Posts

EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid 2020-01-13T11:32:35.397Z · score: 240 (104 votes)
Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 2019-12-23T11:51:56.315Z · score: 76 (34 votes)
Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2019 2018-12-04T16:41:45.603Z · score: 52 (19 votes)
Effective Altruism Foundation update: Plans for 2018 and room for more funding 2017-12-15T15:09:17.168Z · score: 25 (25 votes)
Fundraiser: Political initiative raising an expected USD 30 million for effective charities 2016-09-13T11:25:17.151Z · score: 34 (22 votes)
Political initiative: Fundamental rights for primates 2016-08-04T19:35:28.201Z · score: 12 (14 votes)

Comments

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Organization Updates: December 2019 · 2020-02-13T16:35:52.358Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

It was written correctly in the Google Doc though ;)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Organization Updates: December 2019 · 2020-02-12T11:08:24.358Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

(Nitpick: It should say "Foundational Research Institute" rather than "Foundational Research Initiative".)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR) · 2020-01-29T16:06:03.248Z · score: 33 (15 votes) · EA · GW

I was thinking that you can always use a name that's different from the legal name. E.g., GiveWell's legal entity is called "The Clear Fund" but nobody cares/knows. Similarly, the Future of Humanity Institute has a "Centre for the Governance of AI" which isn't a separate legal entity. So it seems like the brand (and/or shorthand term) you use publicly is somewhat independent of the legal name.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR) · 2020-01-29T14:48:00.582Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, that makes sense. What do you think about the other points I mentioned?

Comment by jonas-vollmer on The EA Hotel is now the Centre for Enabling EA Learning & Research (CEEALAR) · 2020-01-29T14:33:34.694Z · score: 38 (18 votes) · EA · GW

This is great news, congrats on making this happen!

I guess you are doing this partly for legal reasons? I'm curious, have you considered going for "Athena Hotel" (the previous name of the hotel) as the main name of the project, regardless of what the legal entity is called? Might be easier to memorize/pronounce. I worry that otherwise, EAs will continue referring to CEEALAR as "EA Hotel", which could be a missed opportunity given that there's some reputational risk involved with the hotel.

Edit: More generally, it seems desirable to have a shorthand name for the hotel that's easier to spell, pronounce, and remember than "CEEALAR".

Some ideas: Athena Hotel, Athena Centre, Blackpool Hotel, Blackpool Centre, Learning & Research Centre.

(Someone pointed out to me that "Athena Hotel" might work particularly well because Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom.)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Hotel Fundraiser 6: Concrete outputs after 17 months · 2020-01-29T11:43:48.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

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Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-26T16:27:59.377Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Update: We've hired someone part-time (a couple of hours per month) to help ensure good implementation of the initiative.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Intervention Profile: Ballot Initiatives · 2020-01-18T10:51:41.163Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
You should correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the proposals were eventually weakened to the point that conservation of resources became the primary (perhaps sole?) focus.

"Primary focus" seems correct. The resulting legal texts didn't mention plant-based food anymore, if I recall correctly, but still led to a reduction in meat consumption/portions, so in that sense they were still somewhat successful.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Intervention Profile: Ballot Initiatives · 2020-01-17T16:58:25.528Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

As I already mentioned via email, I think this is an excellent post.

I just noticed that I overlooked one point when giving feedback: The main idea behind Sentience Politics' "sustainable nutrition" initiatives was also to promote animal welfare and expand the moral circle (through reducing meat consumption). The environmental benefits are also significant, but weren't the primary motivation.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 · 2020-01-17T10:08:29.489Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! I think I don't have the capacity to give detailed public replies to this right now. My respective short answers would be something like "sure, that seems fine" and "might inspire riskier content, depends a lot on the framing and context", but there's nuance to this that's hard to convey in half a sentence. If you would like to write something about these topics and are interested in my perspective, feel free to get in touch and I'm happy to share my thoughts!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 · 2020-01-16T22:37:18.435Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW
Do the kinds of s-risks EAF has in mind mostly involve artificial sentience to get to astronomical scale?

Yes, see here. Though we also put some credence on other "unknown unknowns" that we might prevent through broad interventions (like promoting compassion and cooperation).

Are you primarily concerned with autonomous self-sustaining (self-replicating) suffering processes being created, or are you also very concerned about an agent already having or creating individuals capable of suffering and who require resources from the agent to keep running, despite the costs (of running, or the extra costs of sentience specifically)?
My guess is that the latter is much more limited in potential scale.

Both could be concerning. I find it hard to think about future technological capabilities and agents in sufficient detail. So rather than thinking about specific scenarios, we'd like to reduce s-risks through (hopefully) more robust levers such as making the future less multipolar and differentially researching peaceful bargaining mechanisms.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 · 2020-01-16T22:35:58.239Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for giving input on this!

So you seem to think that our guidelines ask people to weaken their views while Nick's may not be doing that, and that they may be harmful to suffering-focused views if we think promoting SFE is important. I think my perspective differs in the following ways:

  • The guidelines are fairly similar in their recommendation to mention moral uncertainty and arguments that are especially important to other parts of the community while representing one's own views honestly.
  • If we want to promote SFE in EA, we will be more convincing for (potential) EAs if we provide nuanced and balanced arguments, which is what the guidelines ask for, and if s-risks research is more fleshed out and established in the community. Unlike our previous SFE content, our recent efforts (e.g., workshops, asking for feedback on early drafts) received a lot of engagement from both newer and long-time EA community members. (Outside of EA, this seems less clear.)
  • We sought feedback on these guidelines from community members and received largely positive feedback. Some people will always disagree but overall, most people were in favor. We'll seek out feedback again when we revisit the guidelines.
  • I think this new form of cooperation across the community is worth trying and improving on. It may not be perfect yet, but we will reassess at the end of this year and make adjustments (or discontinue the guidelines in a worst case).

I hope this is helpful. We have now published the guidelines, you can find the links above!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-16T22:28:39.527Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Fully agreed, thanks for the clarification!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-15T09:53:33.993Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · EA · GW

They already have a committee allocating the grants which includes some academics, and they said they want to further improve the award practice. We have suggested specific academics they could work with. I'm not sure what it will end up looking like in practice. There are certainly some people in the administration who are eager to preserve the status quo, whereas others seemed quite excited about effectiveness improvements.

I don't think it's possible for citizens to sue the government for failing to implement a ballot initiative (or at least that's very uncommon). But there are many indirect ways to enforce an initiative, e.g., we could talk to the members of the city council who we know and work with them to submit motions to improve the implementation of the initiative. In general, referenda are taken very seriously in Switzerland.

As I wrote above, the bottleneck is likely EA-aligned people with development knowledge wanting to spend a couple of hours per year on this (rather than formal ways of suing/filing complaints if it's not implemented in the way we'd like). I think even a few small, friendly nudges would go a long way.

so much so that it could flip the sign of your assessment

That sounds like you think it might have been net negative, but I don't see how that follows from your points. Unless you think the entire budget has literally a zero impact, which I think is very unlikely for the following reason:

I think it's likely to have a significant positive impact if citizens of a city with a nominal per-capita GDP of $180,000 (source) give more money to people in developing countries (with a per-capita GDP which is ~2 orders of magnitude lower), even if that happens inefficiently. (There's a lot of EA and non-EA writing on the indirect effects of foreign aid, etc. so I'm not going to elaborate more on that here.)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-15T09:35:25.247Z · score: 19 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Right, a non-consequentialist analysis might lead to different conclusions in this case. Thanks for pointing that out!

I think there's still a pretty strong case to be made that in the case of development cooperation, it's not quite as straightforward because developed countries have harmed developing countries in many ways (colonialism, tax havens, agricultural export subsidies, etc.). Thomas Pogge has argued along these lines IIRC, so one could look at his views on this.

More generally, we live in a highly globalized world, we routinely interact with these countries through trade, etc., such that it seems plausible that we do have some responsibilities towards them. And we're talking about one of the very wealthiest cities in the world (with a per-capita GDP of $180,000!) giving a relatively small additional amount. So if there is one particular case where Huemer's arguments appear particularly implausible, it is probably this one.

Overall, I don't think it's obvious whether the case for development cooperation becomes weaker or stronger if we take into account various non-consequentialist perspectives.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-14T17:26:56.413Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the input!

Because modeling this involves several judgment calls and would make the analysis much more complex (and harder to understand), we decided it's better not to include it in the quantitative model and instead just mention it in the text.

I also think this is unlikely to change the numbers by more than 10%. I think it would take several fairly strong assumptions to change that, such as you think that Zurich's marginal budget is used effectively in an important cause area such as global catastrophic risk research funding.

Some brainstorming ideas for how to model this cost:

  • You could model a tax increase as a reduction in income for Zurich residents (using data on per-capita GDP in the city of Zurich, this is available) and compare that to an increase in the income for the average development cooperation recipient (taking into account that some funding is used for Swiss development cooperation staff compensation). The line of reasoning from this article (also linked above) could be helpful to then translate this into welfare changes.
  • You could try to better understand spending cuts by looking at the budget items and which ones tended to be cut during past cuts, then try to estimate how they compare to development cooperation (or the things Zurich residents usually spend money on).
Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-13T21:40:04.515Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

To further clarify: I think in many circumstances (e.g., for a ballot initiative in Switzerland on the federal level), public opinion polling would be crucial. But for this specific type of city-level initiative, I don't think it would help much.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-13T21:38:03.467Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

That's correct. The original proposals for sustainable nutrition explicitly mentioned "plant-based" and "animal-friendly" food, but then the counterproposals only said "sustainable" or "environmentally friendly." So I'd say overall, from an animal welfare perspective, they were moderately successful. We didn't have the time to evaluate their actual impact, though I think this would be a worthwhile project for EAs, especially if it results in an EA Forum article similar to this one.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-13T16:41:46.517Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I agree with the importance of "choosing the right avenue." I still don't think public opinion polling is very useful for that purpose (especially if some polling data is already available). In fact, I think public opinion polling would have been unlikely to clearly identify the key issues because the general public has much less pronounced and well-informed opinions than politicians and other stakeholders.

At least for Swiss initiatives, getting reactions/opinions from the responsible legislative body and the people they trust (like local charities in this case) seems much more useful because it shapes the legislative bodies' official recommendation to voters. I think it was a mistake not to do more of that type of stakeholder engagement in the early stages of the initiative, and that mistake almost led to a complete failure of the initiative.

Also noteworthy: Talking to local politicians is much cheaper still than doing public opinion polls (costs a couple of hours rather than thousands of dollars plus a lot of work to get the polling right).

That said, I think doing some polling before launching an initiative could also be somewhat helpful.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Fundraiser: Political initiative raising an expected USD 30 million for effective charities · 2020-01-13T16:36:48.563Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

New EA Forum post is out: EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2020-01-13T16:36:21.617Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

New EA Forum post is out: EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EAF’s ballot initiative doubled Zurich’s development aid · 2020-01-13T11:37:15.448Z · score: 39 (14 votes) · EA · GW

EAF also launched the following ballot initiatives (through its now spun-off project Sentience Politics):

  • Ban on factory farming (see also this), federal initiative in Switzerland, signatures collected, vote expected in ~2023
  • Basic rights for primates (see also this), Canton of Basel-City, signatures collected, initiative first deemed invalid then valid upon appeal, not exactly sure what the status is but I think the vote is expected in ~2021
  • Sustainable nutrition, Lucerne, counterproposal passed (60% in favor) at the ballot in September 2018
  • Sustainable nutrition, Basel, rejected at the ballot (67% against) on 4 March 2018
  • Sustainable nutrition, Zurich, counterproposal passed (60% in favor) at the ballot in November 2017
  • Sustainable nutrition, Berlin Kreuzberg/Friedrichshain, implemented in a weakened form by the city without a vote in ~2018

Edit: Note that the main idea behind "sustainable nutrition" initiatives was to reduce meat consumption and promote veganism and animal welfare. There are also significant environmental benefits, but those weren't the main reason for launching the initiatives.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge · 2020-01-10T10:01:25.602Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Stock market returns are larger than the economic growth rate, so it could still work? In fact, that could even speak in favor of investing?

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge · 2020-01-10T09:49:20.933Z · score: 21 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Some quick thoughts (most are probably obvious):

  • Some reasons to think we shouldn't invest more than we currently are:
    • The highest-return investment opportunities may be non-financial, such as 80K, CEA, Founders Pledge, etc. Investments in the stability of the EA community can also be seen as a form of investment. This also means that we might naïvely underestimate the EA community's current investment rate.
    • Most of the EA billionaires' funding is currently being invested.
    • A lot of EAs are currently early in their careers and thus "investing" in their careers, with the largest payoffs to occur many years in the future.
  • It could be worth setting this up partly as "Open Phil insurance," i.e., this fund could fund EA organizations and Open Phil's most effective longtermist grants in the event that Open Phil funding dries up (e.g., Good Ventures stops collaborating with Open Phil for some reason).
  • To attract more funding, it could be worth setting this up in such a way that the donors have the option of retaining some amount of discretion. E.g., the donors may not fully agree with the worldview of the fund managers, and for this reason, there is currently a number of longtermist giving opportunities (specific organizations, the donor lottery, the Long-Term Future Fund, the Survival and Flourishing Fund, the EAF Fund (which is focused on s-risks)). A low-effort way of implementing this at least partly would be that the donors can "label" their donation for a particular worldview, and the fund managers then try to take this into account informally with their grantmaking by talking to the experts holding that worldview at that point in time.
    • Relatedly, if we look at the current EA donor landscape, it seems that most expected funding for this fund will come from a single billionaire. It's probably worth working with them directly and custom-tailoring the fund to them.
  • Open Phil's committee mechanism might be helpful for the governance of your fund.
Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 · 2020-01-02T11:30:04.380Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the feedback!

Yes, we sent out both guidelines simultaneously. They link to each other. The post you're referring to mentioned Nick's guidelines in passing, but it seems readers got an incomplete / incorrect impression.

You mention beliefs, too; does this include suffering-focused views generally?

The guidelines talk about beliefs that are important to us in general. Suffering-focused views aren't mentioned as a concrete example, but flawed futures and s-risks are.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020 · 2020-01-01T13:14:17.326Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! :)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Announcing the 2019-20 Donor Lottery · 2019-12-04T14:57:28.724Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I was confused by this as well. Does "no winners" mean "the backstop funder won"? If not, how can there not be a winner?

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Giving Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019: Instructions for Donors · 2019-12-02T21:46:31.772Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Perhaps also edit this EA Forum post to make it clear that it's easier than people might think?

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Leaders Forum: Survey on EA priorities (data and analysis) · 2019-11-23T17:18:52.971Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I share this perception; I think I'd prefer if we didn't lump these different concerns together as "Intellectual weirdness."

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2019-11-17T16:15:14.924Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Update: The counterproposal to the initiative has passed!

Our social media update:

70% of Zurich voters in favor of more effective foreign aid: The counterproposal to the Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus's ballot initiative has passed with a very strong majority! The city of Zurich’s development cooperation budget has thus just been increased from $3 million to $8 million per year. It is to be allocated “based on the available scientific research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness”.
We supported the counterproposal because it contains the key points of our original initiative and had a high chance of success. This seems to be the first time that Swiss legislation on development cooperation mentions effectiveness requirements.

https://twitter.com/EA_Stiftung/status/1196090927305113611

https://www.facebook.com/ea.stiftung/photos/a.308052465977781/2540880699361602/

I expect to post a more thorough EA forum update in a couple of weeks.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Fundraiser: Political initiative raising an expected USD 30 million for effective charities · 2019-11-17T16:14:44.580Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Update: The counterproposal to the initiative has passed!

Our social media update:

70% of Zurich voters in favor of more effective foreign aid: The counterproposal to the Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus's ballot initiative has passed with a very strong majority! The city of Zurich’s development cooperation budget has thus just been increased from $3 million to $8 million per year. It is to be allocated “based on the available scientific research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness”.
We supported the counterproposal because it contains the key points of our original initiative and had a high chance of success. This seems to be the first time that Swiss legislation on development cooperation mentions effectiveness requirements.

https://twitter.com/EA_Stiftung/status/1196090927305113611

https://www.facebook.com/ea.stiftung/photos/a.308052465977781/2540880699361602/

I expect to post a more thorough EA forum update in a couple of weeks.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on EA Leaders Forum: Survey on EA priorities (data and analysis) · 2019-11-13T23:17:42.977Z · score: 26 (10 votes) · EA · GW

I find it hard to understand which responses were categorized as "intellectual weirdness" and I'm not sure which lessons to draw. E.g., we might be concerned about being off-putting to people who are most able to contribute to top cause areas by presenting weird ideas too prominently ("don't talk about electron suffering to newbies"). Or we might think EAs are getting obsessed with weird ideas of little practical relevance and should engage more with what common sense has to say ("don't spend your time thinking about electron suffering"). Or we might be concerned about PR risk, etc.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on What to know before talking with journalists about EA · 2019-10-14T08:45:14.811Z · score: 28 (13 votes) · EA · GW

Here's a frequent mistake that's easy to avoid: If you want to debunk an incorrect myth or preconception about EA, preempt it by clearly stating the opposite (i.e., the true facts). Don't explain the myth itself and how it's incorrect, because that will be counterproductive.

Example: Don't ever say "People sometimes think EA is a cult, but it's not." If you say something like that, the journalist will likely think this is a catchy line and print it in the article. This will give readers the impression that EA is not quite a cult, but perhaps almost. This is a real concern – e.g., I've seen this in a subheading of an otherwise favorable article.

Instead, say: "There's a diverse range of perspectives and approaches in the community. Some give 10% of their income, but many don't. People have different backgrounds, different opinions on which methods to use, and different opinions on which causes are most important. What brings us together is trying to find out how to do good with a scientific mindset."

Of course, the above statement might not be sufficiently interesting to be printed verbatim in an article, but that's fine. It still informs a journalist's overall impression of the community and helps them give a correct description of the community in their piece. Goal achieved!

See also this paper on how debunking myths can make people believe them more, not less: "(…) efforts to retract misinformation can even backfire and, ironically, increase misbelief." (Disclaimer: I haven't evaluated the paper or checked for replications, etc.)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Some personal thoughts on EA and systemic change · 2019-09-28T09:19:56.796Z · score: 24 (13 votes) · EA · GW

Some people have been asking for further details on the Swiss effective foreign aid ballot initiative ("1% initiative" in Zurich) by the Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF). The vote on a counterproposal that preserves the key points of the original initiative will take place on November 17th and I'll publish an EA forum post afterwards. Feel free to get in touch via PM if you'd like to get access to an early draft.

There's no need for any additional financial resources for that particular initiative, but I encourage people looking to support potential similar future initiatives (or other efforts to improve Swiss foreign aid policy) with ≥$10k to get in touch with me (firstname dot lastname at ea-foundation.org).

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Ethical offsetting is antithetical to EA · 2019-09-20T12:50:16.742Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, I agree. It still seems to me that a) mainstream people probably matter somewhat less than specific groups, b) we should think about how mainstream people would like to be helped, and that may or may not be through offsetting.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Rethink Grants: an evaluation of Donational’s Corporate Ambassador Program · 2019-07-29T14:21:57.492Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I'd be interested in more elaboration on what kinds of grants you may evaluate in the future and more generally your place and comparative advantage in the EA grantmaking ecosystem. E.g., should people with ideas get in touch with you? How could you see yourself collaborating with other grantmakers? How did you decide to look into Donational?

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Rethink Grants: an evaluation of Donational’s Corporate Ambassador Program · 2019-07-29T14:16:00.569Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for putting this together, I think this is an exciting report and project.

I mostly agree with Habryka's points.

I have another minor point:

We think there is a small-to-moderate chance that CAP would generate several very impactful indirect benefits. For example, the additional donations going to animal-focused charities may reduce the risk of global pandemics caused by antibiotic resistance, and the program may help create a broader culture of effective giving at US workplaces.

I feel like it's odd to categorize the former example as "indirect benefits". I think a cost-effectiveness model should aim to capture the overall expected impact of all the charities by applying some "impact-adjusted money moved" metric. (If you're evaluating from a long-termist perspective, this would mean a long-termist perspective on all supported charities.) Otherwise, any project that involves some amount of leverage on various other organizations will always have high indirect benefits and harms, which makes the overall rating non-informative.

I agree that "help create a broader culture of effective giving at US workplaces" is a good example of an indirect benefit.

For instance, charities that reduce poverty and disease may cause economic growth, which is likely to increase the number of animals raised in factory farms and could contribute to climate change and existential risks.

Again, the same points seem to hold here; I think this should already be factored into the cost-effectiveness estimates.

(I realize my explanation of my view is a bit vague; I have a pretty strong intuition here and it would take me more time to think about it more and really explain it in depth.)

Comment by jonas-vollmer on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-10T16:32:52.110Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · EA · GW

It would be great if the AllPosts page displayed the first ~100 posts instead of just the first ~16. Every few months, I find myself spending several minutes repeatedly clicking the "Load More Days" button.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Announcing plans for a German Effective Altruism Network focused on Community Building · 2019-07-10T11:19:16.402Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
We would love to have a more diverse team and if you have interested people in mind, please direct them to the survey or our current email address

I've sent you a PM with some suggestions! I haven't been in touch with them lately, so please reach out to them directly.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Announcing plans for a German Effective Altruism Network focused on Community Building · 2019-07-04T15:20:05.909Z · score: 17 (14 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this detailed write-up! I appreciate that you're taking the initiative, especially considering that EAF has withdrawn from this area.

A few questions / inputs:

1. Have you considered trying to recruit a more demographically diverse team? To my knowledge, there are several women who would make excellent contributions and might be interested.

2. What are your plans for coordinating with the international EA community, especially CEA, and staying up to date with their inputs for community building strategy? My experience has been that important strategic update are often only propagated slowly to national/local groups, so having a very deliberate plan for doing that seems desirable (edit: you also write this in your post – sorry for the initial oversight). (As far as I know, there hasn't been an attempt to coordinate with EAF yet, which IMO could also be useful. Feel free to reach out if you haven't yet! – Edit: I stand corrected – there has actually been some coordination in the early stages, so thanks!)

3. I appreciate that you listed concrete metrics to evaluate your impact. Some of the metrics seem much more suitable to me than others – career changes, for example, seem really valuable and impactful, pledges taken seems useful, but money donated by students is unlikely to be significant and can be used as a way of getting people involved and engaged rather than as an outcome metric. Similarly, I'd recommend a stronger effort to track the quality of local groups and local group members rather than the quantities/numbers. These things have been elaborated on in several local group guides.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Life history classification · 2019-07-03T04:28:25.867Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the response!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-06-18T13:58:23.488Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Strong-upvoted the post, especially because it seems very nuanced.

For example, Wild Animal Suffering Research was previously a project of EAF, though I am not sure of the current relationship between EAF and Wild Animal Initiative, which has replaced WASR.

At this point, WAI is an indepedent US non-profit (see here).

Through Raising for Effective Giving, EAF continues to fundraise >$1m annually for animal charities.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Life history classification · 2019-06-18T13:50:35.449Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I still don't understand which claim you're making, exactly.

Are you saying:

1) "most animals don't have as many offspring as was previously stated (mistakenly, based on the r-/K-selection model), and therefore we can't be as sure that most animals live short and gruesome lives,"

or 2) "most animals don't have as short a life span as was previously stated (mistakenly, based on the r-/K-selection model), and therefore we can't be as sure that most animals live short and gruesome lives,"

or 3) something else?

I thought the claim about r-/K-selection was always about number of offspring and lifespan, rather than other aspects of the model (competition, body size, etc.), and your article doesn't seem to suggest that these are very different from what was previously argued.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on You Should Write a Forum Bio · 2019-06-18T13:30:26.591Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'd guess that people would write more detailed bios if the input field was larger.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Invertebrate Sentience: Summary of findings, Part 2 · 2019-06-18T13:27:09.824Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Excellent article!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Open Thread #44 · 2019-06-17T14:34:00.394Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Here's another example: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22SHOW%3A+A+framework+for+shaping+your+talent+for+direct+work%22

Comment by jonas-vollmer on A Framework for Thinking about the EA Labor Market · 2019-06-10T08:48:55.709Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'd add that I think there's something to be said in favor of a needs-based model in the early stages of a startup. For as long as you're heavily funding-constrained, it allows you to hire a greater number of people at a given cost. (This is essentially first-degree price discrimination; maximizing producer's surplus (≈ altruistic utility) can IMO be a good idea under some circumstances.) One could argue that even then, promising EA startups should (and will) be paid better, but I'm not sure this always works out in practice.

Other than that, I agree.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Invertebrate Sentience: A Useful Empirical Resource · 2019-06-10T08:30:33.114Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Excellent article!

Comment by jonas-vollmer on Ethical offsetting is antithetical to EA · 2019-06-08T16:00:57.731Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

One thing I like about offsetting is that it creates a more cooperative and inclusive EA community. I.e., animal advocates might be put off less by meat-eating EAs if they learn they offset their consumption, or poverty reducers might be less concerned about long-termists making policy recommendations that (perhaps as a side effect) slow down AI progress (and thereby the escape from global poverty) if they also support some poverty interventions (especially when doing so is particularly cheap for them). In general, there seem to be significant gains from cooperation, and given repeated interaction, it's fairly easy to actually move towards such outcomes, including by starting to cooperate unilaterally.

Of course, this is best achieved not through offsetting, but by thinking about who we will want to cooperate with and trying to help their values as cost-effectively as possible.

Comment by jonas-vollmer on There's Lots More To Do · 2019-06-08T14:12:56.722Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This piece does a good job at making this point: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/post/2015/06/cost-fighting-malaria-malnutrition-neglected-tropical-diseases-and-hivaids-and/