Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 15 June 2017 07:15:37AM 1 point [-]

There are ongoing controversies in EA, even if they're not obvious. That is, there are lots of ongoing debates EA that flare up occasionally, but are unresolved in terms of what concessions different effective altruists think our community ought be willing to make. I might cover some of those in the near future, and I'll cite this blog post. This is valuable in that I'd be covering object-level controversies, and having the outline of an argument established on the forum here in a neutral fashion beforehand will be helpful. Thanks for writing this.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 15 June 2017 06:28:56AM 0 points [-]
In response to comment by [deleted] on Announcing Effective Altruism Grants
Comment author: Daniel_Eth 15 June 2017 04:17:19AM *  1 point [-]

While I'm generally in favor of the idea of prediction markets, I think we need to consider the potential negative PR from betting on catastrophes. So while betting on whether a fast food chain offers cultured meat before a certain date would probably be fine, I think it would be a really bad idea to bet on nuclear weapons being used.

Comment author: casebash 15 June 2017 02:47:33AM 1 point [-]

EoST?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Announcing Effective Altruism Grants
Comment author: lukeprog 14 June 2017 08:13:18PM 0 points [-]

For context (plausibly Mac already knows this): At least in the U.S., real-money prediction markets are apparently legal so long as the profits from successful bets do not go to the bettors (e.g. because they go to charity instead): see Bet2Give. As I understand it, Bet2Give didn't become popular enough to be sustainable — perhaps because not enough players were motivated to participate given that they couldn't actually receive monetary rewards for successful bets.

Comment author: thebestwecan 14 June 2017 12:33:58PM 4 points [-]

I'd like to ask the people who downvoted this post to share their concerns in comments if possible. I know animal content tends to get downvoted by some people on the EA Forum, so this might just be another instance of that, rather than for more specific reasons.

Comment author: arunbharatula 14 June 2017 11:42:45AM 0 points [-]

Thank you for letting me know. I was shocked by the negative reception to my post and I want to understand it further. Could you point out some specific examples from my post that you feel are snide or inappropriate. I did aim to be write in a simple manner.

The questions embedded in my article were not designed to be sarcastic. In fact, they were to ask for reassurance and to see if my concerns are valid.

Comment author: arunbharatula 14 June 2017 11:33:43AM *  0 points [-]

David R's article and follow up post is outstanding but neglects some relevant issues:

Firstly, what impact on wellbeing would improvements in intelligence, income or size have on the population? I'm optimistic about the utility of income and pessimistic about the utility of intelligence, in light of other research that looks at their association with wellbeing. Meanwhile, I'm ignorant of the utility of size. Secondly, what would we expect without a mass deworming intervention? David (no known last name) in the comments elaborates on this second point:

'I don’t think that the argument against mass deworming programmes is that ‘infected children who get the pill as part of mass deworming won’t benefit’. The argument is that there is not reliable evidence to support the claims that communities who get mass deworming have measurable nutritional, educational, or economic benefits compared to communities who don’t.

'Many children with heavy symptomatic infection WILL get treated even in the absence of mass deworming programmes. Albendazole is widely available throughout endemic settings and children with abdominal pain, abdominal distention, diarrhea, undernutrition, and visible worms will often be dewormed when presenting to health services. Many commentaries on mass deworming argue that it is simply a cheaper way to reach infected children than ‘screen and treat’. However this is not the appropriate control comparison. The control group should be ‘presumptive treatment of symptomatic children through primary healthcare services’. In the Alderman study up to 30% of the control group received deworming treatment via other means. This treatment through health centres may be one reason for the failure to demonstrate effects in trials of mass deworming.'

Comment author: MichaelPlant 14 June 2017 10:45:21AM 0 points [-]

I agree on the writing being scattered. Task 1) is: get the writing on a given topic into a single place. That still leaves task 2) get all those collated writings into a single place.

On 2) it strikes me it would be good if CEA compiled a list of EA-relevant resources. An alternative would be someone be someone creating an edited collection of the best recent EA work on a range of topics. Or if we have an academic EA global, then treating that like a normal academic conference and publishing the presented papers.

Comment author: casebash 14 June 2017 10:40:26AM *  6 points [-]

"Annoying, alienating and culty and wish people wouldn't do it" - I would like to suggest that this is a bit of an overreaction given that this is just one post and almost no other posts on this forum are like this. It hardly seems like this forum is at risk of being overrun.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 14 June 2017 10:16:36AM 2 points [-]

This is a purposefully vague warning for reasons that should not need to be said. Unfortunately, this forces this post to discuss these issues at a higher level of generality than might be ideal, and so there is definitely merit to the claim that this post only deals in generalisations. For this reason, this post should be understood more as an outline of an argument than as an actual crystalized argument

I found this post unhelpful and this part of it particularly so. Your overall point - "don't concede too much on important topics" - seems reasonable, but as I don't know what topics you're referring to, or what would count as 'too much' on those, I can't learn anything.

More generally, I find EAs who post things of the flavour "we shouldn't do X, but I can't tell you what I mean by X for secret reasons" annoying, alienating and culty and wish people wouldn't do it.

Comment author: innov8tor3 14 June 2017 08:04:37AM *  0 points [-]

FYI, the subject of unification versus diversity is one the EoST community debates with great frequency and vigour: bio mimicry may suggest that diversity is nature's way of helping us survive ...

However, for unity of purpose, some useful umbrellas are: Global Abundance; Education; Health; Eco Sustainability ...

Comment author: innov8tor3 14 June 2017 08:00:28AM 0 points [-]

I'm an EA London member, wondering how to contact William or just EA London on the subjects of new organisations and also anti debating ...

Please do have a look at Ecology of Systems Thinking - EoST on Facebook - where I act as (unpaid) moderator. Much of the thinking William talks of is present, and several projects we are trying to initiate are emerging via a very early stage "network corporate" ...

I recently listed thirty odd projects that could be useful, given we trial them to some extent, and I'm sure there are students who would be interested to explore the ideas a little further for interesting and hopefully relevant project work.

I'm also trying to use Teal principles wherever possible, and we seek to continue including members many reckon are on the autistic spectrum.

It's not very effective, yet, but pretty altruistic. Needless to say we are working on ways to get more effective.

Comment author: Michael_Wulfsohn 14 June 2017 07:24:44AM 3 points [-]

Sounds like a really interesting and worthwhile topic to discuss. But it's quite hard to be sure I'm on the same page as you without a few examples. Even hypothetical ones would do. "For reasons that should not need to be said" - unfortunately I don't understand the reasons; am I missing something?

Anyway, speaking in generalities, I believe it's extremely tempting to assume an adversarial dynamic exists. 9 times out of 10, it's probably a misunderstanding. For example, if a condition is given that isn't palatable, it's worth finding out the underlying reasons for the condition being given, and trying to satisfy them in other ways. Since humans have a tendency towards "us vs them" tribal thinking, there's considerable value in making effort to find common ground, establish mutual understanding, and reframe the interaction as a collegiate rather than adversarial one.

This isn't meant as an argument against what you've said.

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 14 June 2017 02:34:36AM 3 points [-]

Entering China would be awesome. So many people with money and no one's donating it. It ranks dead freaking last on the World Giving Index. Which in a way is a good thing... it means lots of room to grow!

China's domestic charities are usually operated and funded by the government (basically part of the government). And starting this year, the government has basically taken control of foreign NGO's in China.

Often, rich Chinese elect to donate to foreign NGOs because they are more credible. Besides, being government-controlled, charities in China are not known for being reputable, prompting billionaire Jack Ma to famously quip "It's harder to donate money to Chinese charities than to earn it." The China Foundation Center was created a few years ago to promote transparency in the nonprofit sector.

India is also a good target. Like China, no one there trusts charities. Probably because they're all scams? But there is an organization called Credibility Alliance that accredits the more transparent ones. I'm a big fan of Transparency International India. They do so much on a shoestring in the single most important issue in the country (corruption), and are the most credible/transparent.

Comment author: thebestwecan 14 June 2017 02:00:54AM *  1 point [-]

I (Jacy) was asked a good question privately that I wanted to log my answer to here, about how our RCT approach compares with that of academic social science RCTs, which I also discussed some in my response to Jay.

While there are many features of academic social science research we hope to emulate, e.g. peer review, I think academia also has a lot of issues that we want to avoid. For example, some good science practices, e.g. preregistration, are still uncommon in academia and there are strong incentives other than scientific accuracy, e.g. publish or perish, that we hope to minimize. I'd venture a speculative guess that the RCTs ran by nonprofit researchers in the EA community, e.g. the Mercy For Animals online ads RCT, are higher-quality than most academic RCTs. The most recurrent issue in EA RCTs is low sample size, which seems like more of a funding issue than a skillset/approach issue. (It could be a skillset/approach issue in some ways, e.g. if EA nonprofits should be running fewer RCTs so they can get the higher sample size on the same budget, which I tentatively agree with and think is the current trend.)

With our Research Network, we're definitely happy to support high-quality academic research. We'd also be happy to hire academics interested in switching to nonprofit research, though we worry that few would be willing to work for the relatively low salaries.

In terms of communicating our research, our lack of PhDs and academic appointments on staff has been at the top of our list of concerns. Unfortunately there's just not a good fix available. Ideally, once we're able to make our first hire, we'd find a PhD who's willing to work for a nonprofit EA salary, but that seems unlikely. We do already have PhDs/academics in our advisory/review network. I've also considered personally going back to school for a PhD, but everyone I've consulted with thinks this wouldn't be worth the time cost.

Comment author: cafelow  (EA Profile) 13 June 2017 08:22:31PM 1 point [-]

Thanks Lauren, it look us about 8 months to give away that many books actually! EA NZ is pretty small group so far, so once we had exhausted our own networks like our FB pages and groups it was a bit slower - many we gave away at conferences we attended. We tried to make it clear that there is an expectation that they would read it and fill in the survey when it arrived to avoid people just taking a copy for their book shelf. But at the conferences there was a decent percentage (maybe 30-50% depending on the event) of people who accepted a book.

Comment author: William_MacAskill 13 June 2017 05:34:00PM 5 points [-]

Thanks Owen!

Re Etg buy-out - yes, you're right. For people who think that CEA is a top donation target, hopefully we could just come to agreement as a trade wouldn't be possible, or would be prohibitively costly (if there were only slight differences in our views on which places were best to fund).

Re local group activities: These are just examples of some of the things I'd be excited about local groups doing, and I know that at least some local groups are funding constrained (e.g. someone is running them part-time, unpaid, and will otherwise need to get a job).

Re AI safety fellowship at ASI - as I understand it, that is currently funding constrained (they had great applicants who wanted to take the fellowship but ASI couldn't fund it). For other applications (e.g. Google Brain) it could involve, say, spending some amount of time during or after a physics or math PhD in order to learn some machine learning and be more competitive.

Re anthropogenic existential risks - ah, I had thought that it was only in presentation form. In which case: that paper is exactly the sort of thing I'd love to see more of.

Comment author: praline 13 June 2017 05:22:06PM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: Maxdalton 13 June 2017 01:58:46PM 3 points [-]

You should write it briefly in the application. As the form mentions, the character limit is deliberately strict to encourage you to focus on the most important issues.

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