Posts

Surveys related to animal advocacy 2020-08-12T19:38:27.013Z · score: 45 (18 votes)
Collection of good 2012-2017 EA forum posts 2020-07-10T16:35:58.229Z · score: 158 (74 votes)
How much do Europeans care about fish welfare? (An analysis of relevant surveys) 2020-06-22T15:08:05.604Z · score: 59 (17 votes)
A cause can be too neglected 2020-04-03T16:41:55.283Z · score: 120 (62 votes)
Estimates of global captive vertebrate numbers 2020-02-18T17:05:36.160Z · score: 122 (42 votes)
Accuracy issues in FAO animal numbers 2019-12-02T14:56:47.306Z · score: 57 (25 votes)
Effective Animal Advocacy Resources 2019-10-24T10:41:12.057Z · score: 98 (46 votes)
Corporate commitments breakdown 2019-08-28T16:53:06.105Z · score: 30 (15 votes)
List of ways in which cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading 2019-08-20T18:05:03.872Z · score: 163 (72 votes)
saulius's Shortform 2019-08-13T15:04:34.562Z · score: 4 (2 votes)
Corporate campaigns affect 9 to 120 years of chicken life per dollar spent 2019-07-08T08:01:43.368Z · score: 105 (36 votes)
35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year 2019-04-02T13:16:07.994Z · score: 83 (35 votes)
Rodents farmed for pet snake food 2019-02-20T19:54:28.356Z · score: 72 (29 votes)
Will companies meet their animal welfare commitments? 2019-02-01T10:24:26.297Z · score: 112 (46 votes)
List of possible EA meta-charities and projects 2019-01-09T11:28:29.773Z · score: 63 (38 votes)
Fish used as live bait by recreational fishermen 2018-08-08T20:56:25.455Z · score: 53 (40 votes)
A lesson from an EA weekend in London: pairing people up to talk 1 on 1 for 30 mins seems to be very useful 2018-06-12T11:38:39.913Z · score: 16 (16 votes)
Fact checking comparison between trachoma surgeries and guide dogs 2017-05-10T22:33:21.864Z · score: 33 (32 votes)

Comments

Comment by saulius on Factors other than ITN? · 2020-09-26T13:10:09.619Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I feel I should also mention that I personally find the framework unnecessary and limiting. My opinion is that we don't need any framework here. I find that it's easier and more productive to simply think about what actions I can take and what consequences those actions will lead to. But this is a bit off-topic and I will explain my view in full another time.

Comment by saulius on Factors other than ITN? · 2020-09-26T13:05:08.083Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Other factors

If you are thinking about what cause you should work on, you may also consider personal fit. 80,000 hours explain why they didn’t include it as a factor here. Also, none of us is 100% altruistic, so you may also want to consider the personal benefit of working on the cause, although I guess that can go under personal fit as well.

Is it exhaustive?

You could say that there are two ITN frameworks: informal and quantitative. It’s easier to talk about the quantitative framework, so that’s what I will talk about, even though people usually use the informal one.

The quantitative framework cancels out to Good done / extra person or $. If you are a pure consequentialist, I think that this is exhaustive by definition. It doesn’t capture non-consequentialist concerns. E.g., maybe making cost-effective progress on this cause would involve morally questionable means like lying or blackmail. However, you can incorporate these by redefining tractability to something like “tractable with only using means I am comfortable with”. Or you can just assume that in the long run, using these means is bad from a consequentialist point of view anyway, which usually seems to be the case.

Also, it’s exhaustive only if Good done includes all things you intrinsically value like personal benefit, equity, etc. Usually when people use the framework, they assume pure utilitarianism and don’t include these.

Comment by saulius on Propose and vote on potential tags · 2020-08-07T08:06:29.910Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

When tags were introduced, the post said to "submit new tag ideas to us using this form." I made a bunch of suggestions (don't remember what they were) and probably some other people did too. Could someone who has access to results of that form paste all those suggestions here?

Comment by saulius on List of possible EA meta-charities and projects · 2020-08-05T13:42:17.712Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I've encountered some other similar lists of ideas:

Comment by saulius on What is the most effective intensive farming video to convert meat eaters? · 2020-07-17T10:18:42.272Z · score: 13 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Also, I just want to share my experience that I tried to convert my family members as well when I first became vegan but then I realized that the chance of succeeding is low and that this isn't at all a good use of my time because I could help animals much more and with less effort by e.g. donating money to effective animal charities. Your situation might be different, but if your brother doesn't seem receptive right away, I'd recommend not pushing it too much. Vegans have a bad reputation of being too pushy in this way and I think that it's important to not reinforce it. Nowadays, I almost never bring up the topic of veganism myself, and I am very casual about it, and I only talk about it if people ask me about it. Ironically, I feel that this may be more effective. E.g., I noticed that multiple people I dated just happened to go vegan while we were together, despite me hardly ever talking about it. I think that my quiet example may have been an influence. Maybe it just showed to them that it is possible and no big deal. That said, I've heard at least one story of a son arguing a lot with his father and in the end convincing him to go vegan.

Also, I see that you want to convert them to vegetarianism. I think vegetarianism is not great from animal welfare perspective because conventional eggs might be one of the worst commonly-consumed foods for animals. E.g. see http://ethical.diet/ It could be argued that beef less bad than eggs. Hence, I think it makes more sense to advocate for lacto-vegetarianism which excludes eggs, but includes diary products, or something else.

I don't know if any of these things needed to be said to you, but I thought I would say them just in case.

Comment by saulius on What is the most effective intensive farming video to convert meat eaters? · 2020-07-17T10:15:50.048Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Vegfund has some recommendations here. Personally, I always thought that What Cody Saw was very good, and I heard it being recommended by some animal advocates. I showed it to a friend once and she was moved by it and considered going vegan but didn't in the end. However, this was a while ago and now I see that Mercy For Animals have taken down the original video so maybe there is a reason not to use it.

Comment by saulius on Annotated List of EA Career Advice Resources · 2020-07-13T10:16:25.025Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Somewhat relatedly, two years ago I listed all EA career workshop materials that I knew of. Here they are:

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-07-02T15:18:32.337Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I just want to mention one more post that has some relevance here: Why I'm skeptical about unproven causes (and you should be too)

Comment by saulius on EA Forum feature suggestion thread · 2020-07-01T12:41:48.947Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It's not just about ranking. It's also about how much karma individual users have and (most importantly) about how worthy-of-reading a post looks when you open it based on its karma. I think that the situation where all votes made before the new system are worth one karma point is no less confusing than a system where they are worth two karma points.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum feature suggestion thread · 2020-07-01T08:41:15.430Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Do you mean to do this to comments written by other people? Because you can already do this for your own comments by editing them and making more comments. But even that is problematic if anyone already voted on the comment.

Comment by saulius on EA Forum feature suggestion thread · 2020-07-01T08:36:58.119Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Double the karma weight of votes made before the new karma system was implemented. All votes used to be worth one point. For example, let's take an old post like this. It currently has 43 karma and 43 votes (probably all of them are upvotes). For comparison, my newest post has 53 karma and 16 upvotes. If you think about it, that old post is clearly more endorsed by the community. There were fewer readers when it was posted and a very high percentage of them chose to upvote it and probably many would have strongly upvoted if that was an option. Nowadays, even a regular upvote by high-karma users is worth two points. Posts like that old post do not appear in forum favourites and other places like that but they should. If you doubled the karma of such old posts, the karma for that old one would be 86 instead of 43 - a much better representation of how much the community endorses that post. Ah, maybe you should even triple the karma weight. Posts like this would then actually make forum favourites and I think they should.

Comment by saulius on saulius's Shortform · 2020-06-29T12:01:14.700Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA · GW

There was an interesting discussion on whether EA organizations should reveal the authors of posts they publish here. You may want to check it out if this is relevant to you (not just the linked comment, but also the replies.)

Comment by saulius on Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2? · 2020-06-29T11:55:01.462Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you very much for this thoughtful reply. You made some good points that made me think about the question differently.

Comment by saulius on How much do Europeans care about fish welfare? (An analysis of relevant surveys) · 2020-06-26T12:58:48.316Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this comment, it's very useful. I agree that there are many other factors that determine whether campaign is successful, I just chose to analyze one of them because I've heard people bringing it up and things they were saying disagreed with these survey results. I didn't realize that there was this much effort behind wins for fish in Poland. My impression is that in Lithuania it didn't require nearly as much effort but I don't really know.

Comment by saulius on Is it suffering or involuntary suffering that's bad, and when is it (involuntary) suffering? · 2020-06-23T10:33:31.471Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Buddhism would say that if you experience sadness without craving that the sadness go away, you continue to feel sadness but you don't suffer from it. This corresponds to my personal experience. There can actually be richness in the sadness that I enjoy. I know that many other people enjoy it too because there are so many sad songs and movies. When something sad happens to me, I try to prolong it as it is a pleasant and positive experience for me. I think that a Buddhist would say that this is bad as well because I feed a craving and the goal is to get rid of all cravings. But I think it's no worse from the Buddhist perspective than trying to prolong a happy experience. However, I noticed that in the past I (not fully consciously) subtly caused some bad things to happen out of my desire to feel sad. I guess you should look out for that if you start enjoying sadness too much. The things I was doing were bad for me from the long-term perspective.

In contrast, I haven't yet conquered guilt, remorse, and jealousy. When I feel these emotions, I suffer and want them to go away. When a relatable character in a TV show does something predictably bad or cringe-worthy or embarrassing, I hate it and turn off the TV because it causes me suffering. Most people feel more comfortable with these emotions but less comfortable with sadness.

I'm a bit confused about depression though. When you are depressed, maybe you don't want to be happy because you don't remember what it's like to be happy anymore? Or maybe you want to experience calm positive emotions, you just don't want to be artificially cheerful?

Comment by saulius on [deleted post] 2020-06-22T08:59:51.818Z

There already is a linkpost for this: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/xGSw8gho7CJNXrPtf/relevant-pre-agi-possibilities

Comment by saulius on 35-150 billion fish are raised in captivity to be released into the wild every year · 2020-06-17T18:19:19.746Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

A documentary about salmon stocking was made recently and it is available for free on YouTube. It's called Artifishal (Full Film) | The Fight to Save Wild Salmon. Amongst other things, it argues that salmon stocking reduces wild salmon populations and is driving salmon to extinction (which is kind of the opposite of what the purpose of the activity is). On the other hand, some people in the documentary argue that current fishing rates can't be sustained without stocking. The movie also claims that salmon farming is causing the decline of natural salmon population and has some gruesome footage of sick fish in a salmon farm. The movie is well made but slow-paced, I only recommend it for those who are very interested in the topic.

Comment by saulius on Forum update: Tags are live! Go use them! · 2020-06-03T19:41:49.094Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

These things were discussed in more detail here.

Comment by saulius on Forum update: Tags are live! Go use them! · 2020-06-02T15:33:24.020Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I also think this would be useful. Right now tags seem like a great feature for power users. But I feel that there is still the problem that people who are not yet engaged with EA and have specific interests may only see posts that are not relevant to them on the first visit to the forum and not come back. E.g., a biosecurity expert may not see any biosecurity posts and may not be interested in the three posts that they see after searching "biosecurity". Having tags in a prominent place could help with that.

Comment by saulius on Examples of people who didn't get into EA in the past but made it after a few years · 2020-06-02T12:59:20.400Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I didn't do cost-effectiveness estimates for each of the activity I tried but I had a feeling of how such estimates would have turned out if I tried to do them. There is nothing special about this, everyone has such intuitions. E.g., organizing EA events in Lithuania was stressful and required a lot of work. Despite that, I felt that few if any people will change anything based on what I said to them. I felt that the main accomplishment was possibly convincing one person to donate something like $2,000 a year to AMF rather than to some other charity. In contrast, after writing one article, I felt that there was a decent chance that animal advocates might help millions or billions of animals that otherwise would not have been helped. Writing that article took less time and was less stressful than organizing EA events in Lithuania. Based on stuff like this, I decided that I should write articles. Note that someone who had a better personal fit for being a community builder and worse fit for being a researcher might have had an opposite experience. But this kind of stuff is also based on luck so the evidence that experimenting provides is not conclusive.

Comment by saulius on Influencing pivotal Individuals · 2020-06-02T12:39:26.937Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

There is also Generation Pledge.

Comment by saulius on Forum update: Tags are live! Go use them! · 2020-06-02T11:51:45.066Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA · GW

This is great, thank you so much for doing this! I see that another experimental feature that's been experimental for quite a while is sequences. For those who don't know what it is, you can see an example of it here. Actually, EA handbook is also a sequence but users who haven't opted in experimental features don't seem to be able to create them. I'm curious if there are plans for sequences to go fully live.

Comment by saulius on Social reward and cost/impact effectiveness · 2020-06-02T11:36:45.862Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I just wanted to say that thanks to your question, I added the following bullet point to my article List of ways in which cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading:

  • Ease of fundraising / counterfactual impact of donations. Let’s say you are deciding which charity you should start. Charity A could do a very cost-effective intervention but only people who already donate to cost-effective charities would be interested in supporting it. Charity B could do a slightly less cost-effective intervention but would have a mainstream appeal and could fundraise from people who don’t donate to any charities or donate to ineffective charities. Other things being equal, you would do more good by starting Charity B, even though it would be less cost-effective. Firstly, Charity B wouldn't take funding away from other effective charities.. Secondly, Charity B could grow to be much larger and hence do more good (provided that its intervention is scalable).

I think that this is an important point that you raised, so thank you!

Comment by saulius on Social reward and cost/impact effectiveness · 2020-06-01T13:19:27.810Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer but it got me thinking for a while so I’ll just ramble about what I’ve been thinking.

I remember reading somewhere (and I don’t know if it’s true) that in the UK the money spent on fundraising has been increasing but the total amount of money donated to charities has been relatively stable. So charities are competing with each other for funds more. So if one charity gets more money, others might get less. If you take it to the extreme and found a very ineffective charity that takes away funding from better charities, you might be causing harm. In general, if for the sake of simplicity we assume that the amount donated to charities is constant, it only matters how much we would change the cost-effectiveness of an average donated dollar.

Typical EA pitch says that the best charities are very many times more cost-effective than average charities. That is, that charities and interventions follow heavy tailed distributions, like the one in the graph below:

graph

Many EAs seem to be focused on finding or founding even more cost effective charities. I guess we believe that the graph extends and we haven’t finished finding opportunities that are many times more cost-effective than the current best opportunities we currently have. Personally, I focus my research on finding even more cost-effective opportunities because people who care about cost-effectiveness are the only ones who listen to the kinds of arguments that I know how to make.

If you try to make a compromise between cost-effectiveness and social reward, etc., my intuition is that you will probably end up sacrificing cost-effectiveness a lot (e.g., by orders of magnitude) because I believe that the impact of charities follows a heavy-tailed distribution like in that graph. That said, I do believe that it is possible to have both.

Also, note that the most cost-effective charities attract different kinds of funders (e.g., EAs) with less need for fundraising beyond showing cost-effectiveness. So I imagine that the fundraising ratio for EA charities is lower than average. So far, the Effective Altruism movement has been successful in raising funds. But I think there is a cap of how much money can currently be raised this way and EA movement building is one way to increase that cap.

If you do discover an effective intervention and show that it’s effective or at least promising, it is likely to get funded by funders like Open Philanthropy. Of course, they don’t have infinite funds. E.g., according to Google, Dustin Moskovitz (probably the biggest funder of EA stuff) has a net worth of $13.9 billion. He wouldn’t be able to fund the entire budget of a big charity like Direct Relief (which had the revenue of $1.4 billion in 2018) for very long.

I’ve heard of some EAs wanting to found the next GiveWell-recommended charity, the next Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). But if Direct Relief is more effective than an average charity, maybe Direct Relief does more good to the world than AMF and EAs should be trying to found the next Direct Relief despite the fact that it’s probably less cost-effective than AMF. And actually, if you start a charity that is just as cost-effective as AMF and appeals to exactly the same funders and AMF still has room for more funding, you basically had zero impact because the cost-effectiveness of an average donated dollar remains the same. But I think reality is more complicated than that and this is not the case.

I don’t know if it’s true but I imagine that founding a charity that attracts a lot of funds is more difficult than founding a new cost-effective charity. Because the field of attracting funds is more competitive. But maybe with the right idea and the right people, someone could do a lot of good by founding Organization 2 that is not very cost-effective but attracts funds from people who wouldn't have donated at all, or would have donated to less cost-effective charities.

By the way, note that within EA circles social reward for donors works differently than in the outside world. Basically, I think you will get more social reward if you will be able to show that a charity is more cost-effective. But I do understand that you were talking about social rewards in the outside world.

Note that I spent very little time thinking about all the things I wrote above so they may be incorrect or not very relevant.

Comment by saulius on Helping wild animals through vaccination: could this happen for coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2? · 2020-05-31T15:06:16.321Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I wanted to check if this post was written by someone I know but I couldn't find any authors listed. I then checked your other blog posts and couldn't find authors for any of them. Maybe you have a good reason for that (e.g. the author wishes to be anonymous). But in case you simply haven't considered it, I wanted to list some reasons why you might want to list the authors at the top of your articles:

  • It encourages more conversations about the article. I still occasionally receive messages about an article I wrote for ACE two years ago, even though I no longer work with ACE. E.g., people asking if I know something on a related topic or asking me to review their work on a related topic. This can add a lot of value. At conferences, sometimes people ask me to join a conversation because they know that I am knowledgeable about some topic. Finally, occasionally people just come up to me and say “hey, I read your article about X, good stuff”, which can increase the motivation a lot, lead to good conversations, and a better understanding of how my work is perceived and used. All of this would be happening to a much lesser extent if my name wasn’t on the article. Because I wouldn’t be building a reputation as the person who knows about certain kinds of stuff.
  • It helps the author build career capital. If the author is not listed, it will be awkward for them to point to the article as an example of their work. If the author is listed, hirers will be able to easily see what kind of work they did without them needing to list it, or they will already be aware of the author anyway. This is especially important if a volunteer or an intern contributed to an article. If it’s written by a valued employee, it’s still nice to let them have a well-earned career capital and I believe it leads to more good done in the end.
  • It’s more motivating for authors because of the two reasons above and other reasons like a wish for social status. I used to think that these kinds of things don’t matter for me because I’m only motivated by a wish to help animals but I learnt that I am human and it definitely does. I think the same is true for most other people.
  • It leads to a greater accountability as authors may be more afraid to make mistakes in an article if they know that their name will be on it.
  • It’s less awkward to cite and looks more respectable when cited. I don’t know if it’s just me, but whenever I see something cited as “Organization Name (2020)” instead of “Jane Doe (2020)” I think that the source is very not serious because academic and other serious sources always list the author. Although this is not a published article, it is a serious piece of research and hence it should look as such.
Comment by saulius on EA Updates for May 2020 · 2020-05-29T14:14:36.858Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this David. A minor mistake: Animal Charity Evaluators Community Chat is on May 31st, not 29th.

Comment by saulius on Examples of people who didn't get into EA in the past but made it after a few years · 2020-05-27T14:46:28.898Z · score: 36 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Why were you so bent on getting an EA job?

I was never bent on getting an EA job. I wanted to test out many different jobs and see what fits me. I also wanted to have some impact. I didn’t write those two articles or criticize ACE and other organizations in order to increase my chances of getting a job at an EA org. I’m not sure that thought even crossed my mind. I did it because I wanted to have an impact.

When I was doing EA community building internship, my manager would ask me every week: “what have you learnt about your personal fit as an EA community builder?” Because that was the main goal. After he read my articles, he was like “I think you have a better fit for this kind of stuff”. And some other people said similar things. And I did feel that the research that I did had more potential to make an impact than other things I’ve tried. So I decided to try to do more research. I started applying for researcher jobs partly because I was running out of savings. But when I got the offer for the RP job, I still wasn’t sure if I should take it. What if they tell me to research something that I don’t feel is impactful or exciting? That happened during my ACE internship. I was considering living in CEEALAR and just doing research by myself instead.

I’m still unsure if I should be doing research. I feel like I’m having more expected impact but still not that much. When I talk to people at animal charities about what they are doing, it sounds much more impactful. Also, I don’t like looking at a screen all day, especially when it’s sunny outside. I’m set on doing research for now, but I’m thinking that maybe I should try to found a direct work charity or something some time in the future.

Why not ETG. You are a software engineer I see from your Linkedin.

Because I got bored of programming and I wasn’t that good at it. I also thought that I only have one life and it would be a shame if I never tried a different job. I considered trying out jobs like door-to-door salesman because they sounded fun, but since I also cared about impact, I applied for internships at EA orgs first.

Then, I do not know what else to base my actions on. I also don't understand what you mean by "too much".

I just happened to be a good enough personal fit to be a researcher despite being rejected from it at first. Maybe you are a better fit at something else. Being rejected in early hiring rounds is evidence that maybe this path is not for you. It’s not conclusive evidence, but it is evidence.

Do you like reading research? When you read it, do you spot mistakes? Are you a good writer? I think you can test your personal fit for being a researcher quite a bit by asking yourself questions like these. That’s one other thing you can use to make a decision on whether to persevere and try more to become a researcher, or whether to try something else. And different questions for different roles. And if you do decide you want to be a researcher, maybe you need to do something different than things I needed. E.g. a writing class or talking with other EAs more.

Another thing to base your actions on is experimenting - trying different things and seeing if you like them, and if you have an impact. I tried many different things to make an impact before (temporarily) settling on research. For example:

  • Making EA leaflets and distributing them in streets
  • Leafleting about animal welfare
  • Contributing to wikipedia articles on EA-related topics
  • Thinking super long and hard about where to donate
  • Convincing people who donate money to donate it to more effective charities
  • Going to activism events and trying to convince people to apply EA principles
  • Trying to start the EA movement in Lithuania
  • Organizing EA events in London
  • Etc.

When doing most of these things, I had a feeling that I’m not doing that much impact. So I stopped. Note that none of these required being employed at an EA org.

Comment by saulius on Examples of people who didn't get into EA in the past but made it after a few years · 2020-05-26T15:31:21.087Z · score: 20 (10 votes) · EA · GW
  1. Before the ACE's internship I applied to MIRI for a programming internship but didn't receive an answer. After ACE, I applied for various roles in Centre For Effective Altruism and wasn't selected. I also was rejected for researcher roles by OpenPhil (after some number of rounds) and Charity Entrepreneurship, shortly before I got the job at RP. It's possible that I got rejected by CE because I said that I was uncertain if I will be willing to move to Vancouver which is something that they wanted at that time, but I think it was more because I totally failed at a task they gave me during the hiring process. I guess I should note that OpenPhil had very many good applicants and CE was reluctant to hire at that time and I think they didn't hire anyone during that hiring round. Oh, I was also asked to apply for a researcher role at Effective Giving but in the end I was told that there was one candidate who was better fit than me and they hired them. I also applied as a researcher for Veddis Foundation and was not selected, no interview. There may have been more rejections that I don't remember. I think I applied for all or most of these researcher roles after writing those two articles.
  2. Yes, I didn't have a real job during that year and for a lot of the year I was doing random stuff like going to hippyish events. I did two weeks of contractor work for Effective Giving (I think after they decided to not hire me), but I think I didn't mention that to RP so I don't think it affected my hiring chances.
  3. Yes, it was the articles that drew attention to hirers at RP. I did not know hirers personally. When they reached out to me, they wrote "I've been following your research for ACE and on the EA Forum and I think you'd be an exceptional fit for the role." Similarly, I think that those articles were by far the main reason why Effective Giving was interested in me, though I did know the hirer personally. But it’s not enough to draw attention, I imagine that RP also hired me because I did ok or well at interviews and tasks.
  4. EA London asked publicly if anyone would be interested in organizing some concrete events with their help. I was the only one who volunteered and we organized an event. I think they offered me the internship because of that and because they knew that I won’t need that much management. I was already friends with people who were running EA London. Organizing events and writing articles have almost nothing in common so I think that it’s unrelated.

In general, I think that everyone’s situation is different and you shouldn’t base your actions on stuff like this too much. I think that in the end what helped me to be the kind of person who would be considered for these kinds of roles was a long time intense engagement with EA, thinking hard about where to donate, etc. Another thing I did that may have helped me get the ACE internship was criticising their work vie emails, pointing out something that I thought was a mistake.

Comment by saulius on Examples of people who didn't get into EA in the past but made it after a few years · 2020-05-26T11:32:37.017Z · score: 23 (12 votes) · EA · GW

I was hoping to get a position at ACE after my research internship (which lasted maybe 7 months) and I was told it was a possibility but they hired other people instead. However, after the internship I knew better what kind of articles would be useful and had some relevant connections. In the following year I wrote two articles (this and this) which were reviewed by my connections at ACE before publishing which was very useful . I also did some unrelated stuff like an EA community building internship. I applied for various EA jobs, mostly research, and didn't get some of them. Someone who was hiring at Rethink Priorities reached out to me and asked me to apply because they liked those two articles I wrote. I applied and got the job, about one year after my ACE internship ended.

Comment by saulius on CU & extreme suffering · 2020-05-22T12:34:07.012Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure there is an objective answer to your question because (to my knowledge) we don't have good definitions of suffering and well-being and no objective way to compare their intensity. It also depends on whether by "worst suffering" you mean the worst suffering current humans can experience, or the worst theoretically possible suffering (and the best theoretically possible well-being). Some speculations related to the latter can be read here. You can probably find more such speculations by going through these search results.

If you are asking about current humans, it may be informative to ask people who have experienced both extreme suffering and extreme happiness for their opinion. However, in my experience different people answer such questions very differently. Also, I imagine that even the same person may answer the question differently depending on whether you are asking them while they are experiencing intense suffering or after it has already happened. And it's unclear what to do with that.

Comment by saulius on Influencing pivotal Individuals · 2020-05-22T12:05:06.850Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Organizations that aim to do that include Founders Pledge, Effective Giving, Raising For Effective Giving, Farmed Animal Funders. All of these organizations try to raise money for effective charities from wealthy individuals or advise wealthy individuals how to donate more effectively. There are probably more initiatives to inform influential people but you don't necessarily hear about them that much because often there is no need for these initiatives to be public.

Comment by saulius on Critical Review of 'The Precipice': A Reassessment of the Risks of AI and Pandemics · 2020-05-11T18:34:15.371Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hey, it’s an interesting article, thanks for writing it. I’ll just respond to one point.

Lacking a physical body to interact with people, it is hard to see how an AI could inspire the same levels of loyalty and fear that these three leaders (and many others like then) relied upon in their subordinates and followers.

If that is important, AI could make itself a virtual body and show videos of itself talking. People rarely see their leaders physically anyway. And the virtual body could be optimized for whatever is needed to gain power. It could maybe make itself more fearsome because lacking a body makes it less vulnerable, more mysterious and authoritative. It’s not just another human, it’s a whole new type of being that is better than us at everything.

If I am wrong and people would only follow other people, AI could e.g. hire a hitman to assassinate whoever and then assume their identity with deepfake-like videos and tell that they are filmed from a secret location for safety reasons. Or construct a new human identity.

This is all super speculative and these probably wouldn't be the strategies it would use, I'm just pointing out some possibilities. Also, note that it’s not my area and I only thought about it for ~15 minutes.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-05-01T16:33:21.432Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Commitments are usually made by grocers, restaurants, hotels, etc., not producers. You can see in this document by USDA that at least in the U.S., most important companies that made commitments are retailers, followed by restaurants. I think it's somewhat unlikely that many people will go to another grocer just to save a little bit of money on eggs. Similarly, I don't think that it will impact people's choice of restaurants much because egg prices probably won't influence meal prices that much. Also, some animal advocates believe that eventually all the production in some countries/regions like the U.S. will be cage-free because egg producers won't want to invest in new caged facilities when there is a risk that further corporate campaigns or law changes will take away the few remaining customers that buy caged eggs.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-05-01T14:35:03.684Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

What is way more important is all the indirect effects and other factors that I list in the "Ways this estimate could be misleading" section of my corporate campaigns CEA here. I think that they might be more important than direct effects. The same could also be true about AMF.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-05-01T14:32:53.359Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Note that (unless I missed something) your animal welfare report commits this same minor mistake of assuming that all hens used by companies that made cage-free commitments were in battery cages. While I think that's true for the majority of hens, some of them were already in cage-free systems, and some were in enriched cages. But this is more than outweighed by some very conservative assumptions. E.g., that THL's work only moved policies forward by 1 year or something like that. So it's no big deal :)

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-05-01T11:40:51.626Z · score: 16 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Note that according to WHO, in 2018 there were 228 million cases of malaria worldwide resulting in an estimated 405,000 deaths. So for every lethal case, there were 405,000 / 228 million = 563 non-lethal cases. AMF founder said that bednets prevent these non lethal cases as well. I don’t know how much suffering an average case of malaria causes but the combined effect is probably significant. Especially when we take into account some of the complications that sometimes arise from malaria.

For example, GiveWell claims that “It is also believed that malaria can cause permanent disability (hearing impairment, visual impairment, epilepsy, etc.)”. An old Giving What We Can report says “our model suggests that the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated bednets averts one case of epilepsy for about $25,000.” Note that it is not only difficult to live with epilepsy, but it’s also difficult and stressful to raise a child that has epilepsy (see this video).

How much to weigh these effects and effects of other diseases AMF may prevent (e.g. dengue, yellow fever, zika, encephalitis) depends on the subjective trade-off between preventing deaths and preventing suffering. I feel that my personal trade-off would give much more relative weight to the suffering than GiveWell does. Although I’m sure that GiveWell has solid reasons for making their estimates in the way that they did.

Finally, GiveWell’s estimate doesn’t seem to take into account many other effects. E.g.:

  • Preventing deaths prevents grief of parents, siblings and friends
  • Preventing morbidity also prevents a lot of additional trouble associated with it
  • Bednets prevent mosquito bites which we all know are annoying
  • On the other hand, I remember reading somewhere that people feel discomfort when sleeping under bednets
  • Malaria has a high economic burden and bednets reduce that as well.
  • Relatedly, bednets can empower some struggling people. An old GiveWell blog says: “a substantial part of the good that one does may be indirect: the people that one helps directly (by e.g. funding distribution of bednets) become more empowered to contribute to society, and this in turn may empower others, etc. If one believes that, on average, people tend to accomplish good when they become more empowered, it’s conceivable that the indirect benefits of one’s giving swamp the first-order effects.”
  • Fighting malaria impacts the size of the human populations which has many different consequences
  • FInally, AMF has an impact on mosquitos. The only analysis of that that I know of is the one by Brian Tomasik but it is from a negative utilitarian point of view. Also, I don’t know if killed mosquitos mean that some other animals also don’t get mosquito bites and associated problems.

Note that I'm not at all an expert on any of these problems so don't put too much weight on what I say.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-05-01T11:18:59.164Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I don’t fully understand GiveWell’s spreadsheet myself but I’ll try to answer. By default, "Cost per outcome as good as" cell seems to factor in averting under-5 deaths (46% of the total benefit), averting age 5+ deaths (27%) and development effects (28%).

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Developmental effects here seem to refer to the fact that reducing the burden of malaria may have a lasting impact on children's development, and thus on their ability to be productive and successful throughout life.

In the ‘results’ tab, you see that by default, the estimation doesn’t include additional adjustments. If you change that, then the estimate takes into account the effects listed in the “Inclusion/Exclusion” sheet (see below)

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It also takes into account something but I haven’t figured out what. In the end including additional adjustments changes "Cost per outcome as good as" very modestly, from $1,690 to $1,678.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-04-30T15:04:44.391Z · score: 21 (8 votes) · EA · GW

This is another nitpick but I just want to say this to prevent slightly incorrect information from spreading.

We use GiveWell’s updated estimate of AMF’s cost-effectiveness as a point estimate, i.e. ~$1,700 to save the life of a child under 5.

When you look at GiveWell’s latest estimates, you can see that the cost per outcome as good as averting the death of a child under 5 is ~$1,700. It costs around $3,710 to avert a death of a child under 5.

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Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-04-30T13:32:52.081Z · score: 23 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Norwood and Lusk estimate that one cage egg requires 0.003212204 chickens and one cage-free egg requires 0.003229267 chickens (233).

There is actually a typo in the table 8.4 in page 233 on which you are basing this. If you read the text closely, you can see that the value for "Number of non breeder animals associated with one cage egg" should be be 1/509 = 0.001964637, not 1/314 = 0.003184713. The book does not make the same mistake in a very similar table 8.7.

However, in my opinion, what matters more is how many chicken-years are required per egg. And since cage-free hens seem to live shorter lives, the difference in chicken-years required per egg is not as big as chickens required per egg.

But according to a person with more knowledge, the bigger problem is that the book is comparing industrial cage systems with small-scale cage-free systems that are not using optimal genetics. That is not the relevant comparison for the current situation where large-scale producers are switching to cage-free systems. Numbers that the book uses differ quite a lot from numbers in other sources that are discussing industrial systems.

I have spent two or three weeks looking into these issues and have quite neat document about it that I decided not to publish. If somebody thinks that the information in the document could be action-relevant to them, you can email me at saulius@rethinkpriorities.org and I will send you the document.

Comment by saulius on How good is The Humane League compared to the Against Malaria Foundation? · 2020-04-29T17:58:50.258Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · EA · GW

This doesn't change the bottom line much, but for the technical correctness sake, I feel it should be noted that not all cage-free commitments that THL wins shift hens from battery cages to aviaries. For example, some THL-funded campaigns are in the EU or UK where battery cages have been banned since 2012. You can see in this graph that in the EU, caged hens are in enriched cages, not battery cages. Enriched cages are better than battery cages. Charity Entrepreneurship’s weighted animal welfare index gives battery cages a score of -57 and enriched cages a score of -46. That said, looking at THL’s 2020 room for more funding report, it seems that a lot of the cage-free focus will be on countries where battery cages (rather than enriched cages) are used.

Less importantly, aviary is not the only cage-free system that producers may switch to after converting. E.g., some producers may switch to barn, free-range, or organic systems.

Comment by saulius on Feedback available for EA Forum drafts · 2020-04-24T13:51:09.648Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Similarly, I am happy to review and leave comments on almost any post that's related to animal welfare (I work as a researcher on animal welfare topics). You can email me at saulius at rethinkpriorities.org if you think that would be helpful for your post.

Comment by saulius on saulius's Shortform · 2020-04-24T09:51:56.158Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This displays as:

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  1. footnote ↩︎

Comment by saulius on saulius's Shortform · 2020-04-24T09:51:25.631Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW
Main text[^1]

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     footnote
Comment by saulius on saulius's Shortform · 2020-04-23T17:30:18.150Z · score: 10 (7 votes) · EA · GW

A tip for writing EA forum posts with footnotes First press on your nickname in the top right corner, go to Edit Settings and make sure that a checkbox Activate Markdown Editor is checked. Then write a post in Google docs and then use Google Docs to Markdown add-on to convert it to markdown. If you then paste the resulting markdown into the EA forum editor and save it, you will see your text with footnotes. It might also have some unnecessary text that you should delete.

Tables and images If you have images in your posts, you have to upload them somewhere on the internet (e.g. https://imgur.com/) and write a code like ![imageName](https://i.imgur.com/yMc2e8x.jpg "imageName") in your markdown. Of course, the image address should be changed to your image. Currently, the only way to add tables is to make a screenshot of a table and add an image of it.

As I understand it, there will be a new EA forum editor some time soon and all this will not be needed anymore but for now this is how I make my EA forum posts.

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-04-15T09:36:42.155Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, all of these. But e.g. donation opportunities later could get worse to the point where this is outweighed. Also, with all of these, you empower future people (or future you) to do good rather than doing good directly but it's unclear if they will use that power in a good way.

Comment by saulius on An Argument for Why the Future May Be Good · 2020-04-14T13:56:15.648Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

There now is a more detailed analysis of a similar topic: The expected value of extinction risk reduction is positive

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-04-09T11:46:11.079Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I just also want to say that in general, I really appreciate you engaging in this discussion and writing this post, especially in such a clear and well-structured way. I think that criticising others' views takes courage but can be very valuable.

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-04-09T11:40:25.874Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

IIRC, one prominent short-termist EA told me that when they have so little belief in speculative vague arguments that most questions with no clear answers defaults to them to 50-50 split. E.g. they would probably say that they have a 50% credence that clean meat research will have a positive value in 1000 years and a 50% that it will have a negative value, and EV is zero. You can see why they would focus on the short-term stuff. I just thought that this extreme view could be helpful to remembering how short-termist perspective might look like.

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-04-09T11:29:39.529Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I’m confused because it seems like while we do have a special opportunity to influence the present because we’re here now, we also have a special opportunity to influence the future too because we’re here now. Eg. by doing anything that has positive compounding effects, or avoids lock-in of a bad state.

Yes, I think this is just a reformulation of the old question, can we make more impact when focusing on short-term future or long-term future. And I think there is no easy answer to it.

Comment by saulius on If you value future people, why do you consider near term effects? · 2020-04-09T11:06:43.640Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

So do you think the long-term effects don’t dominate?

I've spent a lot of time discussing these questions and I still don't have a strong opinion. I like the basic idea behind OpenPhil's worldview diversification approach. They "allocate X% of capital to a bucket that aims to maximize impact from a “long-termist” perspective, and Y% of capital to a bucket that aims to maximize impact from a “near-termist” perspective". X and Y are determined by how much credence they place on each worldview. If I was responsible for giving away that much money, I'd probably do the same. As an individual, I had to specialize and I found it easier to get a job on short-termist stuff so that's what I'm working on.