EA Newsletter August 7, 2018

Effective Altruism Newsletter

August 07, 2018

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Enjoy this edition.

Happy reading,

The team

Articles and Community Posts

From 80,000 Hours: Prof Yew-Kwang Ng is a visionary economist who anticipated many key ideas in effective altruism decades ago. Here’s his take on ethics and how to create a much happier world (podcast with transcript).

Those interested in moral philosophy may enjoy a new response to Thomas Hill’s Kantian position on charitable giving.

There is an excellent discussion on the EA Forum of the best arguments against prioritizing work on the long-term future. Elsewhere on the Forum, people examine the evidence on the probability of human extinction.

How can effective altruism stay curious? In the opening talk of EA Global: San Francisco 2018, Will MacAskill explores the tension between more goal-focused and more exploratory forms of community, and how to get the best of both worlds. And ancient Sparta makes an appearance too.

Visit the Future of Life blog for a podcast (and full transcript) on the topic of Killer Robots. Six experts discuss the history and risks of lethal autonomous weapons systems, providing an engaging overview for new and old.

Timeless Classics

How big are the differences in impact between different ways to do good? EA-style analysis finds that they’re often very large. However, Brian Tomasik argues that differences are not astronomically large, unlike what some calculations may suggest.

Living up to our ideals of altruism and effectiveness can be challenging. For inspiration and smart hacks to step up your productivity, it is hard to beat Peter Hurford’s blog post “How I am Productive”. Here he suggests several practical steps under the general spheres of organising, prioritising and reviewing how you progress towards your goals.


BERI is hiring a Machine Learning Engineer.

FHI is recruiting project managers for the Research Scholars Programme and the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Programme

GiveWell is looking to hire both a research analyst and a senior research analyst

The Open Philanthropy Project is looking for an Operations Associate and a Grants Associate

Announcements and Calls to Action

EA Global: London Almost 50% of tickets have already been sold for EA Global: London, which takes place on 26-28 October 2018. So if you’re thinking about attending, apply now. Interested in gaining operations experience and accessing the conference for free? Learn more about volunteering here.

New EA Forum coming soon CEA have announced their initial plans for the new EA Forum, which include sorting by quality of posts, a community subforum, and a new karma system, alongside much else.

AI safety and alignment newsletter Rohin Shah, AI researcher at UC Berkeley, has a newsletter on AI safety and alignment that we recommend.

Effective Altruism Summit 2018 Paradigm Academy, in association with Charity Science, CEA and Rethink Charity, is hosting the 2018 EA Summit from August 10-12. The Summit is a small gathering of EA movement builders and entrepreneurs. Participants will spend the weekend discussing how to improve the EA movement by promoting local groups, starting EA projects, earning-to-give, diversifying funding mechanisms, and creating a robust talent pipeline across EA causes. Funding is available, and there is still time to apply.

Survey on human extinction What are your views on human extinction? Please participate in this four-minute survey by Lucius Caviola and Stefan Schubert of the University of Oxford. The results will be contrasted with the views of the general public and published in an academic paper.


80,000 Hours 80,000 Hours released podcasts with Yew-Kwang Ng on anticipating EA years ago, Tanya Singh on the operations bottleneck, and James Snowden on how GiveWell does cost-effectiveness analysis. They also started recording negative plan changes, and started to work on hiring and a round of updates to the website.

Animal Charity Evaluators Animal Charity Evaluators published a post outlining the changes made to their charity evaluation process for 2018, as well as an update on their Top Charities' room for more funding. They also released a report on the results from their Recommended Charity Fund.

Centre for Effective Altruism
CEA released Will MacAskill’s opening talk from EA Global: San Francisco on how effective altruism can ‘stay curious’. More videos from the conference will be released over the next few weeks and months via their YouTube channel.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
A new paper presented at IJCAI, introduced nine facets for the analysis of the past and future evolution of AI. Jose Hernandez-Orallo and Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh were awarded a $220,000 grant from FLI to explore Paradigms of Artificial General Intelligence and Their Associated Risks. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations held two events in the UK House of Commons: on Black Sky risks and how to make AI safe for humans. With CSER’s sister organisation the Centre for the Future of Intelligence they held two workshops: on Creativity and AI, and on Decision Theory and AI (with the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy).

Future of Humanity Institute
FHI received an overwhelming number of excellent applicants for the Research Scholars Program and will be announcing hires soon. The Governance of AI team received a $270,000 grant as part of the 2018 FLI grants competition. Eric Drexler wrote a paper on ‘Molecular Imprinting: The missing piece in the puzzle of abiogenesis?’.

Future of Life Institute
FLI’s pledge against the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) garnered signatures from over 200 organizations and 2800 individuals (including Google DeepMind, University College London, Demis Hassabis, and Elon Musk). They also awarded $2,000,000 in grants for safe AGI. FLI released a podcast on LAWS and a podcast on AI Safety with Roman Yampolskiy. FLI president Max Tegmark gave a talk at IJCAI.

GiveWell research consultant James Snowden discussed how GiveWell approaches challenging decisions in its cost-effectiveness model in a recent episode of the 80,000 Hours podcast.

Open Philanthropy Project The Open Philanthropy Project announced grants of $3,556,773 to the Nuclear Threat Initiative to create a Global Health Security Index, £323,646 to Oxford University to research global AI politics, $265,000 to Charity Science to support new animal welfare charities, and $250,000 to the Future of Life Institute for general support.

Rethink Charity
Rethink Priorities was recently featured in an article by Fast Company, which covered the Priority Wiki and effective altruism more broadly.

The Life You Can Save
In “Is Charity for the Poor Futile?” TLYCS’s founder Peter Singer rebuts a recent essay in The Guardian in which 15 leading economists – including Nobel laureates Angus Deaton, James Heckman and Joseph Stiglitz – criticize what they call “the ‘aid effectiveness’ craze.” TLYCS’s Executive Director Charlie Bresler’s “Got Bandaids?” elaborates on Singer’s arguments.

Go forth and do the most good! Let us know how you liked this edition and how we can improve further.

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