Announcing CEA’s Interim Managing Director
A few weeks ago, Max Dalton stepped down as Executive Director of CEA. Recently, the EV US and UK boards approved my appointment as Interim Managing Director in his stead.
CEA accomplished a lot in 2022, and I’m honored to lead the team in this interim period.
My communication style is more lighthearted than Max’s was; my model is:
People don’t read announcements, and will engage longer if it’s funny.
It seems good to bring humor to the Forum, and generally make EA a more fun place to be.
Also, I would rather just be myself on the Forum. Maybe I will regret this if a journalist quotes me out of context, but I’d rather do the thing that seems right to me than the thing which seems best for (a seeming definition of) PR.
But obviously some people have different opinions, and if you just want to skip to the serious bit you can go here.
For everyone else: the remainder of this post goes over some of our highlights from the past year, as well as some suggestions I have for the future.
Some CEA Highlights by Team
The Events Team’s core metric is the number of connections made. More information about this can be found here.
This metric has shown substantial growth, approximately doubling from 2021-2022. The team is to be congratulated for their hard work and success:
I am therefore directing the events team to put EAG Bay Area 2024 actually in the San Francisco bay:
EAG Bay Area 2024 (artist’s rendition)
Online Team: EA Forum
Engagement with object-level posts (those not about the EA community) has approximately quintupled over the past two years:
Although weirdly engagement on posts about the EA community spiked in November and are only now going back down to normal levels:
This is baffling because we did not roll out any large features in mid-November. If you have any guesses about what might have occurred here, please let us know.
Our University Group Accelerator Program (UGAP) program has been growing rapidly:
And thousands of people have been through our virtual programs:
However, there is something important about meeting in person. Like many of you, I was disturbed to learn that CEA does not actually own a castle, despite the obvious community building benefits. I am therefore instructing Community Building Grants recipients that at least one third of grant expenditures must be castle-related. This relates to my AI safety strategy, which I hope to publish more about soon.
I am therefore instructing the executive office team to create a dashboard which can be accessed throughout the multiverse via correlated decision-making.
Perhaps surprisingly, recent polling data from Rethink Priorities indicates that most people still don’t know what EA is, those that do are positive towards it as a brand, overall affect scores haven’t noticeably changed post FTX collapse, and only a few percent of respondents mentioned FTX when asked about EA open-ended. It seems like these results hold both in the general US population and amongst students at “elite universities”.
Since EA is about blindly following quantitative results, and the quantitative results indicate that the financial fraud scandals don’t affect our public image,… Nope, not even going to joke about that one. (Fraud is, famously, bad.)
In all seriousness: this is a cruxy time for EA and I am honored to lead CEA as we try to navigate it.
My position doesn’t have a firm end date but will last until a new Executive Director of CEA starts. Our internal CEA prediction market currently estimates that this will be between 6 months and a year from now (depending on the framing).
I’m sure that people will have questions about the process of finding a long-term ED. The EV US and UK boards have appointed a search committee for this, and I will leave any further communication about this process to them.
Here’s a picture of me at my first EA conference in 2014:
I remember discussing animal welfare with people who said things like “The modern farmed animal welfare movement has existed for 40 years and hasn’t accomplished much. The March for the Animals was arguably the most popular animal rights demonstration in history, and it was in 1990. The movement for vegetarianism might be dying.”
Since then, meat alternatives have entered the mainstream, with Beyond and Impossible products being available at almost every chain restaurant. Chicken Watch lists over 3,000 corporate commitments for chicken welfare, and Metaculus currently predicts a 61% chance that the EU will ban all types of caged housing for egg laying hens in the next 18 months.
What’s more remarkable is that the random 23-year-olds in my small EA group directly contributed to this. There were only ~10 core members, but some of them have gone on to:
Work directly on corporate welfare campaigns at Mercy for Animals
Work on meat alternatives at Impossible and Rethink Priorities
Work for funders like OpenPhil and ACE
EA seems to have gathered an impressive set of talented, mostly young people who genuinely want to make the world a better place, and provided an alternative to traditional templates of doing good. The people in my EA group weren’t “thinking globally and acting locally” — they were engaging with global problems as though they could actually solve them, and, remarkably, they seem to be doing so.
I think CEA should have an executive director who can commit to being in the position for 4+ years, and I don’t currently feel like I could make that commitment. But I’m excited about the EA community, and honored to help support CEA until we can find that long-term ED.
There being a global pandemic may also have helped
The forum breakdown by community versus noncommunity still runs too slowly for it to be included in that dashboard