Posts

Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review 2020-07-24T16:21:08.754Z · score: 25 (10 votes)
Social Movement Lessons from the US Prisoners' Rights Movement 2020-07-22T12:10:39.884Z · score: 30 (12 votes)
What Interventions Can Animal Advocates Use To Build Community In Their Country? 2020-07-17T17:42:29.040Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
Animal Advocacy Careers advice 2020-07-06T12:56:05.867Z · score: 43 (14 votes)
The Effects of Animal-Free Food Technology Awareness on Animal Farming Opposition 2020-05-16T07:30:35.987Z · score: 34 (15 votes)
Which institutional tactics can animal advocates use? 2020-04-29T14:11:22.174Z · score: 17 (8 votes)
Effective Animal Advocacy Nonprofit Roles Spot-Check 2020-03-31T15:22:36.283Z · score: 50 (21 votes)
Research on developing management and leadership expertise 2020-03-05T16:57:42.422Z · score: 40 (19 votes)
Introducing the Sentience Institute Podcast 2019-12-05T18:12:44.012Z · score: 22 (9 votes)
Survey data on the moral value of sentient individuals compared to non-sentient environmental systems 2019-10-27T07:00:00.000Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
A short survey on bottlenecks in effective animal advocacy from nine attendees of Effective Altruism Global London 2019-10-24T07:00:00.000Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? 2019-06-11T20:33:50.415Z · score: 65 (32 votes)
How tractable is changing the course of history? 2019-05-22T15:29:49.195Z · score: 40 (18 votes)
A case study for animal-focused local EA movement building: Effective Animal Altruism London 2019-01-23T22:09:32.308Z · score: 14 (9 votes)
Event Review: EA Global: London (2018) 2018-12-17T22:29:35.324Z · score: 4 (3 votes)
Book Review: The End of Animal Farming (Jacy Reese, 2018) 2018-12-17T22:26:34.669Z · score: 9 (3 votes)

Comments

Comment by jamie_harris on Social Movement Lessons from the US Prisoners' Rights Movement · 2020-08-05T20:37:13.400Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the comments! It's great to see what was interesting / useful / confusing etc for people, and generally quite hard to get detailed feedback, so I appreciate you taking the time to read and reply.


I would not say that either of these are more "fundamental" than the other.

Sure. This might just be a semantics/phrasing thing, or it might reflect a whole number of different assumptions we have.

I think you are saying that activists focused on the welfare of prisoners over the absolute number of prisoners, and that perhaps this was a mistake.

Yes! Another caveat is that it's very unclear whether focusing more on the "more fundamental political and systemic issues" would actually have been a more cost-effective way to help prisoners. (It could have just been intractable to affect those changes, for example)

But it sounds like maybe you don't think the evidence there is strong?

Correct!

I would be curious if you could give some kind of statement about how confident you are that this "legitimizing" consequence happened and/or how likely it is to happen in farmed animal welfare.

I could give some kind of statement on a number of things:

  • How confident I am that particular litigation in the prisoners' rights movement led to particular specific outcomes, e.g. that litigation in Costello v. Wainwright "encouraged prison construction, rather than improvement in the conditions of existing prisons."
  • How confident I am that, overall, the litigation in the prisoners' rights movement had some kind of entrenchment effect (regardless of whether it also had various positive effects)
  • How confident I am that, overall, the litigation in the prisoners' rights movement was positive or negative for advancing their goals, and some kind of ballpark guess at its net effects.
  • Comparable statements of confidence about social movements more broadly.
  • Comparable statements of confidence about the farmed animal movement specifically.

Because doing any or all of these things for any or all of the "strategic implications" i each case study could be very time consuming, I don't do it.

I'm hoping that at some point, I'll be able to do a bit more of a roundup / analysis post, where I look at some of the key themes and leanings from across several of our case studies. There might be more scope for making these sorts of claims or estimates in a post like that, though it still might not be worth the time. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that!

How receptive the legal system is to these challenges is clearly a crucial consideration for how effective they are, so I would be interested in thoughts/resources about the current legal climate.

I'm afraid I can't really help here. I did write "Is the US Supreme Court a Driver of Social Change or Driven by it? A Literature Review" and have interviewed Kevin Schneider of the Nonhuman Rights Project, but neither of these resources answer this very directly.

Comment by jamie_harris on Health Behavior Interventions Literature Review · 2020-08-05T20:17:16.611Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Jacob! It's great to see what was interesting / useful / confusing etc for people, and generally quite hard to get detailed feedback, so I appreciate you taking the time to read and reply.

I'm sure we could debate these topics at length; that's a tempting prospect, but I'll just reply to some specific parts here.

I don't see reason to give up on trying to conduct high-quality studies

I still think RCTs have their uses. It's just that they can be limited in various ways and that other research methods have some advantages over them, as discussed in the "EAA RCTs v intuition/speculation/anecdotes v case studies v external findings" section you refer to.

To summarise my view update from this review in other terms:

Lots of money has gone into health behaviour research. I expected the health behaviour literature to come to some fairly strong conclusions about the value of some intervention types over others. This didn't seem to be the case, given various limitations and inconsistencies in the research. Hence, I'm less optimistic about the usefulness of conducting comparable research now, relative to other types of research that we could conduct.

It seems like social movement case studies are then limited generally, like most observational research, to understanding correlations and motivating causal theories about those correlations, rather than measuring causation itself.

I don't agree with this. I think that you can look for evidence that X caused Y in a particular case, rather than just that X preceded Y. (Of course, often the evidence is very weak or nonexistent that X caused Y.) I discuss that in more depth here. You then have the separate problems of How much weight should we place on strategic knowledge from individual historical cases? and/or How likely is it that correlations will replicate across movements? It's hard to describe answers to those questions in precise and unambiguous terms, but I'd answer them with something like "not a lot" and "quite likely," respectively.

have you considered the merits of regression discontinuity designs, instrumental variables estimation, propensity score matching and prospective cohort studies, for example

I have never heard of these things, let alone considered their merits! I don't think that invalidates the view update I describe above, though if I look into these things more, it might restore my confidence?

Comment by jamie_harris on Moral circles: Degrees, dimensions, visuals · 2020-07-25T11:10:04.113Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

You don't need to agree with premise 3 to think that working on MCE is a cost-effective way to reduce s-risks. Below is the text from a conversation I recently had, where alternating paragraphs are alternating between the two participants.

The brief conversation below focuses on the idea of premise 3, but I'd also note that the existing psychological evidence for the "secondary transfer effect" is relevant to premise 4. I think that you could make progress on empirically testing premise 4. I agree that this would be fairly high priority to run more tests on (focused specifically on farmed animals / wild animals / artificial sentience) from the perspective of prioritising between different potential "targets" of MCE advocacy, and also perhaps for deciding how important MCE work is within the longtermist portfolio of interventions. I can imagine this research fitting well within Sentience Institute. If you know anyone who could be interested in applying to our current researcher job opening (closing in ~one week's time), to work on this or other questions, please do let them know about the opening.

----

"I don't personally see value lock-in as a prerequisite for farmed animals -> artificial sentience far future impact... if the graph of future moral progress is a sine wave, and you increase the whole sine wave by 2 units, then your expected value is still 2*duration-of-everything, even if you don't increase the value at the lock-in point."

"It doesn't seem that likely to me that you would increase the whole sine wave by 2 units, as opposed to just increasing the gradient of one of the upward slopes or something like that."

"Hm, why do you think increasing the gradient is more likely? If you just add an action into the world that wouldn't happen otherwise (e.g. donate $100 to an animal rights org), then it seems the default is an increase in the whole sine wave. For that to be simply an increase in upward slope, you'd need to think there's a fundamental dynamic in society changing the impact of that contribution, such as a limit on short-term progress. But one can also imagine the opposite effect where progress is easier during certain periods, so you could cause >2 units of increase. There are lots of intuitions that can pull the impact up or down, but overall, a +2 increase in the whole wave seems like the go-to assumption."

"Presumably it depends on the extent to which you think there's something like a secondary transfer effect, or some other mechanism by which successful advocacy for farmed animals enables advocacy for other sentient beings. E.g. imagine that we have 100% certainty that animal farming will end within 1000 years, and we know that all advocates (apart from us) are interested in farmed animal advocacy specifically, rather than MCE advocacy. Then, all MCE work would be doing would be speeding up the time before the end of animal farming. But if we remove those assumptions, then I guess it would have some sort of "increase" effect, rather than just an effect on the slope. Both those assumptions are unreasonable, but presumably you could get something similar if it was close to 100% and most farmed animal advocacy efforts seemed likely to terminate at the end of animal farming, as oppose to be shifted into other forms of MCE advocacy."

"Yep, that makes sense if you don't think there's some diminishing factor on the flow-through from farmed animal advocacy to moral inclusion of AS, as long as you don't think there are increasing factors that outweigh it."

Comment by jamie_harris on Moral circles: Degrees, dimensions, visuals · 2020-07-25T10:50:44.949Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hey! As you probably know, I'd be keen to connect with them. Thanks!

Comment by jamie_harris on Retrospective on thinking about my career for a year · 2020-07-19T14:38:59.930Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Nice post. I like some of the specific tips, such as searching LinkedIn for people who had done the course you were considering.

Unless I missed something, it seems like you only applied for 2 internships, 2 graduate programmes, and 2 jobs. This seems a surprisingly low number of opportunities to apply for, given the time you spent exploring this. I wonder if there was a particular reason for this. Did you not find the experience of applying useful for the applications you did make? Or was it just that there are few opportunities in the field(s) you were exploring?

Comment by jamie_harris on Some history topics it might be very valuable to investigate · 2020-07-12T09:54:02.453Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! And, of course, I understand that our lists look different in part because of the different cause areas that we've each spent more time thinking about. Glad we could complement each others' lists.

Focusing in on "I worry that they're too deep and rigorous and that this has drastically cut down the number of people who put the time into reading them" - do you think that that can't be resolved by e.g. cross-posting "executive summaries" to the EA Forum, so that people at least read those? (Genuine question; I'm working on developing my thoughts on how best to do and disseminate research.)

Huh, weird, I'm not sure why I didn't do that for either of the case studies I've done so far -- I've certainly done it for other projects. At some point, I was thinking that I might write some sort of summary post (a little like this one, for our tech adoption case studies) or do some sort of analysis of common themes etc, which I think would be much more easily readable and usable. I'd definitely post that to the Forum. I don't think posting to the forum would make a lot of difference though, for us. This is mainly because my impression / intuition is that people who identify with EA and are focused on animal advocacy use the EA Forum less than people who identify with EA and are focused on extinction risk reduction, so it wouldn't increase the reach to the main intended audience much over just posting the research to the Effective Animal Advocacy - Discussion Facebook group and our newsletter. But that concern probably doesn't apply to many of the suggestions in your initial list.

Perhaps the value of people who've done such history research won't entirely or primarily be in the write-ups which people can then read, but rather in EA then having "resident experts" on various historical topics and methodologies, who can be the "go-to person" for tailored recommendations and insights regarding specific decisions, other research projects, etc.

I think there's some value in that. A few concerns jump to mind:

  • Historical case studies tend to provide weak evidence for a bunch of different strategic questions. So while they might not single-handedly "resolve" some important debate or tradeoff, they should alter views on a number of different questions. So a lot of this value will just be missed if people don't actually read the case studies themselves (or at least read a summary).
  • While I think I'm pretty good at doing these case studies to a relatively high standard in a relatively short amount of time (i.e. uncovering/summarising the empirical evidence), I don't think I'm much better placed than anyone else to interpret what the evidence should suggest for individual decisions that an advocate or organisation might face.
  • In practice, I've hardly ever had people actually ask me for this sort of summary or recommendation. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two occasions where this has happened.

If you do end up making a top-level post related to your comment, please do comment about it here and on the central directory of open research questions.

Slight tangent from the discussion here, but you might like to add "and their summary of "Foundational Questions for Effective Animal Advocacy" after where you've listed SI's research agenda on that post. This is essentially a list of the key strategic issues in animal advocacy that we think could/should be explored through further research. Once I've published my literature review on artificial sentience, I'd be keen to add that too, since that contains a large list of potential further research topics.

Comment by jamie_harris on Some history topics it might be very valuable to investigate · 2020-07-11T13:06:31.465Z · score: 26 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I'm excited to see this post! Thanks for the suggestions. A few I hadn't considered. In general though, this is an area I've thought about in various ways, at various points, so here's my list of an additional "9 history topics it might be very valuable to investigate" (with some overlap with your list)!


I'll start with some examples of categories of historical projects we've worked on at Sentience Institute.

1. The history of past social movements

Some overlap with your categories 3 and 8. This is to inform social movement strategy. At Sentience Institute, we've been focusing on movements that are 1) relatively recent, and 2) driven by allies, rather than the intended beneficiaries of the movement. This is because we are focusing on strategic lessons for the farmed animal movement, although I've recently been thinking about how it is applicable to other forms of moral circle expansion work, e.g. for artificial sentience (I have a literature review of writings on this coming out soonish).

Conducted by SI:

Not conducted by SI, but highly relevant:

I've written a fuller post about "What Can the Farmed Animal Movement Learn from History" which discusses some methodological considerations; some of the discussion could be relevant to almost any "What can we learn about X from history" questions of interest to the EA movement. (As a talk here)


2. The history of new technologies, the industries around them, and efforts to regulate them.

This overlaps with your category 4. Sentience Institute's interest has been in learning strategic lessons for the field of cellular agriculture, cultured meat, and highly meat-like plant-based foods, to increase the likelihood that these technologies are successfully brought to market and to maximise the effects that these technologies have on displacing animal products.

Conducted by SI:


3. Assessing the tractability of changing the course of human history by looking at historical trajectory shifts (or attempts at them).

Covered briefly in this post I wrote on "How tractable is changing the course of history?" (March 12, 2019). I didn't do it very systematically. I was trying to establish the extent to which the major historical trajectory shifts that I examined were influenced by 1) thoughtful actors, 2) hard-to-influence indirect or long-term factors, 3) contingency, i.e. luck plus hard-to-influence snap decisions by other actors.

One approach could be to create (crowdsource?) a large list of possible historical trajectory shifts to investigate. Then pick them based on: 1) a balance of types of shift, covering each of military, technological, and social trajectory shifts, aiming for representativeness 2) a balance of magnitudes of the shifts, 3) time since the shift, 4) availability of evidence.

Some useful feedback and suggestions I had when I presented this work to a workshop by the Global Priorities Institute:

  • Gustav Arrhenius of Institute of Future Studies suggested to me that there was more rigorous discussion of grand historical theories than I was implying in that post. He recommended reading works by Pontus Strimling of the Institute of Future Studies, plus work by Jerry Cohen on Marxism plus by Marvin Harris on cultural materialism.)
  • Christian Tarsney (GPI) suggested that a greater case for tractability is in shaping the aftermath of big historical events (e.g. world wars) rather than in causing the those major events to occur.
  • William MacAskill (GPI) suggested that rather than seeking out any/all types of trajectory shifts, it might be more useful to look specifically for times where individuals knew what they wanted to change and then investigating whether they were able to do that or not. e.g. what's the "EA" ask for people at the time of the French Revolution? It's hard to know what would have been useful. There might be cases to study where people had a clearer ideas about how to shape the world for the better, e.g. in contributing to the writing of the bible.

Some other topics I've thought about much more briefly:


4. The history of the growth, influence, collapse, etc. of various intellectual and academic movements.

Overlaps with your category 3. I think of this as quite different to the history of social movements. Separately from direct advocacy efforts, EA is full of ideas of research fields that could be built or developed. The ones I'm most familiar with are "global priorities research," "welfare biology," and "AI welfare science" but I'm sure there are either more now, or there will be soon, as EAs explore new areas. For example, there were new suggestions in David Althaus and Tobias Baumann, "Reducing long-term risks from malevolent actors" (April 29, 2020). So working out how to most effectively encourage the growth and success of research fields seems likely to be helpful


Various historical research to help to clarify particular risk factors for s-risks will materialise in the future

These could each be categories on their own. Examples include:

  • 5. To what extent have past societies prioritised the reduction of risks of high amounts of suffering and how successful have these efforts been?
  • 6. Historical studies of "polarisation and divergence of values."
  • 7. "Case studies of cooperation failures" and other factors affecting the "likelihood and nature of conflict" (some overlap with your category 5. This was suggested by CLR. I had a conversation with Ashwin Acharya who also seemed interested in this avenue of research)
  • 8. Study how other instances of formal research have influenced (or failed to influence) critical real-world decisions (suggested by CLR.)

9. Perhaps lower priority, but broader studies of the history of various institutions

The focus here would be on building an understanding of the factors that influence their durability. E.g. at a talk at a GPI workshop I attended, someone (Phillip Trammel? Anders Sandberg?) noted a bunch of types of institutions that have had some examples endure for centuries: churches, religions, royalty, militaries, banks, and corporations. Why have these institution types been able to last where others have not? Within those categories, why have some lasted where others have not.


Other comments and caveats:

  • Hopefully SI's work offers a second example of an exception to the "recurring theme" you note in that 1) SI's case studies are effectively a "deeper or more rigorous follow-up analysis" after ACE's social movement case study project -- if anything, I worry that they're too deep and rigorous and that this has drastically cut down the number of people who put the time into reading them, and 2) I at least had an undergraduate degree in history :D
  • On the "background in history" thing, my guess is that social scientists will usually actually be better placed to do this sort of work, rather than historians. (Some relevant considerations here)
  • Any of these topics could probably be covered briefly, with low rigour, in ~one month's worth of work (roughly the timeframe of my tractability post, for example), or could literally use up several lifetime's worth of work. It's a tough call to decide how much time is worth spending on each case study. Some sort of time capping approach could be useful.
  • Relatedly, at some point, you face the decision of how to aggregate findings and analyse across different movements. I think we're close to this with the first two research avenues I mention that we've been pursuing at SI. So if anyone reading this has ideas about how to pursue this further, I'd be interested in having a chat!
  • Many of the topics discussed here are relevant to Sentience Institute's research interests. If you share those interests, you could apply for our researcher opening at the moment.
  • To write this post I've essentially just looked back through various notes I have, rather than trying to start from scratch and think up any and all topics that could be useful. So there's probably lots we're both missing, and I echo the call for people to think about areas where historical research could be useful.
  • It's long been on my to-do list to go through GPI and CLR's research agendas more thoroughly to work out if there are other suggestions for historical research on there. I haven't done that to make this post so I may have missed things.
  • I was told that the Centre for the Governance of AI's research agenda has lots of suggestions of historical case studies that could be useful, though I haven't looked through this yet.
  • These topics probably vary widely in terms of the cost-effectiveness of time spent researching them. Of course, this will depend on your views on cause prioritisation.
  • Once I've looked into the above lists and thought about this more, I might improve this comment and make my own top-level post at some point. I was planning to do that at some point anyway but you forced my hand (in a good way) by making your own post.
  • I'm definitely interested in your interest in research for topic 10 on your list, so please keep me in the loop!
Comment by jamie_harris on Call for feedback and input on longterm policy book proposal · 2020-07-07T21:42:29.016Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Admittedly I read Charlotte's comment before reading the full proposal but my main thoughts were: (1) Everything in the book looks really interesting and exciting and I'd be keen to read (or give more feedback on) the specifics in each chapter. (2) It didn't seem like the content of the different chapters was very clearly linked together. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since some books are structured like that (e.g. edited academic books, textbooks etc) but seems unusual for a short, self/co-authored books?

Comment by jamie_harris on Animal Advocacy Careers advice · 2020-07-06T18:58:08.380Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks very much! Yes, we have a draft profile on "Technical research for animal-free food tech skills profile" and another on "Government, policy, and lobbying skills profile," so hopefully the apparent nonprofit skew is temporary.

One factor influencing the decision about which skills profiles to produce first was the evidence we had that they were a bottleneck. We'd started with a quick survey of nonprofits and a nonprofit "spot-check" and I hope to do similar (perhaps better) versions of both of those things for plant-based / cultivated meat companies too. So at that point, we might have more reason to explore particular skillsets out of that.

M&L is an example of this -- "leadership" came up a lot in the survey, but when I've not really come across the idea of leadership being a major bottleneck for these companies (unless you count "entrepreneurship" which is overlapping but partly separate). In that sector, I much more frequently hear that companies are struggling to get scientists on board. But once we do that research, its possible we'll decide that for-profit companies should figure more prominently in a revised version of the M&L profile, for instance.

(This also just relates to a tradeoff we faced of just doing more / better research before we start putting out advice vs trying to get some content out and update / improve as we go along. It was unclear where the balance should be struck there.)

Comment by jamie_harris on What 80,000 Hours learned by interviewing people we respect 'anonymously' · 2020-06-28T11:44:44.641Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the bullet point list of recurring themes. I'd be interested in whether this series has led to substantial view updates among 80k's staff?

I find it hard to know how much weight to place on the advice without knowing something about the person's background, e.g. cause area they work in, organisation they work for, type of role they have, and engagement with EA.

Comment by jamie_harris on Space governance is important, tractable and neglected · 2020-06-26T08:48:50.145Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I wanted to drop this link here as I just came across it and it seems highly relevant to this post: Marko Kovic, "Risks of space colonization" (2020). It too, was published in January 2020, so wasn't sure if you were aware of it or not..

Relevant extracts from the abstract and conclusion:

"In this article, I present an overview of some major risks of space colonization, categorized as prioritization risks, risks of inadvertent moral catastrophes, and security risks. These risks could result in enormous disvalue, putting into question the overall moral benefit of space colonization. In practice, however, the question of whether space colonization is a net benefit is probably irrelevant since colonization efforts are already underway."

"Space colonization is already the implicit goal of public as well as private space-related ventures and ambitions, and a scenario in which the global community decides to ban all space colonization activity is unrealistic, regardless of what a hypothetical eventual philosophical consensus on the question might look like. Instead, future efforts in the analysis of space colonization-related risks should be directed at or combined with efforts to create a meaningful governance framework aimed at mitigating the risks of space colonization. One potential approach for creating the conceptual foundation for such a governance framework is to reverse-engineer the rules and principles that lead to the best long-term future in terms of wellbeing and space colonization. Such an approach is possible in the case of space colonization because the general trajectory of successful, desirable space colonization that maximizes future wellbeing can be identified a priori."

Comment by jamie_harris on Announcing Effective Altruism Ventures · 2020-06-24T15:07:42.008Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! "Celebrating Failed Projects" also nicely characterises my motivation for actually making this comment, rather than letting it slide.

Comment by jamie_harris on Announcing Effective Altruism Ventures · 2020-06-23T10:30:12.153Z · score: 20 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Possibly unimportant, but what happened to EA Ventures? I stumbled across this because a paper by Roman V. Yampolskiy notes: "The author is grateful to Elon Musk and the Future of Life Institute and to Jaan Tallinn and Effective Altruism Ventures for partially funding his work on AI Safety." The EA Ventures site now just redirects to CEA. There's also a subsequent thread about "EA Ventures Request for Projects + Update." Did it cease to exist after that? Why?

Comment by jamie_harris on Cullen O'Keefe: The Windfall Clause — Sharing the Benefits of Advanced AI · 2020-06-17T08:21:38.263Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Apologies for nitpicking, but I just noticed that "s-risks" was explained here by the editor(s) as referring to "systemic risks". This should be "suffering risks", e.g. see here.

(I also double checked and the talk only uses the abbreviation s-risks and the paper itself doesn't mention "s-risks," "systemic risks," or "suffering." The transcript is also on effectivealtruism.org)

Comment by jamie_harris on Cause prioritization for downside-focused value systems · 2020-06-16T07:52:51.523Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
Note that no one should quote the above map out of context and call it “The likely future” or something like that, because some of the scenarios I listed may be highly improbable and because the whole map is drawn with a focus on things that could go wrong. If we wanted a map that also tracked outcomes with astronomical amounts of happiness, there would in addition be many nodes for things like “happy subroutines,” “mindcrime-opposite,” “superhappiness-enabling technologies,” or “unaligned AI trades with aligned AI and does good things after all.” There can be futures in which several s-risk scenarios come to pass at the same time, as well as futures that contain s-risk scenarios but also a lot of happiness (this seems pretty likely). 

I like this map! Do you know of anything that attempts to assign probabilities (even very vague/ballpark) to these different outcomes?

As someone who is not particularly "downside-focused," one thing I find difficult in evaluating the importance of prioritising s-risks vs extinction risks (and then different interventions that could be used to address them) is just not being able to get my head around which sorts of outcomes seem most likely. Given my lack of knowledge about the different risk factors, I mostly just treat each of the different possible outcomes on your map and the hypothetical "map that also tracked outcomes with astronomical amounts of happiness" as being roughly equal in probability.

Comment by jamie_harris on The Effects of Animal-Free Food Technology Awareness on Animal Farming Opposition · 2020-05-29T10:40:34.075Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! GFI did some focus group research around the name cultivated meat, but as far as I know, didn't test it in any RCTs. ACE's RCT also only compared "clean" and "cultured." The differences are all pretty small though between name types. I'd be surprised if differences in the names of the products altered the sign of the effect of increased awareness about AFFT.

Comment by jamie_harris on MichaelA's Shortform · 2020-05-24T18:15:53.000Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

The only other very directly related resource I can think of is my own presentation on moral circle expansion, and various other short content by Sentience Institute's website, e.g. our FAQ, some of the talks or videos. But I think that the academic psychology literature you refer to is very relevant here. Good starting point articles are, the "moral expansiveness" article you link to above and "Toward a psychology of moral expansiveness."

Of course, depending on definitions, a far wider literature could be relevant, e.g. almost anything related to animal advocacy, robot rights, consideration of future beings, consideration of people on the other side of the planet etc.


There's some wider content on "moral advocacy" or "values spreading," of which work on moral circle expansion is a part:

Arguments for and against moral advocacy - Tobias Baumann, 2017

Values Spreading is Often More Important than Extinction Risk - Brian Tomasik, 2013

Against moral advocacy - Paul Christiano, 2013


Also relevant: "Should Longtermists Mostly Think About Animals?"

Comment by jamie_harris on The Effects of Animal-Free Food Technology Awareness on Animal Farming Opposition · 2020-05-17T19:58:46.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Good point that the interaction terms are relevant to that. But yeah, the nonsignificant relationships there don't tell us much, I don't think, as the interaction term is presumably just "cannibalising" the effect of AFFT.

Comment by jamie_harris on When can I eat meat again? · 2020-05-02T07:31:20.829Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Cool to see more recent estimates, thanks Claire! What's the timeframe for the table? I.e. when are those "approximate share" columns referring to? Is that meant to be 2070 onwards, i.e. once the technologies are something like being "fully" developed?

Comment by jamie_harris on Wild Animal Welfare Meetup (Spring 2020) · 2020-05-01T10:13:01.925Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · EA · GW

(Low relevance to the original post, but relevant to this discussion)

I've written the following for a draft "skills profile" I'm writing on fundraising roles at animal advocacy nonprofits for Animal Advocacy Careers. Feedback would be welcome. Message me directly (preferably email jamie.a.harris94 [at] gmail [dot] com) if you'd like to see/review the full draft or the footnotes, which I haven't copied over here.

"There are reasons to doubt that the animal advocacy movement is substantially constrained by funding:

  • At the time of searching (March 2020), the Open Philanthropy Project had granted out $110 million since 2016 to organisations categorised as focusing on “farm animal welfare,” including $38.5 million in 2019. The 4 “top charities” in Animal Charity Evaluators’ ratings had received an average of $7.5 million each (covering on average about 50% of each organisation’s expenditure since 2016), compared to the wider average of $2.2 million per grantee. This seems to provide evidence that the most cost-effective organisations — at least by Open Philanthropy Project and Animal Charity Evaluators’ estimations — will receive substantial funding.
  • A 2019 survey of effective altruism organisations by the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) found that, on average, organisations rated themselves as more “talent-constrained” (average 3.8 out 5) than “funding-constrained” (average 2.4 out of 5). Using similar methodology, 80,000 Hours’ surveys from 2018 and 2017 had found similar results — 1.1 out of 4 and 1.5 out of 4 “funding-constrained” in 2017 and 2018, respectively, versus 2.6 out of 4 and and 2.8 out of 4 “talent-constrained.” 80,000 Hours’ surveys also found that, in general, the organisations were willing to sacrifice a lot of extra donations to hold on to their most recent hires. Importantly, however, in CEA’s survey, Animal Charity Evaluators and the Good Food Institute were the only included organisations that focused primarily on animal issues, representing 3 out of 29 listed respondents, and 80,000 Hours’ surveys had similarly low representation of animal advocacy organisations. The cause areas that CEA and 80,000 Hours are most interested in (and hence were best represented in the surveys) do not seem to be substantially funding constrained and 80,000 have noted that there are many other limitations of these results.

There are also reasons to expect that the movement is substantially funding constrained:

  • Despite the large amounts of funding received through Open Philanthropy Project’s grants, Animal Charity Evaluators’ “top charities” were only assigned this status because ACE concluded that they each had considerable “room for more funding.”
  • Animal Charity Evaluators and Open Philanthropy Project seem to frequently agree about which charities can make best use of additional funding. If you disagree with their views about animal advocacy strategy, then you might conclude that the movement is substantially more funding constrained, because important tactics and organisations are still not receiving much of this funding. Of course, these two funding bodies only provide a small portion of the total funding in the animal advocacy movement.
  • In our short initial survey and interviews with 12 CEO’s and hiring professionals from 9 of the “top” or “standout” charities currently or formerly recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators, 9 respondents selected “funding” as the bottleneck that they “identify most” with in their organisation, though most respondents selected more than one option. We asked participants another question that provided evidence that funding was a major bottleneck for organisations, but the answers seemed highly counterintuitive to us, so we don’t think that we should place much weight on this finding.
  • Our impression from a limited number of conversations (and these comments by three organisations working on wild animal welfare research) is that progress for effective animal advocacy research organisations seems to be slowed more by a lack of funding than by a lack of good candidates. Of course, these organisations may not be highly representative of the animal advocacy space more broadly."
Comment by jamie_harris on What are some good online courses relevant to EA? · 2020-04-26T16:56:08.252Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

The Good Food Institute have a short online course relevant to animal-free food technology. It's not very detailed, but I understand that they are working on adding to it so that it becomes a more thorough walk-through of the issues and technical knowledge.

Additionally, Animal Advocacy Careers is a new nonprofit focusing on addressing career and talent bottlenecks in the effective animal advocacy community. One intervention that we're planning to trial this year is running an online course and workshop focusing on integrating 1) effective animal advocacy research and 2) 80k and EA career considerations into career decision-making. People can express interest in participating in that programme here.

Comment by jamie_harris on What career advice gaps are you trying to fill? · 2020-04-26T16:02:03.289Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Animal Advocacy Careers is a new nonprofit focusing on addressing career and talent bottlenecks in the effective animal advocacy community.

Soon, we'll be publishing online "skills profiles", comparable to 80,000 Hours profiles on AI safety policy work and operations. We'll providing one-to-one careers coaching for people interested in maximising their impact for animals through their careers. We'll be running an online course and workshop focusing on integrating 1) EAA research and 2) 80k and EA career considerations into career decision-making. People can express interest in participating in those programmes here.

We're also running training programmes with animal advocacy organisations, focusing on upskilling their staff on areas that are a bit of a bottleneck.

As context, see this post I wrote. In the 80k post that you linked to, 80k wrote: "We don’t intend to create new detailed articles about animal welfare or global health. You can see our old articles on these subjects here and here."

(Vaidehi, I know you already know this, but sharing for the benefit of any other readers!)

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective Animal Advocacy Nonprofit Roles Spot-Check · 2020-04-26T08:41:53.725Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I don't think that the baseline we should expect if all was fair and there was perfect equality of opportunity is 50% female. Bear in mind that far more veg*ns are female than male (without looking into the best studies on this, a quick Google suggests 80% female in the US). I'd guess that "animal advocates" has a similar gender balance. So this would suggest that women are still slightly underrepresented in paid roles, or at least that they're not overrepresented. Also note that women are slightly underrepresented in management and leadership roles in my findings compared to the number of employees (although not by as much as I would have guessed)

Comment by jamie_harris on A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained · 2020-04-07T12:37:54.312Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW
I find this very hard to understand.

This is useful feedback. I might need to work on the wording.

Without that I think it is hard to say if 17% is high or not right?

I don't think I agree with that -- I think the important consideration is the number of identified advertised roles of a particular type relative to the number of identified currently filled roles of the same type. Not the number of advertised roles of type A relative to advertised roles of type B. But FWIW the full report is now published.

this seems like weak evidence for bottleneck claims

I agree its weak evidence; I think it's the weakest of the 5 bullet points above. I find weak evidence useful.

Comment by jamie_harris on A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained · 2020-04-07T12:34:17.074Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the input! If the above bullet points were evidence of funding constraints, then this "more negative reading" would be a plausible alternative explanation. But I'm not following how the above bullet points could be read in this way. Apologies if I'm missing something.

Are you thinking this applies to all 5 of the above bullet points? Or specific bullet points within that group?

Comment by jamie_harris on A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained · 2020-04-05T09:55:16.801Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

<<Would you be able to give me a real example to satisfy your claim?>>

The difference here is probably whether an individual or an organisation (80k, AAC) is evaluating TC.

If, via some research, you have the ability to either 1) make claims about TC across a movement or range or orgs, with moderate confidence or 2) make claims about TC in one or two orgs, with higher confidence, an individual might opt for (2), as they can focus on orgs they're more interested in. But 80k/AAC would opt for (1), because the advice is useful to a larger number of people?

<<I am lost. What is "MANY"? What does a "position in government" even look like.>> Given that the ideal distribution of roles and applicants and how this compares to the current situation is only really one consideration among several important considerations that affect career decisions (i.e. it affects your comparative advantage), maybe a high level of precision isn't that important?

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective Animal Advocacy Nonprofit Roles Spot-Check · 2020-04-02T20:32:17.539Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah part of the appeal of this project was that I could do it independently without relying on connections or asking orgs to fill out a survey (we're going to use a lot of them going forwards I imagine). There are definitely things we can play around with going forwards to get better information about these things.

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective Animal Advocacy Nonprofit Roles Spot-Check · 2020-04-02T06:26:56.923Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

<<E.g., of all recently open roles, how many remain open>> I agree that this is probably more informative, but this would require ongoing monitoring to measure and evaluate so it's not appropriate for this "spot-check" methodology? I think that that suggestion comes under the general category of further research that could be be possible in combination with a a jobs board, which I referred to briefly to in the first bullet point in the further research section.

Comment by jamie_harris on A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained · 2020-03-28T11:07:50.234Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'm currently doing some research for Animal Advocacy Careers on specific skill types in animal advocacy that will be posted in forthcoming "skills profiles." An example from my draft report on fundraising roles is below. Feedback very welcome! (Obviously this is an unusual case in that its a talent constraint directly relating to funding constraints.)

  • In our short initial survey and interviews with 12 CEO’s and hiring professionals from 9 of the “top” or “standout” charities currently or formerly recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators, 5 respondents selected “fundraising experience” as one of up to 6 skills (out of 25 options) that their organisation most needed; this was the second most frequently selected option, after “management.”
  • 2 out of 10 respondents to the same survey mentioned fundraising roles as being “the hardest to fill.”
  • In our “spot-check” [note, this is forthcoming research, which will likely be released within a week] of current roles and advertised roles at 27 animal advocacy nonprofits, fundraising was the skillset that was most notably overrepresented in animal advocacy job adverts (appearing to be important in 17% of identified job ads) relative to the number of current roles in the movement (appearing to be important in 10% of current roles); this may imply that these roles are unusually hard to fill and that fundraising expertise is undersupplied in the community, relative to its needs. As discussed in our blog post on the spot-check, however, this research provides only very weak evidence on the question of what the movement’s greatest bottlenecks are.
  • There is evidence from a 2013 report that senior fundraisers are difficult to hire in US nonprofits generally. This makes it seem more likely that animal advocacy nonprofits face the same difficulty.
  • The same report found evidence that smaller nonprofits may struggle to attract the most experienced fundraisers. Given that many animal advocacy organisations have small budgets, this provides another reason to expect that animal advocacy organisations will struggle to hire fundraisers, though this is only very weak evidence that this is a bottleneck for the movement.
Comment by jamie_harris on A naive analysis on if EA is Talent constrained · 2020-03-28T11:02:30.132Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the reminder of the EA Leaders Forum survey -- I'd forgotten about that and was relying on the 2018 80k findings. A couple of minor comments/questions:

In this post, discussions are focused on Orgs that are TC and not Causes that are TC. When I read that AI strategy is TC with the lack of "Disentanglement Research" (DR), I don't know what to do about it. But if I know FHI and many other orgs are TC in DR, then I could potentially upskill in DR, and close the talent gap. So looking at causes for me, is less helpful, less concrete and is not what I have set out to understand.

Isn't TC in the movement just the aggregation of TC in relevant orgs and actors? There's a tradeoff between specificity/concreteness and representativeness/generalisability, and for most purposes, the latter seems more useful to me?

I didn't know of any other sources doing this sort of research and coaching for people

Animal Advocacy Careers will be offering one-to-one advising soon. Before it is officially launched, people can sign up to express their interest here.

Comment by jamie_harris on Why not give 90%? · 2020-03-28T10:11:16.710Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

<<My guess is that the main reason for that is that more devoted people tend to pledge higher amounts.>>

That could account for part of it, though, according to this article, "multiple studies have demonstrated that people perform better when goals are set higher and made more challenging.” I haven't looked into this in more detail, but I've heard other social scientists who research behaviour change make similar claims (e.g. on this podcast).

My guess is that there's a sweet spot of challenge/demandingness that is optimal, and that that sweet spot varies substantially by the individual.

(PS thanks for this post, I've had similar thoughts before and like the theoretical demonstration in expected value terms of the risk of giving up.)

Comment by jamie_harris on Surveying attitudes towards helping wild animals among scientists and students · 2020-03-25T08:33:47.308Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah, that definitely seems a reasonable concern. I guess you could still follow up the survey with an additional question for those who gave more favourable responses? Would depend on how you collected the survey though, e.g. if it was anonymous.


<<Other surveys among scientists do get much higher response rates, although they can vary a lot.>>

If you know of specific, comparable examples and are able to share their names/citations I'd be keen to take a look at them. This seems like a fairly difficult-to-Google topic, although I found one survey that received responses from 190 of the 231 academic departments that it mailed surveys to.

I might refer to your survey (and the point I'm making here, about high interest from respondents but a low response rate) in a research report I'm writing at the moment.

Comment by jamie_harris on Surveying attitudes towards helping wild animals among scientists and students · 2020-03-20T21:47:11.805Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I like the approach of surveying interest among academics -- it's something I've considered in other areas, so appreciate seeing this report. And it's great to see the responses were overall quite favourable.

Did you consider asking academics if they would have been interested in collaborating on the research projects? I wonder whether this survey missed some direct "field-building" opportunities.

I also wonder if there have been many other surveys sent to academics via "cold call" emails, and what sort of response rate they have tended to have. The 2.8% response seems really low to me -- intuitively this feels like evidence of disinterest in the topic, but I'm not sure how unusual this is.

Comment by jamie_harris on What are the key ongoing debates in EA? · 2020-03-15T19:08:42.445Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · EA · GW

"Assuming longtermism, are "broad" or "narrow" approaches to improving the value of the long-term future more promising?"

This is mostly just a broadening of one of Arden's suggestions: "Do anti-aging research, animal welfare work, and/or economic growth speedups have positive very long term benefits in expectation?" Not sure how widely debated this still is, but examples include 1, 2, and 3.

Partly relatedly, I find Sentience Institute's "Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy" a really helpful resource for keeping track of the most important evidence and arguments on important questions, and I've wondered whether a comparable resource would be helpful for the effective altruism community more widely.

Comment by jamie_harris on Suggestion: EAs should post more summaries and collections · 2020-03-15T18:44:32.361Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Relatedly, I'm quite keen on the idea of writing and posting short literature reviews. I suspect that when people look into a topic, they sometimes spend 10-40 hours looking into particular sub-topics, just to inform their own decision-making. It doesn't take much more time input to write your own notes in the format of a literature review, then spend a little while editing it at the end for clarity.

That's what I did with my short lit reviews on issues related to developing and training management and leadership expertise. Charity Entrepreneurship also write short reports on each of the main options that they consider in various stages of their recommendation process.

One danger of this approach is that by formatting it as a literature review you might come across as over-confident in your findings (even with lots of caveats), and you leave yourself open to accusations of low rigour.

Comment by jamie_harris on Examples for impact of Working at EAorg instead of ETG · 2020-03-15T15:56:50.837Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for mentioning AAC!

Not sure about Rethink Priorities but minor correction is that last time I spoke to CE about this, they didn't see funding as a substantial constraint for them. They felt more constrained by high quality applicants to their programme.

Edit: CE are now looking for funding, so are at least partly funding constrained!

Comment by jamie_harris on Research on developing management and leadership expertise · 2020-03-14T09:18:26.602Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

<<Do you know if anyone has studied or hypothesized such a thing?>>

No, but my research was very brief and focused mostly on reviews and meta-analyses rather than looking at the primary studies. So a more thorough research project (or interviews with the authors of the reviews and meta-analyses?) might reveal this sort of thing better.

<<If not, do you have a sense from your research of what this might look like?>>

I'm not sure I'm quite following, but if you are asking what the control group looks like currently:

Usually the research is just correlational. So implicitly, it's comparing high scores to low scores on the same scales.

Some training evaluations have used experimental or quasi-experimental designs, randomising participants to receive training or receive no training, I believe.

If you're asking if I can imagine there being more targeted sorts of research that address your specific hypothesis ("any team which meets 1-3 will not have its performance improved by 'transformational' leadership etc"), I can certainly imagine it. E.g. you run a similar experiment across lots of different organisations, and beforehand, you assign the organisation some sort of score (subjective rankings out of 10?) for each of those variables and see whether there are correlations. But 1) this sounds like a very intensive research programme, 2) I don't usually see social scientists and academics use subjective rankings as variables, perhaps because it seems less replicable by other researchers and less rigorous?

Comment by jamie_harris on Research on developing management and leadership expertise · 2020-03-14T09:07:02.650Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Sounds good, I'll have a look at some point, thanks for the recommendation. To clarify, the implication is that the causal chain might be from good organisational outcomes to good evaluations on leadership evaluation instruments, rather than the other way round?

Comment by jamie_harris on Research on developing management and leadership expertise · 2020-03-06T15:46:39.016Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Not really! It's just that some of the recommendations come from our conversations with managers and leaders who work in animal advocacy. The third tab on the spreadsheet has some animal-advocacy-specific resources, but most of them are generic.

Comment by jamie_harris on Changes in conditions are a priori bad for average animal welfare · 2020-02-23T18:07:26.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

<<If you believe that under constant conditions and at equilibrium, the expected value of the average welfare in the wild is at most (or, perhaps by resource efficiency and symmetry, equal to) 0, then you should believe, a priori, that under changing conditions, it is negative, and so, with it, the total welfare would also be negative in expectation.>>

This makes sense to me.

<<Since conditions are constantly changing, you should expect, a priori, the net welfare in the wild to be negative.>>

I don't see why this follows from the previous sentence? One might not believe that "under constant conditions and at equilibrium, the expected value of the average welfare in the wild is at most 0." Therefore one need not necessarily expect net welfare to be negative under changing conditions?

Comment by jamie_harris on Introducing Animal Advocacy Careers · 2020-01-17T11:00:47.002Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Yep, some of these areas are on our radar, but the specifics of many of our programmes are yet to be decided.

I'm not sure if this applies to you, but if people have strong jnterest or expertise in topics and interventions related to animal advocacy careers but are not sure whether Animal Advocacy Careers will be working on this, I'd encourage them to email us directly, especially if you have considered working in this area yourself!

Comment by jamie_harris on Farmed Animal Funders Custom Shallow Review: On Selecting Funding Strategies In General And On Focusing Funding On Open-Access Scientific Research For Plant-Based Alternatives · 2019-12-28T11:46:32.026Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW
That is, the prevailing interpretation seems to be that some open-access research [12] from the 1990’s played an important role in significant advancements in plant-based meats (this open-access developed process then being used in the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger) around two decades later. If that is true, I think that could be significant evidence in favor of a funding strategy that were to prioritize open-access research for plant-based alternatives.

In footnote 12, you then (presumably accidentally) link to the same article for both links in the sentence "This article seems be the one often cited as the research which lead to the advancements."

Looking up that article, I assume that the relevant citation you are referring to is this: "Since the 1990s, some new extrusion technologies have emerged after the improvement of the extruder. Supercritical fluid extrusion (SCFX) is a hybrid processing operation that utilizes supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) as the blowing agent in lieu of steam (Rizvi and Mulvaney 1992)." But that link takes you to a patent from 1992.

I don't know much about how this sort of technical research works in academia, or about the definitions of "open access," but I would have thought that patented technologies wouldn't count as open access research, and wouldn't be very helpful for developing the field in the years immediately following the patent?

(Apologies if this seems nitpicky, I'm just genuinely intrigued by this and its relevant to something I'm looking at at the moment)

Comment by jamie_harris on Problem analysis of the talent bottleneck in EAA's · 2019-10-25T16:28:08.359Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

(I didn't think this short post I wrote for my blog was worth a separate Forum post but is somewhat related to the content of Lauren's interviews, so I'm putting it here)

At EAG London, 2019, we encouraged the attendees of the farmed animal welfare meetup event to pick a smaller sub-group to join for the majority of the session. I hosted a sub-group discussing “movement-wide bottlenecks.” The 9 participants (including myself) included individuals working at 3 ACE-recommended “top charities,” 4 EAA researchers, and the 2 co-founders of a new animal advocacy organisation. I asked them the following question:

“To what extent is each of the following a bottleneck for the farmed animal movement? (1 is that this is never a practical limiting factor. 3 is that this is one of the most important limiting factors for the majority project ideas or plans. 5 is that this is not only preventing the movement from growing, but is causing it to down-size or reduce its most impactful activities.)”

The average scores awarded were:

  • A lack of leaders, co-founders, and engaged advocates in countries outside of North America and western Europe: 3.4
  • A lack of management experience and leadership “talent”: 3.2
  • A lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion: 2.8
  • A lack of awareness and engagement with existing EAA research among animal advocacy organisations: 2.6
  • A lack of funding: 2.4
  • A lack of coordination between those working on similar problems: 2.4

You can see the structure of the event here, and see the responses by participant here, including free form responses to a question inviting participants to write down their “favourite 1 to 3 suggestions” to “deal with these bottlenecks” (after paired discussion).

Two participants suggested other bottlenecks that could have been included in the list of options:

  • “Overabundance of generalists, lack of experts.”
  • “Insufficient resources for evaluating first-order charities.”
  • “Systematic + thorough research into how best to improve animal welfare.”
Comment by jamie_harris on What analysis has been done of space colonization as a cause area? · 2019-10-13T10:35:31.918Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

"Will Space Colonization Multiply Wild-Animal Suffering?" by Brian Tomasik https://reducing-suffering.org/will-space-colonization-multiply-wild-animal-suffering/

(I have a feeling that Tomasik and others at the Foundational Research Institute might have written elsewhere about how space colonisation might affect S-risk)

Comment by jamie_harris on How to improve your productivity: a systematic approach to sustainably increasing work output · 2019-10-04T16:07:58.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Do people have suggestions for productivity techniques that they would recommend trying in a system like this?

I work full time as a researcher and I do something a bit like a simplified version of the system in this post. However, I've run out of ideas of things to try. I'm wondering if any one has tried any variations to their routine or work habits that they have found particularly valuable and would be able to recommend trying?

Some things I've tried and found helpful, as examples (or in case any readers find them helpful suggestions):

  • Experimenting with pomodoros, sprints, longer sessions of deepwork (I've opted for a hybrid where I do work for about 1 to 3 hours straight, with a 5 minute break in the middle, then a 20 to 45 minute break at the end. I do 4 or 5 of these per day. I stop when I feel I'm losing motivation/concentration, rather than after an preset time has elapsed).
  • Experimenting with my morning routine / how I interact with my flatmates (I managed to add about 45 mins to my productive working day this way)
  • Experimenting with when I do my admin and miscellaneous EA tasks that aren't to do with my research (I used to try and do this on one or two evenings a week but I found this v emotionally draining for v little time input. Now I just get up early on one day each weekend to do these tasks, because I don't really this. Sometimes I do these tasks on evenings if I feel like it, such as now, but I don't expect anything of myself or schedule it into my calendar etc)
  • I work slightly more efficiently if I work in the British Library, rather than in my flat, but I'm not sure if this is 1) because it's somewhere other than my flat, 2) because when I work there I'm reading books, not online articles, 3) because I have a slightly longer lunchbreak than usual while I travel there.

(I could also share variations I've tested but haven't found useful, if anyone's interested in those too).

Comment by jamie_harris on Application Process for the 2019 Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program · 2019-09-22T12:54:56.665Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing some of the details of the application process. I found the correlations between different tasks and eventual acceptance interesting.

Smallish corrections/comments, which might also affect your overall estimates of time inputs:

"Application form (including a CV and three long-form questions with a maximum of 1,000 characters each) (~1 hour)" I'd guess closer to ~2 hours, though I didn't track this.
"First interview (~0.5 hours preparation + ~0.75 hours interview)" I don't think I'd ever do a job interview with only 30 mins preparation, regardless of the wording of the email. I'd guess I spent 3 to 5 hours preparing for this (but not much extra time preparing of the second)
"First test task (~5 hours)" Seems accurate
"Second interview (~0.5 hours preparation + ~1.5 hours interview)" Seems accurate (I think my interview was 1 hour)
"Second test task (~3 to 5 hours)" The email for mine advised 5 to 10 hours, and I spent 7 hours 45 on mine.

Comment by jamie_harris on Does improving animal rights now improve the far future? · 2019-09-22T12:43:11.265Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'll just share a couple of resources from Sentience Institute here, as they are relevant to the original question and didn't see the other commenters mention them:

"Why I prioritize moral circle expansion over artificial intelligence alignment"

"Social change v. food technology" in our "Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy" (although this isn't directly relevant to the question, there are some relevant factors here, e.g. discussion of setpoints).

Comment by jamie_harris on The Long-Term Future: An Attitude Survey · 2019-09-22T12:35:51.775Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Wow, some fascinating and surprising answers, e.g. that there was more support for the statement "I hope that in the future, humanity will spread to other solar systems" than support for a population of 10bn rather than a population of 1bn. I was also interested in the finding that "Valuing spatially distant people was correlated with valuing temporally distant people (r = 0.63, p < 3e-16)."

Beyond some of the discussion around the question wording raised by others, I'm also wondering why you chose to present people with these two articles, rather than just running the survey without any accompanying information? I'm not sure what was gained by providing people with this information and I think it makes the answers less representative and useful. For example, you state that the results "suggest that people generally view some of the core ideas of longtermism in a favorable light." I would more cautiously claim that the results "suggest that people who have just read two articles that are favorable to longtermism generally accept some of the core ideas of longtermism, at least temporarily."

I think I would have found this more useful either as a nationally representative survey (e.g. using Ipsos), to explore what people currently think, while attempting to minimise the effects of the survey design on the answers, or as an RCT, where a control group (no article) is compared to 1+ intervention group(s), testing for the effectiveness of possible pro-longtermist messaging on people's attitudes.

(But, to clarify, as a quick survey via Positly, which is cheaper than using Ipsos, I do think that these findings are still useful and interesting.)

Comment by jamie_harris on [Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form. · 2019-09-12T21:45:43.789Z · score: 26 (36 votes) · EA · GW

I'm very glad that people feel reluctant to express some of those opinions, especially in the unexplained, offensive format that they were expressed in those answers.

Also, some of the comments have very similar wording, which makes me suspect that someone/some people inputted multiple entries.

Comment by jamie_harris on Are there other events in the UK before/after EAG London? · 2019-08-12T21:32:10.862Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Danielle Duffield and I will be running an event for people interested in animal advocacy the evening before, similar to the one I ran last year (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pre-eag-animal-advocate-short-talks-tickets-51187206312?fbclid=IwAR1cOY9tr8PZUQz1MBxUaeJ4omUO_8KZOwdJ-aXltB8lV2l7D5upzX2Ejoo)