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Effective Altruism Newsletter

February 7, 2018

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With the year ahead of us, now is a great time for updating. Whether you’re reflecting on your cause area and donation plans, your moral goals, or even your career, we have you covered! Read on for fresh ideas, tools and opportunities.

The Team

Articles and Community Posts

A new article by Peter Singer titled “Prisoners of Pain” describes the existence of a “pain gap”: Whereas the quantity of available opioids in the United States is more than three times what patients in need of palliative care require, in India, the supply is just 4% of the required quantity, and just 0.2% in Nigeria. The discussion continues in the EA Facebook group.

The Open Philanthropy Project has posted a major update on how they are thinking about cause prioritization. They discuss why they are still planning to split their funding between several different areas.

Does it bother you that our descendants will probably see us as monsters? 80,000 Hours discusses this problem and what we should do about it in this new podcast with Will MacAskill.

On a related note, “Taming the Monsters of Tomorrow” is a new Science article by Kai Kupferschmidt which provides an accessible introduction to the field of existential risk.

Hauke Hillebrandt posted a list of 69 things that EAs might consider funding. He targets examples that don’t have substantial room for funding, but which would, in his view, make good use of “top up” funds. The list contains a number of more novel suggestions such as voter registration initiatives, snake bite antivenom research and tobacco control in India.

Announcements and Calls to Action

As Community Liaison at the Centre for Effective Altruism, Julia Wise offers her services as a “point person” for the EA community.

For those who weren’t in London this November, you can catch up on videos from EA Global here.

Zvi Mowshowitz and Vladimir Slepnev have announced the winners of the AI Alignment Prize. Visit Less Wrong to read the six winning posts, and to learn about the next opportunity.

In case you missed it, the application deadline for the next funding round for the Animal Advocacy Research Fund is 16 February 2018. Before applying, please consider reviewing the Fund’s focus areas page to understand what types of proposals ACE is most interested in funding.


80,000 Hours
Started drafting an “advanced EA career guide”, did coaching, and released a podcast with Will MacAskill on normative uncertainty and mistakes in EA.

Animal Charity Evaluators
ACE is pleased to announce that because the Recommended Charity Fund was so well received, it is now open as a permanent giving option. They have also published a blog post exploring why some charities declined to be reviewed and discussed some surprising new insights about their evaluation process.

Centre for Effective Altruism
The first donor lottery run on was drawn on 31 January. Two $100,000 blocks were up for grabs and the winners were Adam Gleave and Paul Christiano. CEA expects to run more donor lotteries in the future, so stay tuned.

Centre for the Future of Intelligence
Welcomed the UK Prime Minister’s call at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the UK to lead the world in deciding how AI can be deployed in a safe and ethical manner.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
Won Best Paper Award for “An AI Race: Rhetoric and Risks” at the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society. Several papers published in Proceedings of the Colloquium on Existential Risk. Published paper on invasive alien species and biodiversity. Helped students launch the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations. Held a workshop on Scientific Governance at the Ground Level. Media coverage: their Nature paper, their bio-horizon-scan paper, geoengineering and the Doomsday Clock.

Foundational Research Institute
Researcher Lukas Gloor published a long-form piece about his view on Cause prioritization for downside-focused value systems. Researcher Caspar Oesterheld won $2,000 in the AI Alignment Prize for a paper and post on decision theory.

Future of Humanity Institute
Anders Sandberg published the new Technical Report “Space races: settling the universe fast”, and Stuart Armstrong wrote a paper on “Good and safe uses of AI Oracles”. Allan Dafoe presented on “Governing the AI Revolution: the Research Landscape” at Stanford, UCLA, USC, and UCSD.

GiveWell is hiring! This blog post describes some of the open positions at GiveWell, which you can apply for here.

Open Philanthropy Project
The Open Philanthropy Project published an update on cause prioritization that included plans to allocate resources between long-termist and near-termist and between animal-inclusive and human-centric worldviews. Open Philanthropy also announced a $6 million grant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative's biosecurity program and a $2.9 million grant for sepsis research.

Raising for Effective Giving
REG just published its report for the second half of 2017. They raised $5m over that time, or $3.6m after adjusting for counterfactuals. In all of 2017, they counterfactually raised $4.3 for effective charities with a little over $200,000 in expenses, which puts their 2017 fundraising multiplier at about 20.

Rethink Charity
LEAN’s crack tech team paired with Henry Stanley from EA London to produce a static site generator for EA groups! If you have an EA group and would like a website for it, you can now freely and easily set one up without any technical experience required.

Timeless Classics

Claire Zabel advances some techniques for cause re-prioritization, i.e. how to (make it easier to) change your mind about cause areas. She observes the tendency to default to the familiar and forego assessment once a decision has been reached, and suggests, among other things, to give a small donation (like $20) to a charity in each major cause area.


Here’s a recent list of several operations roles at EA organizations and related organizations.

The Centre for Effective Altruism is seeking to hire a part-time Assistant Events Producer and Communications Officer.

UC Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible AI has vacancies for a postdoc, engineer, web-developer and research interns. Interns have until 28 February to apply.

Various internships are available at Charity Science Health.

GiveWell has six vacancies to fill. They have written about these positions here.

The Humane League is seeking a research associate who will work on animal advocacy.

Numerous jobs at J-PAL, incl. a research associate position for a large project on “Tax Evasion in Developing Countries: the role of firm networks”.

Those aspiring to work for the Open Philanthropy Project will be glad to know that vacancies for the positions of General Counsel, Grants Associate and Director of Operations are now available.

Various jobs are on offer at the Partnership on AI; an organisation focused on building best practices, engaging the public and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration on AI safety.

Ought works on building scalable systems to exploit machine learning in order to help people to think. Ought currently has a range of vacancies and internships open.

J-PAL is recruiting a research associate for their project “Tax Evasion in Developing Countries: the role of firm networks” based in Zurich, Switzerland

The UK government is looking to appoint a Chair to lead the interim Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

Go forth and do the most good!
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