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deluks917 comments on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: deluks917 26 October 2017 08:47:15PM *  10 points [-]

You made an extremely long list of suggestions. Implementing such a huge list would mean radically overhauling the EA community. Is that a good idea?

I think its important to keep in mind that the EA community has been tremendously successful. Givewell and OpenPhil now funnel tremendous amounts of money towards effective global poverty reduction efforts. EA has also made substantial progress at increasing awareness of AI-risk and promoting animal welfare. There are now many student groups in universities around the world. EA has achieved these things in a rather rapid timeframe.

Its rather rare for a group to have comparable success to the current EA community. Hence I think its very dangerous to overhaul our community and its norms. We are doing very well. We could be doing better, but we are doing well. Making changes to the culture of a high performance organization is likely to reduce performance. Hence I think you should be very careful about which changes you suggest.

In addition to being long your list of changes has many rather speculative suggestions. Here are some examples: " -- You explicitly say we should be more welcoming towards things like "dog rescue". Does this not risk diluting EA into just another ineffective community. -- You say that suing the term "AI" without explanation is too much jargon. Is that really a reasonable standard? AI is not an obscure term. If you want us to avoid the term "AI" your standards of accessibility seem rather extreme. -- You claim we should focus on making altruistic people effective instead of effective people altruistic. However Toby Ord claims he initially had the same intuition but his experience is that the later is actually easier. How many of your intuitions are you checking empirically? (This has been mentioned by other commenters)

In general I think you should focus on a much smaller list of core suggestions. It is easier to argue rigorously for a more conservative set of changes. And as I said earlier EA is doing quite well so we should be skeptical of dramatic culture shifts. Obviously we should be open to new norms, but those norms should be vetted carefully.

Comment author: DonyChristie 26 October 2017 09:56:06PM 4 points [-]

I second most of these concerns.

Does this not risk diluting EA into just another ineffective community.

The core of EA is cause-neutral good-maximization. The more we cater to people who cannot switch their chosen object-level intervention, the less ability the movement will have to coordinate and switch tracks. They will become offended by suggestions that their chosen intervention is not the best one. As it is I wish more people challenged how I prioritize things, but they probably don't for fear of offending others as a general policy.

You say that suing the term "AI" without explanation is too much jargon. Is that really a reasonable standard? AI is not an obscure term. If you want us to avoid the term "AI" your standards of accessibility seem rather extreme.

I am in favor of non-dumbed-down language as it creates an added constraint in how I can communicate when I have to keep running a check on whether a person understands a concept I am referring to. I do agree that jargon generation is sometimes fueled by the desire for weird neologisms moreso than the desire to increase clarity.

You claim we should focus on making altruistic people effective instead of effective people altruistic.

I once observed: "Effectiveness without altruism is lame; altruism without effectiveness is blind." 'Effectiveness' seems to load most of the Stuff that is needed; to Actually Do Good Things requires more of the Actually than the Good. It seems that people caring about others takes less skill than being able to accomplish consequential things. I am open to persuasion otherwise; I've experienced most people as more apathetic and nonchalant about the fate of the world, an enormous hindrance to being interested in effective altruism.

Comment author: casebash 26 October 2017 11:03:25PM 2 points [-]

"god rescue" - Well, maybe he is a utility monster.

But thanks for posting this comment. For several of the cultural changes suggested, diversity could be a relevant factor, but it would be unlikely to be the most significant consideration. Things like changing our marketing or reducing competitiveness are plausibly good changes, diversity is only one factor to consider.