[Question] Personal Data for analysing people’s opinions on EA issues

Large datasets con­tain­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion (eg in­ter­ests, on­line be­havi­our, poli­ti­cal ten­den­cies) are highly valuable in in­form­ing strate­gies. Espe­cially, once large enough they are very gen­eral. Know­ing whether some­one likes foot­ball or not will, in com­bi­na­tion with a lot of other data, in­fluence cre­dence about whether they may sup­port an an­i­mal welfare plan. This is valuable in­for­ma­tion into how easy or hard cer­tain prob­lems are to solve.

The most pub­li­cised cases of how this was put to prac­tice were the poli­ti­cal cam­paigns of Trump and of Brexit. The Vote Leave cam­paign is prob­a­bly the one talk­ing most openly about it, eg https://​​youtu.be/​​CDbRxH9Kiy4

But effec­tively, the so­cial sci­ence with the most in­sight on the planet is done at face­book in­ter­nally, and of course they are us­ing it to in­form their own agen­das and strate­gies (no source, high cre­dence spec­u­la­tion if you will).

The prob­lem is of course that such data can­not be shared for le­gi­t­i­mate pri­vacy rea­sons. Hence there is no pub­lic source for data de­tailled enough to re­ally know, say, the UK’s stance on cur­rent EA is­sues and how they in­ter­act (data may ex­ist but is very difficult to com­pare over differ­ent is­sues). There­fore, while EA could mas­sively benefit from ac­cess to such data (given the right an­a­lyt­ics tools) to in­form its top­ics, goals and strate­gies, we cur­rently have no way of do­ing so.

EA could find a way to gather and main­tain a dataset and de­velop tools for analysing it that makes sure it’s not pub­lic ac­cess but can be used (maybe even by any­one) for anal­y­sis of EA re­lated is­sues. We could use tech­nol­ogy so far used to elect Trump et al to bet­ter un­der­stand our own poli­cies and is­sues and their im­pact. The data could come from var­i­ous sources, and (the le­gal part of) the poli­ti­cal cam­paigns of Trump and Vote Leave could serve as in­spira­tion.

Should we?

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