In one key way this post very solidly completely misses the point.The post makes a number of very good points about systemic change. But bases all of the points on financial cost-effective estimates. It is embedded in the language throughout, discussing: options that “outperformed GiveWell style charities”, the “cost … per marginal vote”, lessons for “large-scale spending” or for a “small donor”, etc.I think a way the EA community has neglected systemic change in exactly in this manner. Money is not the only thing that can be leveraged in the world to make change (and in some cases money is not a thing people can give).I think this some part of what people are pointing to when they criticise EA.To be constructive I think we should rethink cause priotisation, but not from a financial point of view. Eg:- If you have political power how best to spend it?- If you have a public voice how best to use it?- If you can organise activism what should it focus on? (PS. Happy to support with money or time people doing this kind of research) I think we could get noticeably different results. I think things like financial stability (hard to donate to but very important) might show up as more of a priority in the EA space if we start looking at things this way.I think the EA community currently has a limited amount to say to anyone with power. For example: • I met the civil servant with oversight of UK’s £8bn international development spending who seemed interested in EA but did not feel it was relevant to them – I think they were correct, I had nothing to say they didn’t already know. • Another case is an EA I know who does not have a huge amount to donate but lots of experience in political organising and activism, I doubt the EA community provides them much useful direction.It is not that the EA community does none of this, just that we are slow. It feels like it took 80000 Hours a while to start recommending policy/politics as a career path and it is still unclear what people should do once in positions of power. (HIPE.org.uk if doing some research on this for Government careers) --Overall a very interesting post. Thank you for posting.
I note you mention a “relative gap in long-termist and high-risk global poverty work”. I think this is interesting. I would love it if anyone has the time to do some back of the envelope evaluations of international development governance reform organisations (like Transparency International)
Tl;dr: This assumes pure rate of time discounting. I curious how well your analysis works for anyone who do not think that we should discount harms in the future simply by virtue of being in the future.--1. THIS IS SO GOODThis is super good research and super detailed and I am hugely impressed and hope many many people donate to Let’s Fund and support you with this kind of research!!!--2.LET’S BE MORE EXPLICIT ABOUT THE ETHICAL ASSUMPTIONS MADEI enjoyed reading Appendix 3• I agree with Pindyck that models of the social cost of carbon (SCC) require a host of underlying ethical decisions and so can be highly misleading.• I don’t however agree with Pindyck that there is no alternative so we might as well ignore this problemAt least for the purposes of making decisions within the EA community, I think we can apply models but be explicit about what ethical assumptions have been made and how they affect the models conclusions. Many people on this forum have a decent understanding of their ethical views and how that affects decisions and so being more explicit would support good cause prioritisation decisions of donors and others.Of course this is holding people on this forum to a higher standard of rigor than professional academic economists reach so should be seen as a nice to have rather than a default, but lets see what we can do...--3.DISCOUNTING THE FUTURE, AND OTHER ASSUMPTIONS
3.1My (very rough) understanding of climate analysis is that the SCC is very highly dependent on the discount rate.
(Appendix 3 makes this point. Also the paper you link to on SCC per country says “Discounting assumptions have consistently been one of the biggest determinants of differences between estimations of the social cost of carbon”).
The paper you draw your evidence from seems to uses a pure rate of time discounting of 1-2%. This basically assumes that future people matter less.I think many readers of this forum do not believe that future people matter less than people today.
I do not know how much this matters for the analysis. A high social cost of carbon seems, from the numbers in your article, to make climate interventions of the same order of magnitude but slightly less effective than cash transfers. 3.2I also understand that estimates of the SCC is also dependent on the calculation of the worse case tail-end effects and there is some concern among people in the x-risk research space that small chances of very catastrophic affects are ignored in climate economics. I do not know how much this matters either. 3.3I could also imagine that many people (especially negative leaning utilitarians) are more concerned by stopping the damage caused from climate change than impressed by the benefits of cash transfers. SO:I do not have answers to what effects these things have on the analysis. I would love to get your views on this.Thank you for you work on this!!!
If I had to guess and (and I feel uncomfortable doing so as not really going on anything here but my gut) I would say that at an entry level it is all pretty similar but that an entry level job in the civil service is likely slightly higher impact than an entry level job as an MP’s research but the variation between jobs and MPs is likely more important. I think your personal expected value is dominated by the jobs you get in later career rather than at an entry level so this is small on the scale of your career.
Value of information to the broader EA community is good, as is any other low-hanging-fruit benefits gained by being an early EA mover into a space.
Hi, I think the 80K advice is still fairly applicable (also I don’t think it would be a second opinion as my views were taken into account in that 80K article)
Would probably put the diplomatic fast-stream on par with the generalist one (although not very sure about this)
I would say that do not forget you can go in direct entry into a job and if you have a bit of experience (even a year or 2) getting an SEO job (or higher) may well be preferable to the FastStream.
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There are maybe 40 people who are in the EA community currently in the UK civil service and none currently in politics. I think most people I know would agree that it is comparatively more useful and more neglected for EAs to move towards politics.
I also think it is generally more impactful to do well in politics than to do well in the civil service, as ultimately politicians make the decisions. Although I do know EAs would disagree with this and point out that people do not have positions of political power for very long.
I think politics is more challenging: I think it is more competitive to do very well in. Also I think if you want to go into politics you need to really commit to that path and spend your time engaged in party politics whereas I think it is easier to move in and out of the civil service.
I have been thinking a fair bit about improving institutional decision making practices. I buy the argument that if you fix systems you can make a better world and that making systems that can make good decisions is super important.
There are many things you might want to change to make systems work better. 
I am outside the US and really do not understand the US system and certainly do not know of any good analysis on this topic and any comments should be taken with that in mind, but my weak outside view is that campaign financing is the biggest issue with US politics.
As such this seems to me to be plausibly the most important thing for EA folk to be working on in the world today. I am happy to put my money where my mouth is and support (talk to, low level fund, etc) people to do an “EA-style analysis of US campaign finance reform”.
Thank you for the useful feedback: Corrected!
Similar to not costing others work, you can end up in situations where the same impact is counted multiple times across all the charities involved, giving an inflated picture of the total impact.
Eg. If Effective Altruism (EA) London runs an event and this leads to an individual signing the Giving What We Can (GWWC) pledge and donating more the charity, both EA London and GWWC and the individual may take 100% of the credit in their impact measurement.
Also I do plan to write this up as a top level post soon
It is an interesting suggestion and I had not come across the idea before and it is great to have people thinking of new innovative policy ideas. I agree that this idea is worth investigating.I think my main point to add is just to set out the wider context. I think it is worth people who are interested in this being aware that there is already a vast array of tried and tested policy solutions that are known to encourage more long term thinking in governments. I would lean towards the view that almost all of the ideas I list below: have very strong evidence of working well, would be much easier to push for than age-weighted voting, and would have a bigger effect size than age-weighted voting.Here’s the list (example of evidence it helps in brackets)* Longer election cycles (UK compared to Aus)* A non-democratic second house (UK House of Lords)* Having a permanent neutral civil service (as in UK)* An explicit statement of policy intent setting out a consistent cross-government view that policy makers should think long-term. * A formal guide to best practice on discounting or on how to make policy that balances the needs of present and future generations. (UK Treasury Green Book, but more long term focused)* An independent Office for Future Generations, or similar, with a responsibility to ensure that Government is acting in a long term manner. (as in Wales)* Independent government oversight bodies, (UKs National Audit Office, but more long term focused)* Various other combinations of technocracy and democracy, where details are left to experts. (UK’s Bank of England, Infrastructure Commission, etc, etc)* A duty on Ministers to consider the long term. (as in Wales)* Horizon scanning and foresight skills, support, tools and training brought into government (UK Gov Office for Science).* Risk management skills, support, tools and training brought into government (this must happen somewhere right?).* Good connections between academia and science and government. (UK Open Innovation Team)* A government body that can support and facilitate others in government with long term planning. (UK Gov Office for Science, but ideally more long term focused).* Transparency of long term thinking. Through publication of statistics, impact assessments, etc (Eg. UK Office for National Statistics)* Additional democratic oversight of long term issues (UK parliamentary committees)* Legislatively binding long term targets (UKs climate change laws)* Rules forcing Ministers to stay in position longer (untested to my knowledge)* Being a dictatorship (China, it does work although I don’t recommend) I hope to find time to do more work to collate suggestions and the evidence for them and do a thorough literature review(If anyone wants to volunteer to help then get in touch). Some links here. My notes are at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KGLc_6bKhi5ClZPGBeEQIDF1cC4Dy8mo/edit#heading=h.mefn6dbmnz2See also: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/LLN-2019-0076/LLN-2019-0076.pdf As an aside I have a personal little bugbear with people focusing on the voting system when they try to think about how to make policy work. It is a tiny tiny part of the system and one where evidence of how to do it better is often minimal and tractability to change is low. I have written about this here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/cpJRB7thJpESTquBK/introducing-gpi-s-new-research-agenda#Zy8kTJfGrY9z7HRYH Also my top tip for anyone thinking about tractable policy options is to start with asking: do we already know how to make significant steps to solve this problem, from existing policy best practice. (I think in this case we do.)
Hi, I’m curious, what are the main aims, expectations and things you hope will come from this call out? Cheers
Hi Jade. I disagree with you. I think you are making a straw man of “regulation” and ignoring what modern best practice regulation actually looks like, whilst painting a rosy picture of industry led governance practice.
Regulation doesn’t need to be a whole bunch of strict rules that limit corporate actors. It can (in theory) be a set of high level ethical principles set by society and by government who then defer to experts with industry and policy backgrounds to set more granular rules.
These granular rules can be strict rules that limit certain actions, or can be ‘outcome focused regulation’ that allows industry to do what it wants as long is it is able to demonstrate that it has taken suitable safety precautions, or can involve assigning legal responsibility to key senior industry actors to help align the incentives of those actors. (Good UK examples include HEFA and the ONR).
Not to say that industry cannot or should not take a lead in governance issues, but that Governments can play a role of similar importance too.
David. This is great.
Your newsletters also (as well as the updates) also have a short story on what one EA community person is doing to make the world better. Why not include those here too?
I very much like the idea of an independent impact auditor for EA orgs.
I would consider funding or otherwise supporting such a project, anyone working on, get in touch...
One solution that happens already is radical transparency.
GiveWell and 80,000 Hours both publicly write about their mistakes. GiveWell have in the past posted vast amounts of their background working online. This level of transparency is laudable.
There is a very obvious upside to sleeping less: when you are not asleep you are awake and when you are awake you can do stuff.
On a very quick glace the economic analysis referenced above (and the quotes from Why Sleep Matters) seems to ignore this. If, as Khorton says, a person is missing sleep to raise kids or work a second job, then this benefits society.
This omission makes me very sceptical of the analysis on this topic.
Just to note that there’s been some discussion on this on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/groups/437177563005273?view=permalink&id=2251872561535755
This is amazing. Great work for everyone who inputted.
Was thinking that a possible future features (although perhaps not a priority) would be integration to the EA funds donation tracking and maybe LinkedIn profile data.