Posts

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: 39 (18 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 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: 6 (2 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: 0 (2 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: 3 (3 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: 5 (3 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: 25 (35 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)

Comment by jamie_harris on What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across? · 2019-08-06T22:14:23.252Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'd recommend The End of Animal Farming for anyone interested in animal advocacy. Here's my short review. httpss://butcantheysuffer.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/book-review-jacy-reese-2018-the-end-of-animal-farming-beacon-press-boston-ma/

Personally I found Animal Liberation by Peter Singer very inspiring as a teenager (changed me from a passive vegetarian to someone determined to make a change for animals through some form of advocacy) but I haven't looked back at it in years.

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-07-27T10:23:58.087Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

See Lauren's comment above on a new EAA careers/talent org.

Comment by jamie_harris on Corporate campaigns affect 9 to 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent · 2019-07-20T08:56:10.514Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm a big fan of this report and will probably recommend it to interested people as the best of the cost-effectiveness models I have seen on corporate welfare commitments.

I'm very glad for the"Ways this estimate could be misleading" section. I think its very important to make these wider considerations clear; they have not been so clear in previous cost-effectiveness estimates. I also like that you make it clear how you think that these considerations weigh up with the pluses and minuses system.

It's great that this information on various uncertainties is included and yet you are still able to provide a useable estimate of cost-effectiveness (that excludes these indirect effects). I would probably lean towards making this result less prominent in the write-up, e.g. not including it in the title. I do think that, despite your clarity on the uncertainties, it is easy for readers to pick up and focus on the final estimate and then disregard the rest of the post.

Comment by jamie_harris on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-07T00:06:25.445Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Is "altruism" the alternative to "justice" or is "wellbeing/suffering" the alternative to "justice"? I feel like the latter is something that we could aim to maximise, and that this would be consistent with EA, but not with what the majority of aspiring EAs aim to maximise. Justice seems less relevant to utilitarianism and more relevant to virtues ethics or similar (apologies, I don't know much about philosophy).

To the extent that we consider justice as a messaging strategy, rather than something substantial that represents goals/ideology, my guess is that aspiring effective altruists should aim for non-partisanship. My guess is that alignment with established political ideologies (including "the left", or the Democrats over the Republicans in the US) encourages increased political salience in the short term but stagnation longer term. This guess is based mostly on intuition and my research on the anti-abortion movement.

But I would agree with Zach G that, intuitively, justice messaging will have wider reach/virality than altruism messaging.

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective Altruism is an Ideology, not (just) a Question · 2019-06-29T11:43:46.533Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Very big fan of this post. It is one of the best, substantial critiques of EA as it currently is that I've read/heard in a while. There are lots of parts that I'd love to delve into more but I'll focus on one here, which seems to be one of the most important claims:

The three key aspects of this argument are expert belief in plausibility of the problem, very large impact of the problem if it does occur, and the problem being substantively neglected. My argument is that we can adapt this argument to make parallel arguments for other cause areas.

Sure, but this seems to miss out the tractability consideration. Your post barely mentions tractability or cost-effectiveness and the INT framework is really just a way of thinking about the expected value / cost-effectiveness of particular actions. I'd guess that some of the areas you list have been ignored or rejected by many aspiring EAs because they just seem less tractable at first glance.

I do think it's important that the EA community explores plausibly high-impact cause areas, even if only a handful of individuals ever focus on them. So I'd be pleased if people took this post as an encouragement to explore the tractability of contributions to various areas that have been neglected by the EA community so far.

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-06-25T16:15:22.063Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Could do! Not sure what sort of engagement an online course would get? I think Peter Singer had an EA online course and GFI has made one for production methods of cellular agriculture and/or plant-based foods I believe. Could be interesting to see what sort of take up those got, if they've led to many people become actively/deeply engaged, how long they took to create, and how much they cost.

Comment by jamie_harris on Becoming the person who would start a project · 2019-06-21T20:54:59.632Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Interested if you are aware of many examples other than Michael Plant?

Comment by jamie_harris on Might the EA community be undervaluing "meta-research on how to make progress on causes?" · 2019-06-21T20:28:12.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'd guess that there are some low-hanging fruit research projects that could help lots of organisations and individuals trying to maximise their positive impact across multiple cause areas (not confident on this because there are some groups whose work I am unfamiliar with).

Examples of existing research that fits this category are the recent post on "Ingredients for creating disruptive research teams" and Open Philanthropy Project's research on the history of philanthropy.

It's possible that having a small organisation explicitly focused on these sort of opportunities could be worthwhile. Otherwise, if someone tried more thoroughly list and prioritise projects, individuals could potentially work on this (and get funding through EA Grants?)

Comment by jamie_harris on Invertebrate Sentience Table · 2019-06-21T20:07:00.278Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Agree with the risks of presenting such a score. Agree that scores would be very speculative and your credibility intervals would be very wide. But I'd also guess that without this sort of score/summary measure, then it's very hard to use this research in practical applications?

Perhaps a compromise is to compile these sorts of summary scores, but then to only share them with advocates or researchers that have specific purposes in mind for those figures? This way, if someone wanted to use the summary score to inform an estimate, or make some decision based off of your research here, they could do so and it would only take them a few minutes to send you an email, rather than several hours trying to come up with an equivalent estimate, using your research as a starting point.

It's still possible that the figures would become more widely known if people find the numbers indirectly, e.g. in citations. But this seems unlikely to affect many people (unfortunately, I don't imagine this research going viral).

PS thanks very much for this very thorough seeming research on this difficult topic!

Comment by jamie_harris on Melbourne University Effective Altruism Study · 2019-06-21T19:40:34.575Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Enjoyed taking part. Will you post the results on the Forum? I look forward to seeing them.

Quick thoughts/warnings:

1) some of the questions referred to "persons" or similar words, implying humans. Other questions referred to "others" which I interpreted as including animals. Interpreting as humans as opposed to humans and other animals (or vice versa) affected my answers in some cases. (Not sure if the wording was chosen for consistency with existing psychological scales)

2) you may get some selection effects from donating to AMF, rather than offering EAs the option to choose from different options (e.g. can pick whichever EA Fund they'd prefer)

3) Here you said you'd donate to AMF and then I got told at the end it would go to GiveDirectly

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-06-15T08:58:37.780Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Sure! I'd guess it depends on the project. I doubt that narrowly supporting effectiveness-focused individuals or organisations would always be the best use of resources, but I'd guess that it would be in most cases (say, 70% of marginal EAA movement building resources over the next 5 years?)

Offering movement building services to some organisations might be a lower priority if you think that those organisations don't have a particularly positive impact anyway.

There are also costs of broadening the scope of some shared resources/services; it makes coordination harder and mutual support less useful. An intuitive (though possibly slightly unfair) comparison is between the EAA Facebook discussion group to various AR or vegan groups. If someone only had time to create/manage one of those two resources, I'd much prefer the former. I think my current view on this is similar to CEA's (e.g. see the section on "preserving value" here).

PS I'm not worried about the total scale being low, if there are opportunities that would likely be cost-effective (see this related post, if interested).

Comment by jamie_harris on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-06-12T17:02:50.363Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · EA · GW

If you are intending to look into or start one of the projects listed in the post above, please comment on this thread. This may help with coordination and mutual support.

(E.g., as noted above) I'm currently planning to start an EAA podcast in the next few months. Comment below or contact me at james_a_harris@hotmail.co.uk if you would like to share ideas or concerns (both are welcome!)

Comment by jamie_harris on Ingredients for creating disruptive research teams · 2019-05-27T21:23:33.825Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This was very interesting. There were several aspects I found surprising, such as the apparent importance of collaboration and shared physical space. Thanks for writing and sharing this.

I'm interested in the methodology, since I've also been working on both 1) case studies, which I hope to able to compare between at a later point and 2) a literature review.

How long do you estimate that you spent looking at each of the case studies?

It seems that most are based on a small number of sources. Did you find that reading additional sources changed your views about a particular research team compared to the first source or two that you read? Do you expect steeply diminishing returns from investing more time into digging further into particular case studies?

Comment by jamie_harris on Benefits of EA engaging with mainstream (addressed) cause areas · 2019-05-19T07:52:34.357Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

"I wonder if there could be a kind of "trip advisor" type badge to recommend how well charities/interventions are doing in such a way as to encourage them to improve."

Not quite the same, but you might be interested in https://sogive.org/

Comment by jamie_harris on What are good reasons for or against working on protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services? · 2019-05-19T07:21:29.273Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It's often assumed in work on wild animal welfare/suffering that biodiversity and ecosystem protection are poor heuristics for representing the best interests of individual animals. Just because a system is diverse doesn't necessarily mean the individuals are suffering more or less.

Many relevant essays by Brian Tomasik on his site. Here's one example https://reducing-suffering.org/medicine-vs-deep-ecology/