Posts

New Report Claiming Understatement of Existential Climate Risk 2019-06-09T16:47:46.592Z · score: 16 (17 votes)
How to Make Short EA Videos? 2019-05-22T09:15:39.457Z · score: 17 (8 votes)
How to Get the Maximum Value Out of Effective Altruism Conferences 2019-04-24T07:57:40.440Z · score: 53 (32 votes)
Bjørn Lomborg About Prioritization on Jordan Peterson's Podcast 2019-03-21T13:05:04.267Z · score: 13 (5 votes)
What Are Some Disagreements in the Area of Animal Welfare? 2019-03-11T14:12:16.332Z · score: 8 (4 votes)
What Courses Might Be Most Useful for EAs? 2019-02-02T09:04:40.640Z · score: 13 (6 votes)
Community Builders, Watch EAG Videos with Your Members 2018-11-10T16:18:31.082Z · score: 25 (18 votes)
Reading group guide for EA groups 2018-03-12T18:59:08.793Z · score: 8 (8 votes)

Comments

Comment by risto_uuk on Keeping everyone motivated: a case for effective careers outside of the highest impact EA organizations · 2019-08-23T14:01:53.022Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It actually might be more complicated than what you say here, alexherwix. If a research analyst role at the Open Philanthropy Project receives 800+ job applications, then you might reasonably think that it's better for you to continue building a local community even if you were a great candidate for that option.

In addition, for the reasons that you mention, every possible local community builder might be constantly looking for new job options in the EA community making someone who doesn't do that a highly promising candidate. Furthermore, being a community builder is actually a surprisingly difficult job.

Another consideration is that preparation and training for a specific job at an EA organization and gaining skills leading a local group might be quite different. It might suit you more to do tasks related to community building in a local context.

Comment by risto_uuk on Keeping everyone motivated: a case for effective careers outside of the highest impact EA organizations · 2019-08-23T13:56:49.687Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This is slightly relevant, in a recent 80,000 Hours' blog post they suggest the following for people applying for EA jobs:

We generally encourage people to take an optimistic attitude to their job search and apply for roles they don’t expect to get. Four reasons for this are that, i) the upside of getting hired is typically many times larger than the cost of a job application process itself, ii) many people systematically underestimate themselves, iii) there’s a lot of randomness in these processes, which gives you a chance even if you’re not truly the top candidate, and iv) the best way to get good at job applications is to go through a lot of them.
Comment by risto_uuk on Strategy-development for EA groups: Lessons learned from EA Denmark · 2019-08-19T19:37:24.179Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You can decide it by asking who wants to be the leader of a particular activity (the way that your group did) as well as inquire what resources and capital people have available to successfully lead that activity. Sometimes people have the motivation to lead activities, but they don't actually have the necessary resources to do it successfully yet.

Agreed on the failure-mode thinking. I guess if you only take the best-case scenario into consideration, then you forget to assess the risks involved. On the other hand, I'm not sure it should be included in this initial brainstorming session or later when a possible activity is selected as a top candidate.

Comment by risto_uuk on Strategy-development for EA groups: Lessons learned from EA Denmark · 2019-08-17T19:06:38.584Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

So here are some of the main takeaways from this for me:

  • Involve the main volunteers/group members in the strategy development process.
  • Use the strategy template made available by CEA.
  • Share EA Denmark's list of project ideas with other community builders.

We recently had a several-hour strategy meeting. I can attest to that when community members participate in the task of developing a strategy they understand better what's going on and they feel more motivated as they are actually responsible for the vision now. And they can come up with wonderful ideas that you hadn't thought of!

We have also used a simple three-dimension thinking tool for deciding what projects/activities to focus on. Every participant scores activities on some scale according to how many resources the activity requires, what's the best outcome that it can result in, and how high is the personal fit of the leader for a particular activity.




Comment by risto_uuk on Latest EA Updates for July 2019 · 2019-07-29T05:58:29.795Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Great overview as always. I think Open Philanthropy Project's Funding for Study and Training Related to AI Policy Careers should be up here as well:

This program aims to provide flexible support for individuals who want to pursue or explore careers in AI policy1 (in industry, government, think tanks, or academia) for the purpose of positively impacting eventual societal outcomes from “transformative AI,” by which we mean potential future AI that precipitates a transition at least as significant as the industrial revolution ...
Comment by risto_uuk on How Europe might matter for AI governance · 2019-07-14T18:08:13.378Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I think this accusation is uncalled for. There is more statistics in the report and I linked to it, including things like citation impact. But a comprehensive overview of European AI research is, of course, very welcome.

Comment by risto_uuk on How Europe might matter for AI governance · 2019-07-13T06:38:12.218Z · score: 7 (12 votes) · EA · GW

For what it's worth, according to Artificial Intelligence Index published in 2018:

Europe has consistently been the largest publisher of AI papers — 28% of AI papers on Scopus in 2017 originated in Europe. Meanwhile, the number of papers published in China increased 150% between 2007 and 2017. This is despite the spike and drop in Chinese papers around 2008.

(I'd post the graphs here, but I don't think images can be inserted into comments.)

Comment by risto_uuk on Advice for an Undergrad · 2019-07-03T06:09:42.105Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Here's an article by 80,000 Hours literally titled "Advice for undergraduates". It does not answer all of your questions, but hopefully it helps a little bit.

Comment by risto_uuk on Effective Altruism is an Ideology, not (just) a Question · 2019-06-29T10:25:57.095Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · EA · GW

William MacAskill says the following in a chapter in The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy:

As defined by the leaders of the movement, effective altruism is the use of evidence and reason to work out how to benefit others as much as possible and the taking action on that basis. So defined, effective altruism is a project rather than a set of normative commitments. It is both a research project—to figure out how to do the most good—and a practical project, of implementing the best guesses we have about how to do the most good.

But then he continues to highlight various normative commitments, which indicate that it is, in addition to being a question, an ideology:

The project is: • Maximizing. The point of the project is to try to do as much good as possible. • Science-aligned. The best means to figuring out how to do the most good is the scientific method, broadly construed to include reliance on both empirical observation and careful rigorous argument or theoretical models. • Tentatively welfarist. As a tentative hypothesis or a first approximation, goodness is about improving the welfare of individuals. • Impartial. Everyone’s welfare is to count equally.
Comment by risto_uuk on [Link] Ideas on how to improve scientific research · 2019-06-21T08:09:44.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Open Philanthropy Project's link doesn't work.

Comment by risto_uuk on Effective Altruism London Landscape in 2019 · 2019-05-18T05:45:02.764Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this! This is a useful overview of active groups for me, because I intend to move to London in September to study at LSE and now need to think about ways to engage with the community there.

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Still Needs an Updated and Representative Introductory Guidebook · 2019-05-12T14:32:03.579Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

In addition, what do you think should be updated in Doing Good Better?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Still Needs an Updated and Representative Introductory Guidebook · 2019-05-12T14:30:57.969Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Your link referring to bdixon and climate change leads to Joey's post "Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it". Can you share the post that discusses how Doing Good Better appears to underrate the degree of warming of climate change?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Research Organizations Should Post Jobs on PhilJobs.org · 2019-05-03T20:45:42.189Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I found the part about philosophers being well-suited to many aspects of EA research especially interesting. You said this:

Contrary to popular stereotypes, philosophers often excel at quantitative thinking. Many philosophy PhDs have an undergraduate background in math or science. For subfields of philosophy like formal epistemology, population ethics, experimental philosophy, decision theory, philosophy of science, and, of course, logic, a strong command of quantitative skills is essential. Even beyond these subfields, quantitative acumen is prized. In analytic philosophy in particular, papers with a lot of math and formalism are more likely to be taken seriously than comparable papers explained informally.

Do you have any data about philosophy PhDs often having an undergraduate background in math or science? I, for example, have chosen a lot of courses in mathematical economics, data analysis, and social science research methodology to support my philosophy degree, but this is very uncommon in my experience. However, this depends a lot on the region and surely USA and UK are different than continental Europe on this matter.

Comment by risto_uuk on How to Get the Maximum Value Out of Effective Altruism Conferences · 2019-04-25T04:37:21.458Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Can you expand on 3a and 3b? I guess 3b justifies 3a, but is that all? Watching and discussing a video with your local group appears to me to be more valuable than asking one question at a talk, but I may be missing some important benefits that you are aware. I would also add that these are not mutually exclusive. I have heard that some people struggle to set time to watch talks on their own, that is also something to consider.

Comment by risto_uuk on Long-Term Future Fund: April 2019 grant recommendations · 2019-04-08T08:56:52.388Z · score: 39 (21 votes) · EA · GW

You received almost 100 applications as far as I'm aware, but were able to fund only 23 of them. Some other projects were promising according to you, but you didn't have time to vet them all. What other reasons did you have for rejecting applications?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA London Community Building Lessons Learnt - 2018 · 2019-03-19T18:44:18.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW
Realising that attendance and events are just part of a community, and potentially not the most important part

Agreed. Research and study groups, for example, seem to be a lot more useful than events. First and foremost, participants commit to longer term attendance in advance so you don't need to try to persuade them to participate every time. I dislike having to personally invite people to come to events. I assume that they don't care about EA enough if they don't come at a mere FB invitation.

Regarding attendance, we just recently organized a public AI safety event which was attended by roughly 80 people. When an ex community-builder heard that, he congratulated us on that as it sounded big success to him. Of course, it was nice to have that many people come to the event but compared to some more in-depth projects we had going on I didn't feel as accomplished.

That said, how do you get feedback from your community with respect to online-based content? Your newsletter, for example, could easily be much more valuable than events and even other in-person activities, but as far as I'm aware very few people actually communicate how much value they receive to authors and content creators. For instance, you probably didn't know this but I find useful content for EA Estonia's newsletter every month from EA London's newsletter.

Comment by risto_uuk on The case for building expertise to work on US AI policy, and how to do it · 2019-02-07T06:23:15.128Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

If you're a thoughtful American interested in developing expertise and technical abilities in the domain of AI policy, then this may be one of your highest impact options, particularly if you have been to or can get into a top grad school in law, policy, international relations or machine learning. (If you’re not American, working on AI policy may also be a good option, but some of the best long-term positions in the US won’t be open to you.)

What do you think about similar type of work within the European Union? Could it potentially be a high-impact career path for those who are not Americans?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Boston 2018 Year in Review · 2019-02-06T06:28:32.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This post increased my interest in visiting the Boston area. Unfortunately, I cannot come to the EAGx this year, but perhaps another time. I'm quite surprised that you'd have the issue of brain drain as the area seems to be a very impressive place with top universities, lots of people interested in EA, and even a few great EA-aligned organizations. Do you have other ideas besides a full-time paid community builder to improve that?

Comment by risto_uuk on You Should Write a Forum Bio · 2019-02-01T06:55:17.113Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Nice idea. I wrote my bio in third-person like you did even though on my website I have it in first-person: https://ristouuk.com. Usually, I feel weird about the third-person narrative when I'm the one who is talking about me, but it feels right for the forum.

Comment by risto_uuk on Cost-Effectiveness of Aging Research · 2019-01-31T12:09:38.995Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW
As an application of this model, the Global Priorities Project estimates that research into the neglected tropical diseases with the highest global DALY burden (diarrheal diseases) could be 6x more cost-effective, in terms of DALYs per dollar, than the 80,000 Hours recommended top charities.

What are 80,000 Hours' recommended top charities? I think you mean some other organization here.

Comment by risto_uuk on What has Effective Altruism actually done? · 2019-01-19T20:13:32.379Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · EA · GW

It would be nice if someone updated it regularly and had a note about when it was last updated on the top of the page. For example, according to Julia Wise there were 3855 Giving What We Can members at the beginning of 2019, whereas the number here is outdated with 1800+ members.

Comment by risto_uuk on A guide to effective altruism fellowships · 2019-01-19T19:44:38.911Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Let’s face it. Long-termism is not very intuitively compelling to most people when they first hear of it. Not only do you have to think in very consequentialist terms, you also have to be extremely committed to acting and prioritizing on the basis of fairly abstract philosophical arguments. In my view, that’s just not very appealing - sometimes even off-putting - if you’ve never even thought in terms of cost-effectiveness or total-view consequentialism before.

I agree. Because of this, the 2nd edition of the EA handbook doesn't seem appealing at all as an EA introduction. I don't want to hijack this thread, but along these lines, what do you think about the following content as an introduction to effective altruism?:

Week 1:

  • MacAskill's intro: “How can you do the most good?” (14 pages)
  • MacAskill's 1st chapter: “Just how much can you achieve?” (11 pages)
  • Addition: “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/ROBERT49/teaching/mm/articles/Singer_1972Famine.pdf (15 pages)

Week 2:

  • MacAskill's 2nd chapter: “How many people benefit, and by how much?” (14 pages)
  • MacAskill's 3rd chapter: “Is this the most effective thing you can do?” (12 pages)
  • Addition: “How can we do the most good for the world”: https://www.ted.com/talks/will_macaskill_how_can_we_do_the_most_good_for_the_world (12 min)

Week 3:

  • MacAskill's 4th chapter: “Is this area neglected?” (12 pages)
  • MacAskill's 5th chapter: “What would have happened otherwise?” (12 pages)
  • Addition: “Prospecting for Gold”: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/prospecting-for-gold-owen-cotton-barratt/

Week 4:

  • MacAskill's 6th chapter: “What are the chances of success and how good would success be?” (21 pages)
  • Addition: Introductions to expected value theory: https://concepts.effectivealtruism.org/concepts/expected-value-theory/

Week 5:

  • MacAskill's 7th chapter: “What charities make the most difference?” (24 pages)
  • Addition: Read one review from here: https://animalcharityevaluators.org/charity-reviews/all-charity-reviews/ and skim GiveWell's methodology: https://www.givewell.org/how-we-work

Week 6:

  • MacAskill's 8th chapter: “How can consumers make the most difference?” (19 pages)
  • Addition: “Conscious consumerism is a lie. Here’s a better way to help save the world”: https://qz.com/920561/conscious-consumerism-is-a-lie-heres-a-better-way-to-help-save-the-world/?fbclid=IwAR0J-ftZl_j9jsRIP6AIOagFovM-jBLFYj80go4L9kAW41IwITMOFeLZLyg

Week 7:

  • MacAskill's 9th chapter: “Which careers make the most difference?” (32 pages)
  • Addition: Explore 80,000 Hours' career guide: https://80000hours.org/career-guide/

Week 8:

  • MacAskill's 10th chapter: “Which causes are most important?” (17 pages)
  • Addition: Explore the list of the most pressing problems: https://80000hours.org/articles/cause-selection/

Week 9:

  • MacAskill's conclusion: “What should you do right now?” and “The five key questions of effective altruism” (8 pages)
  • Addition: Reflect on the stipend

We are about to run our stipend with this content in mind. Compared to your reading list, I feel that the content we have planned is more beginner-level. What do you think? What seems to be missing in terms of EA basics?

Comment by risto_uuk on A guide to effective altruism fellowships · 2019-01-19T19:44:17.258Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for writing this summary!

  • Altruism: Passionate about helping others
  • Effectiveness: Ambitious in their altruism, with a drive to do as much good as they can. Potential to be aligned with the central tenets of EA.
  • Potential: Excited to dedicate their career to doing good or to donate a significant portion of their income to charity
  • Open-mindedness: Open-minded and flexible, eager to update their beliefs in response to persuasive evidence
  • Enthusiasm: Willing and able to commit ~3-4 hours per weekFit: How good a fit are they with the fellowship format? Will they be good in discussions? Will they do good work for the Impact Challenge?"

I appreciate that you explicitly listed all the traits you were looking for in the applicants. We have done that more intuitively, but it's very useful to make them explicit. These traits align well with my intuitions for what we also look for in applicants.

Comment by risto_uuk on The Global Priorities of the Copenhagen Consensus · 2019-01-08T21:09:26.893Z · score: 13 (10 votes) · EA · GW

I subscribe to CCC's newsletter and these are the latest stories in the newsletters:

  • The climate debate needs less hyperbole and more rationality
  • The media got it wrong on the new US climate report
  • Don't panic over U.N. climate change report
  • Don't blame global warming for hurricane damages
  • The Paris climate treaty fails to fight global warming

I just wanted to provide more context on what they are focusing on.

Comment by risto_uuk on EA syllabi and teaching materials · 2019-01-03T14:16:28.498Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If you were to organize an effective altruism course around William MacAskill's book Doing Good Better, what additional readings would you give to students to fill in the holes of the book?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Meta Fund AMA: 20th Dec 2018 · 2018-12-20T13:53:44.529Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

This might be slightly off-topic, but you may have some insight into it. If a donor donates money to, for example, global health s/he can find pretty concrete numbers about impact based on GiveWell's estimates or information from specific organizations such as AMF. How can someone donating money to Meta justify those donations quantitatively and via concrete indicators?

Comment by risto_uuk on EA Concepts: Inside View, Outside View · 2018-10-03T09:36:27.093Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

1. I prefer "we".

2. I'm not sure what kind of references you are supposed to add here. Should they be accessible to everyone or can books, etc. be included as well? If the latter, then I'd add Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow to the list. There are good parts about these concepts in the book. (e.g. Kindle version location 4220)

3. To me, it seems that the definitions of "inside view" and "outside view" are not clear enough, whereas the examples are very good. https://www.hybridforecasting.com/ had nice slides about this, however, I'm not able to find their material to share here. Anyway, their definitions and explanations are the following:

  • Inside view: focus on the unique qualities of the case at hand.
  • Outside view: connect the case at hand to a reference class and rely on base rate information.
  • Reference classes refer to similar events from the past.
  • Base rates are relative frequencies of an outcome given a defined set. For example, the chance of selecting a red card from a deck of cards if 50%.
Comment by risto_uuk on RPTP Is a Strong Reason to Consider Giving Later · 2018-10-03T08:54:36.487Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

You didn't mention anything about (a) the risk of becoming less altruistic in the future, (b) increasing your motivation to learn more about effective giving by giving now, and (c) supporting the development of the culture of effective giving. How much the giver learns over time isn't the only consideration. I'm referring to this forum post by listing these other considerations: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/4e/giving_now_vs_later_a_summary/.

Comment by risto_uuk on Ten Commandments for Aspiring Superforecasters · 2018-04-27T11:32:00.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

I feel that the book contains too much fluff and even these commandments, despite appearing useful, seem to lack enough specificity to be useful. Does anyone have other book recommendations or guidelines for improving one's forecasting and probabilistic thinking? At the end of the day, it's important to actually practice forecasting and thinking probabilistically, but specific information for how to do that would be useful. E.g. how do you actually determine 40/60 and 45/55 or even 43/57 probabilities?

Comment by risto_uuk on Reading group guide for EA groups · 2018-04-26T05:18:28.176Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for putting it on EA Groups Resource Map! I think it'd be better if the link was to the Google Docs document rather than to this forum post, because we might edit it in the future.

Comment by risto_uuk on Hi, I'm Holden Karnofsky. AMA about jobs at Open Philanthropy · 2018-03-26T17:28:47.224Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · EA · GW

If someone can't apply right now due to other commitments, do you expect there to be new roles for generalist research analysts next year as well? What are the best ways one could make oneself a better candidate meanwhile?

Comment by risto_uuk on Enlightened Concerns of Tomorrow · 2018-03-16T23:03:43.393Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Sam Harris did ask Steven Pinker about AI safety. If anybody gets around listening to that, it starts at 1:34:30 and ends at 2:04, so that's about 30 minutes about risks from AI. Harris wasn't his best in that discussion and Pinker came off much more nuanced and evidence and reason based.

Comment by risto_uuk on Cognitive and emotional barriers to EA's growth · 2018-03-12T11:00:58.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Do you offer any recommendations for communicating utilitarian ideas based on Everett's research or someone else's?

For example, in Everett's 2016 paper the following is said:

"When communicating that a consequentialist judgment was made with difficulty, negativity toward agents who made these judgments was reduced. And when a harmful action either did not blatantly violate implicit social contracts, or actually served to honor them, there was no preference for a deontologist over a consequentialist."

Comment by risto_uuk on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages · 2018-03-11T15:45:43.232Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think this depends on how we define mass outreach. I would consider a lot of activities organized in EA community to be mass outreach. For example, EAG, books, articles in popular media outlets, FB posts in EA group, 80 000 Hours podcast, etc. They are mass outreach because they reach a lot of people and very often don't enable an in-depth work on. Exceptions would be career coaching session at EAG event and discussing books/articles in discussion groups.

Comment by risto_uuk on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages · 2018-03-11T12:37:50.559Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the post!

I agree that from the point of view of translation Doing Good Better might be too focused on donating to charity and on global health, but this doesn't seem to be an issue at all when it comes small in-depth discussion groups. I guess this is another argument in favor of focusing on these types of activities rather than large-scale outreach.