Comment author: Buck 09 March 2017 09:40:11PM 9 points [-]

As I wrote on Facebook, I think that we should not respond in any way to this. You might be interested in some of the discussion there.

Comment author: Buck 10 February 2017 08:28:00PM 3 points [-]

Great point.

Note that sometimes people actually don't care about things. Eg, some EAs don't care about animal suffering or the far future.

Also, there's the meaning of "I don't care about global poverty" which is "Though obviously global poverty causes suffering, I think that alleviating global poverty would probably cause about as much suffering in expectation, and so I don't care about how much global poverty there is on the margin at the moment." (I don't agree with this view but some EAs hold it.)

Comment author: Julia_Wise 06 December 2016 03:23:24PM *  5 points [-]

You thought you were giving a child 35+ years of life and preventing parental suffering, but now you're just (in effect) doing the former.

Do you mean the latter?

If parental suffering is equivalent to taking away 1 year of happy life away from each parent

I think we have very different intuitions here. I'd instantly give a year of my life to not watch my two-year-old daughter die, because I expect that 50 more years as a bereaved parent is worse than 49 years as the parent of a living child. I expect most parents would say the same (though of course social acceptability bias makes it more likely that parents will say that.) Also we may be getting into preference vs. hedonic utilitarianism here, not sure where I stand on that.

In general, though, this post does change the way I think about saving lives; thank you for writing it up.

Comment author: Buck 09 December 2016 09:59:48PM 1 point [-]

Note that the GiveWell 2016 calculations allow us to take the amount of parental suffering into account--you can put your intuitions into the spreadsheet directly if you want.

Comment author: Buck 30 October 2016 07:47:31AM 6 points [-]

Very useful post!

Perhaps we should have a norm against making a firm pledge for more than 10% of your income.

I've seen some people take more informal pledges to not live above a certain consumption standard. That kind of pledge avoids many of these problems, but raises some other problems of its own and is harder to define.

Comment author: HowieL 27 August 2016 03:13:15PM 6 points [-]

This post initially didn't disclose the name of my employer (Open Phil, which is housed at GiveWell) at the top of this post. I'd be interested in feedback on whether that was a mistake and whether anybody feels like there's a conflict they wish I'd disclosed. Context is that Vipul told me he thinks there could be one offline.

My main reason for not disclosing is that I didn't consciously think much about it and was being kind of lazy bc I wrote the comment on my phone on BART. "Speaking just for myself here, not for my employer" is shorter.

I always explicitly disclose who I work for when something that closely touches on our work is being discussed. In this particular case I don't actually see the conflict and I'm actually not even sure what direction my financial/institutional interests point. But here are some other factors:

1) Even if I say I'm not speaking for GiveWell/Open Phil, I think prominently mentioning their name in all of my comments creates a stronger association between my views and Open Phil's and makes it more likely that people will confuse my own views with my employers. I think this is a pretty big risk because some people could make big decisions based on their predictions of Open Phil's actions. This concern (and the general friction caused by needing to think about it) has frequently stopped me from publicly commenting on things.

2) I worry that flagging all my posts with the name of my employer, which is high status in this community, uses their credibility to artificially inflate my own. In general, I think it would be bad for EA if it feels like Open Phil/GW is throwing their weight around.

3) I mostly thought about this as a suggestion to Will/80k/CEA all of whom know me well and know where I work. I email them with suggestions fairly frequently and am used to giving them thoughts w/o needing to disclose.

Curious about what others think.

Comment author: Buck 27 August 2016 08:39:04PM 15 points [-]

I think that this isn't a mistake and I think Vipul's being ridiculous, FWIW.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 26 August 2016 08:38:33AM 8 points [-]

EAF is sufficiently funding-constrained again that we’ve decided that I’ll mostly ETG for the foreseeable future even though I feel a stronger personal fit for direct work, strong value alignment with EAF, and “only” earn a roughly average German software engineer salary. So I share the impression that at least in my EA circles ETG is still not overdone.

Comment author: Buck 26 August 2016 04:20:18PM *  2 points [-]

What are you interested in funding?

Comment author: Michael_S 26 August 2016 12:38:52PM 4 points [-]

I don't think it's fair to say that EtG is less of a sacrifice than direct work. It's dependent on a number factors. If someone EtG by staying in the same job and working the same # of hours one would otherwise while still living on a substantial proportion of one's salary, it may not be that much of a sacrifice.

However, EtG could also mean working at a job that may not have been one's first choice otherwise (eg. Finance), working many more hours than one would otherwise and/or living on just as much or less than one would if they were doing direct work. The EtG work MacAskill suggests involves taking high paying jobs like finance rather than staying in whatever job one happens to be doing, so I don't think your criticism stands in that case.

Comment author: Buck 26 August 2016 04:18:54PM 0 points [-]

Many more EtGers are in the first situation rather than the second, I think.

Comment author: Buck 26 August 2016 06:22:08AM *  11 points [-]

One reason to expect a long term excess of EAs earning to give is that EtG can be much less of a sacrifice than direct work. Earning to give lets you keep your cushy job, normally means you end up living on more than most people doing direct work live on, and is easy to exit if you start feeling more selfish in the future.

So if you're more altruistic than most EAs, you should overcorrect away from earning to give.

ETA: Also, there are lots of EAs who have only recently started EtG. They're going to massively increase their donations over the next few years, so we shouldn't forget to plan for that too. I don't think most of these people will switch away from EtG even if it's the right thing to do.

Edit again, 2015-09-05: This criticism is much more applicable to software engineers than other EtG careers.

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 26 August 2016 02:16:01AM 6 points [-]

In general, when considering whether to do direct work or earn to give, you could ask yourself: am I in the top 15% of people in terms of comparative advantage at earning to give?

I don't see a practical way to answer this question. You may have a sense of your absolute advantage at a career relative to other people, but to know your comparative advantage you have to know what you're good at and which skills other people are relatively good or bad at.

Comment author: Buck 26 August 2016 06:16:22AM 1 point [-]

I agree with you that as phrased, this question isn't very useful.

The only way I can think that the EA community would be able to solve this kind of problem would be if an EA organization had detailed notes on everyone earning to give, and used that information to recommend actions to individuals. (This idea is kind of half baked and crazy but I've been thinking recently that it might be overall worthwhile.)

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 26 August 2016 04:57:17AM *  0 points [-]

I'm interested in

For example, Brian Tomasik has suggested paying farmers to use humane insecticides. Calculations suggest that this could prevent 250,000 painful deaths per dollar.

(which is honestly not about WAS)


Open Phil might consider lumping WAS under its farm animal welfare program

because they look like paths to circumvent the biggest red flag, which is the profoundly negative reaction that most people have to calm discussions about wild animal suffering. It seems intuitively like an idea which is still before its time relative to the general population. I think most people would agree that it's disliked to a greater extent than perhaps any other issue on the table.

I don't know how big of a problem it is for the EA movement if lots of people notice what Open Phil is doing. It might be a problem. But doing something like the above would not be very controversial, would begin to shift priorities, and would create a foundation of work that blurs the line between traditional animal welfare and WAS work.

Comment author: Buck 26 August 2016 06:12:23AM 4 points [-]

(which is honestly not about WAS)

What would you call that kind of suffering if not WAS?

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