Matt_Sharp's Shortform 2021-05-22T23:50:08.501Z
UK government plan for animal welfare 2021-05-12T13:50:12.557Z
Meetup : Introduction to Effective Altruism 2014-10-02T23:37:37.669Z


Comment by Matt_Sharp on [Creative writing contest] Blue bird and black bird · 2021-09-18T10:14:24.486Z · EA · GW

Yeah, and I don't think the example of the sprout maps particularly well to catastrophic risks in itself. 

If the sprout grows into a giant oak tree that is literally right next to their current tree, it seems like they could easily just move to the giant oak tree. It sounds like the 'giant oak' would eventually be bigger than their current tree, meaning more space per bird, allowing for more birds. Oh and some birds eat acorns!

In this case I think black bird could be making things worse for future birds.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Concern about the EA London COVID protocol · 2021-09-06T23:01:00.826Z · EA · GW

Worth noting that this evening (6th September) there are reports that a COVID 'firebreak' could be imposed around the time of EA Global London, which could either force the event to be cancelled entirely, or lead to other restrictions being mandated (masks, social distancing, travel). Only tentative rumours so far, but it seems plausible.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Moral dilemma · 2021-09-04T22:27:39.401Z · EA · GW

Re your 3rd question, this may be a relevant starting point (and see the bibliography and related entries):

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Gifted $1 million. What to do? (Not hypothetical) · 2021-08-30T16:00:15.958Z · EA · GW

Hi Ben. I'm the Principal Analyst at SoGive. As well as offering advice, we may be willing to undertake bespoke analysis and research on specific charities or cause areas, depending on what questions you have. If this may be of value to you, please contact Sanjay 

I'd also endorse the other responses to your question. If you follow-up on all the suggested articles, and do some thinking about the various questions, then you will be better placed to understand whether you actually want or need SoGive's input.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Most research/advocacy charities are not scalable · 2021-08-08T17:04:33.771Z · EA · GW

Yeah, in the same thread Ben tweets:

4) There is plenty of funding, a fair number of interested junior employees, and also some ideas for megaprojects. The biggest bottleneck seems like leadership. Second would be more and better ideas.

But the EA Infrastructure Fund currently only has ~$65k available

If there is plenty of funding, is it just in the wrong place? Given Ben's latest post should we be encouraging donations to the EA Infrastructure Fund (and Long-Term Future Fund) rather than the Global Health and Development Fund, which currently has over $7m available?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on EA Superpower?! 😋 · 2021-07-16T20:00:31.476Z · EA · GW

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Climate change questions for Johannes Ackva and John Halstead · 2021-06-07T15:59:29.907Z · EA · GW

Thank you! This is helpful - I'm currently looking at CATF as part of my work with SoGive. The case CATF makes seems sensible and evidence-based, but given my relative lack of expertise in this area it's hard to know how they selective they are being in terms of the evidence they present. So it's useful to have an outside view.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Climate change questions for Johannes Ackva and John Halstead · 2021-06-04T11:40:04.327Z · EA · GW

Clean Air Task Force appear to take the position that, while renewables can dominate the production of electricity over the coming decades, we need some 'firm' clean energy to fill-in during weeks/months of low sun and wind. If we don't do this, they argue that we will need vastly more renewables, which will increase the cost and lead to issues around land use, and ultimately put at risk achieving zero carbon.

  1. What do Johannes and John think are the strongest arguments against this line of reasoning? Or put differently, what do they think are the strongest arguments that we could indeed rely on renewables?
  2. What are their thoughts on (yet-to-be-developed) long-duration storage technologies? How much do they think they can contribute?
  3. If we accept CATF's line of reasoning, which firm clean energy approaches seem best? i.e. considering technical challenges around development as well as broader risks (political, local opposition, safety and health issues), should we prioritise new nuclear, gas with carbon capture and storage...or something else?
Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T19:46:24.307Z · EA · GW

I thought it was a joke at first, too! Maybe they will inadvertently do some good in the world if their example helps recruit future EAs

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T19:43:57.096Z · EA · GW

Agree that it seems unlikely to replicate. It would be interesting to see if e.g. hospitals are now funding Make a Wish on the grounds of it saving them future costs

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Looking for more 'PlayPumps' like examples · 2021-05-28T13:35:29.050Z · EA · GW

Homeopaths Without Borders

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Matt_Sharp's Shortform · 2021-05-23T09:04:54.192Z · EA · GW

Yeah, he's not supposed to be a pleasant character, and is typically satirising some of the nastiness of the British press (both then, but still relevant even now). In another episode his interviewing technique caused Australia and Hong Kong to declare war on each other:

Comment by Matt_Sharp on Matt_Sharp's Shortform · 2021-05-22T23:50:08.669Z · EA · GW

Saturday night fun: ineffective fundraising

I've been rewatching an old 90s British satirical news programme, and came across this brutally brilliant sketch. It's almost proto-EA 

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T22:02:47.603Z · EA · GW

"Please stop cheery picking one or two points which are tangential to the actual argument"

Your argument is only based on anecdotal evidence. I'm happy to address many of your points, but if you're not actually willing to accept a significant amount of evidence as to the health benefits, I don't see why you expect us to accept your anecdotal evidence concerning jobs.

I'm happy to discuss the question of choice, though you seem to also oppose Give Directly, which precisely provides people with more choice.

I expect you to write an unnecessarily long response to this.

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T12:41:04.887Z · EA · GW

"But we don't have good evidence that bednets are in fact being used in these communities and are actually actively reducing malaria rates"

Yes we do. For example, this systematic review considers 22 randomised controlled trials which look at morbidity and mortality from malaria:

Note the difference in outcomes between insecticide-treated nets and untreated nets. Locally-produced nets are likely to be untreated, which aren't very effective.

This study finds that the impact of scaling-up supply of bednets across several countries is consistent with the findings of previous trials:

Are you happy to accept this evidence?

"Are some families using them, possibly. Is it significantly fewer than what AMF claims, I would argue yes."

What claims do AMF make about use?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-30T01:26:44.462Z · EA · GW

"It is a good question, why, if the data is flawed or dubious, should you believe that there is economic harm taking place? I would return to the point of choice. If foreigners do not have sufficient data to determine that a particular intervention would do more good than harm, I see no reason that they should have the right to override the will of the community."

We have good evidence and reason to believe that bednets reduce the incidence and burden of malaria. The big question is over the economic impact, not so much the health impact.

So it seems we can be confident we're improving health, but less confident of the impact on jobs. We have two scenarios:

(a)Without bednets/AMF: people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

(b)With bednets/AMF: fewer people will die and suffer from malaria and there is an uncertain impact on jobs.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest reducing malaria can boost economic growth and productivity:

But ok: let's consider your anecdotal evidence. Based on this, how many jobs do you think have been displaced by the existence of AMF within a given country? How many people do you realistically think need to be employed to produce the bednets needed by a country? Do you have any figures, estimates, or even guesses for the number of people employed as bednet manufacturers in any country?

Comment by Matt_Sharp on We Must Reassess What Makes a Charity Effective · 2016-12-27T23:48:24.620Z · EA · GW

If there is an absence of accurate data, why should we believe that supporting AMF destroys more jobs than it creates?

It sounds like it is (anecdotally) easy to point to some people who have been hurt by distribution of free bed nets (local producers), but if there are economic benefits from reducing malaria, then any job gains will likely be spread amongst many sectors. You won't be able to identify such job gains through anecdotal evidence.

On a side-note, there is a blog post on the AMF website from 5 years ago discussing this issue of where they buy their nets. It would be interesting to hear if anything has changed since then.

It's worth noting that AMF supplies long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets, which appear to be the most-effective type. If local producers are not producing this type, then the absence of AMF et al may lead to greater local jobs, but only in the production of bednets that aren't as good at reducing malaria.