EA Organization Updates: August 2020

Th­ese monthly posts origi­nated as the “Up­dates” sec­tion of the EA Newslet­ter.

You can also see last month’s up­dates, or a repos­i­tory of past newslet­ters.

Or­ga­ni­za­tion Updates

80,000 Hours

This month, Rob Wiblin and Ar­den Koehler spoke with Mark Ly­nas about the most prac­ti­cal ways to stop cli­mate change.

Ar­den then spoke to Ben Todd about va­ri­eties of longter­mism and things 80,000 Hours might be get­ting wrong, and nar­rated two of her ar­ti­cles for the pod­cast feed: “Global is­sues be­yond 80,000 Hours’ cur­rent pri­ori­ties” and “Ideas for high-im­pact ca­reers be­yond our pri­or­ity paths.”

Ar­den and Howie Lem­pel also put to­gether a list of promis­ing re­search top­ics across a range of differ­ent fields, com­piling 108 sug­ges­tions across 19 differ­ent ar­eas.

And fi­nally, Ben Todd wrote four new posts:

ALLFED (Alli­ance to Feed the Earth in Disasters)

ALLFED has pub­lished a new re­search pa­per in Sus­tain­able Pro­duc­tion and Con­sump­tion. The pa­per is on al­ter­na­tive foods for se­vere global food catas­tro­phes (i.e. nu­clear win­ter): “Po­ten­tial of micro­bial pro­tein from hy­dro­gen for pre­vent­ing mass star­va­tion in catas­trophic sce­nar­ios” by J.B. Gar­cía Martínez, J. Eg­be­jimba, J. Throup, S. Matassa, J.M. Pearce, D.C. Denken­berger.

An­ima International

  • Global café chain Joe & The Juice has com­mit­ted to the ECC/​BCC (Euro­pean Chicken Com­mit­ment/​Bet­ter Chicken Com­mit­ment) in all mar­kets in col­lab­o­ra­tion with An­ima In­ter­na­tional (AI).

  • AI pre­pared a re­port on the plant-based meat and dairy al­ter­na­tives mar­ket for the Dutch Ministry of Agri­cul­ture in or­der to en­courage Dutch plant-based pro­duc­ers to con­sider launch­ing in Poland. As a fol­low-up, Dutch com­pa­nies will han­dle an on­line trade mis­sion to Poland with sup­port from AI.

  • AI and Sin­er­gia An­i­mal re­leased a doc­u­men­tary about egg pro­duc­tion in Thailand.

  • With sup­port from AI, WSP Społem, one of the most es­tab­lished pro­duc­ers of prod­ucts like may­on­naise in Poland, launched its first plant-based product.

  • AI’s Con­fer­ence on An­i­mal Rights in Europe (CARE) took place on­line. Host­ing coun­tries change each year, with Humánny Pokrok from Slo­vakia or­ganis­ing on this oc­ca­sion. The con­fer­ence brought to­gether speak­ers and ex­perts from around the world.

  • AI’s newly launched re­source library al­lows ac­tivists to down­load free, high-qual­ity in­ves­ti­ga­tion footage for their own use.

  • Due to post-elec­tion vi­o­lence and hu­man rights abuses in Be­larus, AI paused its op­er­a­tions there.

An­i­mal Ad­vo­cacy Careers

An­i­mal Ad­vo­cacy Ca­reers launched a free on­line in­tro­duc­tory an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy course and work­shop. They are cur­rently ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions (ap­pli­ca­tions close on 25 Oc­to­ber at mid­night). The course be­gins on 2 Novem­ber 2020.

They also re­leased a skills pro­file, “Poli­tics, policy and lob­by­ing,” which fo­cuses on gov­ern­men­tal, policy, and lob­by­ing work that may benefit an­i­mals.

An­i­mal Char­ity Evaluators

An­i­mal Char­ity Eval­u­a­tors awarded the fifth round of grants from their Recom­mended Char­ity Fund, dis­tribut­ing a to­tal of $141,950 to their 2019 Top and Stand­out Char­i­ties. They also up­dated their policy on re­spect in the work­place, which they wel­come other or­ga­ni­za­tions to use wholly or in part.

An­i­mal Ethics

An­i­mal Ethics has re­leased all three mod­ules of their wild an­i­mal suffer­ing video course. The texts, videos, au­dios, and refer­ences for each mod­ule are also available as con­ve­nient and com­pre­hen­sive units on their web­site.

They par­ti­ci­pated in a cel­e­bra­tion of the World Day for the End of Speciesism by giv­ing talks in English, Span­ish, and Por­tuguese.

Con­tin­u­ing their welfare biol­ogy work on how fires harm wild an­i­mals, An­i­mal Ethics pub­lished the re­sults of post­doc re­search on the effects of fires on an­i­mals in the wild by Jara Gu­tiér­rez and Fran­cisco Javier de Miguel. The pa­per has been sub­mit­ted for pub­li­ca­tion in a biol­ogy jour­nal and is available as a preprint.

Cen­ter for Hu­man-Com­pat­i­ble AI

CHAI PhD stu­dent Thomas Krendl Gilbert and col­lab­o­ra­tor An­drew Loveridge pub­lished “Sub­jec­tify­ing ob­jec­tivity: Delineat­ing tastes in the­o­ret­i­cal quan­tum grav­ity re­search” in So­cial Stud­ies of Science.

Cor­nell pro­fes­sor Joseph Halpern and col­lab­o­ra­tor Evan Pier­mont will pre­sent “Dy­namic aware­ness” at the 17th In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Prin­ci­ples of Knowl­edge Rep­re­sen­ta­tion and Rea­son­ing. The pa­per in­ves­ti­gates how to model the be­liefs of an agent who be­comes more aware and dis­cusses how such a model can be ap­plied to in­for­ma­tion dis­clo­sure.

Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altruism

The Long-Term Fu­ture, An­i­mal Welfare, and EA In­fras­truc­ture Funds are call­ing for ap­pli­ca­tions. Each of these Funds also re­leased a new pay­out re­port with de­tails on re­cent grants (Long-Term Fu­ture, An­i­mal Welfare, EA In­fras­truc­ture).

Cen­tre for the Study of Ex­is­ten­tial Risk

CSER wel­comed four new post­doc­toral re­searchers: Dr. John Bur­den (AI safety), Dr. Tom Hob­son (biorisk), Dr. Freya Jeph­cott (biorisk), and Dr. Alex McLaugh­lin (cli­mate jus­tice and ex­is­ten­tial risk).

CSER re­searchers had two AI safety pa­pers pub­lished:

Char­ity Entrepreneurship

Char­ity En­trepreneur­ship has an­nounced their 2020 Top Char­ity Ideas. Each year, CE iden­ti­fies highly effec­tive in­ter­ven­tions in cho­sen cause ar­eas. Their an­nual In­cu­ba­tion Pro­gram gives par­ti­ci­pants the skills they need to start high-im­pact non­prof­its based on CE’s top recom­men­da­tions. In their lat­est post, you can find eight top char­ity ideas with links to the re­ports that helped CE make the fi­nal cut.

CE’s In­cu­ba­tion Pro­gram is backed by Open Philan­thropy (among oth­ers), who this year awarded CE with a $260,000 grant to sup­port the cre­ation of new an­i­mal welfare char­i­ties.

CE has also re­leased a video with In­cu­ba­tion Pro­gram par­ti­ci­pants and pub­lished a free hand­book, How to Start a High-Im­pact Non­profit: “From the broad prin­ci­ples of de­ci­sion-mak­ing down to the nitty-gritty of cost-effec­tive­ness anal­y­sis, the hand­book cov­ers all the tools a char­ity en­trepreneur needs to found and scale an effec­tive non­profit.”

Faunalytics

Fau­n­a­lyt­ics’ re­cent study of an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy in the US and Canada in­cluded ques­tions about how ad­vo­cates got their start in the move­ment. Fau­n­a­lyt­ics con­ducted a fol­low-up anal­y­sis that pro­vides more de­tail about what ini­tially in­fluenced ad­vo­cates to be­come in­volved, cause area vari­abil­ity, and length of time in the move­ment.

They’ve added sev­eral new ar­ti­cles to their re­search library, on top­ics in­clud­ing pub­lic per­cep­tion of wildlife crimes, rep­tile sen­tience, cap­tive lob­ster welfare, and un­der­stand­ing the most com­pel­ling rea­sons for higher welfare stan­dards in six Asian coun­tries. They’ve also sum­ma­rized stud­ies that look to the fu­ture, fore­cast­ing habitat loss by 2050 and global trends in veg­e­tar­i­anism through 2100.

Fish Welfare Initiative

Fish Welfare Ini­ti­a­tive hired a Direc­tor of Coun­try Oper­a­tions in In­dia, who will soon be­gin work to se­cure in­sti­tu­tional changes for fish there.

Ad­di­tion­ally, FWI has hired a marine biol­o­gist to com­plete a scop­ing re­port on fish welfare in the Philip­pines. If this re­port is ap­pli­ca­ble to other or­ga­ni­za­tions con­sid­er­ing an­i­mal welfare work in the Philip­pines, FWI en­courages them to reach out.

GiveWell

GiveWell changed the name of their dona­tion op­tion “Grants to recom­mended char­i­ties at GiveWell’s dis­cre­tion” to the Max­i­mum Im­pact Fund. The new name bet­ter re­flects how dona­tions with this al­lo­ca­tion are used — and noth­ing else. The pur­pose of, and plans for, funds donated re­main un­changed.

GiveWell also dis­cussed why their top giv­ing recom­men­da­tions are of­ten for pro­grams that will be im­ple­mented in two to three years’ time.

Giv­ing What We Can

Five thou­sand peo­ple will soon have taken The Pledge, and there will be events all over the world to cel­e­brate!

Giv­ing What We Can is cur­rently re­view­ing much of their con­tent to en­sure that it’s up-to-date and re­solves com­mon mis­con­cep­tions, while also be­ing clear and com­pel­ling (ex­am­ples of up­dated work in­clude their giv­ing recom­men­da­tions and pledge pages). They are also start­ing to work more closely with lo­cal groups and are seek­ing in­put on their draft re­sources for EA groups. Their blog and newslet­ter are now much more ac­tive, and they are run­ning reg­u­lar events.

Global Catas­trophic Risk Institute

GCRI Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Seth Baum has a new pa­per, “Quan­tify­ing the prob­a­bil­ity of Ex­is­ten­tial catas­tro­phe: A re­ply to Beard et al.” in Fu­tures. The pa­per is a re­sponse to an­other re­cent pa­per in Fu­tures by Si­mon Beard, Thomas Rowe, and James Fox. Both pa­pers ad­vance the method­ol­ogy of quan­tify­ing ex­is­ten­tial and global catas­trophic risks and high­light the im­por­tance of do­ing risk anal­y­sis well.

The Good Food Institute

The Hu­mane League

Last month, THL UK se­cured Bet­ter Chicken Com­mit­ments from three com­pa­nies: Greggs, the largest bak­ery chain in the UK, meal kit com­pany Pasta Evan­ge­lists, and Beco Pets, the first pet food com­pany to com­mit to im­prov­ing the welfare of chick­ens in their sup­ply chain. With these re­cent com­mit­ments, over 150 com­pa­nies have now pledged to adopt the Bet­ter Chicken Com­mit­ment in Europe, which will im­pact 300,000,000 chick­ens an­nu­ally in the UK alone.

Along with coal­i­tion part­ners at other an­i­mal pro­tec­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions, THL filed an emer­gency pe­ti­tion with the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture to pre­vent COVID-19 re­lief funds from com­pen­sat­ing for the cost of “de­pop­u­la­tion” — the mass kil­ling of an­i­mals on fac­tory farms — a grue­some prac­tice im­ple­mented to miti­gate pan­demic-re­lated sup­ply chain in­ter­rup­tions.

THL Labs pub­lished “Mea­sur­ing bet­ter chicken com­mit­ment-com­pli­ant chicken sup­ply,” a re­view of meth­ods for mea­sur­ing progress to­wards im­proved welfare for chick­ens raised for meat.

Lev­er­hulme Cen­tre for the Fu­ture of Intelligence

Two re­cent pa­pers pre­sent the An­i­mal-AI Testbed, a com­pre­hen­sive en­vi­ron­ment and test­ing paradigm for gen­er­al­ity and com­mon-sense rea­son­ing tasks, in­spired by an­i­mal cog­ni­tion tests:

The white­ness of AI” by Stephen Cave and Kanta Dihal was also pub­lished in Philos­o­phy & Tech­nol­ogy.

Ma­chine In­tel­li­gence Re­search Institute

MIRI re­searcher Abram Dem­ski re­leased “Rad­i­cal prob­a­bil­ism,” a fol­low-up to “Toward a new tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion of tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion” that asks what con­straints good rea­son­ing must meet, given that Bayesian up­dat­ing isn’t vi­able.

Dem­ski and Scott Garrabrant ad­di­tion­ally re­leased a new ver­sion of the in­tro­duc­tory post “Embed­ded agency,” and Vanessa Kosoy and Alex Ap­pel an­nounced “In­fra-Bayesi­anism,” a new ap­proach to learn­ing the­ory that uses “im­pre­cise prob­a­bil­ity” to ad­dress the prob­lem that a re­al­is­tic agent’s en­vi­ron­ment will not be in the agent’s hy­poth­e­sis space.

Open Philanthropy

Open Philan­thropy an­nounced grants in­clud­ing $500K to the Royal So­ciety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals to sup­port work to ad­vance farm an­i­mal welfare in Asia, $465K to the Cen­ter for Pop­u­lar Democ­racy to sup­port the “Fed Up” cam­paign, $415K to Stan­ford Univer­sity to sup­port work to test the effi­cacy of a uni­ver­sal an­tiviral drug can­di­date against all in­fluenza strains, and $330K to the Rita Allen Foun­da­tion to sup­port two Rita Allen Foun­da­tion Award in Pain Schol­ars.

Re­think Priorities

Over the last few months, Re­think Pri­ori­ties has pub­lished re­search on how vari­a­tions in the sub­jec­tive ex­pe­rience of time might im­pact an­i­mal welfare, a re­view of EU an­i­mal welfare policy and en­force­ment, and a com­pila­tion of sur­veys rele­vant to an­i­mal ad­vo­cacy.

You can also now see a list of their on­go­ing pro­jects on their web­site to get a sense of what they’re work­ing on and what they’ll pub­lish in the near fu­ture.

Women and Non-Bi­nary Altru­ism Mentorship

WANBAM is the grate­ful re­cip­i­ent of an Effec­tive Altru­ism In­fras­truc­ture Fund Grant. They suc­cess­fully com­menced their sec­ond round of men­tor­ship. Ad­di­tion­ally, they re­leased ca­reer pro­file in­ter­views with women in mid- to se­nior-level ca­reers at EA-al­igned or­ga­ni­za­tions, fo­cused on guidance for ju­nior pro­fes­sion­als, and a blog au­thored by WANBAM men­tor and Direc­tor Karolina Sarek with re­sources on how to make bet­ter de­ci­sions.

Add your own update

If your or­ga­ni­za­tion isn’t rep­re­sented on this list, you’re wel­come to provide an up­date in a com­ment.

You can also email me if you’d like to be in­cluded on the list of or­ga­ni­za­tions I ask for up­dates each month; I can then add any up­dates you sub­mit to fu­ture posts. (I may not ac­cept all such re­quests; whether I in­clude an org de­pends on its size, age, fo­cus, track record, etc.)

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