Comment author: RandomEA 14 May 2018 04:56:20AM 6 points [-]

One is that some of the charities you mention are offshoots/sister charities of each other - GWWC and 80k, Charity Science Health and Fortify Health. This suggests to me it might be easier to found a second charity than a first one. OPP and GiveWell also fit this mold.

It's also worth noting that Animal Charity Evaluators started as an 80,000 Hours project and that the Good Food Institute was the brainchild of the Mercy for Animals leadership team.

Comment author: Denkenberger 14 May 2018 01:30:58AM *  1 point [-]

Yes, I have invested using strategies like this, which have worked out very well. You can also get a tax deduction by donating to a donor advised fund, which can then only be used for charity. But use one like this so you can have investment freedom.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 14 May 2018 12:54:38AM 0 points [-]

Thank you. I will add this to the list.

Comment author: Khorton 14 May 2018 12:06:12AM *  0 points [-]

What you're calling "value drift," Evangelical Christians call "backsliding." The idea is you've taken steps toward a countercultural lifestyle in line with your values, but now you're sliding back toward the mainstream - for an Evangelical Christian, an example would be binge drinking with friends. Backsliding is common and Evangelicals use many of the techniques listed above to counteract it.

Evangelicals heavily emphasize community. Christians are encouraged to attend services, join a small group Bible study, socialize with each other, and marry other Christians.

I also remember being encouraged to establish good habits and stick with them - for example, reading the Bible every morning.

We also, of course, begin with a public commitment to Christianity. And community members will pull you aside and have a chat with you (read: judge you) if they think you're in danger of backsliding.

I've seen all of these strategies work, although some have undesirable side effects.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 13 May 2018 11:05:26PM 13 points [-]

I appreciate the write up and think founding charities could be a really effective thing to do.

I do wonder if this might be an overly rosey picture for a couple of reasons.

  1. Are there any stories of EAs failing to start charities? If there aren't, that would be a bit strange and I'd want to know why there were no failures. If there are, what happened and why didn't they work? I'm a bit worried about a survivorship effect making it falsely look like starting charities is easy. (On a somewhat releated note, your post may prompt me to finally write up something about my own unsuccessful attempt to start a start up)

  2. One is that some of the charities you mention are offshoots/sister charities of each other - GWWC and 80k, Charity Science Health and Fortify Health. This suggests to me it might be easier to found a second charity than a first one. OPP and GiveWell also fit this mold.

  3. Including AMF is, in some sense a bit odd, because it wasn't (I gather) founded with the intention of being the most effective charity. I say it's odd because, if it hadn't existed, the EA world would have found another charity that it deemed to be the most effective. Unless AMF thought they would be the most effective, they sort of 'got lucky' in that regard.

Comment author: Joey 13 May 2018 09:38:26PM 2 points [-]

I have had a lot of EAs say this to me in person as well.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 13 May 2018 09:02:20PM *  2 points [-]

I find it questionable whether blatant attempts at voter manipulation through prediction markets are worth the cost. This is a big price to pay even if prediction markets did a bit better than polls or pundits.

Robin's position is that manipulators can actually improve the accuracy of prediction markets, by increasing the rewards to informed trading. On this view, the possibility of market manipulation is not in itself a consideration that favors non-market alternatives, such as polls or pundits.

Comment author: Yannick_Muehlhaeuser 13 May 2018 08:56:25PM 2 points [-]

Thank you, this was very helpful. I think to possibility to do volunteer work remotely is something that should be stressed more and also communicated in EA local groups more frequently.

Comment author: RandomEA 13 May 2018 06:42:10PM 2 points [-]

This is somewhat off-topic but it's relevant enough that I thought I'd raise it here.

What is the most impactful volunteering opportunity for a non-EA who prioritizes more conventional causes (including global poverty) and who lacks specialized skills? Basically, I'm seeking a general recommendation for non-EAs who ask how they can most effectively volunteer. I recognize that the recommended volunteering for a non-EA will be much less impactful than the recommended volunteering for an EA, but I think it can sometimes be worthwhile to spread a less impactful idea to a larger number of people (e.g. The Life You Can Save).

The standard view seems to be that volunteering in a low-skill position produces as much value for an organization as donating the amount necessary for them to hire a minimum wage worker as a replacement. While this may be correct as a general matter, I think there are likely exceptions:

  1. An organization may feel that volunteer morale will greatly decrease if there are some people doing the same work as the volunteers for the same number of hours who are paid.

  2. An organization may be unwilling to hire people to do the work for ideological reasons.

  3. An organization may be unwilling to hire people to do the work because doing so would look bad to the public.

  4. An organization may feel that passion about the cause is extremely important and that the best way to select for passion is to only accept people who will work for free.

  5. An all-volunteer organization may lack the infrastructure to pay employees meaning that it would have to pay a high initial cost before hiring its first employee.

Thus, it seems plausible to me that there is some relatively high impact organization with appeal to non-EAs where a person without specialized skills can have a significant impact. Does anyone know of a volunteering opportunity like this?

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 13 May 2018 04:36:47PM 1 point [-]

I think markets that have at least 20 people trading on any given question will on average be at least as good as any alternative.

Your comments about superforecasters suggest that you think what matters is hiring the right people. What I think matters is the incentives the people are given. Most organizations produce bad forecasts because they have goals which distract people from the truth. The biggest gains from prediction markets are due to replacing bad incentives with incentives that are closely connected with accurate predictions.

There are multiple ways to produce good incentives, and for internal office predictions, there's usually something simpler than prediction markets that works well enough.

Comment author: kieuk 13 May 2018 04:35:30PM 1 point [-]

You only have control over your own actions: you can't control whether your interlocutor over-interprets you or not.

Your "right approach", which is about how to behave as a listener, is compatible with Michael_PJ's, which is about how to behave as a speaker: I don't see why we can't do both.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 13 May 2018 03:37:09PM 2 points [-]

I assumed you didn't mean an internal World Bank prediction market, sorry about that. As I said above, I'm more optimistic about large workplaces employing prediction markets. I don't know how many staff the World Bank employs. Do you agree now that prediction markets are an inferior solution to forecasting problems in small organizations? If yes, what do you think is the minimum staff size of a workplace for a prediction market to be efficient enough to be better than e.g. extremized team forecasting?

Could you link to the accuracy studies you cite that show that prediction markets do better than polling on predicting election results? I don't see any obvious big differences on a quick Google search. The next obvious alternative is asking whether people like Nate Silver did better than prediction markets. In the GJP, individual superforecasters did sometimes better than prediction markets, but team superforecasters did consistently better. Putting Nate Silver and his kin in a room seems to have a good chance to outperform prediction markets then.

You also don't state your opinion on the Intrade incident. Since I cannot see that prediction markets are obviously a lot better than polls or pundits (they didn't call the 2016 surprises either), I find it questionable whether blatant attempts at voter manipulation through prediction markets are worth the cost. This is a big price to pay even if prediction markets did a bit better than polls or pundits.

Comment author: RandomEA 13 May 2018 02:48:20PM 3 points [-]

The Humane League (THL) is an ACE-recommended charity. THL runs the Fast Action Network, an online group which sends out easy, one-minute actions two or three times per week, including signing petitions, posting on social media, or emailing decision makers, as part of campaigns to mitigate factory farming. You can sign up to join the Fast Action Network in the United States here, in the United Kingdom here and for a Spanish version of the Fast Action Network here.

Mercy for Animals (which was ACE-recommended for 2014, 2015, and 2016) runs a similar program called Hen Heroes.

Comment author: RobinHanson 13 May 2018 12:09:32PM 2 points [-]

Political betting had a problem relative to perfection, not relative to the actual other alternatives used; it did better than them according to accuracy studies.

Yes there are overheads to using prediction markets, but those are mainly for having any system at all. Once you have a system, the overhead to adding a new question is much lower. Since you don't have EA prediction markets now, you face those initial costs.

For forecasting in most organizations, hiring top 30 super forecasters would go badly, as they don't know enough about that organization to be useful. Far better to have just a handful of participants from that organization.

Comment author: Emanuele_Ascani 13 May 2018 10:31:26AM 0 points [-]

Good point. Have you also saved/invested in order to grow the capital you devoted to donations? I plan to do just that, coupled with strategies to avoid value drift.

Comment author: Emanuele_Ascani 13 May 2018 10:26:39AM *  2 points [-]

One thing I find really helpful to remain consistent in my values is introspection followed by writing the results down in a note, both a physical one and in a text file in my pc. I observed that this strategy really works for me, both for figuring out who I am and for making my actions consistent with it for however long periods of time. I still have 70% of the notes I wrote 5 years ago, and 100% of the most important ones that are the core of all my values.

Comment author: Emanuele_Ascani 13 May 2018 10:15:24AM *  3 points [-]

I second this. Research in the area of cryonics could be an effective intervention, but proposing it in this way achieves nothing, since it doesn't do the actual work of assessing its impact per dollar. It doesn't even try.

Comment author: BenMillwood  (EA Profile) 13 May 2018 09:33:26AM 8 points [-]

There are many, many possible altruistic targets. I think to be suitable for the EA forum, a presentation of an altruistic goal should include some analysis of how it compares with existing goals, or what heuristics lead you to believe it's worthy of particular attention.

Comment author: BenMillwood  (EA Profile) 13 May 2018 09:06:49AM *  1 point [-]

I think it's sort of bizarre to suggest that out of 25,000 vegetarians, one is responsible for the shed being closed, and the others did nothing at all. Why privilege the "last" decision to not purchase a chicken? It makes more sense to me that you'd allocate the "credit" equally to everyone who chose not to eat meat.

The first 24,999 needed to not buy a chicken in order for the last one to be in a position for their choice to make a difference.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 13 May 2018 08:41:39AM 2 points [-]

I'm arguing that the limit is hard to reach and when it isn't being reached, prediction markets are usually worse than alternatives. I'd be excited about a prediction market like Scott is describing in his post, but we are quite far away from implementing anything like that.

I also find it ironic that Scott's example discusses how hard election prediction markets are to corrupt, which is precisely what happened in the Intrade example above.

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