Comment author: AmyLabenz 08 August 2018 02:44:36PM 2 points [-]

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: redmoonsoaring 10 August 2018 03:23:29PM *  2 points [-]

Thank you for the explanation. I still believe the 2017 and 2018 animal welfare and global poverty line-ups left a lot to be desired, but those years might have been better than 2016 at least in the choice of keynote speaker.

Maybe there could be more transparency in regards to the advisory board, because without knowing those details, I don't know how to evaluate the situation. I do feel concern from CEA's history that the advisory board may favor people with close ties to CEA rather than actual meaningful representation from those fields. But I can't be confident in that without knowing the details.

Comment author: LewisBollard 09 August 2018 11:59:23PM 19 points [-]

Thanks for looking into this Saulius! I'd seen a few things re baitfish and it has been on my list to look more into for a while. But this will raise its priority -- and make my task easier by providing a lot of the underlying sources. I'll discuss this with some of the farm animal groups to see if they have ideas. In the meantime, let me know if you find more info.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 10 August 2018 12:01:32PM 2 points [-]

This EA Forum post might be a really good example of how EAs interested in blogging and research can support Open Philanthropy Project. If you have any other ideas for topics like this, Lewis, sharing them could help other EAs help you in other ways.

Comment author: AmyLabenz 04 August 2018 02:17:19AM 28 points [-]

Joey, thanks for your post! I work for CEA and am the Curator of EA Global. I manage content for the event so I’m responding to that part of the post.

When deciding which speakers to solicit, I try to consider things like cause area representation, presenter diversity, and the development of community norms, among other things. It is really hard to get this right, and I know that I’ve fallen short of where I’d like to be on all of these.

I do think we’ve managed to improve on the representativeness dimension over the past couple of years. I know there’s room for reasonable disagreement about how to categorize talks, and I think you and I must be looking at the talk categories differently because I’m coming up with a very different distribution than you mention. For talks at EA Global 2018, I count 21% animals, 18% meta/rationality, 25% AI/x-risk/GCRs, 14% global health and development, 7% government/policy and 14% other topics. Across the four events in 2017 and 2018, my breakdown shows 15% animals, 20% AI/x-risk/GCRs, 14% health and development, 11% government/policy, 23% meta/rationality, and 19% other. Here is a link to a categorization of all of the talks from 2017 and 2018 by cause area so that you can see how I’m thinking about the talk distribution (in the interest of time, and since you mentioned talks, I haven’t included meetups, office hours, workshops, or whiteboard sessions). I haven’t done the breakdown for 2015 and 2016, but I think we are representing the community’s interests better in recent years than we did in the past.

This year I’ve commissioned recommendations from EAs with subject matter expertise in the different cause areas to try to improve further. We also welcome speaker and content suggestions from the community. Please submit ideas for EA Global London here.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 08 August 2018 02:37:50AM *  2 points [-]

On the topic of Effective Altruism Global, I'm not just concerned about the lower representation of non-x-risk cause areas, but also the speaker selection for those cause areas. In 2016 as an example, the main animal welfare speaker was a parrot intelligence researcher who seemed, I'm sorry to say this, uninformed about animal welfare, even of birds. I think the animal welfare speakers over the years have been more selected for looking cool to the organizers (who didn't know much about animal welfare) and/or increasing speaker demographic diversity (Not that this is a bad thing, but it's unhelpful to just get diversity in one cause area.), instead of actually having the leading experts on EA and animal welfare.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 October 2017 12:55:16AM *  -3 points [-]

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. As a man, the crux of my feeling disaffected from EA has been this part: "● Take up that humility more generally. Don’t judge that you’re right and another party is wrong before ensuring you know their reasoning — ask someone why they hold the position they do, maybe they’ve thought of something you haven’t just as you may be assuming you’ve thought of things they haven’t." As a rule, I have found that EA people believe that they are the world leading expert on literally every single topic. A fellow, for example, said he was starting a blog and wanted submissions on certain topics which I have presented academic papers related to at international conferences. I offered to provide articles for his blog, free. He responded that he would have to see my previous work so he could review it. He had a Bachelors in computer programming and wanted to review my academic work in evolutionary psychology and political science that had been presented at leading international conferences. Because he is the leading expert in every single thing. Just this week I suggested that EA should focus more on threats to bees and other insect pollinators. Another fellow responded that all the claimed problems are false and the issue that does exist is easily solved. Amazing that he knows more than scores of professional entomologists publishing in peer reviewed journals, despite not being an entomologist or in science at all. But again, he is clearly the world leading expert in literally every topic.

At the same time, people like myself who have put serious effort and several decades into developing our knowledge on certain topics, and who have lengthy records of achieving altruistic results dating long before your group existed, find that our posts are not approved by the "moderators" of the FB main group, we are not invited to conferences, our views are not respected as a rule.

Whatever data and techniques you have, as currently constituted EA is more counter-effective than effective and on the road to irrelevance. However intelligent you are, being sure that you literally know everything makes you one of the dumbest people alive.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 27 October 2017 01:39:43PM 4 points [-]

I think thoughtful, rationality-focused people (not just EA, but even, say, young software engineers) can often outperform the average 'expert,' with expertise measured by traditional credentials like having a PhD. There are many biases that pervade academia and other fields (e.g. publication bias, status quo bias, publish or perish incentives), and thoughtful people have often done a lot more than traditional experts to understand and overcome these biases. They also get the benefit of going into a field without as many preconceptions and personal investments, allowing them to better synthesize the literature in a less-biased way.

I don't have many examples on hand (and would really like if someone else can provide them), but I feel there's a solid track record of a thoughtful, rationality-focused person disagreeing strongly with traditional experts. Only two are coming to mind right now:

One is Eliezer Yudkowsky, a self-educated blogger, advocating for a focus on safety in the AI community that most traditional AI experts thought was crazy, but now the traditional AI community has shifted heavily towards Yudkowsky.

Another one is the Superforecasters discussed by Phil Tetlock doing very well at predicting future events (e.g. whether there will be a civil war in a certain country), despite traditional experts doing little better than chance.

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 25 March 2017 03:10:04PM *  5 points [-]

I think that the value of this type of work comes from: (i) making it easier for people entering the community to come up to the frontier of thought on different issues; (ii) building solid foundations for our positions, which makes it easier to go take large steps in subsequent work.

Cf. Olah & Carter's recent post on research debt.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 27 March 2017 05:48:25PM *  0 points [-]

For what it's worth, I do agree that's where most of the value comes from, though I think the value is much lower than the value of similar empirical/bold writing, at least for this example.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 18 March 2017 05:38:04PM 15 points [-]

While I see some value in detailing commonly-held positions like this post does, and I think this post is well-written, I want to flag my concern that it seems like a great example of a lot of effort going into creating content that nobody really disagrees with. This sort of armchair qualified writing doesn't seem to me like a very cost-effective use of EA resources, and I worry we do a lot of it, partly because it's easy to do and gets a lot of positive social reinforcement, to a much greater degree than empirical bold writing tends to get.

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 30 July 2016 01:42:45AM 6 points [-]

I noticed a contrast between the framing of a couple different parts of the survey results:

[T]he median donation was $333. Certainly good, [...]

It’s clear that EA has a significant problem with gender diversity

I think it would be more reasonable to say that the median donation is a "significant problem", and the gender ratio is suboptimal but I'm not terribly concerned about it. I believe we as a movement should generally be less concerned about how many of us are men and more concerned about how much people are donating.

Certainly many people have good reason for only donating a little, but on average, I'm sure we can donate more than $333, and we should encourage ourselves to do better.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 31 July 2016 05:26:15PM 1 point [-]

I agree with the caveat that the $333 figure is much less worrisome if it's due to a high number of student or people working for nonprofits.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 31 January 2016 02:52:47AM 5 points [-]

The lives saved by [sic] AMD occur early in life, so AMF saves about 60 QALYs per life.

I'm not sure why people use this estimate, given that the effect of anti-malarial nets is primarily on avoiding the disease itself, the grief of family members, economic costs, and other downsides of having malaria, rather than on creating more years of happy life. This is because population tends to adjust for the death rate, i.e. "I think the best interpretation of the available evidence is that the impact of life-saving interventions on fertility and population growth varies by context, above all with total fertility, and is rarely greater than 1:1."

http://davidroodman.com/blog/2014/04/16/the-mortality-fertility-link/

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 05 June 2016 11:20:59AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: redmoonsoaring 10 May 2016 03:35:48AM *  7 points [-]

I think the difference in cost per pledge could also be from a large number of existing vegetarians who just wanted the additional information. Also the former vegetarians probably consumed fewer animal foods, which would make converting one to vegetarianism less impactful.

Comment author: redmoonsoaring 31 January 2016 02:52:47AM 5 points [-]

The lives saved by [sic] AMD occur early in life, so AMF saves about 60 QALYs per life.

I'm not sure why people use this estimate, given that the effect of anti-malarial nets is primarily on avoiding the disease itself, the grief of family members, economic costs, and other downsides of having malaria, rather than on creating more years of happy life. This is because population tends to adjust for the death rate, i.e. "I think the best interpretation of the available evidence is that the impact of life-saving interventions on fertility and population growth varies by context, above all with total fertility, and is rarely greater than 1:1."

http://davidroodman.com/blog/2014/04/16/the-mortality-fertility-link/

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