Comment author: Khorton 19 June 2018 10:31:24AM 0 points [-]

It seems odd to me that there's only one page for developing world health. I'd expect that page to get long and confusing quickly!

Comment author: JasperGeh 19 June 2018 09:19:42AM 0 points [-]

This is great! To have a collection of links of interventions, arguments, resources etc for each cause is super valuable for people who are not that well versed in the EA-website-bubble.

Looking forward to people adding their resources; S-risks for example are still missing and a quite important consideration. But I imagine someone from the FRI is already writing.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 19 June 2018 02:46:10AM 1 point [-]

it might also be nice if there was a repository of info on why some common cause areas are not generally recommended by EA

Good idea. I had been experimenting by adding summaries at the top of some articles (for example this one on aging) and was trying to figure out how opinionated the Wiki should be. Right now I was trying to err on the side of being less opinionated. If you have any thoughts on this issue, I'd definitely be curious to hear them.

I'm unsure how one would incentivize such info being added though.

We're hoping to eventually and slowly create a volunteer pool to do this kind of work. This seems like the kind of tasks volunteers have done well on in my past experience. Furthermore, given funding, we'd even be able to pay for the assistance.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 19 June 2018 01:55:40AM 2 points [-]

In addition to cataloging sources of data and analysis for current and potential EA causes, it might also be nice if there was a repository of info on why some common cause areas are not generally recommended by EA. I'm unsure how one would incentivize such info being added though.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 19 June 2018 12:41:12AM 0 points [-]

We control the site, so we can revert the addition of any information hazards if they come up. I imagine the site has the same risk of spreading infohazards as, say, this forum.

Comment author: RyanCarey 19 June 2018 12:20:36AM 1 point [-]

Do you have a plan for managing information hazards?

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 19 June 2018 12:20:00AM 0 points [-]

My point (and remmelt's) was that public funds would be harder/more time (and resource) consuming to get.

There is currently a gap at the low end (OpenPhil is too big to spend time on funding such small projects).

And Good Ventures/OpenPhil also already fill a lot of the gap in funding programs with track records of effectively reducing suffering.

Comment author: Dunja 19 June 2018 12:09:17AM *  0 points [-]

Oh I agree that for many ideas to be attractive, they have to gain a promising character. I wouldn't reduce the measure of pursuit worthiness of scientific hypotheses to the evidence of their success though: this measure is rather a matter of prospective values, which have to do with a feasible methodology (how many research paths we have despite current problems and anomalies?). But indeed, sometimes research may proceed simply as tapping in the dark, in spite all the good methodological proposals (as e.g. it might have been the case in the research on protein synthesis in the mid 20th c.).

However, my point was simply the question: does such an investment in future proposals outweigh the investment in other topics, so that it should be funded from an EA budget rather than from existing public funds? Again: I very much encourage such camps. Just not on the account of spending the cash meant for effectively reducing suffering (due to these projects being highly risky and due to the fact that they are already heavily funded by say OpPhil).

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 18 June 2018 11:51:27PM 0 points [-]

There is an analogy with speculative investing here I think - for something to be widely regarded as worthwhile investing in (i.e. research funded by mainstream academia) it has to already have evidence of success (e.g. Bitcoin now). By which point it is no longer new and highly promising in terms of expected value (like Bitcoin was in, say, 2011) i.e. it is necesssarily the case that all things very high in (relative) expected value are outside the mainstream.

AGI alignment is gaining more credibility, but it still doesn't seem like it's that accepted in mainstream academia.

Anyway, I think we are probably on a bit of a tangent to what AISC is trying to achieve - namely help new researchers level up (/get a foot in the door in academic research).

Comment author: Dunja 18 June 2018 11:14:40PM *  0 points [-]

But this is not about whether academia is on the same page or not; it's about the importance of pushing the results via academic channels because otherwise they won't be recognized by anyone (policy makers especially). Moreover, what I mention above are funding institutions offering the finances of individual projects - assessed in terms of their significance and feasibility. If there is a decent methodology to address the given objectives, even if the issue is controversial, this doesn't mean the project won't be financed. Alternatively, if you actually know of decent project applications that have been rejected, well let's see those and examine whether there is indeed a bias in the field. Finally, why do you think that academia is averse towards risky projects?! Take for instance ERC schemes: they are intentionally designed for high-risk/high-gain project proposals, that are transformative and groundbreaking in character.

Comment author: Diego_Caleiro 18 June 2018 11:10:55PM 0 points [-]

I haven't read the whole thing. But this seems to be one of the, if not the coolest idea in EA in 2018. Glad you did it.

Good luck for everyone who goes to live or work there!

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 18 June 2018 11:09:49PM 0 points [-]

For more on the thinking behind streamlined non-mainstream funding, see

I don't think academia is yet on the same page as EA with regard to AI Safety, but may well be soon hopefully (with credibility coming from the likes of Stuart Russell and Max Tegmark).

Comment author: Dunja 18 June 2018 10:51:36PM 1 point [-]

This is great, thanks a lot for doing this work!

Comment author: Dunja 18 June 2018 10:21:37PM *  0 points [-]

Congrats on such a creative idea and the commitment in wanting to realize it! :) My main worry concerns a very basic premise that seems to underlie the project: that providing an optimal space for individuals to do research is likely to result in efficient and effective research. While conducting online courses may indeed be useful, conducting unguided research is not only hard, but unlikely to lead anywhere concerning effectiveness and efficiency. A junior researcher, without an access to a supervisor who has in-depth knowledge of the given subject domain, is likely to end up tapping in the dark and trying out all kinds of paths that are far from being optimal. This is why the task of a supervisor is so important: one learns which topics to focus on, which gaps in the knowledge should first be filled in, how this should be done, which blind spots are hindering one's research, etc. And that only concerns knowledge acquisition.

Knowledge production is probably even harder: without having an access to guidance concerning how to conduct e.g. empirical research, how to write academic papers, which workshops and conferences are optimal places for receiving critical feedback, which journal would be good for the given paper, etc. - one's own output is likely to remain unknown, unrecognized by the relevant community (academic or EA-related) and hence entirely ineffective.

I am not sure which steps could be taken to tackle these problems. The only solution I currently see is opening the hotel for larger project applications, by experts willing to coordinate the research done in the center, and who would regularly visit the place to guide junior researchers.

Comment author: aRound 18 June 2018 09:29:16PM 1 point [-]

For another anecdotal data point - I found that both the contrast between where money is spent and where the suffering happens, and the cumulative death count were highly effective emotionally (the dots animation less so).

However, for me personally, I'm not sure 'number of killed animals' is the best measurement for negative impact. I could imagine viewing an animal farming industry where the animals got to live free and happy lives until their sudden painless deaths as a pretty positive thing - animals in the wild generally live in far worse conditions and it seems unrealistic to expect humans to keep animals in a happy environment if there was no gain from it whatsoever.

Comment author: aRound 18 June 2018 09:11:54PM 1 point [-]

This isn't something I'd thought about at all - I guess wild animal suffering is one of those things you just accept as unfortunate but inevitable.

Still I wouldn't say the absolute scale (# of suffering farm animals vs. # of suffering wild animals) makes much of a difference, rather the scale of what can be accomplished with a given resource investment. Suffering in factories seems like a much easier problem to solve, and I'd expect the amount of suffering reduced per dollar invested to be far higher.

Also, I would feel a lot more hesitant about large-scale interventions on wild animals, since they are part of complex ecosystems where I've been led to believe we don't have a good enough understanding to anticipate long-term consequences accurately. Farm animals are situated in a fairly simple living situation where I'd feel much more confident about the long-term suffering reduction of various interventions.

Maybe I'm missing some obvious high-impact interventions though? Or maybe the area is unexplored and there are big potential benefits from spending some effort figuring out if there are high-impact interventions?

Comment author: lukefreeman 18 June 2018 08:14:10PM 0 points [-]

I'm really interested in what concrete suggestions there are for things that could be direct, effective and engaging for members.

Comment author: MDB 18 June 2018 04:54:54PM 0 points [-]

Fantastic idea. There are a couple of similar "for-good" incubators in the UK: Year Here (, which focuses on charities / social enterprises, and Zinc (, which focuses on more-than-profit businesses. Neither are explicitly EA, and I'm sure plenty of the organisations coming out of them are focusing on sub-optimal causes and/or interventions, but they may be interesting nonetheless. I know people at them if you want to talk to anyone.

Comment author: Greg_Colbourn 18 June 2018 02:14:29PM 1 point [-]

I've not yet had anyone say it's a dealbreaker (and of course people are allowed to buy meat from takeaways - or microwaveable burgers etc - with their spending money if they are really craving it..). Whilst frugality comes into it, the main reason for the all vegan catering is ethics.

Also, I'd put money on the 2018 survey coming out with higher numbers for veg*anism :)

Comment author: toonalfrink 18 June 2018 01:53:40PM 1 point [-]

Hi Vollmer, appreciate your criticism. Upvoted for that.

While it's really impressive how low the rent at the hotel will be, rent cost is rarely a major reason for a project's funding constraints

Do you realise that the figure cited (3-4k a year) isn't rent cost? It's total living cost. At least in my case that's 4 times as little as what I'm running on, and I'm pretty cheap. For others the difference might be much larger.

For example a project might have an actually high-impact idea that doesn't depend on location. Instead of receiving $150k from CEA to run half a year in the bay with 3 people, they could receive $50k and run for 3 years in Blackpool with 6 people instead. CEA could then fund 3 times as many projects, and it's impact would effectively stretch 623=36 times further. Coming from that perspective, staying in the world's most expensive cities is just non-negotiable. At least for projects (coding, research, etc) that wouldn't benefit an even stronger multiplier from being on-location. And this isn't just projection. I know at least one project that is most likely moving their team to the EA hotel.

Instead, the hotel could become a hub for everyone who doesn't study at a university or work on a project that EA donors find worth funding, i.e. the hotel would mainly support work that the EA community as a whole would view as lower-quality.

I'm pretty sure EA projects find many projects net-positive even if they don't find them worth funding. For the same reason that I'd buy a car if I could afford one. Does that mean I find cars lower-quality than my bicycle? Nope.

Imo it's a very simple equation. EA's need money to live. So they trade (waste) a major slice of their resources to ineffective endeavors for money. We can take away those needs for <10% the cost, effectively making a large amount of people go from part-time to full-time EA. Assuming that the distribution of EA effectiveness isn't too steeply inequal (ie there are still effective EA's out there), this intervention is the most effective I've seen thus far.

View more: Next