and there will be 2 sessions running in parallel. Each session comprises a 15 min. talk and a 15 min. Q&A.

If you’d like to run a session, please post your proposal as a comment below, include any relevant links, and let us know whether you would prefer to be part of the early or the late sessions. The 8 pitches that receive the most votes (for the early and the late sessions respectively) by 10am CET on Monday, June 15th will be picked.

If you're not planning to present something yourself but know someone who should, please share this post with them!

Either way, we would love for you to join the Unconference and be part of the discussion. Once the schedule is finalized, we’ll post it to the Forum, the Facebook event, and the EAGxVirtual 2020 website. This event is open to everyone.

UPDATE (June 19):

We are excited to announce the speakers for the EAGxVirtual Unconference (please note that we put together the schedule based on the number of votes and the speakers’ availability to give a talk).

If you were an attendee of EAGxVirtual 2020 you will also find the sessions in the official schedule of the conference on Grip: https://frame.grip.events/EAGxVirtual2020 (Time zone: GMT+2)

You can also add each session from our shared Google calendar.

We look forward to seeing you there!

UPDATE (July 6):

(Most) speakers have kindly given their permission to add their talks to this public Youtube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbGfSsJMiISWP3SEBSxRKIdoMYIqUsqIn

You can find the crowdsourced notes for all the sessions (incl. Q&A) here: https://tinyurl.com/y8u5768w

88 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by algekalipso · 2020-06-10T16:34:17.221Z · score: 74 (55 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

*Logarithmic Scales of Pleasure and Pain*

Recall that while some distributions (e.g. the size of the leaves of a tree) follow a Gaussian bell-shaped pattern, many others (e.g. avalanches, size of asteroids, etc.) follow a long-tail distribution. Long-tail distributions have the general property that a large fraction of the volume is accounted for by a tiny percent of instances (e.g. 80% of the snow that falls from the mountain will be the result of the top 20% largest avalanches).

Keeping long-tails in mind: based on previous research we have conducted at the Qualia Research Institute we have arrived at the tentative conclusion that the intensity of pleasure and pain follows a long-tail distribution. Why?

First, neural activity on patches of neural tissue follow log-normal distributions (an instance of a long-tail distribution).

Second, the extremes of pleasure and pain are so intense that they cannot conceivably be just the extremes of a normal distribution. This includes, on the positive end: Jhana meditation, 5-MeO-DMT peak experiences, and temporal lobe epilepsy (Dostoevsky famously saying he'd trade 10 years of his life for just a few moments of his good epileptic experiences). On the negative end, things like kidney stones, cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, and migraines top the charts of most intense pain.

And third, all of the quantitative analysis we conducted on a survey about people's best and worst experiences showed that the ratings, comparisons, and rankings of such experiences was far more consistent with a long-tail distribution than a normal distribution. The data could not be explained with a Gaussian distribution; it fit very nicely a log-normal distribution.

This is an *important*, *tractable*, and *neglected* cause.

1) Important because we may be able to reduce the world's suffering by a significant amount if we just focus on preventing the most intense forms of suffering.

2) Tractable because there are already many possible effective treatments to these disorders (such as LSD microdosing for cluster headaches, and FSM for kidney stones).

3) And neglected because most people have no clue that pain and pleasure go this high. Most utilitarian calculus so far seems to assume a normal distribution for suffering, which is very far from the empirical truth. Bentham would recoil at the lack of an exponent term when additively normalizing pain scales.

Importantly, in Effective Altruism there might be an implicit "youth" bias involved in the lack of knowledge of this phenomenon - due to the age of the people in the movement, most EA activists will not themselves have had intensely painful experiences. Thus, why it is so crucial to raise awareness about this topic in the community (it does not show up on its own). Simply put: because the logarithmic nature of pleasure and pain is *news* to most people in EA.

For more, see the original article: Logarithmic Scales of Pleasure and Pain [EA · GW]

And a presentation about it that I shared at the New York EA chapter: https://youtu.be/IeD3nZX1Sr4

---------

[I would prefer the late session if possible]

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[June 22 2020 edit: Thank you all for attending and/or voting for this talk! I appreciated your engagement and questions! For people who would like to see the video, here it is: Effective Altruism and the Logarithmic Scales of Pleasure and Pain]

comment by Aidan O'Gara · 2020-06-11T02:31:40.255Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This sounds really interesting. I looked into QRI once before and was concerned that I couldn’t find much mainstream recognition of their work.

Would you know how much mainstream recognition has QRI’s work received, either for this line of research or others? Has it published in peer-reviewed journals, received any grants, or garnered positive reviews from other academics? Could you point me to any information here?

Thanks, and looking forward to hopefully hearing this talk.

comment by algekalipso · 2020-06-11T06:39:35.816Z · score: 18 (8 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Aidan!

Thank you ^_^

We are collaborating with John Hopkins and Stanford researchers on a couple of studies involving the analysis of neuroimaging data of high-valence states of consciousness. Additionally, we are currently preparing two key publications for peer-reviewed journals on our core research areas.

Off the top of my head, some well-known researchers and intellectuals that are very positive about our work include: Robin Carhart-Harris, Scott Alexander, David Pearce, Steven Lehar, Daniel Ingram, etc. (e.g. Scott acknowledged that QRI put together the paradigms that contributed to Friston's integrative model of how psychedelics work before his research was published). Our track record so far has been to foreshadow by several years in advance key discoveries later proposed and accepted in mainstream academia. Given our current research findings, I expect this to continue in the years to follow.

Cheers! :)

comment by RachelAtcheson · 2020-06-10T15:59:43.421Z · score: 59 (36 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

EAs in Politics and Gov: A Case Study

Who I Am

I was the Senior Campus Outreach Director for the Humane League for 1.5 years, then went on to become the Animal Welfare Liaison for the Office of the Mayor of New York City. I now serve as the Deputy Strategist for the Brooklyn Borough President in NYC, advancing plant-forward initiatives, such as Meatless Mondays and the banning of processed meat.

Summary

Political and governmental involvement seems to be relatively neglected, while simultaneously, tractable, within EA. The presentation will consist of two parts: (i) an examination of effective animal advocacy within NYC government and (ii) a quick guide on how to be more politically involved.

EAs within policy and government can provide political will for electeds and governmental agencies to move on issues they otherwise wouldn’t move on. They also can have more power than outsiders to prevent poor high-level decisions and advocate for positive high-level decisions. These principles can apply to the local, state, and federal level. Working within politics/gov may also provide great career capital, as well as connections.

This presentation will speak about my own work related to animal welfare in NYC in these contexts, and provide a jumping off point for those interested in applying EA to politics and government.

Time Slot

Late session please!

comment by weeatquince · 2020-06-12T06:05:06.184Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I would be interested in this.


Hi Rachel, I have been researching this topic for a while – although mostly in the UK context.

Would be up for:

  • Inputting into a session on this. Could talk through with you or talk for a few minutes on my own findings and thoughts.
  • Separate from this having a catch-up to hear about your experiences.

Send me a DM or email to: policy [at] ealondon.com

– Sam

comment by RachelAtcheson · 2020-06-14T02:30:48.305Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Terrific. Just emailed you, Sam. Looking forward to discussing! Would be honored to co-present with you.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-12T16:15:14.859Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Glad you are doing this, thank you! It's peripherally related but I'm curious if you have any insight on the effectiveness of giving money to political campaigns, especially for races that might be on the fence between two very different candidates.

comment by RachelAtcheson · 2020-06-14T02:29:11.427Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Absolutely have insight and would love to discuss it more!

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-09T00:34:06.060Z · score: 55 (47 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Discussing EA with Non-EA People | External Movement-Building

Premise

When I first started calling myself an Effective Altruist, it was hard to talk about EA to other people. If it came up, I would find myself backed into a corner, ultimately trying to defend utilitarianism to someone who didn’t want to be convinced. These conversations didn’t feel productive. So for a while, I kept EA to myself.

Eventually I looked for carefully-worded, clear ways to explain EA concepts that are non-contentious but still retain fidelity to the heart and values of EA. I’ve learned that just because many people do not want to have long philosophical discussions, look at graphs, and listen to 3-hour podcasts, does not mean they don’t want to do a lot of good. Just like the animal rights movement has had success getting non-vegans to cut back on meat consumption, the EA movement could benefit by promoting certain concepts to people who don’t identify as EA.

Pulling from my 8 years of experience as a “highly-effective” public school educator and 2 years of experience giving and honing my talk about EA for high school and college students (on an irregular basis), I’d like to share my thoughts on goals and best practices for what I call “external movement building,” or the spread of EA ideas outside of the EA community.


Guiding Question

What ideas (if any) should we, the EA community, popularize for the general public? And how should we frame those ideas?


We might want ideas that…

...are not likely to be misinterpreted or misused.

Good candidates will retain fidelity to the heart of EA without requiring “EA Policing.” They will give a clear and foolproof message as they spread around.

...will not be contentious.

We might want the low-hanging fruit of ideas people will easily agree with but just never considered.

...will actually make an impact if applied.


My Current Thinking

I'll explain why I believe we should focus on promoting the use of evidence, leverage, and personal advantage to the general public when they seek to do good.


If chosen, I'd like to be part of the late sessions if possible, thank you!


(And thanks to Aaron Gertler for the revision help!)

comment by sky · 2020-06-10T02:23:55.705Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm excited about this! I actually came here to see if someone had already covered this or if I should ☺️. I'd love to see a teacher walk through this.

Here's an idea I'd been curious to try out talking or teaching about EA, but haven't yet. I'd be curious if you've tried it or want to (very happy to see someone else take the idea off my hands). I think we often skim over a key idea too fast -- that we each have finite resources and so does humanity. That's what makes prioritization and willingness to name the trade offs we're going to make such an important tool. I know I personally nodded along at the idea of finite resources at first, but it's easy to carry along with the S1 sense that there will be more X somewhere that could solve hard trade-offs we don't want to make. I wonder if starting the conversation there would work better for many people than e.g. starting with cost-effectiveness. Common sense examples like having limited hours in the day or a finite family budget and needing to choose between things that are really important to you but don't all fit is an idea that I think makes sense to many people, and starting with this familiar building block could be a better foundation for understanding or attempting their own EA analysis.

comment by cafelow · 2020-06-11T21:29:05.812Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

In case you haven't seen it, here is a guide to talking about EA, which includes a list of approaches various community members like to use, discussions of pitfalls to avoid, and FAQs. It is very open for additions and changes.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-11T22:53:41.560Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Whoa, cool. I did not know about this, thank you.

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-30T01:20:54.978Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I just watched this talk, and thought it was really great! Two things came to mind (both of which may already be covered, seeing as cafelow commented here already):

  • Is there a place where this talk could be linked to from the EA Hub site? I suspect the talk would be useful for other people wanting to learn about communicating about EA.
  • Danny, are you aware of https://shicschools.org/ ? They've got a bunch of cool materials I used last year when I ran an EA-based club at my school (I was a teacher then).
comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-30T04:47:21.288Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, Michael! I would definitely love to have the talk linked from EA Hub. Cafelow [EA · GW], is that a possibility?

I have definitely checked out SHIC and skimmed through their materials. My initial concept for teaching in schools has a notable distinction from them. Before considering the idea of internal vs. external movement building, my concept was to do a single lesson, spark a lightbulb moment with a student or two who might be EA-inclined, give them a copy of "Doing Good Better," and then move on. Coming back for more lessons with the same class seemed like it would yield diminishing returns. I didn't think I would convince any additional students to become EA the second go-around.

However, reading back through Catherine's conclusions in the High School EA Outreach [EA(p) · GW(p)] post, it never occurred to me that sustained exposure might be what encourages some would-be EAs who agree with my first lesson to actually adapt EA behavior.

Since the Unconference and my recent interest in the idea of external movement building, I do think I'd like to rethink a set of materials specifically aimed at people who are not EA-inclined, for classroom use, for general use by EAs when talking to non-EAs, and as guidelines for broader public outreach.

From the conclusions of the contributors to the High School EA Outreach post (and from my own findings) it might be hard to get non-EA young people to put in additional resources into doing good. But collectively, young people will still give tons of money to walk-a-thons and fundraisers they see on Facebook. If we can't increase the quantity of giving, is it possible to improve the quality? It seems like Charity Navigator has been able to become a (nearly) household name and perpetuate certain ideas about giving. This could be a proof of concept that a large subset of the public is open to new ideas about how to do good, and that non-EA charitable funds could theoretically be redirected to more effective charities.

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-30T06:25:46.698Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I have some vague thoughts on this sort of thing, but I only ran my EA-based club for about 6 months, and didn't do any follow-up measurements. So I don't think any of those thoughts would add much value relative to the High School EA Outreach post, the post SHIC Will Suspend Outreach Operations [EA · GW], and what you've already said/thought.

So instead, here's a grab bag of links that came to mind as potentially relevant and useful, if you hadn't seen them already. (Though I'd guess that the collection of resources cafelow linked to may be more relevant and useful.)

Only tangentially relevant:

(I'd normally also mention the fidelity model in the context, but your talk suggests you're already familiar with that.)

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-10T20:35:15.466Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! I'm 100% with you on the idea that real-world examples can help people to understand the importance of EA. Peter Singer does it well, and I start off my presentation for high school/college students by giving them a hypothetical amount of money and working through a decision about where to donate.

Sometimes I use an example of a firefighter in a burning building. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the firefighter will be able to save everyone so some tough decisions have to be made in order to save the most people in a finite amount of time.

I think the more people working on good ways to promote EA ideas, the better; I'd love to hear about whatever you work on.

comment by sky · 2020-06-10T22:24:56.535Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Definitely, I think for many people, the donations example works. And I like the firefighter example too, especially if someone has had first responder experience or has been in an emergency.

I'm curious what happens if one starts with a toy problem that arises from or feels directly applicable to a true conundrum in the listener's own daily life, to illustrate that prioritization between pressing problems is something we are always doing, because we are finite beings who often have pressing problems! I think when I started learning about EA via donation examples, I made the error of categorizing EA as only useful for special cases, such as when someone has 'extra' resources to donate. So, GiveWell sounded like a useful source of the 'the right answer' on a narrow problem like finding recommended charities, which gave me a limited view of what EA was for and didn't grab me much. I came to EA via GiveWell rather than reading any of the philosophy, which probably would have helped me understand the basis for what they were doing better :).

When I was faced with real life trade-offs that I really did not want to make but knew that I must, and someone walked me through an EA analysis of it, EA suddenly seemed much more legible and useful to me.

Have you seen your students pick up on the prioritization ideas right away, or find it useful to use EA analysis on problems in their own life?

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-11T15:07:13.296Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I like your idea that the applicability of EA concepts in daily life decision-making can be used to show EA as a powerful tool. I haven't specifically done that yet but have considered it.

I had expected to get pushback when I first started teaching about prioritizing causes and was careful about how I introduced it. However, students don't really push back on it, and when we work through examples, they do understand why an EA might prioritize, for example, schistosomiasis charities over cancer ones. That said, based on post-lesson surveys, that doesn't always translate to a shift in thinking after the lesson (though for some students it has.) I'm still working on bridging the gap between mastery of a theoretical concept and actual application in real life.

comment by alexrjl · 2020-06-11T08:55:25.147Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sky and Danny, I'd be very interested to talk to either/both of you and share ideas about this. I've done quite a bit of EA outreach in my own school, having been teaching for the best part of a decade (some is discussed in my post history), as well as some outside. Please send a PM if you're interested and we can set something up.

comment by Prabhat Soni · 2020-06-09T08:03:14.297Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This looks exciting! Since there's a limited time that someone may want to listen to us, it's important to prioritize concepts. Perhaps, we could use a {neglectedness - importance - ease of explaining} [or similar] framework to rank EA concepts?

Some similar ideas are discussed by Will MacASkill in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpFsvYI-7Y [30:40]

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-09T18:25:32.641Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the comment! I've definitely had to choose my battles when making my "elevator pitch" to non EA people who may have limited time or interest. It's an interesting idea to go the next level: not just what and how should we tell people about EA in general, but very literally, what and how should we tell people about EA when given certain real-world time constraints.

Some form of importance, as you mentioned, and ease of explaining, should be factors, I agree. I'd say those are similar but not entirely the same as these two of my considerations above:

We might want ideas that…
...are not likely to be misinterpreted or misused. (SIMILAR TO EASE OF EXPLAINING)

AND

...will actually make an impact if applied. (SIMILAR TO IMPORTANCE)

I'm glad you mentioned "ease of explaining" because in teaching, I'm constantly negotiating between what I ideally want students to know, and the likelihood that I will be able to successfully impart it to them.

My goal is to change general public thinking about how to do good. I think neglectedness as an EA idea is specifically for choosing cause areas. I've stayed away from proposing specific cause areas (and charities) as EA ideas to spread to the public for a couple reasons:

  • Individual charities or cause areas may have relatively short shelf-life before we, as the EA Community, re-prioritize them (for various reasons). If we put time and effort into embedding certain EA ideas in the public mind, I think it makes sense for them to be general and long-lasting so that their relevance doesn't expire.
  • Even within the EA community (a group of altruistic and brilliant people) there is hardly consensus about which cause areas or charities we should prioritize. If we make our public face about promoting any specific cause or charity, a lot of the public will disagree and push back (see my second consideration: "...won't be contentious"). On the other hand, if we promote more general ideas that are hard to dispute (like the use of evidence for the purposes of doing good) few could disagree and it could help many people to do good even a little more effectively.

Currently there are three ideas that I think should be prioritized (though my thinking could likely change) and in the future I'd be curious as to your and others' opinion of how to best present them with limited time.

Thanks for sending the video. I saw him talk about this in the fall! Seems like he's thinking on even the next level. Instead of my current thinking about providing EA tools that the public could have in order to maximize the good they do, he's asking: "What values should the public hold that define what it means to do good?" It seems like his idea could have a massive impact if somehow those values could become widespread.

comment by Thomas Kwa (tkwa) · 2020-06-28T23:56:36.161Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I thought this talk was brilliant, not least in the specific terms you mentioned. I often talk to my EA friends about "counterfactual impact", leverage, and "comparative advantage" and often have a hard time switching gears to talk to non-EAs, but I can imagine this slight shift in terminology to "cause-and-effect evidence", leverage, and "personal advantage" to hit close to the core ideas and sound much friendlier. Most of the talk was immediately actionable as well. Thank you for making it.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-29T20:48:18.779Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks Thomas. Just sent you a message.

comment by Ramiro · 2020-07-08T19:14:35.379Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Where can we get the video?

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-07-09T20:35:01.029Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

My video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0AiIMeyxWk

All the Unconference videos are in a playlist, above!

comment by rshetty23 · 2020-06-11T20:49:47.090Z · score: 48 (50 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Non-hormonal birth control for men and women

YourChoice is developing non-hormonal birth control for both men and women. Nadja Mannowetz has discovered three compounds that bind to sperm and render them immobile. At first, they aim to create a topically applied gel (e.g., on demand birth control for women that would be better than a diaphragm). After that, they’d like to develop an oral product (e.g., a non-hormonal male birth control pill). Eventually, the goal is to create a safe, cheap non-hormonal birth control implant for both men and women. Such an implant would drop the error rate close to zero vs. products that involve more human discretion.

This should be a boon to humanity since it will: 1) slow population growth and reduce our toll on the environment; 2) help people better plan their lives and reproductive decisions; and 3) improve family formation (vs. 40% of births in the U.S. currently being to single parents – this has a particular effect on young boys).

This is:

Important: Few things impact a person’s life more than the decision (or not) to have a child. This is particularly true in developing countries where resources to support a child might be scarce. Also, as developing countries move toward Western standards of living, carbon emissions will balloon if economic growth is coupled with brisk population growth.

Tractable: The compounds currently render sperm immobile in lab conditions, and one of them has already been deemed safe by the FDA. It’s just a matter of engaging in FDA trials to show effectiveness in humans.

Neglected: Male birth control has long been neglected vs. female birth control. Also, many of the attempts at male birth control thus far have been hormonal in nature, and it seems particularly unlikely that many men will be open to this. A non-hormonal approach seems more likely to catch on with men.

Nadja Mannowetz, the Chief Scientific Officer of YourChoice (a YC funded company), has conducted a ton of research (during her PhD, post doc, and after) on sperm motility, and can get into the weeds on the underlying science. She would be happy to discuss the scientific nuances and future potential of non-hormonal birth control for both men and women.

We would prefer the later time slot, but would be open to either.

comment by ruthgrace · 2020-06-13T03:39:14.807Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, this is really cool !!! I'm interested to see how it compares with Vasagel too -- i met the founder at a previous EA global

comment by M_Allcock · 2020-06-10T16:09:28.719Z · score: 46 (39 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

"Everyday EA" - A new EA podcast

Summary:

I am in the very early stages of creating a new EA podcast with the working title: Everyday EA. The podcast would be informal interviews with people in the EA community (broadly) who are not particularly well known, yet are doing valuable work, even if they aren’t yet the most successful person in their field. I’d like to use this session to get feedback on the initial idea, to talk to people who have podcasting experience, and to search for possible collaborators.

Details:

Many people in the community see the great research, writing, advocacy, and altruism of others and do not feel like they have enough to contribute so lose motivation to contribute at all. They only see the most successful people and think “I cannot achieve that”. This means that we are missing out on a large number of great minds who could help humans and animals now and in the future. I’d like to start a podcast project that promotes the voices of "everyday EAs": relatable role-models in the EA community who, while not necessarily being at the very top of their respective field, are having a meaningful impact that should be celebrated.

Many people (especially EAs?) consume many hours of podcasts. The small number of EA-specific podcasts (The Future of Life Institute podcast, 80,000 hours podcast, to name a few. I compiled a longer list here [EA · GW].) mostly involve interviews with very successful people. I think there is space for a more approachable and relatable podcast.

Benefits to the EA community:

  • Create relatable role-models: Make EA relatable through conversations with people who share the listeners’ worries and feelings of inadequacy.
  • A platform for early-career EAs to promote their thinking/writing/skills to the EA community.
  • A platform to promote diverse experiences and thoughts to broaden the reach of EA.

Key questions and uncertainties:

  • Is a podcast the best way to address these problems?
  • How could the impact of the podcast be maximised? Episode length, themes, who to interview?
  • What level of knowledge should we assume in the audience?
  • Would you like to work on this project with me (as an interviewee, co-host, or producer)?

If you have any suggestions about this idea but cannot make it to the unconference, please reply to this comment or reach out to me via private message.

First session is my preference, but I am happy to be considered for either.

comment by BrianTan · 2020-06-12T03:25:15.271Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Creating an EA podcast is something I've been interested in for a while now too! I'm a big fan of long-form interview podcasts, like 80,000 Hours' and the The Tim Ferriss Show. I like the idea of Everyday EA. I think though that Everyday EA should target interviewing people who are in the most engaged 1-10% of the EA community first though. There's a lot of accomplished and inspiring people within EA who haven't been in an 80K podcast or given an EAG talk yet, but can share a lot of great insights. I can suggest certain people.

I'd be interested to attend this, and I'd also be interested to help you develop the strategy for this podcast. I'm quite busy with work and other projects, but I'd like to see if it's valuable for me to help.

Also, a key consideration here is audio quality. Given that most of the world is in lockdown, and because EAs are geographically spread out, I assume you'll be conducting most of the interviews virtually. But a lot of EAs might not have access to a good microphone. And even if they did, you may have to ask them to record their audio on their end, and send it over to you after. (Anyone with experience recording virtual podcasts though could correct me on this!)

80K and other podcasts do some virtual interviews, and most of these have poorer audio quality than in-person ones. I and others would be less likely to listen to a podcast episode with poor audio quality.

Anyway, maybe you could make sure to interview EAs with access to a good microphone first, just to keep the quality high for the first few episodes. I actually have a podcast microphone, and I'd be willing to be an interviewee. Let me know any thoughts you have on this here or privately!

comment by Aidan O'Gara · 2020-06-12T05:50:50.180Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Strongly agree on the importance of audio quality. Cool idea!

comment by M_Allcock · 2020-06-14T11:41:27.146Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the paragraph about interviewing the most engaged people.

Thanks for your offer of help. If the response from the unconference is positive, I will be in touch with you to see if there is a way that you can contribute.

I agree with audio quality being a priority, especially with a remote interviewee. If the response from the unconference is positive, I was thinking of applying for funding for good quality hardware and software from e.g. the EA meta fund. As well as interviewing people who already have a good quality microphone, another option which I have hear other podcasters have success with, is to send a microphone to the interviewee by post and have them send it back (or to the next interviewee) after the interview.

comment by BrianTan · 2020-06-14T13:02:15.976Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think you can get a good podcast microphone for ~$100. This is the microphone I have which was recommended by Tim Ferriss and others: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QJOZS4 I haven't tested it yet for a full podcast episode, but I think it's pretty decent audio quality.

You can also just use Garageband as free software to start if you have a Mac. Tim Ferriss recommends using Auphonic to clean up the audio, but it doesn't cost much either. I don't think you'll need to apply for the Meta fund for this, given that these costs are quite cheap, and they're unlikely to give a grant that small.

comment by Linda Linsefors · 2020-06-13T18:30:14.980Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I want to listen to this podcast!

comment by M_Allcock · 2020-06-14T11:28:54.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the feedback. A comment like this is useful at this stage as I'm trying to get an understanding for whether people would listen to this sort of thing.

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-11T02:17:38.648Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)
The small number of EA-specific podcasts (The future of life podcast, 80,000 hours podcast, to name a few)...

I was going to link to this list of EA-related podcasts [EA · GW] for readers who wanted a more comprehensive collection [EA · GW], and then I spotted that you're the person who collected that list! It's a good list - might be worth turning up your "willingness to shamelessly self-promote" dial :D

Also, I'd be happy to play the role of interviewee at some point, if you do end up doing this and would want to interview me.

comment by M_Allcock · 2020-06-11T14:51:29.657Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've added a link now. After all, I need to turn up my "willingness to shamelessly self-promote" dial if I'm going to get this podcast off the ground!

Thanks for your interest in being an interviewee. I'll keep a log of those who are interested and will be in touch if the project has enough interest to get up and running.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-12T15:57:07.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think this is a great idea. There's definitely an ideal of what it means to be EA that is set by the demands of moral philosophy and by EA superstars. However, there is a limit to what most people (even the superstars) can reasonably accomplish. It could be helpful to highlight the struggle between the ideal and the practical, and what each guest is doing to try to improve.

I have professional experience in audio engineering so let me know if you have any questions on that front, and would love to be a guest at some point (you can see my project on this page.)

comment by M_Allcock · 2020-06-14T11:43:59.542Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the comment. I REALLY like the way you put it in the first paragraph. You've put the idea into better words than I could have done. If it goes down well at the unconference, I'll be in touch. It will be helpful to chat to an audio engineer.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-14T21:55:14.229Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sounds good! Yes, please stay in touch!

comment by jonleighton · 2020-06-12T09:36:40.834Z · score: 43 (30 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Improving access to effective medication to treat cluster ("suicide") headaches

OPIS is an EA-associated think-and-do tank focused on the prevention of intense suffering as an ethical priority (https://www.preventsuffering.org/). We are addressing a few specific causes of suffering and, at a more meta level, working to promote compassionate ethics in governance.

One of our main current areas of focus is cluster headaches, a form of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia and one of the most painful conditions known to medicine, often driving patients to suicide (https://www.preventsuffering.org/cluster-headaches/). The agony they cause is often compared to having a red hot ice pick driven though the eye into the brain. Attacks typically last one hour and repeat several times a day. Patients are often woken up several times during the night by attacks, and they go to extremes, including banging their head against the wall and punching their head, to try to distract themselves from the severe pain. About 85% of patients have episodic clusters lasting 1-3 months, occurring once or twice a year at the same time of year, during which they have daily recurrences at the frequency mentioned; the other 15% have chronic clusters that can last for years, often with multiple attacks per day and without a single day's break. Although they only affect about 1 in 1000 people, the severity of the pain dramatically increases the scale of the problem.

A large number of patient reports attest to the efficacy of certain indoleamines and related compounds with hallucinogenic properties, including psilocybin, LSD and DMT, both in aborting attacks and in preventing entire episodes. Research reports based on survey results indicate that these compounds can be more effective than standard medical treatments, which are far from satisfactory. But legal restrictions and lack of sufficient information among doctors and patients mean that patients often suffer needlessly.

OPIS is working to improve access to effective treatments through an initiative to change government regulations in some key countries, and improve the information available to patients and doctors.

I propose to give a brief talk about the ethical priority of treating extreme pain, and provide more details about this specific condition and how we are tackling the subject and the challenges faced. I hope to inspire more EAs to consider supporting or becoming active in this and related cause areas.

comment by ruthgrace · 2020-06-13T03:41:50.982Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm very interested in this!! thanks for sharing

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2020-06-09T23:06:38.306Z · score: 31 (21 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

How financial improvements can counterfactually increase funding for EA charities by tens of thousands to millions of dollars per charity

I run Antigravity Investments, an EA social enterprise with the mission of indirectly donating millions to charity by helping charities invest more effectively. Last year, we published this EA Forum article explaining why charities should shift cash from low-interest to high-interest accounts: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/YjN6cGoXxPZeqCh4Z/eas-and-ea-orgs-should-move-cash-from-low-interest-to-high. [EA · GW]

This talk will cover new research done by Antigravity Investments on approximating opportunity costs that charities incur by not following best practices in cash management. We will cover applying our opportunity cost estimation methodology across selected EA charities as well as across a data set of over 300,000 U.S. charities.

We will also cover how our outreach strategy has fared over the past year, and perhaps most importantly, recommend concrete steps EA community members and operations/finance staff at EA organizations can take to increase funding for high-impact causes.

I am based on the West Coast and would prefer the late sessions.

comment by birtes · 2020-06-10T20:46:13.224Z · score: 25 (17 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

German-speaking EA community

NEAD (Netzwerk für Effektiven Altruismus Deutschland) is the umbrella association for EAs in Germany. We, the organizers, are looking forward to meeting new potential members and get to know EAs from all parts of Germany. We propose a German-speaking EA community meet-up during the unconference.

NEAD is an association that was founded in October 2019. You can read up on our initial objectives in this forum post [EA · GW]. Right now we are looking for interested people within the community to become members of NEAD and get involved in our projects.

We want to present what NEAD is doing and how you can be and become a part of our network.

We also want to give you room to exchange your experiences with the virtual conference. Lastly, we want to learn from you what you expect and want from a national-level EA network in Germany :)


We would prefer one of the early time-slots.

comment by rajlego · 2020-06-13T12:35:16.134Z · score: 24 (15 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

*Incremental Reading as a Tool for Improved Learning and Research*

What is incremental reading?

(Note, I’m talking about incremental reading as it is implemented in SuperMemo, not as in Anki’s plugin, polar, or dendro)

Summary: allows for acquiring vast amounts of information efficiently

Many people are already familiar with spaced repetition, which is a good way for memorizing things for long-term recall.

The problem with just using spaced repetition is that it makes memorizing things easy but it doesn't give you a good system for learning things before memorizing them. If you want to go through say, a hundred articles from the original sequences it would be extremely tedious to memorize the important parts in Anki, for example.

Incremental reading fixes this issue by making it easy to:

1. collect all the information you want to learn in one place (electronic material at least)

2. prioritize what you have collected (when you have limited time, prioritizing is helpful for spending time on most important material)

3. Process and break down what you've prioritized (focusing on the parts of material that actually matter)

4. retain what you've processed (with spaced repetition, but a much better algorithm than anki)

How does this apply to EA?

Summary: improves creative/problem solving abilities significantly

If you want to be an expert, regardless of field, knowledge plays a large role. The problem with acquiring knowledge sufficient to be an expert is that at some point you may end up forgetting at the same rate you’re learning new things. Traditionally, the way most experts overcome this is by slowly amassing experience over years.

Incremental reading allows for linear knowledge acquisition which enables you to become an expert much more quickly than through traditional learning. For anyone in EA doing academic research, incremental reading could substantially improve their abilities.

Conservatively, I would expect an improvement of 20% in knowledge acquisition rate and problem solving ability in a proficient user over 10 years. Though multiples higher than that wouldn’t surprise me.

Much of that comes from incremental reading enabling users to generalize more effectively. If you work as a psychologist, while you might remember some of the things you read about other subjects, you would end up knowing the most about the things you apply a lot and forget the things you don't. Incremental reading makes it practical to remember things from other subjects even if you won't use them daily. The associative power of knowledge means that by having familiarity with other subjects your ability to solve problems improves. There are few problems whose solutions lie in a single realm alone.

What would I present on?

What incremental reading entails and what benefits you end up with from using it, to allow people to decide if it could be worth learning for them.

If I have time, I could go into a brief primer on what makes learning pleasurable which ties into what makes (at least for me) incremental reading the best learning method there is.

comment by Douglas Pike · 2020-06-14T23:03:27.769Z · score: 22 (13 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

EAs are Underrating the Anti-slavery Cause


Around the world, tens of millions of innocent people are enslaved in sweatshops, brick kilns & brothels, on farms and fishing vessels, inside homes, and in other dire situations. The largest categories of modern-day slavery are forced labour, bonded labour (a.k.a. debt bondage), sexual slavery, and coerced marriage.

In 2016, Giving What We Can (a part of the Centre for Effective Altruism) rated this cause at 3 stars out of a possible 5 in terms of its importance, neglectedness, and tractability. Also, it rated "the best [anti-slavery] charity we can find" (The Freedom Fund) -- focussing on its work in India in particular -- as follows:

cost-effectiveness -- 3 stars (out of 5)

robustness of evidence - 3 stars

quality of implementation - 4 stars

But last September, The Freedom Fund released new data about its recent work in 3 states of India that showed an approximate 125,000-person decline in bonded labour. This decline -- relative to the (untouted) cost of it -- leads to my rough estimate that the cost of each free person who otherwise would have been in bonded labour was $80 or 71 euros.

This indicates that -- contrary to GWWC's rating in 2016 -- The Freedom Fund's more recent efforts to reduce bonded labour in parts of India have been highly cost-effective.

In talking about modern-day slavery in terms of EA, I'd also discuss the range of disability factors that Giving What We Can used in 2016 (for the value of sparing someone from enslavement relative to the value of saving someone's life). The mid-point of the range was 0.5 -- which would mean that sparing 2 people from enslavement would be equal in value to saving 1 person's life. But the evaluation also said the value of freedom might be much lower or much higher. (Putting a higher value on freedom from slavery would have raised the 3-star rating that GWWC put on the importance of the cause.)

I'd also like to explain why optimal efforts against slavery in some settings (such as brick kilns) are much more cost-effective than optimal efforts against modern-day slavery in more diffuse situations (such as coerced marriages).

NOTE: My sources include reports by The Freedom Fund, books by Siddharth Kara (Modern Slavery, Bonded Labour), books by Kevin Bales (Ending Slavery, Disposable People), U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Reports, International Labour Organization reports, interviews with survivors, prosecutors, activists & care providers.

#####

comment by Aidan O'Gara · 2020-06-15T01:59:30.520Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for this writeup - I'd greatly appreciate any further information you could provide about anti-slavery.

  • What are the links for these sources?
  • Can you share your cost-effectiveness calculations for The Freedom Fund? What does it assume?
  • What are the best writeups of the problem? Could you link to them?
comment by Douglas Pike · 2020-06-15T18:54:49.574Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Here I cite 2 outside evaluations of The Freedom Fund's anti-bonded labour work in N. India and in S. India. You will see that they measured the reduction in HOUSEHOLDS that included at least one bonded laborer -- rather than estimating the reduction in the number of bonded laborers. (My estimate for the reduction in the number of bonded laborers came directly from The Freedom Fund.)

Institute of Development Studies & Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, Northern India Hotspot Prevalence Study and Evaluation, 2019 
https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/123456789/14653


Institute
of Development Studies & Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, Southern India Hotspot Prevalence Study and Evaluation, 2019
https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/123456789/14651

comment by Douglas Pike · 2020-06-15T15:28:11.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

CORRRECTION in what I just posted re: how I calculated The Freedom Fund's cost-effectiveness:

In Southern India, the baseline was mid-2016 and the end line was mid-2018.

comment by Douglas Pike · 2020-06-15T15:23:41.861Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I literally do not know how to put links here (or anywhere). But if you Google the stuff I mentioned, those sources should be easy to find.

Here's how I calculated the cost-effectiveness of The Freedom Fund:

$ 12.1 million Total spending in 2 states in Northern India (2014 thru 2019)

+ $6.8 million Total spending in 1 state in Southern India (2015 thru 2019)

_________

$18.9 million TOTAL SPENDING in the 3 states

Each year, FF's cumulative spending in the 2 states in Northern India is stated in its Annual Impact Report. Ditto, FF's cumulative spending in the 1 state in Southern India. So by subtraction, I computed FF's annual spending in N. India and also in S. India.

For N. India, where the baseline for evaluating the work was early in 2016 and the endline was late in 2018, I subtracted FF's spending there in 2014, 2015 & 2019. This gave me a figure for 2016 through 2018 that I was confident overstated the exact amount.

For S. India, where the baseline was mid-2018, I subtracted FF's spending there in 2015 (that's when the work started) and 2019. But because FF's spending there in 2017 was much lower than in 2016 or in 2018, I was concerned that the 2017 figure might be some kind of anomaly, and so I decided NOT to estimate FF's baseline-to-endline spending in S. India as: 2017 + half of 2016 + half of 2018. Instead, to be conservative, I added those 3 years of spending, and then multiplied the sum by 2/3. Estimating the baseline-to-endline cost this way gave me confidence that I was not underestimating it.

So:

$ 18.9 million TOTAL SPENDING in the 3 states

-$ 8.9 million FF SPENDING excluded due to being before the baseline or after the endline

__________

about $10 million in F.F. SPENDING in the 3 states between baseline and endline


$10 million divided by 125,000 (reduction in bonded labour) = $80 (cost per person spared bonded labour)

I'm going to post this & then respond soon re: assumptions.

comment by Douglas Pike · 2020-06-14T23:06:07.438Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Clarification: I'm requesting an Early time slot.

comment by NoteworthyTrain · 2020-06-15T09:17:50.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is a very important topic and I'd like to learn more about it. Hopefully, I'll get to hear you discuss it at the Unconference.

comment by Sonya Lebedeva (sonya.lebedeva@berkeley.edu) · 2020-06-15T05:18:46.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Douglas,

This is such an important topic and I would love to hear more about it. I definitely want to hear more about the range of disability factors that Giving What We Can used in 2016 . I think my suggestion would be to hear more about calls to action, because now that we have identified this as a problem what are some things we can do? Really hope to continue discussing this.

comment by Giles · 2020-06-12T01:22:18.976Z · score: 22 (18 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

A Mindful Approach to Tackling those Yucky Tasks You’ve Been Putting Off

For many of us, procrastination is a problem. This can take many forms, but we’ll focus on relatively simple tasks that you’ve been putting off long-term.

Epistemic status: speculative, n=1 stuff.


Yucky Tasks

Yucky tasks may be thought of several ways:

  • things you’ve been putting off
  • tasks which generate complex, negative emotions.
  • that vague thing that you know is there but it's hard to get a grip on and you’re all like uhggggg

The connection to EA?

EA is not about following well-trodden paths. We’re all trying to do something different and new, and stepping out of comfort zones.

  • donating big sums of money to unusual causes
  • seeing the world through an unusual lens
  • reaching out to people we don’t know
  • planning our careers and our finances
  • and more
  • all while staying organized in our personal lives

For some of us, we may be exceptionally talented or productive in some domains, but find some of the tasks elusive or hard to get a grip on.


So what happens?

Most commonly avoidance. This can go on until there’s some kind of shift: maybe we avoid something until it becomes super urgent, or maybe we just wait until our feelings around it become clearer.

Forcing ourselves to jump right in, tackling the task “forcefully” using all our available willpower. Though this can get the job done it can be unpleasant and unsustainable - we’ll remember all that negativity for the next time, and thus make the next task more difficult. Especially disruptive when working with others.


What’s an alternative?

This talk is about discovering and mapping our mental landscapes surrounding a problem. Tasks, and their associated thoughts and emotions, can be mapped out in a rich web. Often, different sub-tasks will be associated with different emotions, and seeing this laid out can help with getting our emotional bearings, as well as practical problem-solving.

The result is unpacking a complex, muddied anxiety or resentment into something cleaner and truer. We’re still at early stages but we’re hoping to build this technique out into something robust that can help those of us in the EA movement overcome the blocks to personal effectiveness.

------------

(I would like to be part of the late session)

comment by JuanGarcia · 2020-06-11T18:32:55.859Z · score: 21 (13 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in catastrophic scenarios

My name is Juan B. García Martínez, research associate of the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED). My colleagues Joseph Egbejimba, James Throup, Silvio Matassa, Joshua M. Pearce, David C. Denkenberger and I have researched the potential of microbial protein from hydrogen for preventing mass starvation in global catastrophic scenarios.

As members of ALLFED we are concerned by the fact that the current global food system is critically unprepared for extreme catastrophes of non-negligible likelihood, such as supervolcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, nuclear wars or pandemics that disrupt food trade. Instead of giving up in the face of this fact, we study potential solutions that could help in such events.


Abstract

Human civilization’s food production system is currently unprepared for catastrophes that would reduce global food production by 10% or more, such as nuclear winter, supervolcanic eruptions or asteroid impacts. Alternative foods that do not require much or any sunlight have been proposed as a more cost-effective solution than increasing food stockpiles, given the long duration of many global catastrophic risks (GCRs) that could hamper conventional agriculture for 5 to 10 years.

Microbial food from single cell protein (SCP) produced via hydrogen from both gasification and electrolysis is analyzed in this study as alternative food for the most severe food shock scenario: a sun-blocking catastrophe. Capital costs, resource requirements and ramp up rates are quantified to determine its viability. Potential bottlenecks to fast deployment of the technology are reviewed.

The ramp up speed of food production for 24/7 construction of the facilities over 6 years is estimated to be lower than other alternatives (3-10% of the global protein requirements could be fulfilled at end of first year), but the quality of the microbial protein is higher than most others. Results indicate that investment in SCP scaleup should be limited to the production capacity that is needed to fulfill only the minimum recommended protein requirements of humanity during the catastrophe. Further research is needed into more uncertain concerns such as transferability of labor and equipment production. This could help reduce the negative impact of potential food-related GCRs.


Time preference: late session.

comment by Daniel Tabakman (danielszev@gmail.com) · 2020-06-11T18:43:09.912Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Authentic Relating, Changing People's Minds, and Increasing Communication Capacity

Summary

We would like to share insights and discuss an authentic relating practise known as circling. Circling is an activity designed to create an “authentic” and “alive” atmosphere, as well as increase the participants' (and facilitators) capacity for empathy, connection, and sharing “cruxes”.

Background

A common problem around “convincing” people to adopt EA values or change their behaviors to be more EA aligned, is accessing the emotional part(s) of themselves that can make the decisions and feel good about it in a way that can permeate into their lives.

The kind of circling that we do creates an atmosphere of vulnerability, emotional openness. During these sessions participants connect to what they personally find truly important and how they want to live their lives.

A secondary effect of participating in these circling (among many), is an increased capacity for those involved to have a better experiential understanding of how people make decisions, how they choose what to share, and how vulnerable they can be.

Presentation

We would like to present a brief introduction to circling, some common states of mind that it can produce, and some future possibilities.

Who We are

My name is Daniel Tabakman, I founded the rationality meetup group in Ottawa, and ran the Toronto branch for some time. Currently I am part of ThinkBetter, (thinkbetter.ca) a decentralized meta community who’s founders came out of EA.

Time Slot

Strong preference to not overlap with any other ThinkBetter speakers .

More information

comment by Simmo · 2020-06-14T07:51:02.348Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Great to see this here, Daniel! After a few years helping to run a local EA group and working for an EA org, my focus at the moment is how to bring EA and AR (Authentic Relating) together in the most impactful way. I've just landed a trial with a leading AR org with the hope that I can work with them to increase their impact. I also just ran my first online AR workshop with a bunch of EAs.

Your pitch for AR/circling to be a means of increasing the abilities of EAs to effectively spread our ideas is interesting! My initial thoughts are that the primary impact AR could have might lie in its capability to increase the quality of relationships in the workplace and thus the impact of the most impactful orgs. Secondly, as a practice to help people repair damaged relationships or to foster high quality relationships thus to increase individual wellbeing (this might be targeted at people doing particularly high impact work, or at people/cultures which could particularly benefit from these practices (prisons, schools...)

comment by Daniel Tabakman (danielszev@gmail.com) · 2020-06-17T02:24:28.037Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I totally agree. The amount of potential value in creating and fostering these kinds of relationships are huge. I'm part of an organization called ThinkBetter thinkbetter.ca and we are looking into this as well.

I'm not going to be able to cover everything we are doing even just related to circling in my talk, and it feels like we would have a lot in common and would love to chat with you and see where our approaches intersect.

comment by Danny Lipsitz (dlipsitz@gmail.com) · 2020-06-12T16:06:35.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sounds interesting! I'm curious what circling actually entails. Could you describe what happens in one of the sessions?

comment by Daniel Tabakman (danielszev@gmail.com) · 2020-06-17T02:25:05.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I will share what happens in the talk.

comment by Naryan · 2020-06-10T19:59:50.720Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

A Metamodern Approach to "Leveling-up" Humanity

ThinkBetter was founded by five EAs in Toronto with the mission of creating a scalable rationality training program, and the goal of materially raising the global sanity waterline. Through a series of rapid-prototyping and OODA loops, we ended up 'transcending and including' our initial curriculum and strategy, and are now working with a deeper understanding of the complexity of the challenge.

I'd be interested in starting a discussion to share:

  • Our journey
  • A new approach to learning that we are finding highly effective
  • The emerging ecosystem of individuals, teams, and communities that are all working on different parts of the human development stack
  • And of course - how our perspective on EA is shifting as we learn to 'see' higher levels of complexity
comment by aviv · 2020-06-10T01:53:47.212Z · score: 20 (26 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Avoiding Infocalypse: How a decline in epistemic competence makes catastrophic risks inevitable — and what EA's can do about it

This would be shortened and modified version of a talk I gave at Cambridge University, at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The general public version of many of the ideas can be found in this TEDx talk that I gave in 2018 (ignore the title, not my choice).

Part 1: Framing the underlying problem

Describe what is meant by epistemic competence (the ability or desire for individuals, organizations, governments, etc. to effectively make sense of the world). Illustrate how it is declining, and how that is likely to get worse.

Part 2: Connect to catastrophic risks
Describe how lower epistemic competence makes it extremely difficult to do any sort of crucial coordination, making global coordination on catastrophic risks increasingly unlikely. In addition, lower epistemic competence makes catastrophic forcing functions more likely and individual mitigation steps less likely.

Part 3: Exploring mitigations

Discuss what can be done, and show that many of these problems are related to other better understood EA cause areas (including e.g. the connection between synthetic media and AGI).

------

More about my work here for context: aviv.me, twitter.com/metaviv.

I would be interested in a late session. My goal is to more broadly circulate these concerns in the EA community, which I have been adjacent to for many years (e.g. this podcast episode I did with Julia Galef) but never deeply engaged.

comment by Paula Meninato · 2020-06-13T21:49:07.183Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

The Importance of the Arts in Effective Altruism and Social Change


While art is a powerful agent to create social change by incentivizing civic engagement, political movements typically miss critical opportunities to collaborate with artists. The presentation will begin by analyzing the theory why art creates impact. As a practice-led researcher, I will analyze both my art and the art of other artists aimed at fabricating social change. I will explain why certain interventions are more effective than others, and how we can leverage these ideas to create social change.

The lack of funding for arts research creates a lack of empirical evidence for the effectiveness of art. While the few studies have indicated that the arts is an effective agent for social change, less than 3% of funding in the arts are used for arts research within the US. Therefore, I will discuss the empirical evidence behind art for social change and why arts research needs more funding.

Despite multi-million dollar donations within the art world, these funds are disproportionately concentrated among few artists, curators, and collectors. Meanwhile, the average artist will live below the poverty line at some point in their career and arts programs focusing on impoverish communities struggle to raise enough funds. Therefore, the distribution of funds within the arts is critical in supporting socially conscious artists in changing their communities.

The final section will discuss what effective altruists can do to shift the distribution of wealth and increase available funds within the arts. As the effective altruist movement becomes mainstream, conversations around supporting socially conscious artists and arts research can create an environment that is conducive to help communities create social change.

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-13T03:49:59.955Z · score: 16 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

The importance and challenges of estimating existential risk

To make effective prioritisation decisions in relation to existential risks [EA · GW], we need estimates of the risks from various sources and of how various actions would reduce those risks. However, such estimates are extremely rare, extremely hard to make, and extremely hard to judge the reliability of. These conditions create risks of either ignoring expert views or overly anchoring on them, and of overlooking either the points of consensus that do exist or the vast disagreements and uncertainties that remain.

To mitigate these issues, I’ve collected all estimates of existential risk (or similarly extreme outcomes) I could find in a single database [EA · GW]. This database can be collaboratively added to over time as new estimates are made or old estimates found, and it currently has ~70 existential risk estimates.

This session would expand on the above points, discussing why we need existential risk estimates, why it's hard to make such estimates or even just to know how much we should update our beliefs based on experts' estimates, what options this leaves us with, and why building and using this database is the best of those options.

I'll be giving a 5-minute lightning talk at EAGx on the same topic, so I could either:

  • keep my presentation short and leave more time for free-form discussion of this and related topics (e.g., best practice when forecasting),
  • bring back into my presentation various details I brutally cut for the lightning talk, or
  • combine a short presentation on this with a short presentation on the related matter of "crucial questions for longtermists" (see my comment below)

(I'd prefer the early session.)

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-13T03:53:04.656Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I have another somewhat related idea that I could talk about for 5-8 minutes as part of the same session where I talk about existential risk estimates, or that I could do a full session on instead of a session on existential risk estimates. (I obviously wouldn't plan to take up two session slots by doing full presentations on both ideas.)

Perhaps it'd be best to use an "approval voting" approach, where you upvote the above comment if you'd be interested in a full-session on x-risk estimates, upvote this comment if you'd be interested in a full session on crucial questions for longtermists, and/or upvote my other comment if you'd be interested in a session briefly covering both.

Crucial questions for longtermists

Convergence Analysis (who I work for) are embarking on a project to collect, organise, clarify, and highlight existing ideas and works related to a large set of the “crucial questions” for longtermists [EA · GW]. These are questions whose answers may be “crucial considerations”, which are “likely to cause a major shift of our view of interventions or areas”; their answers could substantially shift how we think about key problems and how we make major prioritisation decisions.

One set of such questions relate to how high various existential risks are, but there are many other questions as well. For example, there are questions related to the optimal timing for work and donations, including:

  • How will “leverage over the future” change over time?
  • How effectively can we “punt to the future”?
  • What would be the long-term effective growth rate of financial investments?
  • Which “direct” actions have “compounding” impacts (if any)? How strongly and durably do those impacts compound?
  • How steeply do marginal returns to work done within a given time period diminish? How much can we parallelise work?
  • Is there a “deadline”? When is it?

And many of these questions can in turn be broken down into sub-questions, sub-sub-questions, etc.

We aim for this project to aid in thought and communication about each of the crucial questions for longtermists, while also serving as something of an orientation to, “research agenda” for, and structured reading list for these questions. A draft of the article that will introduce this project (which includes our current full collection and structuring of questions) can be found here, and a draft of the article about crucial questions related to optimal timing of work and donations is available upon request.

If I did a full session on this project, I would:

  • Introduce the purpose and scope of this crucial questions series
  • Overview at least one set of questions (as an example)
  • And then probably open things up for more than 15 minutes of discussion about any of the topics/questions people are particularly interested in, or about the project as a whole. (Hopefully this would include getting some valuable feedback, as the project is at an early-ish stage thus far.)
comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-13T03:54:52.481Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps upvote this comment if you'd be interested in a session where I present briefly on the existential risk estimates idea, then present briefly on the crucial questions for longtermists idea, then open the floor for discussion of both topics.

(I'm also open to moving away from this sort of approval voting approach.)

comment by joel_bkr · 2020-06-09T12:34:06.888Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What prevents researchers from prioritising x-risk?

Questions

This proposal aims to answer the following questions:

  • What are researchers' existing beliefs about existential risks?
  • How are their actions concerning existential risk mitigation dependent on their beliefs?
  • What factors might explain researchers not prioritising existential risk?

Background

Most longtermist EA-inspired organisations advocate for and support research on existential risk (among other topics). They do so, presumably, in the hope that, by providing information and resources to researchers, researchers' views and efforts will shift in favour of more impactful topics.

Yet, little is known about several factors that appear critical to this theory of change. I am not aware of work concerning:

  • Researchers' existing beliefs about the prevalence of and relative concern caused by existential risks.
  • The extent to which providing information and research support related to existential risk affect researchers' beliefs and downstream actions.
  • The barriers to researchers' prioritising work related to existential risk.

(That said, I am sure that research exists on questions broadly analogous to those above.)

Methods

I first need some context with many researchers. I do not yet have a clear idea of what form this context might take. Academic conferences seem most fitting, but are not practical in the short term. The obvious alternative is to conduct surveys over the internet following personal emails; in this case, one concern is that selection in to and out of the data could be a significant issue.

Regardless of the exact context chosen, I will first design surveys to characterise beliefs about existential risk. In eliciting beliefs, some or all participants could be incentivised to answer with estimates as close to expert opinion as possible. (This is standard procedure in economics, although usually one is trying to elicit a participant's best guess of something closer to 'ground truth'.) The survey might also ask participants to estimate small but mundane risks -- e.g. the probability that a randomly chosen person might be struck by lightning that day -- so that survey responses can be more easily compared, and perhaps even filtered or reweighted.

I will also estimate participant's preferences over trade-offs related to existential risk. This part of the survey might ask, for example: how many statistical lives saved with certainty is equivalently good to a 1% reduction in existential risk next year? (See slides 20-27 on Alsan et al. (2020)).

Next, I envision a field experiment with researchers. I will test the degree to which researchers (1) value information about existential risk and (2) respond to evidence and support in their beliefs, preferences, and actions relating to existential risk. This "evidence and support" might take the form of risk estimates from Ord (2020), and suggestions from research priorities organisations on how to reorient research towards existential risk reduction.

In the experiment, I will first measure participants' willingness to pay (WTP) for evidence and support. Second, I will evaluate participants' response to receiving evidence and support on (a) survey outcomes, immediately after receiving information and again some years in the future, (b) measurable non-survey outcomes. I have yet to settle on which outcomes to include in (b), but suggestions include: quantity of articles produced relating to existential risk, donations to charities relevant to existential risk, and so on.

Finally, upon analysing the data, I will explore mechanisms which might play a role in successfully shifting researchers' focus towards existential risk. This process may include conducting follow-up experiments.

Uncertainties

I welcome feedback on anything/everything above, but some uncertainties that immediately stand out to me:

  • Which contexts might be most appropriate and amenable for experiments?
  • Which mechanisms seem most likely to be important ahead of time? (Such that I could include considerations for them in the main experiment.)
  • Which other trade-off questions might I include? I want this section to get at: if existential risks are made more salient and/or made to appear more tractable, how do perceptions of trade-offs (to be related to research inputs) change? But maybe there is a clearer question to be asked here.
  • How might my big-picture questions be misspecified? Relatedly, which big-picture questions might be more interesting and might therefore lead to different experiments/analysis?

Session

EDIT: Happy with either session!

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-13T05:12:41.597Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Sounds interesting. A few questions/thoughts:

Are you just focused on any and all researchers, or researchers in some particular set of fields? Perhaps the fields most relevant to existential risk (e.g., AI, biotech, international relations)?

This "evidence and support" might take the form of risk estimates from Ord (2020)

I think there's some value in updating one's beliefs based on experts' existential risk estimates, such as those from Ord. But I'd also worry about the possibility of anchoring and/or information cascades if other researchers - who might have been able to come up with their own reasonable estimates if they tried - are actively encouraged to adjust their beliefs based on existing estimates. I'd also be wary of heavily relying on any particular estimate or set of estimates, without checking what other experts said about the same topic.

So it might be useful for you to draw on the existential risk estimates in this this database [EA · GW] I made, and also to just keep in mind the risks of anchoring and information cascades and try to find ways to mitigate those issues. (I'll be discussing these topics more in a lightning talk at EAGx, and maybe in an Unconference session too [EA(p) · GW(p)].)

In eliciting beliefs, some or all participants could be incentivised to answer with estimates as close to expert opinion as possible. (This is standard procedure in economics, although usually one is trying to elicit a participant's best guess of something closer to 'ground truth'.)

At first, I thought you meant telling the researchers what experts thought, and then incentivising the researchers to say the same. I felt unsure what the point of that would be. But now I'm guessing you mean something like telling them they'll get some incentive if the estimate they come up with is close to experts' estimates, to encourage them to think hard? If so, what's the goal from that? I could imagine this leading to researchers giving relatively high estimates because they expect x-risk experts would do so, rather than it leading to researchers thinking really hard about what they themselves should believe.

Finally, it seems possible that the "crucial questions for longtermists" project [EA(p) · GW(p)] I'm working on might be relevant in some way for your idea. For example, perhaps that could provide some inspiration regarding things to ask the researchers about, and regarding what may be underlying the differences in the strategic views and choices of them vs of the existential risk community.

comment by alexrjl · 2020-06-17T19:06:10.750Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What is forecasting and how do I get started?

I'm currently teaching this as a 4x90 minute course. If there was sufficient interest I'd be happy to put together a half hour lightning version.

Edit: looks like I was about a week late having this idea, though I'm still happy to run this at some point if people want.

comment by rajlego · 2020-06-25T11:03:08.885Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'd be interested if you have any written posts you recommend (not so big on watching videos generally)

comment by FugueFoundation · 2020-06-10T03:08:32.700Z · score: 13 (16 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

TOPIC: Effective Altruism API and Blockchain-based Donation Platform

Summary

We would like to discuss and showcase two projects under active development. The first is our effective altruism application programming interface (API). This is a public dataset of information about the notable charities and charity evaluators that we would like to expand so that researchers and developers can query and use for their own purposes and projects. We could use your help to know what type of structures and features would be most useful to the community.

The second project relates to blockchain technology. Leveraging the power of the Ethereum network, and using the aforementioned API for data, we are developing smart contracts and a frontend interface that form a decentralized application. This platform enables donors to make informed decisions about their crypto donations to notable charities, as identified by well-established charity evaluators (to include 80,000 Hours, The Life You Can Save, Animal Charity Evaluators, and Give Well).

Presentation

We would like to present working prototypes of both the API and decentralized application during our time period. There would be a brief discussion as to the projects, followed by live demonstrations and Q&A.

Who We are

The Fugue Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to combining open source, decentralized technologies with the principles of effective altruism to tackle the world's greatest challenges.

Time Slot

If selected, we would prefer one of the later time sessions.

More information

comment by Prabhat Soni · 2020-06-10T08:27:47.824Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hey, the hyperlinks of the 'homepage' and 'GitHub' URLs are wrong

comment by FugueFoundation · 2020-06-10T15:08:55.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, fixed

comment by MichaelA · 2020-06-21T01:07:10.115Z · score: 12 (9 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for organising this Unconference! I really enjoyed both presenting and attending.

It seemed there were a lot of interested attendees, a lot of applications to present, and some applications that came in after the deadline. (Meaning there were some cool-sounding things I didn't get to see, like alexrjl and JuanGarcia's ideas!) And it seemed like this is a cool opportunity for people to raise some awareness of their ideas/projects and get feedback, and for attendees from across the world to make connections during the Q&As and icebreakers.

So I wonder if it might be worth doing something like this every month or two? There could be either this post or a new post where people can apply on a rolling basis by commenting, and each month or two the 4-8 applications with the highest karma that haven't already been done go ahead. And then new people can apply for the next time, and the prior applications can continue to gain karma. And maybe there'd just be one "track" for each time slot, as there's always next time to do presentations that couldn't be gotten to this time.

I imagine the EAGxVirtual team would do a great job of this, but also that someone else could pick it up if they've now done all the virtual conference organising they'd like to do for a lifetime?

I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on this (and to attend future Unconferences, if someone does pick this up). I guess perhaps interest could be gauged with a poll on the main EA Facebook group, and/or a new post/"question" on the Forum?

comment by Sebastian Schwiecker (EA-Basti) · 2020-06-27T12:47:09.088Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

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.

comment by Dan Hageman (danieljhageman@gmail.com) · 2020-06-12T20:55:27.691Z · score: 12 (8 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

*Match for More*--An organization seeking to cultivate a community of EA professionals who leverage their company's matching program towards EA-align charities/causes.

My colleague and I have been working on developing an organization/community that, similar to the way GWWC fosters a community of effective givers who pledge 10% of their income, we look to cultivate a community of those effectively leveraging their company’s matching opportunities, and specifically leveraging them towards various EA-aligned causes and organizations. We believe that this organization, called 'Match for More', can have an impact on professionals’ charitable contributions and longevity, their allocation effectiveness, and their ability to speak more about their donation opportunities in a social atmosphere that will continue to motivate and spread the giving mentality that lies at the core of EA values.


More details:

After just a bit of research, and some polling in various online EA communities, we’ve learned that there are already EAs out there taking full advantage of their matching opportunities, whether their own or that of their spouse or partner. Of the numerous companies currently offering such opportunities, many boast matchings in the 5-figure territory, and several with a multiplication factors more than just 1:1.

One of the great things about Match for More is that there is very little cost in getting it off the ground, outside of the labor it takes to start the initial community, build a website, and look for innovative ways to increase our potential impact both within the broader EA community and the corporate world. Along with the ‘foster a community outlook’ that Match for More seeks to pursue, we are also considering a type of *EA Ambassador Program*, which would allow employees of professional organizations to better bring EA principles into consideration at the corporate level. This could mean anything from initiating matching opportunities for employees where they do not already exist, having company’s reconsider strategies for their large-budget philanthropic efforts that are often allocated across a wide range of causes, and generally spreading the EA mentality to others they work with in the professional setting each and every day. While we’ve seen workplace activism within the EA community break ground on a few different fronts, there seems to be great opportunity for a focused and organized effort that can provide resources, advice, and general support for those with access to corporate communities and who are looking to spread our ideals.

As our organization is still in its early stages, we are keen to hear feedback about the organization goals in general. With the idea of a community at the core of our mission, we would love ideas on how best to consider membership of such a community. For example, how should someone taking full advantage of a $2000 match be included vs someone matching $5000 of a potential $50k match that they have on offer? How best can we consider inclusion criteria for the breadth of EA-aligned charities to grow our community and maintain freedom for those who prioritize various causes? What outlets would be best for growing our community at both early and late stages?

All of this, along with the general aims of Match for More, would be cause for a great discussion with like-minded EAs who share in our values and seek to increase impact where we can!

comment by lukasberglund · 2020-06-12T20:09:27.749Z · score: 11 (10 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What is the best leadership structure for (college) EA clubs?


A few people in the EA group organizers slack (6 to be exact) expressed interest in discussing this.

Here are some ideas for topics to cover:

  • The best overall structure (What positions should there be etc.
  • Should there be regular meetings among all general members/ club leaders?
  • What are some mistakes to avoid?
  • What are some things that generally work well?
  • How to select leaders

I envision this as an open discussion for people to share their experiences. At the end, we could compile the result of our discussion into a forum post.

comment by ambrosia0 · 2020-06-10T17:07:28.430Z · score: 10 (16 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Demand Reduction is a neglected approach in climate solutions

We want to share some ideas about demand reduction, which we feel is a neglected approach to addressing climate change. We would like to get feedback on these ideas and connect with other like-minded EAs. These are early-stage ideas that we are still making more rigorous and actionable.

Whereas energy efficiency improvements reduce energy and resource demands by making certain behaviors and processes more efficient, demand reduction is about reducing or eliminating those behaviors and processes altogether, thus avoiding issues like the rebound effect (see Jevons paradox and Khazzoom-Brookes postulate). For instance, whereas a mainstream approach to reducing the environmental impact of transportation would focus on shifting travel to trains or electric vehicles, a demand reduction approach would focus more on reducing the need for commuting and travel overall.

Demand reduction has several advantages as an approach: it comprehensively reduces environmental burdens, rather than only reducing emissions; it is less dependent on technological progress; it is less dependent on new investment; it is less complex and thus more robust; and it is complementary to existing approaches, by making goals like 100% renewable and net-zero emissions easier to reach. We will explain these in more detail during the talk.

Despite these advantages, demand reduction is not widely discussed in environmental circles as an approach to climate change. The climate discussion seems to be dominated by investment-oriented ideas like clean energy, creation of clean jobs, and technological innovations that may have their own unique environmental burdens. We are not aware of efforts to research demand reduction policies or marketing, meaning that some research could make it a more tractable space to explore for addressing climate issues.

Demand reduction is associated with ideas like degrowth and steady-state economics, but those areas spend a lot of time debating abstract and high-level issues about capitalism and growth, often in the language of academic social science. We think there may be an opportunity for impact by side-stepping ideological debates and distilling the ideas that are most actionable into language that is understood by a broader audience. We see this as a potentially general mechanism that EAs could have impact.

We can only participate in the late sessions (9-16).

comment by Khorton · 2020-06-10T18:26:43.753Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've seen a lot of work on demand side response, whether that's reducing demand or just shifting it in order to reduce peaks in consumption. For example, the International Energy Agency tracks it annually.

https://www.iea.org/reports/tracking-energy-integration-2019/demand-response

comment by ambrosia0 · 2020-06-10T20:54:31.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

We'd love to see what you seen, if you don't mind sharing some links. Note that when we talk about 'demand reduction' (which honestly isn't the best term, but we're still working on that), it doesn't mean just any work on the demand side. Any kind of efficiency standard is a demand side intervention, but we've tried to distinguish 'demand reduction' from that sort of work.

Similarly, we wouldn't consider demand response as falling under 'demand reduction', as from what I understand, it's primarily about shifting consumption which could be viewed as efficiency improvements.

Maybe to put it more clearly, we should distinguish between two types of demand:

1. Demand for goods and services, such as the service received from an appliance or travel over a distance

2. Demand for energy and resources, such as electricity

Work that we've seen on the demand side may work on reducing demand #2 by improving the efficiency in which those goods and services are delivered. But we haven't seen much work on reducing demand #1.

The use of taxes and incentives to shift demand #1 is probably the closest thing we've seen, but we think there's a broader space of policies to be considered for reducing demand #1 that is under-explored.

comment by Khorton · 2020-06-10T22:00:15.892Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I definitely think it's useful to draw a distinction between reducing demand for the product or service vs making the product or service more efficient.

I've seen some interventions to reduce waste - I'm not sure which category you'd put that in. I think providing free smart meters is a nudge in this category. https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/about-smart-meters

comment by AmAristizábal · 2020-06-15T22:01:50.811Z · score: 9 (8 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Geographic diversity in EA:

Here´s a link to my recent post about it: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/zDktSTEstmy2X5big/geographic-diversity-in-ea [EA · GW]

content copied here:

I suspect that due to lack of diversity, questions that could be relevant to EA have not been considered enough and here I share some of the ones that I deal with the most (although I don't have a strong position about most of these things and probably I just have not been aware if they DO HAVE been considered, in that case I would appreciate a lot if you could send links or recommendations):

-Whether giving locally could be better (or not) for donors in low and middle income countries:

Countries with weak currencies such as mine face high exchange rates (especially in hard times such as this pandemic). I have the intuition that with a volatile dollar price it doesn't always make sense to donate to EA recommended charities and perhaps donors could allocate better their donations by donating locally. In my case I just switch to save and donate later (because I'm young and my salary is low haha) but what if I still want to donate a little bit to keep motivation? Or what if I want to convince my friend's uncle to donate?I still want to have an informed opinion.

-Spot regional differences within countries when answering different types of questions: Even if my country's GDP is higher than many countries where effective donations according to EA are allocated, there are many regions within my country where poverty is extremely high, even higher than in richer cities from poorer countries. Those differences are hard to spot if EA spots “poverty” as a whole without zooming in geographical zones.

-Addressing the real potential of going into policy in LMICs: EA recommends policy careers but I suspect that it's an even more important path in LMICs, where policies are weaker, policymakers are even less evidence based and where institutions have a lot more potential to improve.

-Whether there is a chance to adapt EA to other cultural values:

Individualism vs collectivism: I feel that EA was born in cultures that value individualistic goals (even if the focus is on the world as a whole). For example, I see EA deeply linked to “western”´s understanding of freedom, independence of thought, skepticism, mistrust for authority and social norms, etc… However, other cultures with more collectivist mindsets can struggle to link altruism to those specific values. In many cultures altruism is deeply linked to religion or family bonds and giving is prioritized when you help those that surround you. Even if there is no rational argument to value more a life in my country vs a life in sub-saharan Africa, what if EA is losing an opportunity to take advantage of these cultural drives towards giving by, for example, strengthening local networks of charities.

Nationalism: Even if I'm not fond of nationalism I do recognize it as a huge drive for altruism in my country (probably in many others as well). I won't convince my friend's uncle to donate to Against Malaria but I could convince him to donate to a colombian charity. Could we use those emotional bonds to promote doing good in an effective way at the same time?

-I wonder if there is a bias when EA talks about problems not being “neglected” enough when dismissing some cause areas or focus topics: an example that comes to my mind is gender inequality in governments or in the workplace. In EA there is a whole focus area on improving institutional decision making, which is great (actually there is where I want to focus); but what if there are easier and more urgent steps to be taken towards IIDM in LMICs such as focusing on women's access to governments (something that in high income countries is not that neglected and has been widely addressed, or at least a lot more than in other countries). So would donating to organizations that are promoting women participation in governments in LMICS be a good cause to donate, taking into account that institutions in these countries face a huge problem that comes even before cognitive biases or poor decision making processes and it's that there is not enough representation of 50% of the population?

I would love to know what has been said about these topics and feel free to reach out.

comment by brb243 · 2020-06-16T18:29:48.432Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

WORKSHOP: Global development negotiation

~~ Learn global development negotiation techniques from a trained negotiator. ~~

My background:

  • MA in Economic Diplomacy, international development focus
  • Negotiating for cost-effective environmental actions with the UN

Structure:

Why to negotiate for global development? (0-1 min)

Negotiation techniques (with examples) (1-5 min)

  • Ask for more, insist & refine
  • Repetition & Memos
  • Respond, then advocate
  • Personal example
  • Respect decisions
  • Focus on outcome, not power dynamics

Q&A (5-13 min)

Role-playing workshop on the Icebreaker platform (13-21 min)

1. Customer representative lobbies their CFO

2. College student lobbies a local celebrity

3. Mid-level manager lobbies their CEO

4. Yacht owner lobbies their friend

Reflection and further steps (21-30 min)

(Strong preference for the late session.)

comment by Linda Linsefors · 2020-06-13T21:14:35.531Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

AI Safety Career Circle

Putting this suggestion out there, because there are always people looking for AI Safety career advise, and this is a tried and tested format.

First round, everyone shares their career plans (or lack of plans).

Second round everyone who wants to shares career advise that they think might be helpful for others in the circle.

Must be late session if you want me to lead it.

comment by WILLIAMSA · 2020-06-11T15:08:14.247Z · score: 5 (12 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Using General Collective Intelligence to Break through the Barriers to Global Transformation

I'd like to give a presentation on General Collective Intelligence or GCI, which is a decision-making system that combines groups into a single collective intelligence with vastly greater general problem-solving ability than any individual in the group. In this presentation I'd like to talk about why GCI might be critical to achieving virtually every group challenge when the group is big enough, potentially including all the global outcomes targeted by every individual at the EAGxVirtual conference. And why because of hidden bugs in our decision-making processes, without GCI we not have the ability to actually see the real problem or understand the real solutions to global challenges, and end up solving the wrong problem with the wrong solution. I'll also explore why, because of these and many other reasons, GCI is potentially one of the most important initiatives today.

comment by rajlego · 2020-06-16T03:45:54.101Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've never heard about GCI before but it seems super cool, could you link to any resources on it?

comment by WILLIAMSA · 2020-06-16T12:27:22.492Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

For a little more information you can read about an experiment I'm trying to conduct to validate that GCI has the potential to significantly increase the effectiveness of altruism https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/cc8WN9LFz8pATRMYz/how-to-launch-an-experiment-in-the-effective-altruism [EA · GW]

For still more information you can watch a 5 minute video of one particular potential application of GCI in another field: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJalaQJCkts

For yet further information, you can read a published paper summarizing the topic:

The Relationship Between Collective Intelligence and One Model of General Collective Intelligence, Andy E. Williams, Computational Collective Intelligence, 11th International Conference, ICCCI 2019, Hendaye, France, September 4–6, 2019, Proceedings, Part II, Pages 589-600

Or you can read the pre-print (working draft) of another paper that provides a lot more detail:

Williams, A. E. (2020, April 30). A Model for General Collective Intelligence. https://doi.org/10.31730/osf.io/6u984

comment by Nathan Young (nathan) · 2020-06-15T11:04:36.122Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Add resources to the EAGxVirtual Notes

Wait! I know this may not sound groundbreaking but I think a collaborative session to link lots of related resources and opinions could be valuable.

What would we do?

For half and hour a group, with a video call would add resources and thoughts to the notes here: https://roamresearch.com/#/app/nathanpmyoung/page/yyARa8VKX

Why is this valuable?

We would end up with a much better and more linked set of notes, that would better answer peoples questions and give them more to read.

Also, we could use this to test out whther this is a a feasible strategy for the future. Should we often use collaborative note taking? Do we find it provides us with resources we wouldn't see otherwise?

If you think this isn't valuable?

I'd be interested to hear why. Improving and networking the notes from talks seems like an obvious benefit if the talks themselves were valuable. If it isn't, then do people not expect to read the notes in future or revisit the videos? Interested in your thoughts.

comment by rajlego · 2020-06-16T03:44:54.848Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't know how you'd do it but I think the notes could be really valuable if you could add a means for upvoting or allowing people to show which notes they found the most valuable.