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Denise_Melchin comments on The counterfactual impact of agents acting in concert - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Denise_Melchin 29 May 2018 01:07:00PM 3 points [-]

Where are you actually disagreeing with Joey and the conclusions he is drawing?

Joey is arguing that the --EA Movement-- might accidentally overcount its impact by adding each individual actor's counterfactual impact together. You point out a scenario in which various individual actor's actions are necessary for the counterfactual impact to happen so it is legitimate for each actor to claim the full counterfactual impact. This seems tangential to Joey's point, which is fundamentally about the practical implications of this problem. The question of who is responsible for the counterfactual impact and who should get credit are being asked because as the EA Movement we have to decide how to allocate our resources to the different actors. We also need to be cautious not to overcount impact as a movement in our outside communications and to not get the wrong impression ourselves.

Comment author: Halstead 29 May 2018 02:30:45PM 0 points [-]

If that is what he is arguing I agree, but I don't think he is arguing that. He writes

"This person would become quadruple counted in EA, with each organization using their donations as impact to justify their running."

Each organisation would in fact be right to count the impact in the way described.

Comment author: rohinmshah  (EA Profile) 29 May 2018 06:29:02PM 1 point [-]

To try to narrow down the disagreement: Would you donate to GWWC instead of AMF if their impact calculation (using their current methodology) showed that $1.10 went to AMF for every $1 given to GWWC? I wouldn't.

Comment author: Halstead 30 May 2018 09:39:06AM 0 points [-]

In Joey's example, I can donate $500 to GWWC instead of AMF. If I donate to AMF, AMF gets $500 compared to the world in which i don't donate. If I donate to GWWC, then AMF gets $1000 compared to the world in which I don't donate. Clearly, I should donate to GWWC if I care about counterfactual impact. If GWWC donates the $500 directly to AMF, then value has been lost.

The coordination problem is a separate question to how individual organisations should count their own counterfactual impact.

Comment author: rohinmshah  (EA Profile) 01 June 2018 09:32:13PM 1 point [-]

Forget about the organization's own counterfactual impact for a moment.

Do you agree that, from the world's perspective, it would be better in Joey's scenario if GWWC, Charity Science, and TLYCS were to all donate their money directly to AMF?

Comment author: Halstead 04 June 2018 01:54:28PM 1 point [-]

yes