How Much Does New Research Inform Us About Existential Climate Risk? 2020-07-22T23:47:35.409Z · score: 59 (22 votes)
Do Long-Lived Scientists Hold Back Their Disciplines? 2019-08-12T18:33:29.139Z · score: 13 (9 votes)
Who Supports Animal Rights? 2019-07-29T10:58:19.231Z · score: 34 (21 votes)
Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood 2019-07-09T09:18:03.704Z · score: 18 (12 votes)
How Much Do Wild Animals Suffer? A Foundational Result on the Question is Wrong. 2019-06-24T21:51:08.132Z · score: 69 (28 votes)
[Question] Pros/Cons of Donor-Advised Fund 2019-04-22T00:56:00.840Z · score: 12 (7 votes)
Be Careful About a Stubborn Attachment to Growth 2018-12-20T02:34:02.840Z · score: 7 (6 votes)
[Link] "Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?" 2018-12-17T17:50:41.085Z · score: 17 (8 votes)
Should Effective Charities Prepare for a Recession? 2018-11-29T00:02:18.455Z · score: 28 (18 votes)
What I Learned from a Year Spent Studying How to Get Policymakers to Use Evidence 2018-09-04T15:55:33.514Z · score: 24 (24 votes)
Updates Thread: How Have You Changed Your Mind This Year? 2017-12-20T03:53:43.456Z · score: 10 (10 votes)
The Hidden Cost of Shifting Away from Poverty 2017-10-09T15:58:02.154Z · score: 22 (22 votes)
Institutional Change in Animal Rights vs. Global Poverty 2016-05-10T23:05:36.032Z · score: 11 (13 votes)
The Poor Meat Investor Problem 2016-04-21T21:17:08.793Z · score: 9 (11 votes)
Announcing ImpactMatters: Auditing Charity Impact across Causes 2015-12-11T17:21:22.365Z · score: 9 (9 votes)
A Note on Framing Criticisms of Effective Altruism 2015-07-24T13:17:28.778Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
That UMD Extra Credit Question 2015-07-13T23:23:51.741Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
Collective Action and Individual Impact, Part II 2015-06-19T13:11:37.358Z · score: 5 (9 votes)
Collective Action and Individual Impact 2015-05-28T03:12:24.347Z · score: 2 (6 votes)


Comment by zdgroff on If you like a post, tell the author! · 2020-10-08T17:13:53.467Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · EA · GW

This this this! As a PhD student in economics, I'm always pushing for the same thing in academia. People usually think saying nice job is useless, because it doesn't help people improve. It's important for people to know what they're doing right, though. It's also important for people to get positive reinforcement to keep going down a path, so if you want someone to keep persevering (which I hope we generally do), it's good to give them a boost when they do a good job.

Comment by zdgroff on Are there superforecasts for existential risk? · 2020-07-07T17:25:18.671Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this. I've had similar questions myself.

I think the incentives issue here is a big one. One way I've wondered about addressing it is to find a bunch of people who forecast really well and whose judgments are not substantially affected by forecasting incentives. Then have them forecast risks. Might that work, and has anyone tried it?

Comment by zdgroff on Some promising career ideas beyond 80,000 Hours' priority paths · 2020-06-26T17:55:50.850Z · score: 46 (26 votes) · EA · GW

I'm excited to see this! One thing I'd mention on the historian path and its competitiveness is you could probably do a lot of this sort of work as an economic historian with a PhD in economics. Economic historians study everything from gender roles to religion and do ambitious if controversial quantitative analyses of long-term trends. While economists broadly may give little consideration to historical context, the field of economic history prides itself on actually caring about history for its own sake as well, so you can spend time doing traditional historian things, like working with archival documents (see the Preface to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History for a discussion of the field's norms).

The good thing here is it probably allows for greater outside options and potentially less competitiveness than a history PhD given the upsides of an economics PhD. You could also probably do similar work in political science.

>> Our impression is that although many of these topics have received attention from historians (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), some are comparatively neglected within the subject, especially from a more quantitative or impact-focused perspective.

I'd also note that some of these cites I don't think are history—2 and 4 are written by anthropologists. (I think in the former case he's sometimes classified as a biologist, psychologist, or economist too.)

I really do hope we have EAs studying history and fully support it, and I just wanted to give some closely related options!

Comment by zdgroff on EA considerations regarding increasing political polarization · 2020-06-22T00:51:41.521Z · score: 27 (14 votes) · EA · GW

Great post, and thanks for writing it. One note: if polarization is defined as "more extreme views on each issue" (e.g. more people wanting extremely high or extremely low taxes), then it does not seem to be happening according to some research. The sort of polarization happening in the U.S. is more characterized as ideological sorting. That is, views on any particular issue (abortion, affirmative action, gun control) don't have more mass on the extremes than before, but the views in each political party are less mixed.

This is nonetheless important, and I don't think it radically changes much of what you said. Affect toward the opposite party is still much more negative than before. But it might suggest we should be more concerned about the conflict between the parties itself (e.g. abusing constitutional norms, cancellation) and less concerned about their policies per se.

Comment by zdgroff on How to Measure Capacity for Welfare and Moral Status · 2020-06-01T17:35:33.226Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Great post, and I'm excited to see RP work on this. I have great confidence in your carefulness about this.

A concern I have with pretty much every approach to weighting welfare across species is that it seems like the correct weights may depend on the type of experience. For example, I could imagine the intensity of physical pain being very similar across species but the severity of depression from not being able to move to vary greatly.

Is there a way to allow for this within the approach you lay out here?

Comment by zdgroff on Wild Animal Welfare Meetup (Spring 2020) · 2020-04-24T16:55:32.462Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I found this informative:

Are you more funding- or talent-constrained?
Oscar: There are lots of researchers out there who would work on this if we offered them funding to do so.
Michelle: Wild Animal Initiative is primarily funding-constrained. Hiring can also be challenging, but not as much.
Peter: Funding-constrained. We have had to turn away talented people we didn’t have the funds to hire.

Given that most of the messaging in the EA community for a couple years has been that human capital constraints are greater than funding constraints, I was surprised to see this. I know there have been objections that this messaging is focused on longtermist and movement-building work and less representative of farmed animal advocacy, for example, but this is an update for me.

Comment by zdgroff on CEA's Plans for 2020 · 2020-04-24T04:58:04.029Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I had not read through the CEA mistakes page before (linked in your post), and I am very impressed with it. I wanted to note that I'm pleased and kind of touched that the page lists neglect of animal advocacy in the 2015 and 2016 EAGs. I was one of the advocates who was unhappy, and I was not sure whether there was recognition of this, so it was really meaningful to see CEA admit this and detail steps that are taken.

Comment by zdgroff on How hot will it get? · 2020-04-23T00:20:13.166Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Very interesting! I wanted to note that this further supports Will's comment on his recent post that understanding prior-setting better could be very high-impact.

Comment by zdgroff on Is Existential Risk a Useless Category? Could the Concept Be Dangerous? · 2020-03-31T23:33:47.674Z · score: 19 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Yeah, I agree the facile use of "white supremacy" here is bad, and I do want to keep ad hominems out of EA discourse. Thanks for explaining this.

I guess I still think it makes important enough arguments that I'd like to see engagement, though I agree it would be better said in a more cautious and less accusatory way.

Comment by zdgroff on Is Existential Risk a Useless Category? Could the Concept Be Dangerous? · 2020-03-31T20:35:16.584Z · score: 11 (12 votes) · EA · GW

I think the concerns about utopianism are well-placed and merit more discussion in effective altruism. I'm sad to see the post getting downvoted.

Comment by zdgroff on Introducing Good Policies: A new charity promoting behaviour change interventions · 2019-11-22T15:40:21.031Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Not posting this because I agree with it but rather because I think it's one of the more influential econ papers actually dealing with the reality of addiction: Bernheim and Rangel 2004 those suffering from addiction have no control and are poorer (even then people of the same ex ante income), and for those not suffering from addiction it's not obvious why they are irrational.

I think the conclusion is almost certainly wrong, but why it's wrong is a bit subtle and hard to pin down, so I thought it might be a helpful thing to be aware of going into this. It's published in the AER so it's sort of an influential enhancement of Larks's comment.

(Also full disclosure that Bernheim is my advisor. That mostly just makes me more perplexed by this paper.)

Comment by zdgroff on The Economic Lives of the Poor · 2019-11-22T15:29:26.965Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

A nice, similar writeup along these lines is the book Portfolios of the Poor. Check it out if you want to go a bit more in-depth specifically on finances and how they affect daily life.

Comment by zdgroff on Institutions for Future Generations · 2019-11-20T22:02:35.683Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I obviously am a fan of this post! A few thoughts.

  1. I don't think sin taxes is the best phrase here. Sin taxes usually refer to internalities like cigarettes, but this is an externality more like a climate tax.

  2. I like the soft institutions like research commissions and cabinet members but suspect the harder institutions like a veto or additional legislator or even a court will get captured and perverted. Almost all of these institutions rely on norms to actually care about future generations, and norms collapse every so often when there's a reason to subvert them. Maybe this is just me looking at the current political moment, bit since we are talking about long time horizons, moments like this will recur, and I think it takes longer to salvage norms than it does to erode them. For example, claims I could see being made to justify any particular political agenda:

"We need to preserve our religious values for the sake of future generations" "We need to do [insert radical policy] to address the present crisis so that our civilization survives for future generations" "We must completely halt resource usage to preserve the earth for future generations" "We must maximize resource usage so that we grow as much as possible for future generations"


  1. For things like term lengths there's a real literature on things like that in political economy that could help get a pretty good sense of expected impact.
Comment by zdgroff on Are you working on a research agenda? A guide to increasing the impact of your research by involving decision-makers · 2019-09-26T04:26:58.556Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this! I was curious if you had research or particular observations that led you to the above approach. Last year I researched evidence-based policy somewhat, and I came away thinking that the focus on crafting research for what decision-makers wanted is in general over-rated. That may not always be the case, granted, and when research is already aimed at a specific decision-maker, it's worth doing it right, but I guess I would highlight that I think a lot of especially foundational research has an impact in a more indirect way.

Comment by zdgroff on Existential Risk and Economic Growth · 2019-09-04T20:13:00.936Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I think this is an extremely impressive piece of work in economics proper not to mention a substantial contribution to longtermism research. Nice going.

Comment by zdgroff on Consumer preferences for labgrown and plant-based meat · 2019-08-09T13:45:54.694Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this! This is good to see and somewhat dispiriting. A few things about this piece that are raise questions for me:

1) The consumers opposing use of the word "beef" for non-cow-based products seems presumably intended to yield evidence on the labeling laws in several states, but I would guess consumers would react differently to, e.g., "burger" or "nugget."

2) The labels on products seem to involve more than just the brand recognition because the farm-raised beef label has an image of a cow seemingly out on pasture. (This may not be inaccurate in the case of cows, but if applied to the case of chickens, pigs, or fish, such an image would be misleading.)

3) I'd be curious for the results with a term other than lab-grown.

4) The result that males prefer plant-based or clean meat is surprising and out of line with every other data source I've seen, e.g.

Comment by zdgroff on Who Supports Animal Rights? · 2019-08-09T11:24:18.197Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The wealth thing matches other data I've seen. I think Veganomics mentioned that. Not sure where else I've seen it but I think the result is fairly robust.

Comment by zdgroff on Four practices where EAs ought to course-correct · 2019-07-31T16:14:44.773Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Great, thanks!

Comment by zdgroff on Four practices where EAs ought to course-correct · 2019-07-30T17:12:41.080Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW
This post suggested the rather alarming idea that EA's growth is petering out in a sort of logistic curve.

Is this the right link? I don't see that claim in the post, but maybe I'm missing it.

Comment by zdgroff on "Why Nations Fail" and the long-termist view of global poverty · 2019-07-19T16:25:31.117Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

As I've been doing research this summer, I've become a bit more tentative and wary of acting like we know much, but my general intuition is that (a) our focus should not be on saving animals now but on securing whatever changes save future animals, so ethical changes and institutional changes; (b) I think institutional changes are the most promising avenue for this, and the question is which institutional changes last longest; (c) we should look for path dependencies.

It's unclear to me what advocacy changes this means, but I think it makes the case for, e.g., the Nonhuman Rights Project or circus bans stronger than they are in the short term. I think this is a crucial area of research though.

For path dependencies, the biggest one right now I think is whether clean and plant-based meat succeed. The shift from longtermism here I think is that rather than trying to get products to market the fastest, we should ask what in general makes industries most likely to succeed or fail and just optimize for the probability of success. As an example, this makes me inclined to favor clean meat companies supporting regulations and transparency.

Comment by zdgroff on Six-month update and summer fundraiser at Wild Animal Initiative · 2019-07-17T17:00:28.817Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I'm so impressed and excited by all that you are up to, and I'm really glad about the Executive Director decision. Keep up the good work.

Comment by zdgroff on "Why Nations Fail" and the long-termist view of global poverty · 2019-07-16T14:51:48.869Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I really applaud this! Longtermism seems to me a compelling idea across cause areas. I've thought about what it means in the context of animal advocacy, and I think there too it would recommend a shift of focus. I'm glad to see someone bring this up in the context of poverty. I've seen many people over the years support development after hearing arguments for longtermism because of vague long-term flow-through effects, and actually researching long-term poverty alleviation is important if we want to actually support it.

Comment by zdgroff on Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood · 2019-07-14T14:14:45.962Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This is all really interesting, and thank you all for chiming in. Liam, I'm curious—do you adopt EA tools within a Catholic moral framework, or do you practice Catholicism while adopting a different moral framework? I figure your participation in EA is some sort of anecdata.

Comment by zdgroff on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-14T11:58:34.404Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

The explainer doesn't seem to imply the choice is equivalent to a quantum split unless I'm missing something? I've had Jeff's reservation every time I've heard this argument. It seems like it would just be a huge coincidence for our decisions to actually correspond to splits. Subjective senses of uncertainty may not equal actual lack of determinism at the atomic level.

Comment by zdgroff on Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood · 2019-07-10T09:44:31.234Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW
I think a big part of what makes reaching out to religious groups at least somewhat promising is that a lot of them are already trying to do good.

Really interesting point. I hadn't thought of this, but I agree. In college I lived with seven guys who I in some ways really struggle to relate to for the most part because they don't have a sense of purpose that drives them. I always related well to one of them who was a devout Christian, because even though our religious views were wildly distinct, we both had some rich view about what we ought to do.

Also, from anecdotal experiences from friends and ex-colleagues as well as my own personal experience, I know a lot of agnostic/atheists who are involved in religious groups

This is interesting. I know in many Jewish congregations atheists and agnostics are common, although still usually not overt (although I had a Rabbi once who described himself as an "agnostic on a good day"). I participate in Buddhist and Jewish events as an agnostic atheist. I guess I would still be surprised if this was that common in religions that emphasize faith more, but then again, I'm not as familiar with the actual practice there.

I used to be an organizer with an animal rights group (Direct Action Everywhere) that had a lot of unattractive qualities, but one thing I think that they did for some people was offer a lot of what religion can offer: community, sense of purpose, regular events. I think there is an opening to fill a gap in a lot of non-religious people's lives. It makes me think of the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam about the decline in social life in America.

Comment by zdgroff on How Much Do Wild Animals Suffer? A Foundational Result on the Question is Wrong. · 2019-07-04T09:57:12.318Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this comment. I think the model equally yields predictions on both. In no way does the model give any sense of scale or units. The only thing it's useful for at this stage is saying whether suffering exceeds enjoyment or vice versa, and that should be true on average if and only if it's true on the whole, unless I'm missing something.

Comment by zdgroff on Should we talk about altruism or talk about justice? · 2019-07-04T09:54:45.330Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I lean toward effective altruism moving in the direction of "justice" for a few reasons.

1) I think Aaron is right that "justice-oriented arguments seem to have had a much greater chance of going "viral" than altruistic arguments", and I think the academic literature supports him. Van Zomeren and Postumes (2008) is, from what I understand, one of the better syntheses/reviews on the psychology of collective action, and it finds that an injustice framing promotes more participation.

2) I think the effect of the different terms on moral attitudes is ambiguous at worst. Most of your examples above seem to be on the fence. In the animal welfare case, you ask for help resolving this. I can't claim to be decisive and have a lot more doubt here than I used to, but I think "justice" is a better way to build alliances with other advocacy groups, the most promising of which are on the left, but possibly even on the right if part of a Christian justice view. (In Poland, there's major conservative support for animal welfare because of a kind of fondness for rural life that seems more in line with justice than altruism.) I think altruism calls to mind dietary change and leafleting sorts of approaches, which have somewhat fallen out of favor in animal advocacy. To my mind, the current tactics with the most EA support, namely corporate campaigns, undercover investigations, and clean and plant-based meat, are somewhat orthogonal to the altruism-justice consideration.

3) Trends in the EA movement over time suggest to me that the term altruism is more likely to bias us in the wrong direction than justice. Initially EAs focused substantially on earning to give, donating to poverty charities, and dietary change as I note above. Over time, there has been much more interest in policy (even for poverty, where immigration and climate policy seem to have more support in EA now). AI strategy and policy, for example, seems very pressing, and most EA animal advocates I know favor institutional change over individual change. Many of the judgments we have moved away from since the earlier days of EA seem to be cases where we did the sort of things "altruism" is evocative of, and increasingly we find ourselves doing the "justice" things.

I do worry, as someone in animal advocacy who has seen all the conflict in that movement, that the "justice" framing could have a perverse impact on discourse and civility. I think at the margin we could afford to move a bit more in that direction, though.

Comment by zdgroff on Announcing the Buddhists in EA Group · 2019-07-04T09:32:27.354Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for creating this. This is awesome!

Also, to those who create and organize EA for Christians: count me as impressed. I had no idea there was such work going on in that space.

Comment by zdgroff on How Much Do Wild Animals Suffer? A Foundational Result on the Question is Wrong. · 2019-06-26T11:03:38.270Z · score: 10 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Brian. I agree that this sort of argument deserves relatively low epistemic weight and that the argument is very speculative, as I tried to emphasize in the paper but am worried that not everybody picked up. I'm definitely more uncertain than you on the topic, perhaps because of different views on suffering. Thanks for the comment.

Comment by zdgroff on Effective animal advocacy movement building: a neglected opportunity? · 2019-06-15T02:04:57.140Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · EA · GW

As someone in the EAA space, I'm curious how much value EAA movement-building brings relative to general animal advocacy movement-building. ACE has cited the latter as neglected. In general I think EAA movement-building may be somewhat narrower because of the conjunction of beliefs (animal advocacy and EA), which I would think makes it less tractable and potentially lower in scale.

Comment by zdgroff on What is the Impact of Beyond Meat? · 2019-05-04T05:36:13.163Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I would think any direct impact would be quite small, as the products are all aimed at substituting for cow products now, and cows are basically a rounding error in the number of farmed animals. It seems like the main impact of Beyond Meat is to drive the plant-based industry further and to establish itself to be able to produce higher-impact replacements down the line.

Comment by zdgroff on Aging research and population ethics · 2019-04-30T05:04:14.473Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

One question I have about these discussions is that I'd read some arguments back when I took a class on environmental science that humanity was near the earth's carrying capacity, meaning there is not capacity on earth for a much larger population (and capacity is quite likely smaller). This term "carrying capacity" seems like a sketchy one that tacitly packs in normative and positive judgments, so I don't endorse it, but is there a chance that something like this is true, and so lengthening life will reduce the probability of others being born because it raises the probability of environmental problems that lower the sustainable population?

Comment by zdgroff on Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness · 2019-04-30T04:58:19.402Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Wow, this is incredible. Such a great write-up and so much here. Two questions:

1) Do you think there is a consensus that Jon Mallatt and Todd Feinberg are among the leading experts and their books among the best on the subject? Just trying to figure out how much to update based on this.

2) Jon Mallatt seems from the way he talks like the type of biologist who could be amenable to wild -animal welfare research. Has anyone reached out to him?

Comment by zdgroff on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2019-03-23T03:00:55.730Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

In general, I think the degree of compliance with any social norm one typically observes should be surprising. I've long thought it's remarkable that people intent on harming others do not use cars as weapons of destruction as much as they have recently. So I think there's something disturbing and something encouraging about this, in that we see lots of facile ways to hurt others be far rarer than we would expect in the presence of perfect information.

Comment by zdgroff on Suggestions for EA wedding vows? · 2019-03-23T02:57:57.752Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'm getting married in September and November (he's Brazilian, and we want to celebrate in the U.S. and Brazil). Mostly following out of interest, but some things we've thought of:

1) I'm interested in doing a giving game in the bags we leave for guests at the hotel. Guests can vote on where to give money from a list of charities and descriptions.

2) Obviously try to direct gifts to donations.

3) We're animal advocates, and we got officiants on board with that and who will probably talk about all sentient beings in addition to our vows.

Comment by zdgroff on A Research Agenda for Establishing Welfare Biology · 2019-03-17T01:08:29.559Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This is very interesting to see/hear. I have a paper coming out that's purely theoretical but that deals with this issue, and I'd be interested in talking more about this spreadsheet.

Comment by zdgroff on A Research Agenda for Establishing Welfare Biology · 2019-03-17T01:06:30.961Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Very excited to see where this goes and, I hope, participate in it!

Comment by zdgroff on Deliberative Polling-A Better Way to Gauge Public Opinion on AGI · 2019-02-28T00:52:22.083Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'd never heard of this center and find this work really interesting! Do you think deliberative polling in the context of values could be a way of getting some idea of where coherent extrapolated volition would go?

Comment by zdgroff on Why I'm focusing on invertebrate sentience · 2018-12-11T22:27:26.915Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW
When I bring this up with EAs who are focused on AI safety, many of them suggest that we only need to get AI safety right and then the AI can solve the question of what consciousness is.

I find this somewhat frustrating. Obviously there's a range of views in the EA community on this issue, but I think the most plausible arguments for focusing on AI safety are that there is a low but non-negligible chance of a huge impact. If that's true, then "getting AI safety right" leaves a lot of things unaddressed, because in most scenarios "getting AI safety" right is only a small portion of the picture. In general I think we need to find ways to hold two thoughts at the same time, that AI safety is critical and that there's a very significant chance of other things mattering too.

Comment by zdgroff on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-07T01:10:19.170Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'm curious what "wild rat" means—does this include rats that live in cities and enter into apartments? If not, did you consider mice and rats (and other animals) killed in traps by humans? I know a lot of traps are quite awful—poison or sticky traps that let them die by starvation—so I thought it was possible that this would be a priority category.

Comment by zdgroff on Vox has a new department, Future Perfect, covering the world from an effective altruist perspective · 2018-10-18T04:29:57.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

This is indescribably awesome.

Comment by zdgroff on Many EA orgs say they place a lot of financial value on their previous hire. What does that mean, if anything? And why aren't they hiring faster? · 2018-10-13T07:17:23.898Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

It seems like the reasons listed why organizations who value talent highly aren't hiring center on a growth constraint that can't be alleviated by money or talent. If there is this growth constraint, then doesn't it just mean we should focus elsewhere, i.e. by doing activities independent of these organizations? It seems like if organizations have slightly more room for talent than money, but ultimately little room for either, then their relative preference between the two shouldn't matter much, no?

Comment by zdgroff on ACE's Response to John Halstead · 2018-09-07T21:11:47.900Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · EA · GW

As I noted on the original post, I am grateful this dialogue is happening so respectfully this time around.

Comment by zdgroff on Concerns with ACE research · 2018-09-07T21:11:12.501Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · EA · GW

I'm grateful to see this dialogue being had so respectfully and am grateful to both sides for this dialogue.

Comment by zdgroff on Public Opinion about Existential Risk · 2018-09-03T07:30:15.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I find it interesting that there's apparently more proportional risk in the second half of this century than in this half and the following centuries. I'm guessing that's just a byproduct of numeric heuristics, but I'd be interested in if there's anything more on that. Discussions of climate change seem to center on the 50-100 year time horizon, which seems like a somewhat arbitrary choice by scientists, but I could see it influencing public perceptions.

Comment by zdgroff on HLAI 2018 Field Report · 2018-09-03T07:25:09.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I talked to two people who said things that indicated they lean EA, asked them about if they identified that way, and then they told me they didn't because they associate EA with Singer-style act utilitarianism and self-imposed poverty through maximizing donated income.

This is interesting. What about them seemed EA-aligned? When I came across EA I was attracted to it because of the Singer-style act utilitarianism, and I've had worries that it's drifting too far from that and losing touch with the moral urgency that I felt in the early days. That said, I do think that actually trying to practice act utilitarianism leads to more mature views that suggest being careful about pushing ourselves too far.

Comment by zdgroff on Good news that matters · 2018-09-03T07:14:39.528Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this, Michelle. I'm glad my post inspired this! I've been trying to find more positive news these days because I still do think from what I've read that the world is getting better, but it's hard to remind myself of that. I've signed up to positive newsletters, like The New York Times's the Week in Good News and, and I've been somewhat disappointed, because the stories there are just as anecdotal as the negative ones are! They tend to focus on individual things, often actions that seem frivolously expensive. I think it might be worth someone's time to create a more substantive positive newsletter. Maybe "Positive Trends" or something like that?

Comment by zdgroff on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-09-03T06:55:08.459Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm curious how you determined how utilitarian/EA people you spoke with were?

I think it's remarkable how much EAA has changed in the past several years. When people first started these effective animal advocacy online discussion spaces, veg outreach was the most-talked about intervention. It's a pretty resounding shift.

Comment by zdgroff on Doing vs Talking at EA Events · 2018-09-03T06:44:20.471Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I feel your desire for doing at a meet up, because I ran a student group in college where I worried there was a lot of talk and too little action. I think there could be versions of "talking" that are closer to "doing," though—for example, presenting on recent projects or donation decisions, thereby giving members a chance to feel good about good they've done recently and creating a norm of action. This would probably avoid some of the problems with short-term freelancing laid out in other comments. Hope this idea helps!

Comment by zdgroff on Open Thread #41 · 2018-09-03T06:40:03.422Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · EA · GW

[Did Career Research to Reach a Sense of Conclusion]

About a year ago I left an organization I was closely involved in, and I spent the past year struggling quite a bit with what I wanted to do with my career. I applied to PhD programs in economics and got into a top one, Stanford. I spent several months thinking about what causes I want to focus on and whether this made sense for my career, and I made a pretty ambitious plan of reading up on debates that pertained to crucial considerations I'd longed neglected, such as how RCTs compare to other forms of evidence, what the best theories of consciousness are and their implications, and what the odds of various risks are.

I'm pretty happy with where I am now after doing this. I updated my moral weight for animals downwards (though it was quite high before so it's still pretty high), my probability of machine sentience in the medium-term upwards, and my views on different forms of evidence and seriousness of risk stayed largely the same. Overall, I concluded that most of the things I'm most concerned about have research as their biggest gap, and the PhD is well-suited to that. I like to contemplate my career regularly, but I've reached a place of satisfaction that I had not been in for a while. Meanwhile, I started the PhD and am very happy with it so far.