Effective Altruism Grants project update 2017-09-29T20:05:53.514Z
EAGx Relaunch 2017-07-23T06:12:19.625Z
Introducing the EA Involvement Guide 2017-06-15T19:20:05.907Z
Use "care" with care. 2017-02-09T06:38:45.608Z
Fun does not preclude burnout (by Andrew Critch) 2016-07-05T00:09:51.838Z
"Entitlement to believe" is lacking in Effective Altruism (by Andrew Critch) 2016-07-05T00:06:41.211Z
Apply to be an EAGx Event Director 2016-01-19T02:41:01.837Z
Giving What We Can 2014 Year in Review 2015-01-10T20:40:26.394Z


Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Updated Climate Change Problem Profile · 2019-10-08T14:03:21.071Z · EA · GW

Many props for doing this. This is exactly the sort of careful critique I'd like to see more people generating.

Did you approach 80,000 Hours about your post before putting it up? If you didn't, it seems quite plausible that they'd have integrated some of these changes after speaking with you directly. The benefits of approaching them first are that it appears less adversarial and (less certain) they are more likely to notice. However, I think there are also arguments for publishing publicly and independently, too.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on What type of Master's is best for AI policy work? · 2019-02-27T14:46:08.980Z · EA · GW

Milan and I spoke about this, so I'm just commenting to let other readers know that I'm happy to be a resource on this, specifically if you're looking at US programs. For context, I'm a Master's student in Georgetown's Security Studies Program, in their Technology and Security concentration, but have considered and think well of other programs, too.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Open Thread #39 · 2018-07-12T01:18:49.961Z · EA · GW

New piece by John Halstead:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Open Thread #39 · 2018-07-07T00:08:23.003Z · EA · GW

Have you seen this?:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on How to have cost-effective fun · 2018-07-07T00:03:35.060Z · EA · GW

For people looking to get into CBT, Spencer Greenberg and co. are developing an app to walk people through it:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Comparative advantage in the talent market · 2018-04-16T01:01:09.822Z · EA · GW

We can do the same for trading talent. People thinking about working in another cause area can ask around whether there’s someone considering switching to a cause area preferred by them. However, trading places in this scenario brings major practical challenges, so it is likely not viable in most cases.

One difficulty with this is that it's hard to go back on the trade if the other person decides to stop cooperating. If you're doing a moral trade of say, being vegetarian in order to get someone to donate more to a poverty charity, you can just stop being vegetarian if the person stops donating. (You should want to do this so that the trades actually maintain validity as trades, rather than means of hijacking people into doing things that fulfill the other person's values.) However, if Allison focuses on biorisk to get Bettina to do animal welfare work, either one is likely to end up with only weakly fungible career capital and therefore be unable to pivot back to their own priorities if the other pulls out. This is particularly bad if fungibility is asymmetrical -- say, if one person cultivated operations experience that can be used many places, while the other built up deep domain knowledge in an area they don't prioritize. It therefore seems important that people considering doing this kind of thing aim not only for having tradable priorities but also similar costs to withdrawing from the trade.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Hi, I'm Holden Karnofsky. AMA about jobs at Open Philanthropy · 2018-03-27T17:58:46.324Z · EA · GW

Cost-of-living comparison between San Francisco, CA and Oxford, UK:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-03T11:34:54.875Z · EA · GW

Right, neither do I. My 25-hour estimate was how long it would take you to make one grant of ~£500,000, not a bunch of grants adding up to that amount. I assumed that if Open Phil had been distributing these funds it would have done so by giving greater amounts to far fewer recipients.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-02T11:34:15.327Z · EA · GW

For what it's worth, Owen thinks I should use at least double $75/hour, given the experience of the staff working on the project and the nature of the work.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-02T10:15:34.857Z · EA · GW

Something we can do to clarify?

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-02T10:14:51.696Z · EA · GW

Hm, we haven't considered this in particular, although we are considering alternative funding models. If you think we should prioritize setting something like this up, can you make the case for this over our current scheme or more general certificates of impact?

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-02T10:08:15.694Z · EA · GW

are all the grants made to individuals only, or are some of them made to corporations (such as nonprofits)?

Some of them are going to nonprofits and other institutions, yes.

is there a way to see in which cases the grant is going to a corporation, and what the corporation is?

This wasn't something we'd considered publishing, and I'm not sure what if any privacy concerns this could raise. If there's a good case for doing so I'm happy to consider adding that information.

Do the receiving individuals have to treat the grants as personal income?

Unfortunately, in cases where we paid individuals directly they do have to treat them as personal income. We might have been able to avoid this in some cases by giving the money as scholarships, although as far as I'm aware this would have been a big hassle to set up. It's on the table for future rounds if it seems worth the setup cost.

What if somebody is coordinating a project involving multiple people and splitting the money across different people? Do you directly pay each of the individuals involved, or does the person doing the coordination receive the totality of the money as personal income and then distribute parts to the other people and expense those?

In four of five cases the money went to an institution with whom the recipient will coordinate multi-person distribution. In the fifth case the money went directly to an individual who had yet to designate the other recipient, so we gave them the totality to distribute themselves.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-10-02T09:57:12.468Z · EA · GW

Sloppy editing; thanks for the catch. It should actually be fixed now.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-09-30T15:40:31.759Z · EA · GW

Yes, although what exactly that will entail is still being worked out.

There's the weak form of evaluation -- whether or not they completed the objectives they set out when applying -- which we're doing for both "is this an obviously bad project?" and legal compliance reasons. We're also hoping to do Fermi estimates on the value produced as a result of projects, both changes in value in the world and of the recipient.

Since I'm not going to be in charge of this, though, this is more my recommendation for what to do than a plan.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-09-30T15:33:07.711Z · EA · GW

My guess would be that the main cost of EA grants was CEA staff time, not the £500,000. Would you agree? And what do you think the ratio is, very roughly?

It depends on the value you place on CEA staff time. Internally we value the average CEA staff hour at ~$75 ($50-$150, depending on the nature of the work), so 840 * £56 = £47,040 in opportunity cost, plus real staff costs. This suggests that staff time wasn't the main cost, unless you think the counterfactual uses of time would have been far more impactful than our average.

This is a description of the counterfactual; not an evaluation. Would you like to venture a guess as to whether spending time on EA grants was better than this counterfactual? :)

Really tricky for me to say, especially because I have incentive to think this was the right choice. That being said, it does seem right to me, primarily because of the haste consideration:

As I noted elsewhere in the piece, "about one quarter of the projects wouldn’t have happened at all, and the rest would have received less time." This makes the immediate multipliers pretty high. We spent about 0.42 years of CEA staff time and gained (really rough guess) 10 years of counterfactual EA time. Since a lot of people we sponsored are doing movement-building work in some form, I expect their activities to have multipliers, too.

The counterfactual activities are higher risk but vie for long-run value similar to that we expect the recipients to produce. (e.g. Theron Pummer is writing introductory EA content and trying to engage academics.)

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Effective Altruism Grants project update · 2017-09-30T15:05:36.363Z · EA · GW

Oops, yes they were. Fixed. Thanks!

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-08-17T01:29:53.696Z · EA · GW

The next upcoming deadline is August 30th, with new application deadlines every quarter. You can find more details about this here:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-08-02T00:13:42.097Z · EA · GW

In brief, large speaker events and workshops, depending on the needs of a local group. Perhaps self-evidently, large speaker events are best for nascent chapters trying to attract interest; workshops for augmenting the engagement and/or skill of existing members. There's some information about this in the Organizer FAQ, as well a prompts about this in the EAGx organizer application and on the "Get Involved' tab of

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-07-24T19:35:30.305Z · EA · GW

Wonderful of you to offer! Follow-up hasn't been weak across-the-board but it's certainly a hard thing for organizers to juggle on top of everything else.

We have limited resources set up for this at the moment, such as: a) the ability to reach out to Harri for local group advice and funding, b) copies of Doing Good Better you can use for a book club, c) the chance to request EA Global tickets to raffle off, d) a series of follow-up emails to attendees, and e) brief advice for running a follow-up event (

Happy to take suggestions for other things we might do.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-07-24T19:27:35.005Z · EA · GW

I'm curious what prompted this change - did organizers encounter a lot of difficult converting new conference attendees to more engaged EAs?

They were often stretched so thin from making the main event happen that they didn't have the capacity to ensure that their follow-up events were solid. We think part of the problem will be mitigated if the events themselves are smaller and more targeted towards groups with a specific level of EA understanding.

I'm also curious about what sort of support CEA will be providing to smaller, less-established local groups, given that fewer groups will receive support for EAGx.

Local groups can apply for funding through the EAGx funding application, as well as use the event-organizing resources we generated for EAGx. Depending on the size and nature of the event, they can receive individualized support from different CEA staff working on community development, such as Harri, Amy, Julia, and/or Larissa. If they're running a career or rationality workshop they may be able to get 80,000 Hours' or CFAR's advice or direct support.

Here are the event-organizing resources, if you'd like to check them out:

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-07-24T19:20:47.433Z · EA · GW

Ah, the wording makes this unclear. It isn't that we're dictating that more events take on the more onerous format, but instead restricting the name "EAGx" to the few events who already believe it is best for their region to run a full-weekend event. In fact, we're encouraging most groups /not/ to do this, and instead run smaller, more targeted events.

The real shifts are a) discouraging groups from running events that are more intensive than suit their circumstances and b) using a different name for the less-intensive events to avoid the confusion of expectations experienced by lots of attendees last year. (To the latter, one of the main feedback types events received was "the content was too elementary" or "the content was too advanced," often about the same event.)

We're still providing funding and support to events not entitled EAGx.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on EAGx Relaunch · 2017-07-24T19:17:26.092Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the question.

In brief, we're of the view that a) EA is more talent-constrained rather than funding-constrained (, and b) the people we'd like to have do direct work in many cases already exist in the EA sphere but don't have the affordance or nudge to dedicate themselves to EA work full-time.

We, in collaboration with 80,000 Hours, have been tracking the rate and value of engagement of people we try to engage with EA. We have figured out ways to easily and systematically do early-stage engagement of potential EAs with e.g. the Doing Good Better book giveaway, 80,000 Hours decision tool, and Giving What We Can pledge. However, our sense is that the majority of value comes from the few people who are most engaged, and that effective use of talent requires greater levels of engagement. (It's more valuable to have e.g. one full-time, knowledgeable employee than the same number of hours of labor from many, short-term volunteers.) Similarly, funding that is more values-aligned can be put towards more flexible, less conventional funding areas. The scalable vehicles we developed aren't very equipped to increase engagement.

We've been really impressed many people already in the community, but when we encourage them to work for an EA organization, start their own EA project, and/or seek out other EAs with whom to collaborate, this often falls flat for lack of funding, support structure, or a clear sense of what to do/read next. In addition to the shifts in EAGx, we're attempting to address this with EA Grants, sequenced EA content, changes to EA Global, the Involvement Guide on, and increased funneling to 80,000 Hours' one-on-one career coaching.

We'll have more on this on the CEA blog shortly.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Introducing the EA Involvement Guide · 2017-06-29T00:47:56.923Z · EA · GW

Appreciate you posting! I actually drew inspiration from that for the Involvement Guide, but if you think I missed something I'd be more than happy to hear it.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Introducing the EA Involvement Guide · 2017-06-29T00:46:51.601Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the comment. It wasn't very necessary there, so even though it seems fairly innocuous to me given its frequency of use I decided to nix it.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Apply to be an EAGx Event Director · 2016-01-28T21:18:14.229Z · EA · GW

That's right. We're also asking that organizers plan a follow-up event(s) to capture the interest generated by the event, but otherwise intend for the commitment to end post-conference.

Comment by Roxanne_Heston on Open thread 5 · 2014-11-30T08:02:04.080Z · EA · GW

Hi UriKatz, there's a group of us trying to do just that, and we'd love to have your help. Join the EA Nerdfighters Facebook group and I'll brief you on what we've been up to. :)