CEO, Veddis Foundation
I wish forum authors would avoid framing their arguments as “us vs them”. It makes me spend far more time engaging with the piece than I would have rationally chose to!
Thanks again for the valuable thought provocation anyway though :)
Hm, just found the appendix mentioned in 5.3 - so never mind! I think I’m persuaded that it’s likely very valuable looking for opportunities.
Good to see some of these arguments making their way into EA analysis!
Given the number of economists, the number of countries and that there does seem to be relatively wide agreement behind some important economic policies: are there lists floating around of remaining low-hanging fruit for economic policy changes in certain countries?
I would have thought that there are just so many economists, think tanks etc., and people keen to make money/prestige off of advising governments on how to run their economy, that most those remaining low-hanging fruit policy changes are stuck where they are for some very-hard-to-change reason.
Yes that’s right, thanks Julia and apologies for any confusion. I use the term differently to how the OP has used it. We are still looking at anything that falls outside of the remit of CBG but are unable to offer the level of vetting and direct support that we think is necessary to fund local groups well and so are funding that via CBG. We have still been looking at special projects by local groups that fall outside of the remit of CBG also.
Thanks for sharing this! I’m on the meta fund team and open to feedback.First I want to quickly flag that we no longer do community building grants due to their complexity and instead intend to fund CEA CBG. Community building projects are very hard to properly evaluate, track and support and I applaud CEAs team for working so hard at this. However, at each round CBG sends us a proposal on what additional funding can achieve in terms of fulfilling existing commitments and new applications, to help inform our funding decision to them (if any). Addressing the sourcing-through-networks point, I just went through our early stage grants in the last year quickly and it looks like the majority were people we met through our various funding processes as opposed to people we knew already. Late stage grants we did of course have connections to already but I think that’s to be expected, and these organisations are quite well known in any case.We could say that people don’t apply because they haven’t heard of us, that could be true. Thanks for the idea to share to FB groups and newsletter, we will try that and see if it affects application quality. We are very keen for more applications and any suggestions most welcome.There’s a separate question of secondary network effects like people getting better talent, better mentoring and stronger referrals based on geographical networks. I won’t address that here now but can have a go if interesting.I can only speak for myself but I think we already have a slightly lower bar for funding project proposals in further flung locations and I’m not convinced it would be worth it to lower it further.I could imagine a scenario where it became clear we were missing lots of really strong opportunities further afield but I’d be surprised we weren’t seeing more signs of it already with many strong projects appearing just through the application forms and intros. The very very early stage work of getting local groups going and that sort of thing falls outside of what the Meta Fund can realistically include within its remit. We also don’t have so much funding that funding projects without clear merit for the sake of stimulating growth in a region would make sense any time soon.I do think ideally we would have a Bay Area based committee member. Peter M was there until earlier this year and we are all fairly well connected there.
FP’s estimate for their $ per tonne was something like 0.1, with large error bars. It’s a policy intervention after all. How big an adjustment would each of your issues raise that by? Your “it’s still good” comment seems a bit throw away.
Would you, in total, adjust it by >100x I.e. estimating >$10 per tonne?
Nice one! There are a few strong options but would need more info to give a decent suggestion, hard to say just based on the above, drop me an email at [myusername] @gmail.com and probably happy to put you in touch with some people. I’d generally advise erring against discussing potential major donors on a public forum.
Thanks! Cool perspective. I’ll just make a quick comment on the neglectedness point:
Much of diminishing returns in an area come not from crowdedness or inefficient economies of scale but because the low hanging fruit are gone. Most EA top reccommended cause areas are so neglected that the majority of the work is still focused on basic/applied research and basic policy advocacy, strategy etc. Work that can have huge ripples, steering global markets and governments where they otherwise would have done nothing for potentially many years.
Another way of evaluating neglectedness is to ask ‘what’s the chance I’ll have an outsized counterfsftual impact by doing X’ and the base rates are just going to be lower for that now given the sheer number of people working on it.
It’s also worth noting that the impact of direct work in climate is inherently limited due to the huge scale of emissions today, so I think it’s very fair to say it has a low neglectedness score.
I think the argument for climate does have to be focused on the scale of the bad outcomes that can be mitigated through additional work, and it still looks very good under that lens. We don’t have to work on neglected problems, it’s just a heuristic for affecting larger speed ups.
Thanks for the question. All the grantees except the EA survey have funding gaps greater than our grants. Honestly it’s really hard to give an estimate for this quickly as we didn’t review all of the options to the same level (as we knew we only had $X to grant). Of the smaller orgs that applied I think somewhere between $200k and $1m, but if we include the orgs with run-rates over $500k pa then this number gets much bigger.
I work with donors and feel I don’t have enough to say when ageing comes up. Fancy giving me a quick primer?
A few things I’m clearly confused on:
why aging isn’t always discussed under the restriction of global population capacity, seems like we should have reached it by then (assuming no AGI). I realise this is everyone’s first intuitive response but seems like it should still be a key factor in any analysis.
seems like under a full capacity assumption the impact either comes from an improved distribution of where people are at in life (less teenage depression and end of life suffering or something like that) which seems uncertain. Or from increased career length which also seems not certainly net positive. Maybe I missed it but couldn’t see any of this in your calc discussion.
I know there are plenty of arguments for aging being neglected and so worth it from the medium term also but it seems like if you’re talking about escape velocity then pop cap needs to factor in.
If you’d be up for that primer I’m On my username (Agdfoster) and @gmail.com
Don’t know much about this but I thought you could estimate a ballpark for the total frequency by looking at craters on moons and mars.
Is it meaningful to say that some companies are growing exponentially when the markets they take part in are growing exponentially? https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/world-gdp-over-the-last-two-millennia?time=1913..2015
After a quick Google, Microsoft was $500bn market cap in it’s 2000 peak and now is about $1tn, but world GDP has almost doubled in that time also (60tn → 110tn).
If you want to try a work strategy that involves long hours then a positive successful relationship may be harder to achieve.
Otherwise I’d advocate you don’t instrumentalise your non-work time for impact. I know it’s a cliche but do what you enjoy. Instrumentalising your free time seems to make people less relatable (probably an understatement), less trustworthy, more prone to depression, less robust to sudden changes etc
Having a strong base, whatever it is for you, is pretty important I think. When impact stuff is going badly you don’t want to feel like everything is going badly. That kind of instability is going to have more Long term effect for your impact than a few thousand pounds a year in one direction or another.
As you suggest in the question I think an improvement would be: “impact of -org X- -trying- to influence governments vs direct work”
Some key considerations:
Gov interventions’ numbers in my experience generally have much better expected values in back of the envelope models and then often look much less good when you add a bunch of additional intuitive discount factors.
Attribution is highly uncertain with policy interventions.
This said, I expect many of the highest return per dollar funding opportunities to be in policy and research.
What’s the tractability/chance of success of the government intervention for the given team? It might actually be very very low.
Is this team more likely to do more harm than good? There are many ways of doing damage or damaging future efforts. I think this rules out a bunch of approaches that would otherwise justify their low tractability and
How time pressured is the intervention? Potentially risk is worth it. My general rule of thumb currently on this is something like “major risks are very rarely worth it, be very careful and wait for great te
Sometimes “direct work+ ” is the best policy intervention. Do something the government could adopt really well, show that it works and has public support, then try lobbying for it. This said, it seems like quite a few charities just strap this argument on to what they were going to do anyway, which is fine so long as they’ve thought it through properly, just something to look out for.
Lobbying / technical assistance etc opportunities are generally going to be fewer and further between.
Thanks for flagging, now updated
I’d guess the best argument is the obvious one:
most the professional world and voting populace have a very negative view on psychedelics
whilst the potential upsides might be sizeable, they likely don’t compare to the negative damage to EA that EA orgs publicly supporting such work would likely do.
if done in secret that’s a) a secret (generally bad) and b) inevitably going to get out.
and a fair number of non EAs are working on it anyway as it’s quite a popular idea in California. I’m guessing anyone super passionate about it could get funding and hire without having to be associated with EA at all.