Comment by kierangreig on Rodents farmed for pet snake food · 2019-02-21T20:57:35.598Z · score: 21 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this up Saulius! I think it is a really useful addition to the literature on EAA. You seem good at writing such content! :)

Some very quick thoughts that I had on this piece:

- My rough impression is that the “pre-slaughter mortality rate” of mice is relatively high. This matches my own experience when I had pet mice when I was younger and a quick google suggests that lab mice mortality seems high. E.g.
> We examined the survival rate of 539 litters of mice from two of the most commonly used laboratory strains (C57Bl/6 and Balb/c) bred under normal husbandry procedures, and found that mortality rate (that is whole litters lost) was at average 28,9%.

- My rough impression is some pet snakes feed on eggs or fish predominantly rather than mice. I am not sure how big a proportion does that though but it could be significant. E.g., I think the Gartner Snake is a fairly common pet breed and that it is common to feed them fish.

- I have a feeling that rodents are farmed in larger numbers for human consumption in some asian countries but a quick google didn’t really confirm or deny that.

- I wonder if more mice are fed to captive/farmed crocodiles, alligators, and caimans then to captive snakes. These other reptiles are are much bigger than the average snake and eat more often, and I think it is common to feed them mice. Skimming this and it seems possible that the number of these other reptiles farmed is in the hundreds of thousands.

-I wonder if mice are fed in quite large amounts to captive predatory birds. E.g., this suggests one of these birds eats x5 the amount of mice p/w than a python does.

- I thinks there’s a decent chance that if one were to dive deeper into the farming of invertebrates then this could lead to discoveries of tens of billions of additional farmed animals the movement largely currently neglects.

But in all I mainly think this is an important area that not many have thought about (including me). Thanks for highlighting it! :)

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

2019-01-24T19:11:10.757Z · score: 29 (14 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on Latest Research and Updates for December · 2019-01-04T19:07:01.152Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Great post! Thanks for doing these, I find them really valuable :)

> visualisation from GFI with over 100 organisations in the new protein space

I don't think that map is from GFI and I think that there's a slightly more recent version available here.

Comment by kierangreig on Sentience Institute 2017 Accomplishments, 2018 Plans, and Room for Funding · 2017-12-15T18:38:18.525Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

[Disclosure: I am a Research Associate at ACE.]

I am also excited about Sentience Institute’s work and look forward to seeing more :)

Small point:

We also produced Global Farmed & Factory Farmed Animals Estimates, suggesting that around 71% of farmed land animals and probably 96% of all farmed animals globally are factory farmed, and that probably 85% of the farmed animals alive at any time are fish.

The estimate of farmed fish numbers used in that estimate relies on Mood and Brooke (2012). The Mood and Brooke (2012) “estimate does not include the numbers of fish farmed for bait and it does not include fish mortalities arising in fish farms prior to harvest….” (p.2). Those exclusions seem significant. E.g.,

  • This article claims that “six billion bait minnows—predominantly golden shiners, fathead minnows, and goldfish—are raised in Arkansas each year and shipped throughout the country.” That would be nearly 19 minnows per capita, more than all the finfish farmed for food for U.S. consumption.

  • ACE estimates that for the four most consumed farmed finfish in the U.S. the mortality rate prior to slaughter is 18-60%, 5-35%, 10-38%, and 12-65% (as 90% subjective confidence intervals) for salmon, tilapia, pangasius and catfish respectively.

Including those quantities in the overall estimate seems like it will take the percentage estimate of the proportion of all farmed animals that are factory farmed much closer to 100%.

It is probably also worth noting that the Global Farmed & Factory Farmed Animals Estimates does not to include estimates for the number of farmed insects (e.g., silkworms and honey bees.) The sheer number of those insects could have a big impact on the percentage estimate of the proportion of all farmed animals that are factory farmed too!

Comment by kierangreig on Hi, I'm Luke Muehlhauser. AMA about Open Philanthropy's new report on consciousness and moral patienthood · 2017-06-28T18:48:21.450Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks. That feedback was useful :)

In future, I will submit individual questions as separate comments.

Comment by kierangreig on Hi, I'm Luke Muehlhauser. AMA about Open Philanthropy's new report on consciousness and moral patienthood · 2017-06-28T15:55:57.964Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

(1) To what degree did your beliefs about the consciousness of insects (if insects are too broad a category please just focus on the common fruit fly) change from completing this report and what were the main reasons for those beliefs changing? I would be particularly interested in an answer that covers the following three points: (i) the rough probability that you previously assigned to them being conscious, (ii) the rough probability that you now assign to them being conscious and (iii) the main reasons for the change in that probability.

(2) Do you assign a 0% probability to electrons being conscious?

(3) In section 5.1 you write

I’d like to get more feedback on this report from long-time “consciousness experts” of various kinds. (So far, the only long-time “consciousness expert” from which I’ve gotten extensive feedback is David Chalmers.)

David Chalmers seems like an interesting choice for the one long-time “consciousness expert” to receive extensive feedback from. Why was he the only one that you got extensive feedback from? And of the other consciousness experts that you would like to receive extensive feedback from, do you think that most of them would disagree with some part of the report in a similar way, and if you think they would, what would that disagreement or those disagreements be?

(4) A while ago Carl Shulman put out this document detailing research advice. Can you please do the same, or if you already have a document like this can you please point me to it? I would probably find it useful and I would guess some others would too.

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:49:31.948Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Three Key Issues I’ve Changed My Mind About

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:48:10.872Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · EA · GW

ACE on Charities they would like to see

Disclosure: Currently I am a research intern at ACE.

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:47:21.020Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Initial Grants to Support Corporate Cage-free Reforms

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:46:29.122Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Potential Risks from Advanced Artificial Intelligence: The Philanthropic Opportunity

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:45:32.175Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Some considerations for different ways to reduce x-risk

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:44:43.786Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Open Phil blog on Efforts to Improve the Accuracy of Judgments and Forecasts

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:43:42.346Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Why the Open Philanthropy Project Should Prioritize Wild Animal Suffering

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:43:00.080Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Open Phil write up for general support grant to MIRI

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:41:34.208Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · EA · GW

GiveWell's Charity Recommendations Require Taking a Controversial Stance on Population Ethics

Comment by kierangreig on The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread · 2016-11-09T16:40:48.645Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Agree with Joey. Seems like most of the benefits from this could come with small amounts of effort. Suggestions as replies.

Comment by kierangreig on Ask MIRI Anything (AMA) · 2016-10-12T16:29:43.748Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

1) What are the main points of disagreement MIRI has with Open Phil's technical advisors about the importance of Agent Foundations research for reducing risks from AI?

2) Is Sam Harris co-authoring a book with Eliezer on AI Safety? If yes, please provide further details.

3) How many hours do full time MIRI staff work in a usual working week?

4) What’s the biggest mistake MIRI made in the past year?

Comment by kierangreig on Altruistic Organizations Should Consider Counterfactuals When Hiring · 2016-09-11T19:39:41.104Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

There are two big reasons why hiring altruists still makes sense in many cases:

  1. You don’t have any alternative candidates worth hiring, or finding such a candidate would require a large investment.
  1. A particular altruistic candidate looks sufficiently better than the alternative candidate that the difference between candidates exceeds the difference between the altruistic candidate’s value at your organization and their value elsewhere.

Another consideration for hiring an altruistic candidate is that altruistic candidates are more open to lower salaries which then makes it more likely additional hires can be made.

Comment by kierangreig on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread – September 2016 · 2016-09-06T21:57:11.559Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Agree may be a bad idea because there’s certainly a faction on the left which dislikes him. Though there could be reasons for not caring much about what they think.

He is a public intellectual, one of the very few that thinks there’s a legitimate risk of extinction from AI in the near future, is quite utilitarian and thinks non-human animals have significant moral value. It could be argued that the good which comes from him promoting of those ideas would outweigh the negative consequences.

I don’t feel strongly about him being a speaker, but thought it was interesting point to discuss.

Comment by kierangreig on A technical note: Bayesianism is not logic, statistics is not rationality · 2016-09-06T19:00:08.022Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Further, integrating probability and logic is a huge unsolved problem! We actually have very little idea how to combine our two greatest successes in formalizing rationality.

I think MIRI reported making a big breakthrough on this.

Comment by kierangreig on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread – September 2016 · 2016-09-06T18:52:35.626Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Seems like Sam Harris would be pretty good speaker for future EA Globals.

Comment by kierangreig on Film as an EA outreach tool · 2016-08-28T19:48:15.162Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

IIRC in conversation at EA Global the maker of Speciesism said the total cost of that film was <$100,000 US. I believe he said he was in the process of making another animal advocacy documentary but I am not sure.

Probably also worh noting that:

  • There’s preliminary evidence (p.23-25) that documentaries could be one of the most effective diet change interventions.

  • I think Faunalytics is currently considering some type of evaluation of the effect of a documentary on diet.

  • There’s could already be an adequate supply of animal advocacy (excluding WAS) documentaries. It’s could be better to instead direct resources to promoting existing documentaries rather than funding additional documentaries.

Daniel Irving is currently making a documentary about EA. Little unsure of the specifics involved, but he has interviewed a number of EAs.

Comment by kierangreig on Scientific Charity Movement · 2016-07-25T19:48:50.477Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Wayne Hsiung of DxE convinced me...

"convinced me" link seems like it's not working.

Comment by kierangreig on (Draft & looking for feedback/review) How to vote like an EA in the Australian Federal election · 2016-06-27T20:51:17.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

I think it would be great if you did some research into animal welfare policies of the different parties (If they have any) and include that in the final piece.

Comment by kierangreig on Is effective altruism overlooking human happiness and mental health? I argue it is. · 2016-06-27T20:47:00.265Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michael,

You mention the Easterlin paradox a few times in these comments and in you draft paper. I briefly looked into the literature a while ago and I place less weight on the Easterlin paradox than you. Here’s a quick summary of what I found.

Easterlin claimed (p.113-118) that average satisfaction in a country doesn’t increase as a country grows wealthier. Since then there has been a back and forth in the literature but there is now a growing body of correlational evidence that strongly conflicts with Easterlin’s initial claim (for instance, p.3, p.4, p.10, p.12). It seems that the literature now suggests that the relationship between income and life satisfaction is one of diminishing returns but that an increase in income is correlated with an increase in life satisfaction. A nice heuristic to use is that a doubling in income increases subjective well-being by 0.34 standard deviations (p.7).

There has been only limited research into the effect of income on emotional well-being or the affective aspect of subjective well-being. The research there has been suggests that particularly at low levels of income an increase in income correlates with an increase in emotional well-being (p.3, p.8, p.8). A meta analysis on subjective well-being noted that there is a weaker association between income and emotional well-being than income and cognitive well-being (p.3).

Comment by kierangreig on The morality of having a meat-eating pet · 2016-06-06T19:45:59.804Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Here's another study from Rothgerber which could be relevant:

The present research examined pet ownership, current pet diet, and guilt associated with pet diet among a fairly large sample of non-meat-eaters (n = 515). It specifically focused on the conflict that pits feeding one’s pet an animal-based diet that may be perceived as best promoting their well-being with concerns over animal welfare and environmental degradation threatened by such diets, here labeled the vegetarian’s dilemma. Questionnaire responses indicated that ethically motivated meat abstainers were more likely to own pets and owned more of them than those motivated by health concerns or a combination of ethical and health concerns. Vegans and those resisting meat on ethical grounds were more likely to feed their pet a vegetarian diet and expressed the greatest concerns over feeding their pet an animal-based diet. For vegans and ethical meat abstainers, it is suggested that questions concerning what to feed their pet approaches a tragic tradeoff contrasting two sacred values: protecting the well-being of their pets and protecting the well-being of other animals and the environment. For meat abstainers motivated by health concerns, this constitutes a relatively easy moral problem because the primary concern for such individuals is the health of their pet with less or no regard for other ramifications of the decision, i.e., harming other animals or the environment.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666313001499

Comment by kierangreig on A Complete Quantitative Model for Cause Selection · 2016-05-20T17:34:11.131Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

I believe a plausible cumulative distribution function for the probability of extinction would have an asymptote—or else something like an asymptote, e.g., the probability of extinction between 100 and 1000 years from now is about the same as the probability of extinction between 1000 and 10,000 years from now, etc.

Using that example the probability of value existing could be roughly modelled as: p(n)= (1-r)^(log(n-1)) Where p is the probability of value existing n years into the future, r is the extinction probability between 10 and 100 years, log means the log base 10 and n is the number of years in the future. This relationship works for n>2.

I was curious about what the average of p(n) for that type of function would be over the next 10^11 years. Some available extinction estimates put r between 10% and 50%. I imagine there’s also similar variance within EAs’ r value. Using r= 10% the average of p(n) over 10^11 years seems like it would be 3 10^-1 . Using r= 50% the average of p(n) over 10^11 years would be ~7 10^-4. I used Wolfram Alpha’s integral calculator for these calculations and I am not that it’s performing the calculation correctly. These averages for p(n) could make the impact on far future EV significant.

I don’t have strong views on which CPONE model is best and the ones I mention here may be flawed. I softly lean towards including CPONE models because the posterior then more closely reflects the user’s view of reality, it’s not too difficult to include CPONE models, reasonable people may have different CPONE models, and the addition of a CPONE model may result in different cause prioritization conclusions.

I think multi-cellular life on earth makes for a better reference class. Multi-cellular life has taken several big hits over the years, but it's always bounced back.

Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that reference class before :)

When you're looking at interventions' effects on the far future, the numbers are so big that the prior does a lot of work—10^54 and 10^55 expected utility don't look that different after updating on the prior.

Excellent point :) I wasn’t fully taking that into consideration. Updates me towards thinking that CPONE models are less important than previously thought. I think reasonable people could have a CPONE model which causes more than one order of magnitude difference in EV and therefore cause a more significant difference after updating on the prior.

[edited originally I accidentally used the natural logarithm instead of log base 10 when calculating the average of the probability function over 10^11 years]

Comment by kierangreig on A Complete Quantitative Model for Cause Selection · 2016-05-19T22:30:53.158Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I think this quantitative model has some potential and it’s a great addition to the growing literature on cause selection. Thanks for taking the time Michael :)

One aspect of this model which I find problematic, and I feel is something that may be often overlooked when calculating the EV of the far future, is that there is some Cumulative Probability Of Non Existence (CPONE) that is currently not accounted for in the probabilities listed in the EV of the far future spreadsheet.

The CPONE relies on the following:

  • The extinction risk probability per year is always greater than 0 because extinction is possible in any year.

  • Extinction in any year means extinction in all future years. This property is what makes the probability of non-existence cumulative. By cumulative I mean it increases each additional year it is forecast into the future.

  • It follows that the probability of value existing x years in the future decreases as x increases.

I don’t have a great sense of what I feel the probability for extinction of humans or their descendants into the far future is but assigning zero probability to this outcome in the far future spreadsheet conflicts with my initial thoughts on this topic. For instance, available estimates seem to put the current annual probability of extinction at ~10^-4 and it seems that even much smaller annual extinction probabilities accumulate over large timescales to become significant.

These probabilities of extinction matter because future EV comes from the ∑(estimated value at future time point multiplied by the probability of value existing at that future time point) for all future time points. If we feel that, say, 10^10 years into the future there’s a 0.5 probability humans or their descendants are extinct then all estimated values after that time point have to be multiplied by <0.5 in order to find their EV.

Given this, I think there’s some chance that the inclusion of reasonable CPONE models into far future EV calculations can cause orders of magnitude difference relative to not including CPONE models.

Please note, I am not sure the points I made in this comment are correct. I haven’t thought about/ researched this much and as such there’s certainly a chance that I will update in future. It’s unclear to me what impact including CPONE on EV of the far future has, maybe one day I will attempt some calculations myself. I currently assign significant probability to it causing orders of magnitude difference and that makes me feel like CPONE should be attempted to be included in models like this. Another solution would be to make it clearer how the model is dealing with extinction probabilities into the far future and how this may conflict with some people’s views.

[Edited to master bullet point formatting]

Comment by kierangreig on Collaborative Truth-Seeking · 2016-05-09T19:13:03.884Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Here are additional techniques that can help you stay in collaborative truth-seeking mode after establishing trust:

Might be worth adding scout mindset to this list :)

Comment by kierangreig on An Initial Response to MFA's Online Ads Study · 2016-02-23T06:08:03.159Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Which threshold was that and how did you arrive at that conclusion? I don't really know one way or another yet, but upgrading or downgrading confidence seems premature without concrete numbers.

The threshold was a 10% difference in animal product consumption between the experiment and the control group. I arrived at this conclusion because I thought that there was some chance that these ads would cause the experiment group to report a 10% or more decrease in animal product consumption when compared to the control group. Since the study didn’t detect a difference at this level I assign a lower probability to a change of this magnitude being present than I did previously.

A predicted change of 10% or more might have been overly optimistic and I didn’t have a great sense of what I thought the effectiveness of online ads would be prior to this experiment. The ads were targeted at what was thought to be the most receptive demographic and those who click on these ads seem particularly predisposed to decreasing their animal product consumption. You’re right though, upgrading or downgrading confidence might be premature without concrete numbers.

I think there are some other reasons for why I seem to be updating in the negative direction for the effectiveness of online ads. These other reasons are:

  • I feel that that my lower bound for the effectiveness of online ads also moved in the negative direction. I previously assigned next to no probability that the ads caused an increase in animal product consumption. However the results seem to suggest that there may have been an increase in animal product consumption in the experiment group. So I have increased the probability that I put on that outcome.

  • ACE also seems to be updating in the negative direction.

  • I did a very rough and simple calculation in this spreadsheet using that the experiment group would have 1% of people reduce their animal product consumption by 10%, 1% of people convert to vegetarianism and .1% of people convert to veganism. I don’t put too much weight on this because I did do these calculations after I had already somewhat committed to negatively updating in this post which may have induced a bias towards producing negative results. Still, this suggests that something like my best guess was systematically too positive across the board.

On this last bullet point I wonder if there is a way that we can do a bayesian analysis of the data. If we were to set our prior and then inform it with the results from this experiment. It would be very interesting to see if this would cause us to update.

It seems unfair to deallocate money from online ads where studies are potentially inconclusive to areas where studies don't exist, unless you have strong pre-existing reasons to distinguish those interventions as higher potential.

I think we agree that if the study is inconclusive it shouldn’t cause us to change the allocation of resources to online ads. However, I think if the study causes updates in the negative direction or positive direction about the effectiveness of online ads this is reason to change the allocation of resources to online ads. I currently interpret the study as causing me to update in the negative direction for online ads. I think this means that other interventions appear relatively more effective in comparison to online advertising compared to my prior views of their effectiveness in comparison to online advertising. This seems to be reason to allocate some increased amount of resources to these other interventions and some decreased amount of resources to online ads.

Comment by kierangreig on An Initial Response to MFA's Online Ads Study · 2016-02-20T11:35:24.506Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Did you see the methodology?

Yeah- Looks like this is the relevant section:

“Later, Edge Research will complete “a final data report including (a) an outline of the research methodology and rationale, (b) high level findings and takeaways, and a (c) drill downs on specific areas and audiences.

It’s currently unclear what precise methodology Edge Research will use to analyze the data, but the expectation is that they would use a Chi-Square test to compare the food frequency questionnaires between both the treatment and control groups, looking both for meat reduction and elimination.”

Or are you wanting them to have committed to something in the analysis that they didn't talk about there?

Yeah I would have liked a more detailed pre-analysis plan. I think there was perhaps too much researcher freedom in the data analysis. This probably makes questionable data analysis techniques and inaccurate interpretation of results more likely. Some things that I think could have been useful to mention in a pre-analysis plan are:

  • Information about the data weighting process.

  • How incomplete survey responses will be treated.

  • How the responses of those who aren’t females aged 13-25 will be treated.

KG: “Would it be better to do pre treatment/intervention and post treatment/intervention data collection rather than just post treatment/intervention data collection for future studies?”

JK: “The idea is, have a third, smaller, group that went immediately to a survey? That's a good idea, and not that expensive per survey result. That helps you see the difference between things like whether the video makes people more likely to go veg vs reduces recidivism.”

The idea you suggest sounds promising but it’s not what I meant. With my initial question I intended to ask: Would it be better for future studies to have both a baseline collection of data prior to intervention and an endline collection of data sometime after the intervention rather than just an endline collection of data sometime after the intervention? I ask because my general impression is the standard practice for RCTs in the social sciences is to do pre and post intervention data collection and there’s likely good reasons for why that’s the case. I understand that there may be significant costs increases for pre and post intervention data collection relative to just post intervention data collection but I wonder if the possibly increased usefulness of a study’s results outweigh these increased costs.

The Edge analysis doesn't look useful to me, since they didn't do anything that unusual and there are lots of people in the community in a position to analyze the data. Additionally, my impression is that working with them added months of delay. So I certainly wouldn't recommend this in the future!

Sounds like we probably have pretty similar views about the limited value of Edge’s collaboration. I also probably wouldn’t recommend using them in future.

My guess is they just failed to bring enough people back in for follow up through ads.

That makes sense as a likely reason why the study was low powered. I wonder if alternative options could have been explored when/if it looked like this was the case to prevent the study from being so low powered. For instance, showing more people the initial ad in this circumstance could have led to more people completing the survey which would have likely have increased the power of the survey. Although it may have been difficult to do this for a variety of reasons.

You take the combined experimental and control groups and you figure out for each characteristic (gender, country, age range) what the distribution is. Then if you happened to get extra UK people in your control group compared to your experimental group, instead of concluding that you made people leave the UK you conclude that you happened to over-sample the UK in the control and under-sample in the experimental. To fix this, you assign a weight to every response based on for each demographic how over- or under-sampled it is. Then if you're, say, totalling up servings of pork, instead of straight adding them up you first multiply the number of servings each person said they had by their weight, and then add them up.

Thanks for explaining this- it’s much clearer to me now :)

An Initial Response to MFA's Online Ads Study

2016-02-19T16:43:25.689Z · score: 5 (5 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on Requesting feedback to shape research into possible conditional cash transfer charity · 2016-02-12T05:20:39.364Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Why would CCTs have a larger counterfactual impact than other interventions? This seems like an important point to make explicit, both for you and for everybody else.

Without going too in depth some of the reasons we think this are:

  • The field is relatively uncrowded.

  • A conditional cash transfer charity has relatively high potential scalability.

  • There appear to be a number of relatively evidence-based and cost-effective conditions that a conditional cash transfer charity could base itself upon.

  • A conditional cash transfer charity seems like it would be able to update on new information at a faster rate and to a greater extent than charities based on most other intervention areas.

This wasn’t included in the original post was because we felt a shorter post would be able to generate useful feedback.

My gut says that administering the costs & monitoring the behavior you're promoting in a CCT program (depending on what that is) may cost more than simply giving out vaccines, vitamin-A supplements, etc.

Your gut could be right :). My understanding is that in some areas the demand for some health interventions may be lagging behind the supply of those health interventions. For instance, this article and this article suggest major reasons for partial or no immunization in India are demand side. In those circumstances it’s plausible that conditional cash transfers could be a very cost-effective intervention and perhaps more cost-effective than supplying vaccines or micronutrients.

It also seems like there are more ways to mess up a CCT intervention than a simple direct service intervention.”

This could be true. At the moment we aren’t highly confident in our understanding of the relative logistical difficulty of different interventions. A consideration like this may make us update away from conditional cash transfers in future.

“HOWEVER, all of this is bracketed with a huge disclaimer: just go talk to an expert who knows more.”

Okay will do :)

I'd add "graduating additional grades" to the list of potential conditions.”

Sure. That’s something we will consider although we are unsure what the returns to schooling in low income countries are. For instance, the 2009 GiveWell Developing-world education (in-depth review) observes that there is little reliable information regarding the true relationship between schooling and later-life outcomes such as income.

Comment by kierangreig on Requesting feedback to shape research into possible conditional cash transfer charity · 2016-02-11T05:49:57.292Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Not at the moment. We’re currently near the beginning of a shallow review of conditional cash transfers and we haven’t wrote our research up in a form that people can comment on because we have found this process to be really time consuming. We also feel that some of the best feedback may be gathered early on in the research process by less time consuming posts like this as well as direct conversations/ email exchanges with specialists.

Ideally, in the future we will have important aspects of research written up in a form that people can comment on but at this stage it isn’t clear if that will include research on conditional cash transfers.

Requesting feedback to shape research into possible conditional cash transfer charity

2016-02-10T06:32:51.941Z · score: 8 (8 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on Celebrating All Who Are in Effective Altruism · 2016-01-24T13:13:04.711Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

[Softcore EAs] identify as EAs and donate money and time to effective charities, but otherwise lead regular lives, as opposed to devoting the brunt of their resources to advance human flourishing as do hardcore EAs.

Hardcore EAs can also devote the brunt of their resources to advancing the flourishing of all sentient animals :)

Comment by kierangreig on Giving What We Can needs your help this Christmas! · 2015-12-15T05:23:32.178Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Ben,

Thanks for responding :)

Even if you only focus on donations that have already been made, and ignore pledges, GWWC has a high positive multiplier. Moreover, completely ignoring the future value of pledges would be really pessimistic.

I totally agree and think that a really interesting question is what the future value of pledges should be. I think may also be worth mentioning that if we focus on donations that have already been made, my understanding is GWWC’s impact is an order of magnitude less than their current realistic impact estimate. I am not sure how exactly we should weigh that information.

With CS you should value the future value of legacy commitments, even though they will take 20-60 years (though you'd need to apply discounting). (Presumably you do give them positive value even though they're a long way in the future? :))

At CS we sure do value the future value of legacy commitments :). We haven’t yet determined exactly how we will calculate their expected value.

Comment by kierangreig on Giving What We Can needs your help this Christmas! · 2015-12-11T02:57:20.191Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks again for answering these questions Michelle and Sam :)

Comment by kierangreig on Giving What We Can needs your help this Christmas! · 2015-12-10T03:52:19.226Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michelle and Sam,

Thanks so much for providing such detailed answers to my questions :). I think that I am getting a much better idea now. Thanks Sam for linking me to the comments of GWWC’s fundraising prospectus- the discussions there cover most of my questions. If it’s not too much to ask I would really like it if you answered a few more questions that I have.

Just to follow up on Sam’s answer to my first and second questions.

To help me understand how I should feel about the ratio GWWC uses for actual donations to pledged donations could you please outline what percentage of members record enough information in My Giving for their information to be used in calculating the ratio of actual donations to pledged donations that was used in GWWC’s most recent realistic impact estimate?

To clarify, are you talking about the impact of changes to members' income over time, or asking whether we're accounting for potential changes to donation patterns over time which affect the counterfactual ratio?”

I was talking about accounting for potential changes to donation patterns over time which affect the counterfactual ratio- sorry that wasn’t clear :). I certainly agree that it’s really hard to know how accurate people’s counterfactual estimates are. I wonder what the best way of doing estimates for counterfactuals is. Do you guys think that it might be more accurate to ask people each year about their counterfactual estimates rather than asking people once and then using that number for the next 40 years to calculate the counterfactual impact of GWWC?

One last question. GWWC seems to be the only EA fundraising organization I know of which calculates its potential impact for 40 years into the future. Do you guys think that other EA fundraising organizations like Charity Science and Raising for Effective Giving should attempt to do this type of realistic impact calculation for 40 years into the future so that donors who are trying to decide between these organizations may be able to more accurately compare the different organizations?

On a sidenote, I think that up and down votes of comments provide a really valuable source of feedback. As a result I am interested if people have ideas about the possible reasoning behind the down vote or down votes of my previous comment so that I can hopefully improve my future comments :).

Comment by kierangreig on Giving What We Can needs your help this Christmas! · 2015-12-09T03:10:59.568Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Michelle,

Thank you so much for answering questions like this. I think it’s really worthwhile :). When you have a free moment it would be great if you could answer these questions. Unlike Peter I have only 6 questions:

1.) Should GWWC’s realistic impact estimate include the % of people each year who fulfill their pledge? For instance, the summary of the 2014 Giving Review states that 20-55% of people who pledged from 2009-2013 didn’t fulfill their pledge in 2014.

2.) On what information is the ratio of actual donations to pledged donations used in GWWC’s most recent realistic impact estimate based upon?

3.) Is the current technique that GWWC uses to calculate counterfactuals more likely to overestimate or underestimate GWWC’s impact given that the counterfactual percentage of all future donations is estimated when people initially take the pledge rather than when they make their donations in subsequent years?

4.) In Nick Beckstead’s 2013 quantitative performance review of GWWC he noted:

it is very unclear to what extent the new members are a result of the activities of GWWC’s staff, rather than organic growth.

What is your response to this?

5.) Around 6 months ago GWWC’s realistic impact estimate was a ratio of 60:1 and it’s now 104:1. Why has this number changed and do you expect it to change that much in another 6 months?

6.) It seems that GWWC’s comparative advantage is in generating and maintaining pledges for effective charities. Given that there is a large overlap between GWWC’s and GiveWell’s charity recommendations and GiveWell being in a better position to continue charity evaluations, why is it worth GWWC continuing charity evaluations?

Comment by kierangreig on Why EAs should do Charity Science’s Christmas Fundraiser · 2015-12-01T20:42:36.632Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Great post Kieran!

Thanks Michael :)

Any additional tips for people who ask for charitable donations several times throughout the year?

To avoid donor fatigue and possibly damaging relationships whilst still optimizing for donations:

  • Limit the number of asks you do per year to only those with the highest expected value.

  • Ensure that you have many interactions with individuals that don’t involve an ask for each interaction you have that does involve an ask.

  • Try to discuss effective charity in contexts where it’s clear you’re not asking for a particular donation to a fundraiser, but just happy to answer any questions they might have, and help them choose the charity they want to support.

  • Try to personalize asks as much as possible and ask in a non-confrontational manner.

  • Try not to sound repetitive.

  • Personally thank everyone who donates and do it relatively quickly after they donate.

Why EAs should do Charity Science’s Christmas Fundraiser

2015-11-30T22:39:56.414Z · score: 12 (12 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on Why Charity Entrepreneurship? · 2015-11-07T05:18:48.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I think this is somewhat covered here:

The reasoning outlined in this post forms a significant part of why some of the Charity Science staff and board members will pursue founding an evidence-based, cost-effective charity, aiming for it to become GiveWell recommended.

To answer your questions:

Is this post an announcement of Charity Science's (CS) intention to explore the option of direct charity entrepreneurship?

No, Charity Science will continue with it’s usual activities.

Are some CS staff or board members already intending to found new charities, and this post serves as the rationale? Or, is this post just a general essay explaining why anyone outside of CS might also consider founding a new effective charity, if they are also well suited to found such a charity?

This post is a combination of these two things.

Why Charity Entrepreneurship?

2015-10-29T21:53:51.771Z · score: 30 (25 votes)

What Makes the New Atheists So Charitable?

2015-10-28T17:01:21.077Z · score: 4 (4 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on EA Open Thread: October · 2015-10-15T23:42:47.537Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Hey Dale,

The system only works for GiveWell/Charity Science recommended charities.

Comment by kierangreig on EA Open Thread: October · 2015-10-12T19:35:49.362Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Would you like to leave money in your will to GiveWell’s top rated charities at the time of your passing? If so, Charity Science will you help you write it for free.

To make it as easy as possible for you, we at Charity Science have made a simple form that takes as little as 5 minutes to complete. After that you come out with a ready made will. And don’t worry if you’re not sure what to put in it; it’s easy to change and you can always come back to it later. So give it a shot here. The default option should be to set it up just in case something terrible does happen, that way you always have something ready.

A few more reasons to take the time to write a will include:

  • Reducing the inheritance tax incurred - leaving money to charity being an excellent way to do so.

  • Making provisions for your children if you have any, for example by choosing who will take care of them and setting aside funds for this.

  • Making any other necessary provisions, such as for your pets, or your business, or other responsibilities that you have.

  • Specifying what sort of funeral you would like, which will spare your family from having to make the decision.

  • Naming your executors for your will (family members are a standard choice).

But most of all it’s because you have the incredible opportunity to do an epic amount of good.

You can set it up here. After that consider talking to your friends, parents and grandparents to see if they would be interested in doing the same. It’s really important you mention it because the average amount left to charities in a will is in the thousands of dollars so a few words may go a very long way.

If this doesn’t appeal to you then there are other things that you could do. You can always run a fundraiser for Christmas, your Birthday or any event you like.

We’ll write you a will for free if you leave a gift to GiveWell’s top charities

2015-09-23T23:25:38.783Z · score: 18 (18 votes)
Comment by kierangreig on Some Writings on Cause Selection · 2015-09-14T22:26:49.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Michael. This was interesting.

Comment by kierangreig on My Cause Selection: Denis Drescher · 2015-09-06T18:52:34.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I don’t have access to Norwood’s Compassion, By the Pound,

You can download a copy here. :)

Comment by kierangreig on How important is marginal earning to give? · 2015-06-21T06:06:09.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Nick Cooney, who works for Animal Charity Evaluators, has written a book about effective altruism this year, in addition to the one Peter Singer has written, and recommend each other's books to the public.

Nick Cooney works for MFA. Although MFA is one of ACE's top ranked charities.

Comment by kierangreig on Dissociation for Altruists · 2015-05-16T21:52:27.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Nice piece! I have used techniques similar to this but personally haven't used them for a while.

Also, the use of these techniques may contribute to a view that EA's are "cold and clinical." This FB thread on that accusation is relevant.

Comment by kierangreig on Request for Feedback: Researching global poverty interventions with the intention of founding a charity. · 2015-05-07T23:08:03.817Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think that many EA's could be interested in volunteering on this type of project especially in step 1 & 2. Although coordinating a large amount of volunteers is likely to be quite time consuming.

Comment by kierangreig on March Open Thread · 2015-03-07T04:41:13.207Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi all, Not sure if this has been posted somewhere but basically, it's FREE money for charity donations. the animals and it will only take two minutes. Follow these seven easy steps and you're done:

  1. Visit www.pledgeling.com and use the “Sign Up” button (in the purple bar at the top) to create an account.

  2. Fill in your name and email address, and create a password. No credit card required!

  3. Click the verification link you will receive in an email and have $5 automatically added to your account.

  4. Find your charity by using the search bar.

  5. Click the “Donate” button and confirm that you would like to pass the $5 along to that charity.

  6. Use the social media share buttons to ask your friends and family members to help as well.

  7. Congratulate yourself on making a $5 donation in two minutes!

Comment by kierangreig on February Open Thread · 2015-02-20T09:43:01.062Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Ryan,

You make a good point about how philosophy will most likely be of limited use in a number of professional domains. I do think there is a distinction though between what is useful in these professional domains and what is useful for a career that focuses on doing the most good. In the latter I think that a degree in philosophy would be valuable, I mean at heart this quest is deeply philosophical. Further, my impression is that a number of significant members of the effective altruism movement have strong backgrounds in philosophy and I could see myself in a career within academia relating to this field. Although because I also enjoy philosophy I may be overestimating its importance so that I can justify formally studying it.

Yeah computer science and economics are certainly areas that I rank highly. These areas obviously give possibilities of high earning careers, but I don’t see myself as being satisfied with the earning to give approach. I would be more interested because in others ways they would provide a lot of career capital both in terms of getting towards my current vision while also keeping my options open. I would say presently I would be more inclined to computer science because I think that there would be more freedom there. Would you agree?

Thanks for your views about starting a non-profit, they were both helpful and informative. Do you have a view on the best degree to prepare for starting a non-profit? Or am I coming at this situation from the wrong angle? I think that the connections made at a university would be very helpful for starting a non-profit especially if this is combined with interning at non-profits over summer breaks.

I think that I recognise the broader point that you are making with your data science example (not trying to sound smug, I struggle with tone via this format) and I agree that I am still in the early stages of redirecting my career and could perhaps benefit from a more rigorous approach. As for data science itself, it would provide good potential earning possibilities and skills that will be very useful within a number of different fields because the sector of data will only expand. However, I think that the role impact of a data scientist is relatively low, that it would be too confining, would not really help me achieve my vision, has a quite high cost associated with its exploration and that therefore my overall job satisfaction would be limited.

Thankyou again Ryan. This has been very helpful to me. What are your thoughts?

Comment by kierangreig on February Open Thread · 2015-02-17T23:17:10.939Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Ryan, Grateful for your insight.

At the moment I would say that in descending order that I am most interested in reducing animal suffering, alleviating global poverty, AI research and then Existential risk. Although I do find it hard to rank them so this order may change in the future. I agree with you that only the best of the best philosophers are high impact, but I still feel as though a solid grounding in philosophical thought will be very helpful to me making an impact no matter what field I go into.

To answer a few of your questions, I would say that I am not that interested in running for an elected representative position currently. A think tank would be more interesting but I don’t think it would be an excellent personal fit. If I did complete a PhD program in education I would try to become an academic researcher. Regarding the arts/business double degree I would be most interested in starting my own charity or non-profit. Thankyou for the link to 80,000 hours site. I am currently getting career coaching from them and I would highly recommend this process to anyone who is unsure of their career path.

As for the extended family jobs, I love my family but I think that they are most helpful in determining what not to do. The best description I can think of would be in David Graeber's "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit jobs." Tried to link to this article but couldn't find a way...

Please let me know your thoughts.

Comment by kierangreig on February Open Thread · 2015-02-17T10:14:05.552Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Firstly, thanks for this offer Ryan. I greatly appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my comment and proffer their insights. I frequently read this forum but this is my debut post. Essentially, I am approaching a kind of career cross road and am unsure of which direction I should travel.

I have completed a science degree and majored in applied mathematics- I averaged a high credit because of a lack of effort. I believe this average prevents me from entry into relevant PhD studies with most universities. In roughly 2-3 months I will have completed a Master’s in Teaching. At the same time as doing the Master’s course I have also just commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree and would like to focus my studies there mainly on philosophy and politics.

By the second half of this year, when I have graduated from the Master’s in Teaching I feel like my main options to decide from are: (1) Maths and science teaching whilst studying philosophy and politics part time. (2) Going 100% into studying philosophy and politics. (3) Going into a PhD program relating to education.

I can certainly see myself doing any of these.

However, during 2014 I became obsessed with philosophy particularly practical ethics. The result of this, is that I strongly feel that my career should be doing work that makes a large contribution to increasing good or work that makes a large contribution to reducing evil. Ideally both. I currently don’t think these options satisfy this career path as much as they could.

At the moment I feel that the best way to achieve such a career, would be to have a career dominated by the question ‘how to do the most good?’ And that I should therefore begin work towards a career in effective altruism. Yet, I am not sure where I could do be of the most help and even what would be the best preparation. I can see myself being an advocate of effective altruism, completing charity evaluation research, starting a non-profit… honestly I am open to most things.

As such I feel like the option that I will take is (4) Completing some degree to best prepare me for this career. For instance, An Arts/Business double degree focusing mainly on Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

I think that my main question is what degree should I take in order to achieve this career? But I would also be more than interested to hear any opinions on my current situation as well, particularly whether I have missed out on possible options and which of the first 3 options would be the best to go with.

Thank you again to those who respond.

Kieran