It isn’t meant to mean software engineering, but all engineering. Unfortunately, aside from the FB group I made, I wasn’t aware of any other EA materials and resources for engineers other than specifically for software engineering.
I’m sure lots of lefties would not like how market-friendly EA tends to be
It’s unclear to me how representative this is of either EA or leftists. Year over year, the EA survey has shown the vast majority of EA to be “left-of-centre”, which includes a significant portion of the community whose politics might very well be described as ‘far-left’. So while some leftists might be willing to surmise from one EA-aligned organization, or a subset of the community, being market-friendly as representative of how market-friendly all of EA is, that’s an unsound inference. Additionally, even for leftist movements in the U.S. to the left of the Democratic establishment, there is enough ideological diversity I would say many of them appreciate markets enough such that they’re not ‘unfriendly’ to them. Of course there are leftists who aren’t friendly to markets, but I’m aware of a phenomenon of some factions on the Left to claim to speak on behalf of the whole Left, when there is no reason in the vast majority of these cases to think it’s a sound conclusion to draw that the bulk of the Left is hostile to markets. So, while ‘a lot’ of leftists may be hostile to markets, and ‘a lot’ of EA may be market-friendly, without being substantiated with more empirical evidence and logical qualification, those claims don’t provide useful info we can meaningfully work with.
Current Affairs overall is fairly amenable to EA and has a large platform within the left. I don’t think “they are a political movement that seeks attention and power” is a fair or complete characterization of the left. The people I know on the left genuinely believe that their preferred policies will improve people’s lives (e.g. single payer, increase minimum wage, more worker coops, etc.).
I think you’re misinterpreting. I never said that was a complete characterization, and fairness has nothing to do with it. Leftist movements are political movements, and I would say they’re seeking attention and power like any and every other political movement. I’m on the Left as well, and that I and the people who are leftists genuinely believe our preferred policies will indeed improve people’s lives doesn’t change the fact the acquisition of political power to achieve those goals, and acquiring the requisite public attention to achieve that political power, is necessary to achieve those goals. To publicly acknowledge this can be fraught because such language can be easily, often through motivation, interpreted by leftists or their sympathizers as speaking of a political movement covetous of power for its own sake. If one is too sheepish to explain otherwise, and stand up for one’s convictions, it’s a problem. Yet it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve read articles written by no less than Current Affairs’ editor-in-chief Nathan Robinson that to talk about power is something all leftists need to do more of.
Strongly upvoted. I don’t have anything else to add right now then I now understand why you’re asking this question as you have, and that I agree it makes sense as a first step with the background assumptions you’re coming in with.
I think your suggestion of Good Ventures making more grants to the EA Funds would be a better alternative, though before that I’d like to be confident the kinks have been worked out of the EA Funds management system. I was speaking more generally, though, that all kinds of generic structures that merely decentralized grantmaking in EA more would be better. That it could almost be any structure that had that feature was my point. I’m aware there are reasons people might behave as though so much decision-making being concentrated in Open Phil is optimal. If you have knowledge there is a significant portion of the EA community who indeed sincerely believes the current structure for capital allocation being so concentrated as it is, please let me know. I would act on that, as I would see that as a ludicrous and dangerous notion for all of EA I wouldn’t think even Open Phil or Good Ventures would condone.
Like I said in my above comment, asking interesting questions to avoid stating inconvenient if valuable opinions doesn’t go far in EA. If you think so much centralization of decision-making in Open Phil in the person of Holden Karnofsky is suboptimal, and there are better alternatives, why not just say so?
I think it’s unimportant. I would hope everyone is already aware we’ve arrived where we’re at for contingent reasons. I think it’s more than plausible we could have an alternative structure for capital allocation than the one we have now. I think this first step should have been combined with the next couple steps to just be its own first step.
Michael Dickens took the opposite route and said Open Phil should prioritize wild animal welfare. I also remember last year there were lots of people just asking questions about whether the EA Funds should be managed differently, and nothing happened, and then I made a statement more than a question, and then the EA Funds changed a lot.
Right, but if all he is doing is signing off, then you’re attributing to him only the final part of the decision, and treating that as if it’s the whole decision.
Right, I guess I was asking why you’re exploring it.
I don’t think will get a better structure through the route you’re going, which is just asking questions about Open Phil. I figure at the least one would try figuring out what structure they consider best, and then explaining why you think it’s the case Good Ventures should switch to that structure.
Why are you asking this question? I’m asking because it seems more like an academic exercise in what would be a better capital allocation structure if one were to be had, when in practice it doesn’t seem like will get there.
Rough estimate: if ~60% of Open Phil grantmaking decisioning is attributable to Holden, then 47.2% of all EA capital allocation, or $157.4M, was decided by one individual in 2017. 2018 & 2019 will probably have similar proportions.
It seems like EA entered into this regime largely due to historically contingent reasons (Cari & Dustin developing a close relationship with Holden, then outsourcing a lot of their philanthropic decision-making to him & the Open Phil staff).
This estimate seems to have a lot of problems with it, from attributing so much credit to Holden that way not only seeming in practice treating him as too unique an actor without substantiation, if not in principle playing fast and loose with how causation works, while being a wild overestimate from nowhere. This is a pretty jarring turn to what up until that point I had been reading as a reasonable question post.
When I asked about what has caused EA movement growth to slow down, people answered it seemed likeliest EA made the choice to focus on fidelity instead of rapid growth. That is a vague response. What I took it to mean is:
EA as a community, led by EA-aligned organizations, chose to switch from prioritizing rapid growth to fidelity.
That this was a choice means that, presumably, EA could have continued to rapidly grow.
No limiting factor has been identified that is outside the control of the EA community regarding its growth.
EA could make the choice to grow once again.
Given this, nobody has identified a reason why EA can’t just grow again if we so choose as a community by redirecting resources at our disposal. Since the outcome is under our control and subject to change, I think it’s unwarranted to characterize the future as ‘bleak’.
I think we should focus on retention. When I asked what has caused EA movement growth to slow down, the answer achieved through the consensus in the comments was that EA chose to focus on fidelity rather than movement growth.
I choose to interpret this as the EA community not knowing how to make good use of the same high growth rates with fidelity towards our goals, since several years ago when the community was much smaller to pursue our goals with fidelity entailed growing the community large enough to have a chance of achieving our goals. So, it’s not an either/or scenario. Suffice to say growth has been necessary to EA in the past, but we’re at a stage where:
we have some resources in excess of what we are making use of.
we may not know how to make use of greater growth.
there are multiple other factors to progress on EA’s goals more limiting than growth.
So, EA is currently at a point where growth doesn’t appear as crucial. I imagine in the future, as EA solves factors limiting our rate of progress on the pursuit of our goals unrelated to growth, success will free up more opportunity to make good use of growth. The growth rate of EA is slowing. It may plateau or decline in the future. It doesn’t appear a problem right now.
Meanwhile, there was a relatively popular article a couple months ago about how EA doesn’t focus enough on climate change, and there were many comments from people who would otherwise be much more involved in EA being put off by the apparent neglect of climate change. As a professional community, if we keep demanding high talent but keep lacking the capacity to match talented people to jobs, then lots of those people we initially attracted mostly for the jobs will exit when there are none.
So, in the last few months, there are multiple examples about how retention failure may pose a serious problem to EA in the future. Meanwhile, a lack of growth doesn’t pose a current serious threat to EA. EA as a community seems to understand our own growth much more than we understand retention, since we haven’t studied it as much. I’ve been impressed by how much understanding of the movement’s own growth was demonstrated in the answers I’ve gotten. So, I’m confident if EA thought it needed to sustain high growth rates once again, we could rise to such a pressing challenge. I’m not confident we know how to solve retention problems.
To solve retention problems EA would need to learn what are the potential sources of retention problems. Were EA to solve such potential problems, we would solve problems not only causing existing effective altruists to leave the movement, but also problems newcomers see in EA that repel them. So, focusing on retention solves problems in the present that will help with movement growth in the future, if ever EA tries to grow at a faster rate in the future.
Finally, I’d say the third option of ‘upskilling’ Aaron suggested in his comment isn’t totally mutually exclusive with retention either, since I think increasing opportunities for upskilling, especially making them more inclusive and widely available, would do a lot for retention in EA as well.
Yeah, that looks interesting. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll check it out.
My article criticizing the EA Funds last year were both more cogent than this post, and the recipient of a much greater number of upvotes, than Ben’s here. I do in fact think it is the case here that this post is receiving downvotes because of the factual errors with it. Yet neither is this entirely separate from the issue of people downvoting the post simply because they don’t like it as a criticism of EA. That people don’t like the post is confounded by the fact the reason they don’t like it could be because they think it’s very erroneous.
Okay, so, what has has happened is:
khorton said she is a centrist, who for the sake of argument, was putting on her ‘leftist’ hat.
By “leftist”, I thought she meant she was being the devil’s advocate for anti-capitalism, when she was actually being an advocate for progressive/left-liberal reform.
She assumed that you assumed, like me, she was playing the role of devil’s advocate for anti-capitalism, when you did not, i.e., not anti-capitalist.
While khorton’s original comment didn’t mention reform and regulation of global markets, she made clear in her next response to me that is what she intended as the subject of her comment even though she didn’t make it explicit.
I got mixed up, and as the subject changed, I forgot market reform was never even implied by khorton’s original comment.
While I disagreed with how rude your original response to her was, I did agree with your point. Now that you’ve edited it, and this comment is sorted, I’ve now upvoted your comment, as I agree with you.
Point of correction: khorton is a ‘she’, not a ‘he’.
He is claiming the idea that the cost of saving a life being $100k instead of being $5k being a sufficient condition to logically conclude one is not obliged to save a life, given the assumption one would otherwise be obliged to save a life, and that one believes in obligations in the first place, is ridiculous.
What state are you in? Based on what I know, being able to set up a non-profit with a one-member directory board is not common. So, I would be curious to know what state you are living in.
Right, I wasn’t assuming communism on your part. I was just sharing thoughts of my own that I thought better represented the frustration kbog was trying to express. I did this because I thought he was making a valid point with his comment you downvoted about how the kind of question you’re asking would lead EA to prioritize a route for public dialogue that it doesn’t actually make sense to prioritize, since it is one you made from a leftist viewpoint as a thought exercise, even though you clarified you yourself are a centrist, and as a criticism of EA it is unsound.
My above comment was also addressing the premise you thought the historical origins of wealth as seen from an anti-capitalist perspective is a very relevant criticism of EA. I of course assumed by ‘leftist’ you meant ‘anti-capitalist’, which you did not. So, my last comment doesn’t apply. I was aware that you yourself were just wearing a leftist hat for the sake of argument, and I did not assume communism on your part.
Of course, regarding your point about questions of reform of contemporary global markets, I agree with you, and disagree with kbog, that that is a legitimate criticism of EA the community should think more about.