In response to Why I left EA
Comment author: jayquigley 21 February 2017 01:58:19AM *  2 points [-]

Lila, thanks for sharing. You've made it clear that you've left the EA movement, but I'm wondering whether and, if so, why, your arguments also have pushed you away from being committed to "lowercase effective altruism"---that is, altruism which is effective, but isn't necessarily associated with this movement.

Are you still an altruist? If so, do you think altruism is better engaged in with careful attention put to the effectiveness of the endeavors?

Thanks in advance.

Comment author: casebash 28 August 2016 04:40:32PM 6 points [-]

There has been some criticism of the accuracy of Cowspiracy's facts - ie. 15% of emissions instead of 51% of emissions as claimed. I think it is important to be aware of this, because if Cowspiracy is used as an outreach tool, then it might damage our credibility (especially given that the name makes it sound like a conspiracy theory).

Comment author: jayquigley 28 August 2016 05:14:01PM *  4 points [-]

The larger point---that film can be a compelling vehicle for important ideas---stands regardless whether Cowspiracy was fully accurate or unbiased in its selection of figures.

That said, I agree that we should be cautious about endorsing Cowspiracy in particular, since certain key numbers on which it rests its arguments and emphases are disputed (good discussion and links on wikipedia). That said, it's a bit unfortunate if discussion surrounding the film centers only around fact checking--e.g., 15% vs. 51%--when in most any case there is an important, oft-overlooked environmental rationale for a shift toward cutting livestock out of the world's food system.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 27 August 2016 02:11:09AM 2 points [-]

EA started pulling additional mixed or negative reactions after moving into AI safety, such as the Dylan Matthews article or all the people who had prior familiarity with LessWrong and thought the whole thing was kooky.

Also, people's reactions to wild animal suffering proposals seem to be substantially more negative than reactions to AI safety work (dataset: comment replies to McMahan and MacAskill's articles, comment replies to AI safety editorials, several thousands of Reddit comments).

Comment author: jayquigley 28 August 2016 04:37:29PM 0 points [-]

Which McMahan and MacAskill articles?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 27 August 2016 11:59:12AM *  3 points [-]

In EA survey (https://eahub.org/sites/effectivealtruismhub.com/files/SurveyReport2015.pdf page 18) there was a question "What broad career path are you planning to follow?". Results: Direct charity / nonprofit work: 190; Earning to give: 512; Research: 362; None of these: 375; Didn't answer: 913.

Comment author: jayquigley 28 August 2016 04:23:54PM *  3 points [-]

Percentages:

  • Direct charity / nonprofit work: 190 / 2352 = 8%
  • Earning to give: 512 / 2352 = 22%
  • Research: 362 / 2352 = 15%
  • None of these: 375 / 2352 = 16%
  • Didn't answer: 913 / 2352 = 39%
Comment author: jayquigley 28 August 2016 03:15:04PM *  2 points [-]

2) People should definitely watch and try to screen the film Unlocking the Cage (website, trailer), which documents the ongoing fight in the US for legal personhood for primates.

3.1) AI safety and existential risk are obvious topics on which stimulating documentaries could be impactful.

4) My impression is that Cowspiracy was independently screened scores of times across the world, especially privately by the vegan and animal rights communities. I'd love to know more details. The trailer currently has 1.1 million views.

5.1) Cost: If a documentary mostly involves interviewing experts, the costs would be relatively low, even below five figures USD. Cowspiracy set a goal of $54,000 for its Indiegogo campaign, and ended up with over twice that (see brief article on its crowdfunding strategy).

4

Film as an EA outreach tool

The Cowspiracy Conference is in Berkeley, California on September 17. I encourage people to sign up and attend. (And if somehow you haven't yet seen Cowspiracy ( website , trailer ), by all means check out the compelling environmental documentary on Netflix, or the companion book, The Sustainability Secret  (... Read More
Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:38:57PM *  1 point [-]

@cdc482 I share your concerns, suspect many others to as well, and appreciate the honesty of this post.

I think a lot of whether it's worth taking higher-risk-higher-reward paths toward doing good depends on a lot of specifics. Specifics such as those covered in 80K's framework (https://80000hours.org/articles/framework/).

In particular, the question about earning vs. working on the front lines has to do with what sort of needs your cause has, and your would-be 'role impact'. Is the cause more funding-constrained, research-constrained, talent-constrained in other ways? If the constraints involve certain talents, do you have, and/or could you (further) cultivate the needed talents? Also, do you have solid backup options if the risky plan doesn't work out?

I'll tell my own EA story a bit in case you can relate. In my case, I'm relatively set---but not dead-set---on making animal advocacy my primary cause for the majority of my life. I'm earning-to-give-and-skill-up as a software developer, at least in the short term, for the following reasons:

  • because I understand the animal protection movement to be more funding-constrained than starving for very particular talents that I currently have;
  • to skill up on tech talents that can be potentially useful to any movement;
  • to give myself a solid for-profit career option in the event that I tried something else;
  • given the high 'exploration value' of seeing about doing tech entrepreneurship somewhere down the line;
  • to give myself time to assess whether there are better causes than animal protection (x-risk is an enticing cause and I still want to think/learn more about issues like tractability, the importance of values-spreading, etc.).
Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:40:40PM 0 points [-]

Here is a provocative piece that challenges people to think outside of the box of merely earning-to-give long term: https://80000hours.org/2015/07/80000-hours-thinks-that-only-a-small-proportion-of-people-should-earn-to-give-long-term/

Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:38:57PM *  1 point [-]

@cdc482 I share your concerns, suspect many others to as well, and appreciate the honesty of this post.

I think a lot of whether it's worth taking higher-risk-higher-reward paths toward doing good depends on a lot of specifics. Specifics such as those covered in 80K's framework (https://80000hours.org/articles/framework/).

In particular, the question about earning vs. working on the front lines has to do with what sort of needs your cause has, and your would-be 'role impact'. Is the cause more funding-constrained, research-constrained, talent-constrained in other ways? If the constraints involve certain talents, do you have, and/or could you (further) cultivate the needed talents? Also, do you have solid backup options if the risky plan doesn't work out?

I'll tell my own EA story a bit in case you can relate. In my case, I'm relatively set---but not dead-set---on making animal advocacy my primary cause for the majority of my life. I'm earning-to-give-and-skill-up as a software developer, at least in the short term, for the following reasons:

  • because I understand the animal protection movement to be more funding-constrained than starving for very particular talents that I currently have;
  • to skill up on tech talents that can be potentially useful to any movement;
  • to give myself a solid for-profit career option in the event that I tried something else;
  • given the high 'exploration value' of seeing about doing tech entrepreneurship somewhere down the line;
  • to give myself time to assess whether there are better causes than animal protection (x-risk is an enticing cause and I still want to think/learn more about issues like tractability, the importance of values-spreading, etc.).
Comment author: jayquigley 02 August 2016 04:11:06AM *  2 points [-]

We should avoid the temptation to think it's an all-or-nothing between direct work now until retirement and earning-to-give from now until retirement. (Not saying that was exactly your view.)

Here's one example of something in between these extremes. One can work at for-profit jobs as a means of skilling up such that your talents can be used for direct work projects during non-work hours and/or later on in one's career. And meanwhile one can earn-to-give in the short term, remaining agnostic about the long-term path.

Peter Hurford has an interesting profile making similar points, here. I love the term 'exploration value': https://80000hours.org/career-guide/member-stories/peter-hurford/ https://80000hours.org/2014/10/update-on-peters-career-story/

Comment author: jayquigley 30 July 2016 03:04:04PM 0 points [-]

FWIW, the links at the top of this take me to the google doc rather than to anchors within this page.

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