Posts

You should join an EA organization with too many employees 2022-05-21T19:38:21.160Z
Have you ever made a valuable connection with someone via the Forum? 2022-05-12T09:20:18.104Z
What is the best press out there on Effective Altruism? 2021-12-29T15:32:16.384Z
Who are the most well known credible people who endorse EA? 2021-12-27T18:57:27.316Z
What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship 2021-08-30T08:39:47.397Z
Does giving to charity make it more likely you‘ll be altruistic in future? 2019-02-14T21:00:27.505Z
Introducing the EA Assembly 2015-09-03T21:36:29.611Z

Comments

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Cool Offices ? · 2022-05-21T18:10:26.534Z · EA · GW

Kind of obvious list, but things that I’ve enjoyed about other offices I’ve worked at:

  1. Interesting/fun people. Good water cooler conversation can provide me a lot of energy.
  2. Ambitious/hard-working people. Lunch time conversations with people working on cool projects and seeing people work in the evenings can be inspiring.
  3. Natural light.
  4. Large kitchen/congregation area, separate to people trying to work for conversation.
Comment by Clifford (imben) on Have you ever made a valuable connection with someone via the Forum? · 2022-05-17T16:19:41.512Z · EA · GW

Very helpful - thanks a lot Ivy!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Have you ever made a valuable connection with someone via the Forum? · 2022-05-12T15:15:47.404Z · EA · GW

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Have you ever made a valuable connection with someone via the Forum? · 2022-05-12T10:38:36.893Z · EA · GW

Interesting, thanks! I'd be curious to ask about the connections you have made on slack etc. I'll message you.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on When did the EA Forum get so good?! · 2022-05-06T19:23:18.143Z · EA · GW

Relatedly, this uptick is kind of wild to me.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Is there a good summary of EA's impact to date? · 2022-04-04T18:28:29.347Z · EA · GW

Thanks - I'll correct that.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Is there a good summary of EA's impact to date? · 2022-03-31T21:54:47.562Z · EA · GW

Good to see this question Garrison! I'm working on effectivealtruism.org and planning to add a section like this to the website.

This is a decent existing page for this but very tricky to find: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/impact

 

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Ben_West's Shortform · 2022-03-26T22:35:01.908Z · EA · GW

I think I agree with this. Two things that might make starting a startup a better learning opportunity than your alternative, in spite of it being a worse learning environment:

  1. You are undervalued by the job market (so you can get more opportunities to do cool things by starting your own thing)
  2. You work harder in your startup because you care about it more (so you get more productive hours of learning)
Comment by Clifford (imben) on What psychological traits predict interest in effective altruism? · 2022-03-10T22:41:10.301Z · EA · GW

Cool - thanks for engaging in this! Excited to see what you do in future.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What psychological traits predict interest in effective altruism? · 2022-03-06T18:12:51.824Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the reply.

I agree no correlation would be surprising but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it was less predictive than say ”openness to new ideas” or something.

I wonder if you could learn more by interviewing people who are just starting to get interested in EA and seeing how their responses change over say a year? Interviewing people who have just started an intro to EA fellowship/virtual program could work well for this.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What psychological traits predict interest in effective altruism? · 2022-03-02T17:23:44.665Z · EA · GW

Fascinating, thanks for doing this research - excited to see more work in this area.

Is it possible that being E and A correlates with EAs who have been involved and absorbed EA ideas but wouldn’t correlate with EAs if you were able to survey them before they got involved in EA?

I found myself agreeing with the statements that predicted E and A but not sure I would have done before getting into EA.

I could also imagine someone who is very open to reasonable arguments but isn’t particularly E or A but comes to agree with the statements over time.

[sorry if I’ve misrepresented what you’re saying - I read the post a couple of days ago and may be misremembering]

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What is the best press out there on Effective Altruism? · 2021-12-30T12:06:25.574Z · EA · GW

Nice, thanks!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Who are the most well known credible people who endorse EA? · 2021-12-29T15:29:42.670Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I've now made a long list in a spreadsheet of people but it doesn't feel like a good idea to share it widely (I haven't contacted these people and I don't want to give the wrong impression about who has claimed to be affiliated). I'd be very happy to share on an individual basis - feel free to email me at ben.clifford@centreforeffectivealtruism.org

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Making large donation decisions as a person focused on direct work · 2021-12-27T19:15:30.750Z · EA · GW

“ I could take a bet on less trusted/proven people as grantmakers.”

I was thinking just yesterday that if I won the EA lottery this might be a cool thing to do - I think the value of giving a “future grantmaker” the opportunity would be high and then I would guess that their end decision wouldn’t be much worse than your punt/GiveWell charities.

To find this person and minimise time spent on it, I might ask local group organisers who the most promising “future grantmakers” are and then filter by underrepresented groups in EA or just pick one of the shortlist at random. Others could say if this is at all realistic!

A separate comment is that I get the impression you would have a different perspective to other grantmakers so I would be excited to see what you would fund if you did decide to put some time in.

Comment by imben on [deleted post] 2021-11-18T23:12:29.283Z

Worth noting you don’t have to be a US citizen to do this - the $ made me hesitate…

This is awesome - thanks!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Free workspace for EA researchers in London · 2021-11-06T00:00:48.561Z · EA · GW

Hey Jessica, great to hear about this! I was thinking about doing something similar. Would you consider involving non-researchers working at EA-orgs remotely? I’ve spoken to a few interested people with this profile.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Starting a Small Charity to Give Grants · 2021-10-03T20:16:03.296Z · EA · GW

Rather than setting up a charity, a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a good option for this purpose. This post may be helpful: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/qYuehBsAe6Ri6PZvL/a-comparison-of-donor-advised-fund-providers

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:32:52.621Z · EA · GW

Hi Ryan, I may be misunderstanding the question so correct me if I'm wrong - are you saying something like: "given that there's lots of uncertainty about what's needed this seems in tension with starting an organisation that concentrates on only one user type (e.g. recent generalist graduate) or one domain (e.g. AI Safety)"?

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:24:49.261Z · EA · GW

Thanks, great questions! In response: 

1) How come you choose to run the fellowship as a part-time rather than full-time program?

We wanted to test some version of this quickly, part time meant:

  • It was easier to get a cohort of people to commit at short notice as they could participate alongside other commitments
  • We could deliver a reasonable quality stripped back programme in a short space of time and had more capacity to test other ideas at the same time

With that said, if we were to run it again, we almost certainly would have explored running a full-time program for the next iteration. 

2) Are there any particular reasons why fellowship participants tended to pursue non-venture projects?

Do you mean non-profits rather than for-profits? If so, I think this is because nonprofits present the most obvious neglected opportunities for doing good. Participants did consider some for profit ideas.

3) Throughout your efforts, were you optimizing for project success or project volume, or were you instead focused on gathering data on the incubator space?

The latter - we were trying to learn rather than optimise for early success.

4) Do you consider the longtermist incubation space to be distinct from the x-risk reduction incubation space?

Yes, mostly insofar as the Longtermist space is broader than the x-risk space - there are ideas that might help the long term future or reduce s-risk without reducing x-risk.

5) Was there a reason you didn't have a public online presence?

I think having an online presence that is careful about how this work is described (e.g. not overhyping entrepreneurship or encouraging any particular version of it) is important and therefore quite a bit of work. We felt we could be productive without one for the time we were working on the project so decided to deprioritise it. If we had continued to work on the project, we would have spent time on this.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:22:38.955Z · EA · GW

Hi Rory, thanks for the comment! We haven’t published those ideas. In terms of classes of organisation, one way to carve up the space is to think about Object-level and Meta-level approaches to generating ideas.

Object-level approaches focus on doing direct work to solve the problem at hand. For example:

  • developing and deploying technologies
  • conducting research
  • advocating for policy change

The main type of impact here comes in the form of tangible changes in actions taken in the real world, in whatever form that might take.

Meta-level approaches focus on improving the capacity for others to solve the problem. This can be done on the EA/longtermist wide-level (building up the movements) or in a specific domain, e.g. building a talent pipeline specifically for bio policy experts. Concrete types of meta work include, for example:

  • community and field building
  • the dissemination of ideas and knowledge and values
  • increasing the resources available to work on object-level approaches

The main type of impact here comes in the form of the change in likelihood that object-level approaches will be impactful.

Hope that's useful!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:21:17.215Z · EA · GW

Glad to hear!

Roughly this would mean having worked in a relevant area (e.g. bio, AI safety) for at least 1 - 2 years and able to contribute in some capacity to that field. To be clear, some ideas would require a lot more experience - this is just a rough proxy.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:20:48.490Z · EA · GW

A quick thought  on having a YC-style programme and taking risks on more junior talent:

Domain expertise is important - I think YC would agree on this. If taking on a deep tech startup they would look for someone on the team who had domain expertise in the field.

I think early YC Internet startups like Dropbox or Airbnb make it look like domain expertise is less important and it’s more about just getting stuck in. The difference is that when Dropbox started there was no expert in “files on the internet” so the founders could basically become the world experts just by getting stuck in and working on it.

The difference with Longtermist areas like AI and Bio is you can’t just become the expert by working on it and (yes, you guessed it) the downside risk means we don’t want to take bets on people to just go for it and try it out (unlike Dropbox where it doesn’t really matter if it fails catastrophically).

Comment by Clifford (imben) on What we learned from a year incubating longtermist entrepreneurship · 2021-10-01T08:19:09.326Z · EA · GW

Hey Jamie - Ben Clifford here, thanks for flagging this.

I think your second bullet captures the idea well. I don’t think being good at EA community building and associated ideas requires deep domain expertise in areas like AI or Bio.

There would be an argument for thinking about bullet 3 as well but it wasn’t what I was thinking.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Announcing "Naming What We Can"! · 2021-04-01T11:10:32.265Z · EA · GW

Toby Ordering is really good.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on How we promoted EA at a large tech company (v2.0) · 2021-01-12T12:57:16.450Z · EA · GW

Haha, thanks for the hat tip! Delighted with this outcome! Well done!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Review: What works to promote charitable donations? · 2020-08-24T17:05:25.807Z · EA · GW

Awesome - thank you!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on EA Updates for February 2020 · 2020-02-29T02:10:55.659Z · EA · GW

Love reading these David - thanks.

Was particularly interested to read the Anthropocene article - cool to read conservationists taking EA approach seriously and seeing it as a way to unlock more funding.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on How we promoted EA at a large tech company · 2020-01-29T14:14:06.129Z · EA · GW

This is awesome - thanks for writing up!

For people working in the UK and keen to do something like this, I'd love to chat: ben@tyve.org

We launched an employee giving tool (Tyve.org) which promotes recommended charities from GiveWell and Founders Pledge's research.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Effective Altruism London Strategy 2019 · 2019-08-23T11:36:05.734Z · EA · GW

Do “software for good” have a online presence? Hadn’t heard of them and would be interested to read more. Thanks!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Conversation on forecasting with Vaniver and Ozzie Gooen · 2019-08-02T22:39:48.263Z · EA · GW

Is there a copy of the audio available? Sorry if I missed an obvious link!

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Can/should we define quick tests of personal skill for priority areas? · 2019-06-15T21:51:46.438Z · EA · GW

Really cool idea. If this were possible would we expect to see big companies using similar tests to recruit undergraduates early before competitors do?

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Does giving to charity make it more likely you‘ll be altruistic in future? · 2019-02-14T23:00:29.978Z · EA · GW

Super useful - thanks David. An interesting implication for EA fundraisers might be then to avoid quantifying achievements e.g. “you’ve just saved 10 lives with your donation”. Perhaps you’d want to say something like: “your commitment to helping others is fantastic”.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-06T18:11:06.851Z · EA · GW

This seems high compared to the startup equivalent. For example, I know at Entrepreneur First they take on 100 people and they form about 20 companies - don’t know how many get seed funded but 50% seems too high.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-06T18:07:57.139Z · EA · GW

Awesome! So pleased this is finally happening.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on The last 3 months in EA projects · 2015-09-30T08:02:09.187Z · EA · GW

Yes, it's still ongoing. We had our second meetup last night. Sign up for email updates on events here: https://tinyletter.com/eastartups

Comment by Clifford (imben) on The Value of Starting a Giving What We Can/EA Chapter · 2015-03-11T10:06:40.512Z · EA · GW

Maybe I was being too negative in counting the chapters that make a go of trying and then end up fizzling out. If you manage to run a year of events with consistent effort then perhaps getting one or two pledges is fair.

3-5 is higher than when I was working with chapters, but great that it's that high now.

Yep, completely agree with the overarching point. Keep up the top work.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on The Value of Starting a Giving What We Can/EA Chapter · 2015-03-08T17:15:00.472Z · EA · GW

I'm a big fan of starting new chapters as I've discussed with Jon.

Just thought I'd flag that this seemed over optimistic:

"we think it is reasonable to expect a new Giving What We Can Chapter to produce 3-5 new members in their first year"

In my experience of working with GWWC chapters the median chapter produced 0 members a year because it's hard to get things off the ground. Even the chapters who are putting a lot of effort in do well to get 1 or 2 people to pledge.

I don't say this to undermine the article - I think the points can still apply if you get one person to pledge. I just want to make clear that if you start a chapter and one person pledges in a year that's awesome and you've probably done a v good job.

Comment by Clifford (imben) on Open thread 5 · 2014-11-28T10:39:09.126Z · EA · GW

Is there an audio recording of Holden's "Altruistic Career Choice Conference call"? If so, can someone point me in the right direction. I'm aware of the transcript:

http://files.givewell.org/files/calls/Altruistic%20career%20choice%20conference%20call.pdf

Thanks!