Comment author: AmyLabenz 08 August 2018 02:44:36PM 1 point [-]

I agree that our selection process for animal-focused speakers in 2015 and 2016 left a lot to be desired. In 2017 we began working with advisors from specific fields to be sure we’re reaching out to speakers with expertise on the topics that conference attendees most want to hear about. This year we’ve expanded to a larger advisory board with the hope that we can continue to improve the EA Global content.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 08 August 2018 03:09:22PM 1 point [-]

I think what conference attendees most want to hear about but also worth considering what potential attendees would want to hear about. Personally i would prefer more diversity within the cause area to look at various challenges to conventional EAA whilst focussing more on philosophy and demandingness. I think in this way people could become somewhat more familiar with the broader cause area rather than in my view a tendency to focus on a fairly narrow group of organisations and individuals.

Would it be possible to say who is on the advisory board?

Comment author: HaydenW 05 August 2018 01:18:53PM *  5 points [-]

I'd add one more: having to put your resources towards more speculative, chancy causes is more demanding.

When donating our money and time to something like bednets, the cost is mitigated by the personal satisfaction of knowing that we've (almost certainly) had an impact. When donating to some activity which has only a tiny chance of success (e.g., x-risk mitigation), most of us won't get quite the same level of satisfaction. And that's pretty demanding to have to give up not only a large chunk of your resources but also the satisfaction of having actually achieved something.

Rob Long has written a bit about this - https://experiencemachines.wordpress.com/2018/06/10/demanding-gambles/

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 05 August 2018 02:07:23PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for that link, it's an interesting article. In the context of theory within the animal movement Singer's pragmatism isn't particularly demanding, but a more justice oriented approach is (along the lines of Regan). In my view it would be a good thing not least for the sake of diversity of viewpoints to make more claims around demandingness rather than largely following a less demanding position. Though i do think that because people are not used to ascribing significant moral value to other animals then it follows that anything more than the societal level is therefore considered demanding, particularly in regard to considering speciesism alongside other forms of human discrimination.

Comment author: AviN 26 July 2018 11:50:37PM 0 points [-]

Open Phil hired a Senior Associate, Farm Animal Welfare in March 2018.

https://www.openphilanthropy.org/about/team/amanda-hungerford

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 27 July 2018 01:27:18PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, this was a good step but i think probably not enough, particularly in relation to having two former HSUS staff members which is useful for implementing the current programme but less so when considering or assessing the value of different areas of the animal movement.

Comment author: Jeff_Kaufman 23 July 2018 12:46:54PM *  6 points [-]

My (guessing) model is that through his work for OpenPhil Bollard often has additional grants he wants to make, while Beckstead can more often convince OpenPhil to make his intended grants and so is rarely in this position. Hence Bollard has more use for supplementary funding.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 23 July 2018 02:04:23PM 1 point [-]

I would agree, there's more scope beyond how the Open Philanthropy Welfare Fund presently operates so EA Funds has more potential utility there, but my own view is that the full range of possibilites aren't presently explored / considered because of time constraints alongside the low value of some disbursements alongside potentially having to spend more time justifying fairly unconventional grants.

In some ways i think it is the unconventional / marginal organisations which need more consideration as bringing potential value to the table over what is generally considered. Particularly in the way that a narrow funding focus could develop associations with particular organisations / ideas and so there could be issues of gravitating toward type.

I'm not sure what the solution is, perhaps another project worker at the Open Philanthropy Welfare Fund, maybe a small set of volunteers could be managed / empowered to work on building cases. It's difficult to know, but i do sympathise with the time constraints.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 14 June 2018 11:41:53AM 0 points [-]

I think it depends somewhat on the concept of giving effectively. Whilst i think it can be argued that people could give more effectively by shifting their giving from animal shelters to farmed animal advocacy, it depends somewhat on precision. For people who are already donating to animal organisations which aren't shelters then it isn't necessarily better to give to "effective" organisations as put forward by ACE because there aren't sufficient comparisons that can be made between organisations they are already supporting, and there is also the issue of further marginalising organisations which aren't deemed a more mainstream fit (something which seems somewhat at odds with effective altruism).

As an example, I continue to wonder why someone would necessarily believe it is better to give to GFI over an organisation doing pluralistic work in the animal movement? One is well supported by various foundations and is far from underconsidered or neglected, whilst others that work on more meta level questions of plurality and inclusivity tend to be marginalised, particularly through not reflecting a favoured "mainstream" ideology. Another issue is that ACE doesn't account for moral theory in relation to rights or utilitarianism thus largely presenting a fairly unfortunate picture in the animal movement in terms of utilitarian = effective and rights = ineffective. This isn't something which would be reflective of effective altruism. (I'm aware that NHRP is a "standout" charity and could be seen as an exception, yet their legal work is fairly separate from the more mainstream charities that work within / tend to reify speciesism in various ways).

As a general matter at least some of my time is spent on social media informing people of the reasons why they ought to be sceptical of "top charity" recommendations when they have shared them from ACE, because non-EAs sometimes have a tendency to accept them at face value because they haven't particularly looked into the issues or wondered about ACE reasoning or process. However, the same can also be said of many EAs who likely somewhat give to ACE on the basis of its EA association. I support the idea of evaluation by ACE but i'm sceptical that the claims that ACE tend to make sufficiently reflect the work that has taken place, or that there is enough transparency in terms of the underlying values and beliefs that ACE tend to represent. I continue to believe that some form of external meta-evaluation would be useful for ACE in order to thoroughly consider this type of issue, whilst donation matching and the sharing of cute animals could form a part of that.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 07 June 2018 09:31:17AM *  0 points [-]

Interesting. It would be useful to know what people did instead. So in the AE study if people are eating less pork then what are they doing instead? If people are reducing animal flesh consumption across the board in the reducetarian study then what are they consuming instead? Whilst some sort of comparison with industry promotion could be interesting. So how does the cost / impact of reduction messaging compare to increase messaging of the industry? For example.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 31 May 2018 09:34:53AM 0 points [-]

Connections in the field seems to be quite an important foundational issue, but whilst it may be a weak area generally, i think it can be an area where insufficient time is spent considering the importance of plurality. So if a certain group of people were asked to be part of the experts in the field then it could become fairly self recommending from there on in, particularly if it were resourced / various benefits flowed from it. I tend to view this as a bit of an issue within EAA, particularly at both ACE and the Open Philanthropy Project where approaches have a tendency to not be given equal consideration, instead some are valued highly (particularly those aligned with direct utilitarianism) over others.

I think this can then lead to other issues in terms of internal evaluation. So in-group bias wouldn't be challenged because external evaluation has been devalued. Creating a bit of a problematic loop.

Comment author: lukeprog 13 April 2018 09:45:44PM 0 points [-]

What kind of conformity are you asking about? Certainly, some degree of alignment with our mission and values is important to us, and so is talent and "fit" for the work. Our team members are encouraged to focus on optimizing for Open Phil's mission, even when it means pushing back on their manager.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 14 April 2018 08:45:41AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the response, yes I was wondering about conformity in the sense of prevailing thinking within a particular cause area. Is there an expectation for talent to conform to prevailing thinking to a certain degree and would this then reinforce that idea of being talented, or could talent be more related to a set of core values or principles?

I think some cause areas seem to have fairly high expectations of conformity toward in-group / out-group identity, so if this is the case then talented people may conform or not (given the assumption that not all talented people would necessarily be in-group thinkers), but it seems to confer various advantages on those that do.

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 13 April 2018 06:01:32PM 0 points [-]

How does Open Philanthropy weigh conformity against talent?

Comment author: KevinWatkinson  (EA Profile) 04 April 2018 11:39:29AM 2 points [-]

The March 2018 animal welfare fund update is here if you would like to add it.

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