Comment author: AviN 11 January 2017 04:58:32PM 0 points [-]

It's probably a relatively minor problem. I've read that the chickens often don't go outside because they are afraid of predators and do not like the small barren lots provided, but are more likely to go outside into areas with tall grass and bushes to hide in. I've also heard an anecdote from a friend with pet chickens (rescued egg-laying hens) that the chickens would go outside to a balcony to dustbathe for a few minutes and then quickly come back indoors. (Though in this case, the indoor alternative was a comfortable apartment rather than an uncomfortable shed.)

Comment author: Larks 11 January 2017 11:05:36PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for writing this.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 05 January 2017 06:26:45PM 0 points [-]

Are you considering the greatly reduced financial security? With etg, if you run into a problem you can just cut back your donations. That's not true if your income is 4-times less.

Comment author: Larks 08 January 2017 06:30:14PM 0 points [-]

It's true that donations provide a cushion which should reduce insecurity, but I think the insecurity would be low anyway so reducing it has little value.

Comment author: AviN 07 January 2017 04:55:46AM *  1 point [-]

Organic prohibits extreme confinement such as battery cages, but all broiler chickens (raised for meat) in the US are free to roam around in a shed. The main welfare issues come from rapid growth, poor lighting, poor air quality, overcrowding, transport, and slaughter. Organic broiler chickens must have outdoor access, but this is probably less important than the other welfare issues, and there are no requirements regarding the size of the outdoor area or that the chickens must use it.

Comment author: Larks 08 January 2017 06:25:09PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for this.

Is chickens not going outside a major problem? Their having the option to go outside but choosing not to seems to suggest they prefer inside, and would be worse off if forced to go outside.

Comment author: AviN 01 January 2017 07:38:22PM *  2 points [-]

I believe funding work on corporate engagement to improve farm animal welfare probably has much higher expected value than any personal decisions about diet. There are limitations in this area regarding room for more funding, but Compassion in World Farming USA is an effective organization that seems to have room for funding in corporate engagement:

That being said, I personally find these questions interesting, and here are some thoughts.

I believe the average beef cattle in the US has net positive welfare. So in terms of direct effects on farm animal welfare, I believe eating beef increases welfare. There are indirect effects though, and some are presumably negative, including climate change, and mice and birds killed in fields for feed production. Other indirect effects might be positive (i.e. reducing insect suffering). There are other reasons why people might want to avoid beef though, such as the view that killing animals for food is inherently wrong, or the view that unnecessary harm to an animal (i.e. castration without anesthesia) cannot be offset by X number of happy days on pasture.

Beef cattle might be alone in this regard. I thought that the average dairy cow in the US might have net positive welfare but I did some more investigation and now believe their welfare is somewhat net negative. Other potential candidates for animals in the US with net positive welfare may be other small ruminants (sheep, goats) but I couldn't find much evidence on the welfare of these animals.

The overwhelming majority eggs in the US come from hens raised in battery cages, which I believe experience strongly net negative welfare. Moving from conventional eggs to cage-free eggs probably substantially reduces suffering. I believe avoiding eggs completely would eliminate suffering even further though, because cage-free has its own animal welfare problems.

"Organic" in the US probably means at least somewhat improved welfare in some animal products (eggs, pork, dairy), and not in others (chicken, beef). Generally organic in the US prohibits extreme confinement, which is relevant for egg-laying hens (bans battery cages), the mothers of pigs raised for pork (bans gestation crates), and dairy cows (bans tie-stalls which ~10% of dairy cows are housed in). Organic dairy also requires that the cows spend some time on pasture.

I haven't spend much time looking at other animal welfare certifications, but I'm skeptical of most of these. I'd note though that Open Philanthropy has issued a grant to the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) which suggests to me that GAP certifications are meaningful. That doesn't mean, however, that GAP certified animal products are from animals with net positive welfare.

I should note that farmed fish probably have net negative welfare, and eating farmed fish is probably particularly harmful because of how long they live (~20x as long as chickens raised for meat). I believe wild fish is probably similarly harmful, because supply of wild fish seems to be constrained and so demand for wild fish probably mostly just increases supply of farmed fish. I mention this because many people have the impression that eating less meat and more fish would reduce farm animal suffering, and I believe this view is likely very wrong.

Comment author: Larks 05 January 2017 03:48:19AM 1 point [-]

"Organic" in the US probably means at least somewhat improved welfare in some animal products (eggs, pork, dairy), and not in others (chicken, beef).

Could you explain why the same factors don't apply to chicken?


2017 AI Risk Literature Review and Charity Comparison

Introduction I've long been concerned about AI Risk. Now that there are a few charities working on the problem, it seems desirable to compare them, to determine where scarce donations should be sent. This is a similar role to that which GiveWell performs for global health charities, and somewhat similar... Read More
Comment author: Larks 04 December 2016 11:22:22PM 1 point [-]

In response to this argument, pledge taker Rob Wiblin said that, if he changed his mind about donating 10% every year being the best choice, he would simply un-take the pledge. However, this is certainly not encouraged by the pledge itself, which says "for the rest of my life" and doesn't contemplate leaving.

I think this is a pretty strong argument. We would expect CEA leaders to be the people who take the pledge the most seriously; it is a very negative sign if they regard it as an artifice that can be discarded for convenience.

Comment author: Larks 19 November 2016 12:00:02AM 2 points [-]

I think you overlook the argument that he reduces the risk of a global totalitarian government. This is a classic GCR (p504 in Bostrom's & Ćirković), and the most obvious route is a gradual increase in intergovernmental agreements. His relative isolationism should help reduce their power, protecting exit rights. Local totalitarianism is much less bad than global, as people can still flee, and the existence of freer societies abroad can serve as an example.

Comment author: Larks 29 October 2016 06:07:13AM 2 points [-]

The existence of this would bring us into alignment with other societies, which usually have some document that describes the principles that the society stands for, and has some mechanism for ensuring that those who choose to represent themselves as part of that society abides by those principles.

I think this rests on some equivocation of the meaning of 'societies'. It's true for associations but not for movements, and the EA movement is the latter, so I don't see this helping - unless we pushed for all EAs to become members of an association like GWWC.

In general I think that most movements simply fail at this issue. A few with strong central moral leadership have pulled it off - e.g. the neoreactionaries seem to have successfully ejected an errant member from the movement - but larger, more egalitarian movements like enviromentalism simply have to suffer from association with undesirables.

Comment author: PeterMcCluskey 17 September 2016 04:38:08PM 4 points [-]

The obvious objection is that voters who would otherwise not vote are likely to be less informed than the average voter, so your effort causes election results to be less well informed.

You sound more concerned with whether your actions are socially approved than you are with evaluating the results.

Comment author: Larks 19 September 2016 03:08:17AM 0 points [-]

Additionally, be recruiting less informed voters you encourage politicians to adjust their stances to appeal to a less informed population. This intervention seems actively harmful on all but the most partisan of grounds.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 11 September 2016 10:36:00PM 2 points [-]

GiveWell doesn't seem to have substantial principal-agent problems

Grantmaking seems to me like an area where it's especially important to hire value-aligned people. Handing out large amounts of money = conflict of interest opportunities galore.

Comment author: Larks 12 September 2016 12:40:49AM 4 points [-]

It's also hard to observe how good a job a GiveWell analyst is doing. It seems easy for poorly-aligned analysts to do suboptimal work (mainly through subtle omissions) in a way that more motivated people may not. e.g. a non-altruistic employee may not choose to highlight a crucial consideration that renders 3 months of their work irrelevant.

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