Thanks for the post, I really like the attempt to use survey data to ensure that the definition reflects the views of the leaders and members of the EA community.
I agree that the maximizing nature of effective altruism is an important part of its public value. EA has made most of its strides in my mind because it wasn’t satisfied with merely providing a non-zero amount of help to people. Although we often use examples like Play Pumps that were probably net negative, the founders of GiveWell would have had a much easier time if they were just trying to find net positive charities.
However, I’m not sure that maximizing is as clearly uncontroversial as you believe. I would guess that if surveys asked about it, leaders would be fairly united behind it, but it would get something in the range 75%-50% support from the community at large.
I can do an informal poll of this group and report back.
I’d also be interested a discussion of the limits to maximizing. For example, if an EA is already working on something in the 80th percentile of effectiveness, do they find it compelling to switch to something in the 90th percentile?
Boy, there are two Matts in that list.
I’d be interested in hearing from EAs who’ve worked at any of these places.
LessWrong* used to have a single default image for everything and I thought it was annoying because it was so generic and was glad when they removed it. I’m not familiar with best practices on social links, it’s possible there’s standard advice that disagrees with me.
*Who’s codebase we forked and thus we have similar dynamics as.
Currently a work in progress feature that is admin only. (And has been in that state for a while unfortunately.) I’ve reverted this post. Do you know what the sequence of events is that caused it to get garbled?
Lead developer for the Forum here. I’m trying to ramp up the amount of feedback I get and this thread was very useful.
Addressing one large theme—sorting and filtering:
I was excited to see people wanting more sorting options because I’m working on something related right now. My goal is to make it easier to get e.g. the top posts in the past month. It’s still very much in early development and I want to make it something that works for LessWrong as well, so no promises that it’ll ship the way I’m currently envisioning it.
In order to get that though you have to find the AllPosts page. LessWrong has a sidebar on the left that’s auto-expanded and has a link to the AllPosts page. I’m interested in what the EA version of the LessWrong sidebar should be and this conversation has updated me towards building that sooner.
You could limit to comments on the winning posts? That would incentivize more comments on the high quality posts. Or just let Aaron do an initial screening / pick himself. I think he reads them all.
Follow-up thought 2: An expensive life outside of work would be worse than a frugal one if the increase of the temptation of one’s time off outpaced the increase in relaxation.
Follow-up thought 1: This model implies that frugality is budget-dependent. A trader at a hedge fund is much less constrained by $500 weekend plans. In fact, thinking about this model might make the trader seem less frugal, as she wantonly cancels expensive trips. I’m tempted to say this means I should be paid more (Hi, boss! 😛) but I actually think it’s income-neutral, and mostly about my budgeting.
[Disagreeing with my boss on the internet, but after chatting over lunch]
Inflexible life outside of work seems to be the problem. There are monetary and non-monetary examples of ways to become inflexible:
1. I spent $500 on my weekend plans. I can only that infrequently, so I really don’t want to miss it.
2. I’m leading a group on a road trip this weekend. If I bail they’ll be disappointed.
This echoes Gordon elsewhere in the comments, but I claim that non-frugality can be quite slack-constraining. This post has updated me towards keeping more slack in my budget. I’d like to not spend a significant portion of my spending money on any single adventure.
Admin Note: This was submitted as a post instead of a question. I converted it into a question after the fact, Garrison please let me know if you would like it changed back.
Something interesting to note is that most of these are bottlenecked on two skillsets.
1) Entrepreneurship (unsurprisingly)
EA Student Loans
Give out student loans at ~market rates to EAs, with work that is high-impact but lower-than-counterfactual-salary counting as credit towards the loans.
Many talented EAs spend time in college or graduate school TA-ing to save money, or let financial constraints influence their trajectory. It seems risky to just throw money at people with a long time horizon of pay-off, and the risk that they’ll just turn around and use that PhD to do unaligned work. This project would require an initial source of funds (perhaps even a traditional bank loan), and a funder that would be willing to commit to pay off the loans once they were satisfied with the impact of the post-graduation work of the debtor.
I believe this idea has been kicking around in my head after a conversation with Amy Labenz.
The link to the rethink priorities team 404s. It should be this: https://www.rethinkpriorities.org/our-team
What do you mean by zero-sum in this case?
Forgive me if you’ve written it up elsewhere, but do you have a plan for follow-ups? In particular what success looks like in each case.
Thanks for the detailed writeups and for investigating so many grants.
Great question Aaron! The LessWrong team wrote a good description of it that I’m going to steal:
Ask a Question. In your user menu (in the upper right corner of the screen) there is now an option for questions to ask a question, which will create a post with the question-flag. For now, it’ll appear normally in lists of recent posts (including the home page, daily and your personal profile)
Answer a Question. This is similar to a comment, but the formatting is different to highlight that this is meant to have a different feel than commenting. Answers should aspire to resolve a question as accurately and thoroughly as possible, such that if you just read the question-followed-by-single-answer you’d have a pretty complete understanding of the issue.
Comment on an Answer. By default, only the top 3 comments will be displayed, but if you want to dig into the discussion of a given answer you can expand them.
Comment on a Question. You can comment on an overall question, without answering. This is for if you’re still trying to understand the question, or you think it’s making a conceptual mistake, or you just have some thoughts that don’t neatly fall into the “answer” format.
Specialized Table of Contents. Questions with at least one answer automatically have a Table of Contents, even if there are no headings, to help users orient on a fairly complicated page.
I enjoyed this very much.
Look for an update some time around 2028.