Comment author: MvdSteeg 13 August 2018 07:14:29AM 1 point [-]

It seems strange to me that only pharmaceutical companies would have to achieve said index. What is it about a Viagra company that makes them more responsible for solving global health issues than e.g. IKEA?

The only thing I can come up with on the fly is that they take up resources from the same pool of researchers. I'm not sure that's a satisfactory reason for disadvantaging one company over another, though.

What if nation-wide company taxes were raised by a tiny margin and pharmaceutical companies could compete for DALY-subsidies?

(I realize the chance of me having a better idea than the writers of the book is rather miniscule. Just looking for holes in my view)

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 08 August 2018 03:41:59PM *  0 points [-]

I address the points you mention in my response to Carl.

It also doesn't solve issues like Sam Bankman-Fried mentioned where according to some argument one cause area is 44 orders of magnitude more impactful, because even if the two causes are multiplicative, if I understand correctly this would imply a resource allocation of 1:10^44, which is effectively the same as going all in on the large cause area.

I don't think this is understanding the issue correctly, but it's hard to say since I am a bit confused what you mean by 'more impactful' in the context of multiplying variables. Could you give an example?

Comment author: MvdSteeg 08 August 2018 04:49:30PM 0 points [-]

I guess when I say "more impactful" I mean "higher output elasticity".

We can go with the example of x-risk vs poverty reduction (as mentioned by Carl as well). If we were to think that allocating resources to reduce x-risk has an output elasticity 100,000 higher than poverty reduction, but reducing poverty improves the future, and reducing x-risk makes reducing poverty more valuable, then you ought to handle them multiplicatively instead of additively, like you said.

If you'd have 100,001 resources to spend, that'd mean 100,000 units against x-risk and 1 unit for poverty reduction, as opposed to the 100,001 for x-risk and 0 for poverty reduction when looking at them independently(/additively). Sam implies the additive reasoning in such situations is erroneous, after mentioning an example with such a massive discrepancy in elasticity. I'm pointing out that this does not seem to really make a difference in such cases, because even with proportional allocation it is effectively the same as going all in on (in this example) x-risk.

Anyway, not claiming that this makes the multiplicative approach incorrect (or rather, less correct than additive), just saying that in this case which is mentioned as one of the motivations for this, it really doesn't make much of a difference (though things like diminishing returns would). Maybe this would have been more fitting as a reply to Sam than you, though!

Comment author: MarekDuda 08 August 2018 02:31:11PM 1 point [-]

By your first question do you mean whether there is a $ amount ceiling after which the fund managers expect the marginal effectiveness of further grants to drop off? I think if this was the case, the managers would have a good reason to wait to grant until more effective options appear again.

On your second point, we would want to have the platform a little more stable operationally before adding further jurisdictions, as this would increase the complexity non trivially. Nevertheless we do hope to be able to register elsewhere in due time and the Netherlands would likely be our first target.

Comment author: MvdSteeg 08 August 2018 04:17:33PM *  0 points [-]

Regarding the first point: if there's much more incoming donations than they can effectively allocate, I can imagine they automatically lower their standards by some margin so less funds would remain unallocated. If there's no expectation of more effective options showing up in the future that wouldn't get covered by new incoming donations, then this could be seen as a good thing, money spent on a fairly effective charity is better than not spending it at all. However, in addition to the responsibility of allocating the resources they have as well as they can, I think the fund managers have a responsibility to also communicate when they feel like their fund is hitting diminishing returns. This is difficult to quantify, but e.g. last dollar vs first dollar impact ballpark might suffice.

It is very much possible that the funds are -nowhere- near the point where this should cause any worry, and I'm not at all trying to say that any fund manager has neglected to give such a signal, because there may not have been any cause for it. However, I'm not sure if, as a (potential) donor, there's a way for me to tell this right now. Maybe I could deduce it from notes on past grants.

I would expect a red light to be given if at any point a fund manager feels like their fund will not be able to allocate their resources to the standard they hold for themselves. It would be helpful if there was also an explicit green light when this is -not- the case. I'm not sure this can be derived from just the current fund balance, because it does not say anything about future opportunities coming up. We might see a fund is holding 1 million after a series of grants, conclude that this means it cannot use our donations right now, while in fact the next batch of grants could have easily handled another 500k or more.

Glad to hear the Netherlands is high on your priority list in terms of expanding registrations! I don't suppose you're willing to risk any kind of ETA, right? ;)

Comment author: MvdSteeg 08 August 2018 09:55:50AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the update!

I'm glad to see the fund balance is up to date now. One piece of the puzzle that does still seem to be missing to me is an indication of how much money the fund managers expect to be able to allocate effectively, as without this the fund balance can only be interpreted relative to past balances and past grants.

I was also curious if there are any plans to register as a non-profit in other countries than the US and the UK. Looking at the registration process for the Netherlands this doesn't seem like a lot of work, and would increase effectiveness of Dutch donations by up to 80% (if I got the math right). Are there some obstacles here that I fail to see which prevent CEA/EA Funds from applying in other countries? Even if you had only a handful of donors per country it seems worthwhile.

In response to When causes multiply
Comment author: MvdSteeg 07 August 2018 04:03:47PM *  2 points [-]

While it's hard to disagree with the math, would it not be fairly unlikely for the current allocation of resources to be close enough to the actual allocation of resources that this would realistically lead to allocating an agent's resources to more than one cause area? Like you mention, the allocation within the community-building cause area itself is one of the more likely candidates, as we have a large piece of the pie in our hands (if not all of it). However, the community is not one agent, so we would need to funnel the money through e.g. EA Funds, correct?

Alternatively, there could be top-level analysis of what the distribution -ought- to be, and what it -currently is-, and suggest people donate to close that gap. But is this really different from arguments in terms of marginal impact and neglectedness? I agree your line of thinking ought to be followed in such analysis, but am not convinced that this isn't incorporated already.

It also doesn't solve issues like Sam Bankman-Fried mentioned where according to some argument one cause area is 44 orders of magnitude more impactful, because even if the two causes are multiplicative, if I understand correctly this would imply a resource allocation of 1:10^44, which is effectively the same as going all in on the large cause area. I think that even in less extreme cases than this, we should actually be far more "egalitarian" in our distribution of resources than multiplicative causes (and especially additive causes) suggest, as statistically speaking, the higher the expected value of a cause area is, the more likely that it is overestimated.

I do think this is a useful framework on a smaller scale. E.g. your example of focusing on new talent or improving existing talent within the EA community. For local communities where a small group of agents plays a determining role on where the focus lies, this can be applied much more easily than in global cause area resource allocations.

Comment author: cole_haus 14 June 2018 04:33:36PM *  4 points [-]

Anecdotally, we’ve found that our matching campaigns have brought in a disproportionately large number of new donors—the majority of whom were not previously involved with effective giving. [...] we were able to teach them about effective animal advocacy and to support them in effective giving elsewhere in the EA movement. The amount that these donors will give to effective charities during their lifetime is significantly higher than the donation-matching campaign that attracted them; we continue to build relationships with these new donors.

I think this might be a key part that merits more explication. I can think of two major objections that evidence here would help answer:

1) The consequentialist benefit of 'standard' marketing techniques isn't worth the deontological cost.

2) 'Standard' marketing techniques are self-defeating for EA. This relies upon a belief that those that are put off by the utilon approach and attracted by the fuzzy approach are unlikely to 'assimilate' into EA.

Can you share more information on the number of new donors and particularly their subsequent engagement with EA? Or, if you can't or aren't ready to share that data, can you at least attest that you're tracking it and working on it?

Comment author: MvdSteeg 16 June 2018 10:29:44AM 2 points [-]

Regarding #2: The direct goal of EA is to do the most good, not to grow the community of people that identify with EA as much as possible. The latter is a means to the end. If their current approach directs a lot of money from non-EA animal lovers to effective charities, then that does a lot of good regardless of whether said animal lovers then assimilate into EA. Furthermore, I don't think people who like the utilon approach are necessarily turned away just because there is a cute animal picture present. So long as the cute animal picture is merely a hook and not the main message, then there seems little to no harm to people who are likely receptive to the EA message, while being highly beneficial for non-EA animal lovers. I'm not seeing this as a likely downside...