Denise_Melchin comments on “EA” doesn’t have a talent gap. Different causes have different gaps. - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Denise_Melchin 20 May 2018 11:42:00PM *  25 points [-]

Thanks for trying to get a clearer handle on this issue by splitting it up by cause area.

One gripe I have with this debate is the focus on EA orgs. Effective Altruism is or should be about doing the most good. Organisations which are explicitly labelled Effective Altruist are only a small part of that. Claiming that EA is now more talent constrained than funding constrained implicitly refers to Effective Altruist orgs being more talent than funding constrained.

Whether 'doing the most good' in the world is more talent than funding constrained is much harder to prove but is the actually important question.

If we focus the debate on EA orgs and our general vision as a movement on orgs that are labelled EA, the EA Community runs the risk of overlooking efforts and opportunities which aren't branded EA.

Of course fixing global poverty takes more than ten people working on the problem. Filling the funding gap for GiveWell recommended charities won't be enough to fix it either. Using EA branded framing isn't special to you - but it can make us lose track of the bigger picture of all the problems that still need to be solved, and all the funding that is still needed for that.

If you want to focus on fixing global poverty, just because EA focuses on GW recommended charities doesn't mean EtG is the best approach - how about training to be a development economist instead? The world still needs more than ten additional ones of that. (Edit: But it is not obvious to me whether global poverty as a whole is more talent or funding constrained - you'd need to poll leading people who actually work in the field, e.g. leading development economists or development professors.)

Comment author: MichaelPlant 21 May 2018 10:12:54AM 2 points [-]

One gripe I have with this debate is the focus on EA orgs

I think this is a bit unfair. I took the OP to be referring the previous discussion of this by 80k, which was specifically about EA orgs.

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 21 May 2018 03:01:54PM 2 points [-]

"Claiming that EA is now more talent constrained than funding constrained implicitly refers to Effective Altruist orgs being more talent than funding constrained."

It would be true if that were what was meant, but the speaker might also mean that 'anything which existing EA donors like Open Phil can be convinced to fund' will also be(come) talent constrained.

Inasmuch as there are lots of big EA donors willing to change where they give, activities that aren't branded as EA may still be latently talent constrained, if they can be identified.

The speaker might also think activities branded as EA are more effective than the alternatives, in which case the money/talent balance within those activities will be particularly important.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 June 2018 01:47:35PM *  0 points [-]

I had a similar reaction.

It was the choice of "Money gap - Large (~$86 million" in the summary that got me. It just seems immediately odd that if you think that Earning To Give to some global poverty charities is on a par with other common EA career choices in terms of marginal impact (i.e. assuming you think "poverty" should be on the table at all for us), that the size of this funding gap is the equivalent of ~$0.086pp for the bottom billion. And in fact the linked post gives a funding gap of something more like $400 million for GiveWell's top charities alone (on top of expected funding from Good Ventures and donors who aren't influenced by GiveWell), with GiveDirectly able to absorb "over 100 million dollars". But it's not so odd if you think that the expected value of donating to GiveWell-recommended charities is several orders of magnitude greater compared to the average global poverty charity. I'm aware that heavy-tailed distributions are probably at play here, but I'm very skeptical that GiveWell has found anywhere near the end of that tail (although I think they're the best we have).

Regardless of what the author meant, I think I see this kind of thinking in EA fairly regularly, and it's encouraged by giving the "neglectedness" criterion such prominence, perhaps unduly.

And yes, I also want to thank the author for encouraging people to think and talk about this in a more nuanced way.