EA Forum Prize: Winners for December 2018

CEA is pleased to an­nounce the win­ners of the De­cem­ber 2018 EA Fo­rum Prize!

In first place (for a prize of $999): “2018 AI Align­ment Liter­a­ture Re­view and Char­ity Com­par­i­son”, by Larks.

In sec­ond place (for a prize of $500): “Cause Pro­file: Men­tal Health”, by Michael Plant.

In third place (for a prize of $250): “Les­sons Learned from a Prospec­tive Alter­na­tive Meat Startup Team”, by Scott Weathers, Joan Gass, and an anony­mous co-au­thor.

You can see Novem­ber’s win­ning posts here.

What is the EA Fo­rum Prize?

Cer­tain posts ex­em­plify the kind of con­tent we most want to see on the EA Fo­rum. They are well-re­searched and well-or­ga­nized; they care about in­form­ing read­ers, not just per­suad­ing them.

The Prize is an in­cen­tive to cre­ate posts like this. But more im­por­tantly, we see it as an op­por­tu­nity to show­case ex­cel­lent con­tent as an ex­am­ple and in­spira­tion to the Fo­rum’s users.

About the De­cem­ber winners

2018 AI Align­ment Liter­a­ture Re­view and Char­ity Com­par­i­son” is an el­e­gant sum­mary of a com­pli­cated cause area. It should serve as a use­ful re­source for peo­ple who want to learn about the field of AI al­ign­ment; we hope it also sets an ex­am­ple for other au­thors who want to sum­ma­rize re­search.

The post isn’t only well-writ­ten, but also well-or­ga­nized, with sev­eral fea­tures that make it eas­ier to read and un­der­stand. The au­thor:

  • Offers sug­ges­tions on how to effec­tively read the post.

  • Hides their con­clu­sions, en­courag­ing read­ers to draw their own first.

  • Dis­closes rele­vant in­for­ma­tion about their back­ground, in­clud­ing the stan­dards by which they eval­u­ate re­search and their con­nec­tions with AI or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Th­ese fea­tures all fit with the Fo­rum’s goal of “in­for­ma­tion be­fore per­sua­sion”, let­ting read­ers gain value from the post even if they dis­agree with some of the au­thor’s be­liefs.


Cause Pro­file: Men­tal Health” is a strong in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a cause which hasn’t got­ten very much at­ten­tion from the EA move­ment.

Espe­cially good fea­tures of the post:

  • An in­tro­duc­tion which serves as a use­ful guide to a long anal­y­sis.

  • Sum­maries of each sec­tion placed un­der the sec­tion head­ers, mak­ing nav­i­ga­tion and com­pre­hen­sion even eas­ier.

  • End­notes which help read­ers ver­ify in­for­ma­tion for them­selves.

  • The use of a clas­sic frame­work for im­pact anal­y­sis (scale, ne­glect­ed­ness, and tractabil­ity), which helps read­ers com­pare men­tal health to other cause ar­eas that have been eval­u­ated us­ing the same frame­work.

We hope to see more such in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the fu­ture for other promis­ing causes.


Les­sons Learned from a Prospec­tive Alter­na­tive Meat Startup Team” is a well-or­ga­nized and highly in­for­ma­tive dis­cus­sion from a team that tried to start a high-im­pact com­pany. The au­thors provide use­ful ad­vice about en­trepreneur­ship and sum­ma­rize the state of al­ter­na­tive-meat re­search, a key topic within an­i­mal welfare. While they de­cided not to move for­ward with a startup, the team learned from the ex­pe­rience and also pro­duced value for the EA com­mu­nity by shar­ing their story on the Fo­rum.

We’ve been im­pressed by similar “post­mortem” ar­ti­cles pub­lished on the Fo­rum in the past. Go­ing for­ward, we hope to see other peo­ple share les­sons from the pro­jects they pur­sue, whether or not they “com­plete” those pro­jects.

The vot­ing process

All posts made in the month of De­cem­ber qual­ified for vot­ing, save for those writ­ten by CEA staff and Prize judges.

Prizes were cho­sen by six peo­ple. Three of them are the Fo­rum’s mod­er­a­tors (Max Dal­ton, Denise Melchin, and Ju­lia Wise).

The other three are the EA Fo­rum users who had the most karma at the time the new Fo­rum was launched (Peter Hur­ford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

Vot­ers re­cused them­selves from vot­ing for con­tent writ­ten by their col­leagues. Other­wise, they used their own in­di­vi­d­ual crite­ria for choos­ing posts, though they broadly agree with the goals out­lined above.

Win­ners were cho­sen by an ini­tial round of ap­proval vot­ing, fol­lowed by a runoff vote to re­solve ties.

Next month

The Prize will con­tinue with a round for Jan­uary’s posts! After that, we’ll eval­u­ate whether we plan to keep run­ning it (or per­haps change it in some fash­ion). We hope that the Fo­rum’s many ex­cel­lent De­cem­ber posts will provide in­spira­tion for more great work in the com­ing months.

Feed­back on the Prize

We’d love to hear any feed­back you have about the Prize. Leave a com­ment or con­tact Aaron Gertler with ques­tions or sug­ges­tions.