re: Using Asana Business at EA Hub Teams.
You can sign up here (I see EA PH already did): https://is.gd/asanaforea
It’s also possible to ask for a fully functional team for free there, but you need at least one paid member account (€220/year) to set up new teams, custom fields, and app integrations like Slack.
Migration is arrangeable with Asana staff (note that some formatting and conversations get lost). Basically need to arrange with me to add my email to your old space, and include it in this form: https://asanaops.wufoo.com/forms/asana-migration-request/
I’m actually interested to hear your thoughts!
Do throw them here, or grab a moment to call :)
Ah, good to know that my fumbled attempts at narrating were helpful! :)
I’m personally up for the audio tag. Let me see if I can create one for this post.
See also LessWrong Forum:Comment 1 (on my portrayal of Eliezer’s portrayal of AGl):
… saying ‘later overturned’ makes it sound like there is consensus, not that people still have the same disagreement they’ve had 13 years ago …
On 3, I’d like to see EA take sensitivity analysis more seriously.
I found it immensely refreshing to see valid criticisms of EA....I think I disagree on the degree to which EA folks expect results to be universal and generalizable …
The way I’ve tended to think about these sorts of questions is to see a difference between the global portfolio of approaches, and our personal portfolio of approaches …
I’m interested in your two cents on any societal problems where a lot of of work has been done by specialists who are not directly involved in the effective altruism community.
Thank you too for the input, Vicky. This gives me a more grounded sense of what EA initiators with experience in policy are up to and thinking. Previously, I corresponded with volunteers of Dutch EA policy initiatives as well as staff from various established EA orgs that coordinate and build up particular professional fields. Your comment and the post by your working group made me feel less pessimistic about a lack of open consultation and consensus-building in IIDM initiatives .I like your framing of a two-way learning process. I think it’s useful to let go of one’s own theory of impact sometimes in conversations, and ask about why they’re doing what they do and find relevant.I had missed your excellent write-up so just read through it! It seems carefully written, makes nuanced distinctions, and considers complexity in the many implicit interactions involved. I found it useful.
Thank you for starting a thread on this open question! Just reading through.I wrote some quick thoughts on the value of getting a diversity of views here.
Thank you too for your interesting counterarguments. Some scattered ideas on each: 1. Your first point seems most applicable at the early stages of forming a community.What do you think of the further argument that there are diminishing marginal returns to finding additional people who share your goals, and corresponding marginal increases in the risk of not being connected with people who will bring up important alternative approaches and views for doing good? This is a rough intuition I have but I don’t know how to trade off the former against the latter right now. For example, someone I called with mentioned that doing a lecture for a computer science department is going to lead to more of the audience members visiting your EA meetups than if you hold it for the anthropology department. There are trade-offs here and in other areas of outreach but it’s not clear to me how to weigh up considerations.My sense is that as our community continues to grows bigger (an assumption) with fewer remaining STEM hubs to still reach out to, that (re-)connecting with people who are more likely to take up similar goals will yield lower returns. In the beginning days of EA, Will MacAskill and Toby Ord prioritised gathering with a core group of collaborators to motivate each other and divide up work, as well as reaching out further to amenable others in their Oxford circles. Currently my impression is that in many English-speaking countries, and particularly within professional disciplines that are (or used to be) prerequisites for pursuing 80K priority career paths, it is now quite doable for someone to find such collaborators.
Given that we’re surrounded more by like-minded others that we can easily gather with, it seems more likely to drift into forming a collective echo chamber that misses or filters out important outside perspectives. My guess is that EA initiators now get encouraged more to pursue actions that the EAs they meet or respect will re-affirm as ‘high impact’. On the other hand, perhaps they are also surrounded by more comrades who are able to observe their concrete actions, comprehend their intentions more fully, and give faster and more nitty-gritty feedback. 2. On your second point, this made me change my mind somewhat! Although it may be harder to identify specific perspectives that we are missing if we’re surrounded by less non-EAs, we can still identify the people who we are missing from the community. You mentioned that we’re missing conservatives, and this post on diversity also mentioned social conservatives. Spotting a gap in cognitively diverse people (‘social conservatives’) seems relatively easy to do in say the EA Survey, while spotting a gap in important perspectives may be much harder if you’re not already in contact with the people who have them (my skimpy attempts for social conservatives: ‘more respect for hidden value of traditions, work more incrementally, build up more stable and lasting collaborations, more wary of centralised decision-making without skin in the game’).Anthropologists were also been given as an example by 80K since they understood the burial practices that were causing Ebola to spread. I think the framing here of anthropologists having specialised skills that could turn out to be useful, or a framing of whether you can have enough impact pursuing a career in anthropology (latter mentioned by Buck Schlegeris) misses another important takeaway for EA though: if you seek advice from specialists who have spent a lot of time observing and thinking differently about an area similar to the one you’re trying to influence through your work, they might be able to uncover what’s missing in your current approach to doing good. I’d also be curious to read other plausible examples of professionals whose views we’re missing!3. Your third point on EAs being pretty open-minded does resonate with me, and I agree that should make us less worried about EAs insulating themselves from different outside opinions. My personal impression is that EAs tend to be most open-minded in conversations they have inside the community, but are still interested and open to having conversations with strangers they’re not used to talking with. My guess is that EAs still come across as kinda rigid to outsiders in terms of the relevant dimensions they’re willing to explore whole-heartedly in public conversations about making a positive difference. I like this post on discussing EA with people outside the community for example, but its starting point seemed to be to look for opportunities to bring up and discuss altruistic causes with unwitting outsiders that EAs have already thought a long time about (in other words, it starts from our own turf where we can assume to have an informational advantage). As another example, a few responses by EA leaders that I’ve seen to outside criticisms of tenets of EA appeared to be somewhat defensive and stuck in views already held inside EA (though often the referred-to criticism seemed to mischaracterise EA views, making it hard to steelman that criticism and wring out any insights). The EA community reminds me a lot of the international Humanist community I was involved in for three years: I hung out with people who were open-minded, kind, pondered a lot, and were willing to embrace wacky science or philosophy-based beliefs. But they were also kinda stuck on expounding on certain issues they advocated for in public (e.g. atheism, right to free speech, euthanasia, living a well-reflected life, scepticism and Science, leaving money in your will for Humanist organisations). There was even a question of whether you were Humanist enough – one moment I remember feeling a little uncomfortable about was when the leader of the youth org I was part of decided to remove the transhumanists from the member list because they were ‘obviously’ not Humanist. From the inside Humanism felt like it was a big influential thing , but really we were a big fish in a little pond.–> Would be curious to hear where your impressions of EAs you’ve met differ here!
Over the last years, messaging from EA does seem to have become less preachy. I.e. describing and allowing space for more nuanced and diverse opinions and relying less on big simplified claims that lack grounding in how the world actually works (e.g. claims about an intervention’s effectiveness based on a metric from one study, a 100x donation effectiveness multiplier for low-income countries, leafletting costing cents per chicken saved, that once an AI is generally capable enough it will recursively improve its own design and go FOOM).
But I do worry about EAs now no longer needing to interact as much with outsiders who think about problems in fundamentally different ways. Aspiring EAs do seem to make more detailed, better grounded, and less dogmatic arguments. But for the most part, we still appear to map and assess the landscape using similar styles of thinking as before. For example, posts recommended in the community that I’ve read often base their conclusions on explicit arguments that are elegant and ordered. These arguments tend to build on mutually exclusive categorisations, generalise across large physical spaces and timespans, and assume underlying structures of causation that are static. Authors figure out general scenarios and assess the relative likelihood of each, yet often don’t disentangle the concrete meanings and implications of their statements nor scope out the external validity of the models they use in their writing (granted, the latter are much harder to convey). Posts usually don’t cover variations across concrete contexts, the relations and overlap between various plausible perspectives, or the changes in underlying dynamics much (my posts aren’t exempt here!). Furthermore, the range of environments (e.g. in Western academia, coding, engineering) that the people involved in EA were exposed to in the past that they now generalise certain arguments from are usually very different relatively from the contexts in which beneficiaries reside whom they’re trying to improve the lives of (e.g. villages in low income countries, animals in factory farms, other cultural and ethnic groups that will be affected by technological developments). 4. That brings me to your fourth point. What you proposed resonates with my personal experience in trying to talk with people from other groups (‘EAs in the past put in an effort to reach out to other groups of people and were generally disappointed because the combination of epistemic care and deliberative altruistic ambition seems really rare’). I haven’t asked others about their attempts at kindling constructive dialogues but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of those who did also came away somewhat disappointed by a seeming lack of altruistic or epistemic care.
So I think this is definitely a valid point, but I still want to suggest some nuances:
We could be more explicit, deliberate, and targeted about seeking out and listening intently to specialists who actually do genuinely work towards making a positive difference in their field, yet take on possibly insightful views and approaches to doing good that draws from different life experience. I think we can do more than open-mindedly explore unrelated groups in our own spare time. I also think it’s not necessary for a specialist to take a cosmopolitan and/or consequentialist altruistic angle to their work for us to learn from them, as long as they are somehow incentivised to convey or track true aspects of the world in their work.
If we stick tightly to comparing outsiders’ thinking against markers used in EA to gauge say good judgement, scientific literacy, or good cause prioritisation, then we’re kinda missing the point IMO. Naturally, most outside professionals are not going to measure up against standards that EAs have promoted amongst themselves and worked hard to get better at for years. A more pertinent reason to reach out IMO is to listen to people who think differently, notice other relevant aspects of the fields they’re working in, and can help us uncover our blindspots.
An impression after skimming this post (not well thought through; do point out what I missed): Some of the tentative project ideas listed are oriented around extending EA’s reach via new like-minded groups who will share our values and strategies. Sentences that seemed to be supporting this line of thinking:
… making it the case that all major decision makers (politicians, business leaders etc) use ‘will this most improve wellbeing over the long run?’ as their main decision criterion....So it’s important for us to find ways to make sure that wherever they work, people can still have a sense of being often around people with similar values and who help them figure out their path....One problem with area specific community building is that in order to be taken seriously and know enough to be helpful to people, you might yourself need to be doing object level work in the area.
I’m unsure how much I misinterpreted specific project ideas listed in this post. Leaving that aside, I generally worry about encouraging further outreach focused on creating like-minded groups of influential professionals (and even more about encouraging initiators to focus their efforts on making such groups look ‘prestigious’). I expect that will discourage efforts in outreach to integrate importantly diverse backgrounds, approaches, and views. I would expect EA field builders to involve fewer of the specialists who developed their expertise inside a dissimilar context, take alternative approaches to understanding and navigating their field, or have insightful but different views that complement views held in EA.A field builder who simply aims to increase EA’s influence over decisions made by professionals will tend to select for and socially reward members that line up with their values/cause prio/strategy as a default tactic, I think. Inversely, taking the tactic of connecting EAs who like to talk with other EAs who are climbing similar career ladders leads to those gathered themselves agreeing to and approving each other more for exerting influence in stereotypically EA ways. Such group dynamics can lead to a kind of impoverished homogenisation of common knowledge and values.I imagine a corporate, academic, or bureaucratic decision maker getting involved in an EA-aligned group and consulting their collaborators on how to make an impact. Given that they’re surrounded by like-minded EAs, they may not become aware of shared blindspots in EA. Conversely, they’d less often reach out and listen attentively to outside stakeholders who can illuminate them on those blindspots. Decision makers who lose touch with other important perspectives will no longer spot certain mistakes they might make, and may therefore become (even more) overconfident about certain ways of making impact on the world. This could lead to more ‘superficially EA-good’ large-scale decisions that actually negatively impact persons far removed from us. In my opinion, it would be awesome if
along with existing field-building initiatives focused on expanding the influence of EA thought,
we encourage corresponding efforts to really get in touch and build shared understandings with specialised stakeholders (particularly, those with skin in the game) who have taken up complementary approaches and views to doing good in their field.
Dedicated EA field builders seem to naturally incline towards type 1 efforts. Therefore, it’s extra important for strategic thinkers and leaders in the EA community to be deliberate and clear about encouraging type 2 efforts in the projects they advise.
1 is challenging to implement but EA field builders have been making steady progress in scaling up initiatives there (e.g. staff at Founder’s Pledge, Global Priorities Institute, Center for Human-Compatible AI).
2 seems much more challenging intellectually. They require us to build bridges that allow EA and non-EA-identifying organisations to complement each other: complex, nuanced perspectives that allow us to traverse between general EA principles and arguments, and the contextual awareness and domain-specific know-how (amongst others) of experienced specialists. I have difficulty recalling EA initiatives that were explicitly intended for coordinating type 2 efforts.
At this stage, I would honestly prefer if field builders start paying much deeper attention to 2. before they go out changing other people’s minds and the world. I’m not sure how much credence to put in this being a better course of action though. I have little experience reaching out to influential professionals myself. It also feels I’m speculating here on big implications in a way that seems unnecessary or exaggerated. I’d be curious to hear more nuanced arguments from an experienced field-builder.
This sounds reasonable to me actually. The rest of the post was about making a specific case for funding my entrepreneurial work, rather than expounding on widespread bottlenecks entrepreneurs seem to face to get funded for doing good work and developing it further. I started writing a 10-page draft to try to more detachedly analyse work by and interactions between entrepreneurs and funders.
This does resonate with me. There are quite some projects that I worked on making happen behind the scenes that I wouldn’t want to stamp my name on. I’ve talked with others who mentioned similar bottlenecks (e.g. GoodGrowth people in 2019). Thank you for your good wishes, JJ!
Thank you for the clarification! This makes a lot of sense.
The Forum’s moderators have had some discussion in the past on whether job listings should ever appear on Frontpage; it was a close call, but we think a few such posts once in a while is okay. However, I expect that there are many more potential job applicants than potential grantmakers on the Forum, so posts like this are less likely to be relevant to a random reader than a job listing.
Could you disambiguate some terms here? I see I misread this paragraph before. I’m more confused now about what you’re specifically saying. E.g. - were you trying to say that there are ‘many more potential grantees than grantmakers’ (clearly true though this post was more aimed at smaller funders looking for an argued case)- or were you implying I was posting as a job applicant (that doesn’t seem right, as explained two comments above)
Hence, posts like this should be “Personal Blog” unless they involve discussion of other topics as well.
Most of the introductory paragraphs of this post were pointing to more general gaps in entrepreneurial support (i.e. other topics).To be clear, I think the decision you made may have been reasonable. However, this post doesn’t match the criteria you stated for setting posts as Personal Blog. I think for moderation to be credible here, the criteria and underlying reasons must be clear to readers.
Thank you for sharing your reasoning.I empathise with that a post like mine could trigger a series of other people basically posting open requests for jobs. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, I get where the Forum’s moderators are coming from – drawing the line before it becomes a slippery slope.Note that this post does not seem to be a job listing (edit: I misread that – I’m confused what you actually mean with posts of this type), unless you really stretch the meaning of that category.
I’m not soliciting for a job (i.e. a paid position of regular employment).
The I’m an entrepreneur framing could be changed into a Proposal-for-a-small-incubator-of-new-EA-services framing while changing very little of the content (I’d have just added in the name of my sole proprietorship). I chose not to do that because I don’t like hiding behind an official entity to get paid when it convolutes what’s actually going on, gives off an impression that I have less conflict of interest, and reduces my skin in the game.
I would appreciate if Forum moderators work out specifically how to deal with edge cases like this one. It would set a bad precedent if your decision convinces readers more that for their future write-up they should come up with a snazzy new project name and sprinkle in opaque orgspeak. Note: Rupert is a friend of mine, but I wasn’t aware that he had read this post before he posted his.