Comment by avacyn on Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? · 2019-02-01T21:31:22.817Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure if you're claiming that shaming based approaches haven't been used in the past for corporate welfare campaigns, but if you are, I don't thing this is accurate.

My impression is that advocacy groups pursue both "carrot" and "stick" strategies to pressure companies into adopting better welfare policies. I think CIWF falls more on the carrot side, but then if that doesn't work THL comes in with the stick. For example, THL's current campaign against McDonald's seems mostly shame based - imnotlovinit.com.

Given that carrot+stick approaches have worked to get initial commitments, it seems reasonable that similar approaches would work to enforce those commitments.

Comment by avacyn on Fish used as live bait by recreational fishermen · 2018-08-11T18:17:14.610Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I would upvote this twice if I could! I follow EAA stuff pretty closely and I haven't heard this discussed before. However, it seems like a highly important, neglected, and tractable cause area. The most exciting part in my mind is that progress has already started in some countries and states, meaning that it could be very tractable.

I'd love to see a more detailed analysis of the counterfactuals. For example, what percentage of bait fish will be replaced by artificial baits vs animals? If you used worms or other animals as bait, would you have to use more bait, or would it be a 1-1 replacement?

I'd also love to see some analysis about how existing laws came to exist. Who lobbied for these policies? Were they easy to pass, or were they controversial?

This is a great example of the utility of the EA forum - well researched and actionable. I'll do what I can to make sure this is on the radar of others in EAA.

Comment by avacyn on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages · 2018-03-10T18:28:07.078Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I found this article useful and convincing. Thanks for writing, Ben!

However, I was surprised to see that this has become one of the most upvoted posts of all time on the EA forum. I would expect an insightful and convincing post like this to get between 20 and 30 upvotes. I'm worried that I'm missing a more important takeaway. Can someone explain why this has been so positively received?

Comment by avacyn on Why I prioritize moral circle expansion over artificial intelligence alignment · 2018-02-21T20:52:48.111Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This post is extremely valuable - thank you! You have caused me to reexamine my views about the expected value of the far future.

What do you think are the best levers for expanding the moral circle, besides donating to SI? Is there anything else outside of conventional EAA?

Comment by avacyn on What is Animal Farming in Rural Zambia Like? A Site Visit · 2018-02-20T15:54:48.011Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Really interesting and worthwhile project!

People sometimes discuss whether poverty alleviation interventions are bad for animals because richer people eat more meat. Do you think your findings affect this discussion?

Comment by avacyn on Would it be a good idea to create a 'GiveWell' for U.S. charities? · 2018-02-05T23:00:50.059Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Nice! I think it could be really valuable to create “GiveWell-style” charity evaluators for other areas. ACE started this off with animal charities, but I think some of the areas you listed could be good fits, as well as others e.g. biorisk/AI charities.

You mention this in the 5th benefit, but a major upside in my mind is incentivizing the space to place greater value in effectiveness and transparency. These effects could be far reaching and hard to quantify. You might see if ACE thinks this happened with animal advocacy because of their work.

There are potentially major benefits even if you fail:

  • You could gain valuable insights around starting such a venture, and around the focus area. This could be valuable both to you, and to the broader movement if you can distill it into a postmortem.
  • Starting an ambitious venture and failing can still be valuable career capital if you can show you hit certain milestones or can take away major lessons.

In general, I think you are overweighing the possible effects on EA / GiveWell. As the project grows you can decide how much explicit association you have with EA and GiveWell.

The biggest cost seems in my mind is the opportunity cost. Differences in cause areas can be pretty huge, so if you are working on a suboptimal cause, you might have a much lower impact.

Comment by avacyn on The almighty Hive will · 2018-01-28T20:03:54.265Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Nice! I really like the idea of EAs getting ahead by coordinating in unconventional ways.

The ideas in "Building and EA social safety net" could be indirectly encouraged by just making EA a tighter community with more close friendships. I'm pretty happy giving an EA friend a 0-interest loan, but I'd be hesitant to do that for a random EA. By e.g. organizing social events where close friendships could form, more stuff like that would happen naturally. Letting these things happen naturally also makes them harder to exploit.

Comment by avacyn on Four Organizations EAs Should Fully Fund for 2018 · 2017-12-12T18:27:00.704Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think it’s valuable to research how we can improve the well-being of humans who suffer – perhaps even to the point of having net negative lives, but not necessarily

I agree with this. Just to expand a bit - wild elephants might generally have net positive lives, but there still might be worthwhile interventions, e.g. to ensures some number that would have been killed by predators instead die in their sleep. The most relevant question is not whether wild animals have net positive lives, but how much their welfare could be improved per dollar.