Absolutely, EAs shouldn’t be toxic, inaccurate, or uncharitable on Twitter or anywhere else. But I’ve seen a few examples of people effectively communicating about EA issues on Twitter, such as Julia Galef and Kelsey Piper, at a level of fidelity and niceness far above the average for that website. On the other hand they are briefer, more flippant, and spend more time responding to critics outside the community than they would on other platforms.
Yep, though I think it takes a while to learn how to tweet, whom to follow, and whom to tweet at before you can get a consistently good experience on Twitter and avoid the nastiness and misunderstandings it’s infamous for.
There’s a bit of an extended universe of Vox writers, economists, and “neoliberals” that are interested in EA and sometimes tweet about it, and I think it would be potentially valuable to add some people who are more knowledgeable about EA into the mix.
On point 4, I wonder if more EAs should use Twitter. There are certainly many options to do more “ruthless” communication there, and it might be a good way to spread and popularize ideas. In any case it’s a pretty concrete example of where fidelity vs. popularity and niceness vs. aggressive promotion trade off.
This all seems to assume that there is only one “observer” in the human mind, so that if you don’t feel or perceive a process, then that process is not felt or perceived by anyone. Have you ruled out the possibility of sentient subroutines within human minds?
Sadly, Jiwoon passed away last year.
Some links if you haven’t seen them yet:
I don’t use a DAF but I’ve considered it in the past. In my view, the chief advantage is that they allow you to claim the tax deduction when you deposit money into the DAF, before you actually make the donation. They’re also exempt from capital gains taxes, although you can also avoid capital gains taxes by donating appreciated assets directly to the charity, but that depends on whether the organization will accept them (not sure how universal this is). They also charge fees, which can be fairly expensive but are cheaper than capital gains taxes on expectation.
Open Phil would be a good candidate for this, though that’s a difficult proposition due to its sheer size. It is a somewhat odd situation that Open Phil throws huge amounts of money around, much of which happens without any comment from the EA community.
I wonder if the lack of tax deductibility and the non-conventional fundraising platform (GoFundMe) nudge people into not donating or donating less than they would to a more respectable-seeming charity.
(As a tangent, there’s a donation swap opportunity for the EA Hotel that most people are probably not aware of).
Speaking as someone with a undergrad degree in math, I would have found a non-technical summary for this post to be helpful. So I expect this would apply much more to many other forum readers.
For one of the work tests I did for Open Phil, the instruction sheet specifically asked that the work test not be shared with anyone. That might have been intended as a temporary restriction, I’m not sure, but I’m not planning on sharing it unless I hear otherwise.
Agreed. I don’t see any “poor journalism” in any of the pieces mentioned. A few of them would be “poor intervention reports” if we chose to judge them by that standard.
It’s clear that climate change has at best a small probability (well under 10%) of causing human extinction, but many proponents of working on other x-risks like nuclear war and AI safety would probably give low probabilities of human extinction for those risks as well. I think the positive feedback scenarios you mention (permafrost, wetlands, and ocean hydrates) deserve some attention from an x-risk perspective because they seem to be poorly understood, so the upper bound on how severe they might be may be very high. You cite one simulation that burning all available fossil fuels would increase temperatures by 10 °C, but that isn’t necessarily an upper bound because there are non-fossil fuel sources carbon on Earth that could be released to the atmosphere. It would of course also be necessary to estimate how high the extinction risk conditional on various levels of extreme warming (8°C, 10°C, 15°C, 20°C?) would be.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to have a clear view of how big the risk is. You’re right that the casual claims about extinction or planetary uninhabitability I hear from many people who are concerned about climate change are not justified, and they seem a bit irresponsible.
Holden also wrote (by the way, I think your link is broken):
We fully funded things we thought were much better than the “last dollar” (including certain top charities grants) but not things we thought were relatively close when they also posed coordination issues. For this case, fully funding top charities would have had pros and cons relative to splitting: we think the dollars we spent would’ve done slightly more good, but the dollars spent by others would’ve done less good (and we think we have a good sense of the counterfactual for most of those dollars). We guessed that the latter outweighed the former.
So an important crux here is the proportion of small-donor money to e.g. GiveWell charities that would be crowded out into much less effective charities or to new projects with high expected value. For reference, GiveWell has moved about $30-40 million a year in small donations. I am not sure what proportion of that comes from people who are not closely aligned/affiliated with the EA community, but I would guess it’s the majority.
I would question whether Holden is correct though. Global health/development is a big space, so if Good Ventures increased funding to GiveWell top charities by a lot, GiveWell would still exist and would move their recommendations over to interventions that aren’t fully funded yet. For example, cash transfers seemingly could absorb a lot of money, and the Gates Foundation probably moves more to global poverty causes every year than GoodVentures will spend per year at its peak. The claim seems to depend on small GiveWell donors being excited by GiveWell’s specific top charities right now, such that they would not give to GiveWell top charities if the current top charities were fully funded and GiveWell issued new recommendations, and would instead give to charities even less effective than these new top charities. That might be true if donors are really motivated by the headline cost-per-life-saved number rather than being attracted by GiveWell’s research and methodology. I don’t have a very strong intuition either way, so I’d be curious if someone more knowledgeable could shed some light.
If we’re using these numbers to inform whether EA is funding constrained, it would be good if someone followed up and figured out how much these organizations actually ended up raising.
One thing I’ve wondered about is what the optimal rate at which new EA organizations should be founded, and whether that’s an effective way around growth bottlenecks. For example, Rethink Priorities has grown rapidly this year, and it doesn’t seem likely that that growth would have happened anyway within previously existing organizations had Rethink Priorities not been founded.
This fund has seemingly taken a very “hits-based” approach to funding small, international grassroots organizations. How do you plan on evaluating and learning from these grants?
This post contains an extensive discussion on the difficulty of evaluating AI charities because they do not share all of their work due to info hazards (in the “Openness” section as well as the MIRI review). Will you have access to work that is not shared with the general public, and how will you approach evaluating research that is not shared with you or not shared with the public?
Under what conditions would you consider making a grant directed towards catastrophic risks other than artificial intelligence?
Vague or context-less questions might help you calibrate your views on topics you know very little about?
I am now somewhat better calibrated at claims about European football than I was before, I guess.
This is a great writeup and also a good demonstration of the value of donor lotteries. Is CEA planning on running another one anytime soon? Their lotteries page just says “There are currently no active lotteries”. I think the lottery experiments have gone well and this should be a regular thing, unless running a lottery consumes a lot of staff time or has some other large cost.