Links from Last three months

EA should invest more in exploration

[Epistemic status: strongly stated, weakly held] When faced with problems that involve ongoing learning, most strategies involve a balance between "exploration" and "exploitation". Exploration means taking opportunities that increase your knowledge about how good your opportunities are, whereas exploitation means putting resources into what you currently believe is the best... Read More

Risk-neutral donors should plan to make bets at the margin at least as well as giga-donors in expectation

[Disclosures and disclaimers: I do work for the Future of Humanity Institute, and significant consulting for Open Phil. I have previously worked at MIRI, and consulted for 80,000 Hours/CEA. I have advised the EA Giving Group DAF regarding donations, and suggested to Paul Christiano that he facilitate the donor lottery... Read More

Contra the Giving What We Can pledge

Yesterday, there was a Facebook thread discussing arguments against the Giving What We Can (GWWC) pledge, where people promise to donate 10% of all future income to charity ( ). The thread didn't seem very productive, but I do think there are strong arguments against the pledge, at least... Read More

Building Cooperative Epistemology (Response to "EA has a Lying Problem", among other things)

This is in response to Sarah Constantin's recent post about intellectual dishonesty within the EA community. I roughly agree with Sarah's main object level points, but I think this essay doesn't sufficiently embody the spirit of cooperative discourse it's trying to promote. I have a lot of thoughts here, but they... Read More

Why donate to 80,000 Hours

If you have a broadly effective altruist approach, we think 80,000 Hours is an attractive donation opportunity from a number of perspectives. In this post, we’ll sketch some of these perspectives, and our current funding needs. This post is intended as a summary – full details on our plans and... Read More

EAs write about where they give

Several organizations like GiveWell, ACE, and CEA do posts on where their staff are making personal donations. This is a sampling of donation decisions, and the reasons behind them, from some EAs who don’t work at any of those organizations. I’ve selected a range of people whose opinions I thought... Read More

Why I Took the Giving What We Can Pledge

Many people ask me how I became involved in effective altruism. It all started with God. In the fall of 2010, I read Richard Carrier’s Sense and Goodness Without God and Nicholas Everitt’s The Nonexistence of God . I can’t say that I believed in God prior to reading these... Read More

Changes to how 80,000 Hours prioritises the world's problems

80,000 Hours recently rewrote its approach for comparing problems against one another. This is how we give people advice on which problems are most 'pressing', and so are most promising for people aiming to have a large social impact with their career. We recommend checking it out. This framework is... Read More

Act utilitarianism: criterion of rightness vs. decision procedure

A useful distinction for people thinking about act consequentialism in general and act utilitarianism in particular is the distinction between a criterion of rightness and a decision procedure ( which has been discussed by Toby Ord in much more detail ). A criterion of rightness tells us what it takes... Read More

Principia Qualia: blueprint for a new cause area, consciousness research with an eye toward ethics and x-risk

Hi all, Effective altruism has given a lot of attention to ethics, and in particular suffering reduction. However, nobody seems to have a clear definition for what suffering actually is , or what moral value is . The implicit assumptions seem to be: We (as individuals and as a community)... Read More

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