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Effective Altruism Newsletter

February 11, 2019

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Articles and Community Posts

Richard Fisher: How can we protect the well-being of future generations?
Stephanie Wykstra discusses the history of microcredit — how it failed to live up to its promise, but still provides a useful service for the global poor.
80,000 Hours has released its most in-depth article to date, making the case for working on AI policy in the U.S. and outlining career paths to aim for within that domain.
Kelsey Piper explains the ways that nature could drive humans to extinction, from asteroids to supervolcanoes.
Jeff Mosenkis (Innovations for Poverty Action) shares a weekly collection of links on global development. You can subscribe using the RSS feed.
The EA Group Directory lists dozens of EA Facebook communities, including groups for academics, Christians, parents, and musicians.

From the EA Forum:

Timeless Classic

How should we think about interventions that might have a huge impact, but might have no impact at all? Sean Conley examines why deworming charities fall into this category — and why GiveWell still recommends them.


80,000 Hours’ High-Impact Job Board features a wide range of positions.

New this month: Tom Wein has created a list of job boards with positions related to EA causes (mostly in policy and global development).If you want to hear about new jobs as they arise (or post one yourself), check out the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.


Applications for Effective Altruism Global: San Francisco are now open! If you have a solid understanding of effective altruism and want to master more complex problems, gain skills, network, or move into a new role, this conference (held from 21-23 June) is designed for you. Dates have also been announced for this year’s EAGx conferences:

The Good Food Institute has launched an online course on the basics of plant-based and cell-based meat.

ACE's Animal Advocacy Research Fund is accepting research proposals for their next round of funding through 31 March 2019.


80,000 Hours
80,000 Hours released an in-depth exploration of careers in U.S. AI policy, which is one of their highest-priority career paths, and a podcast discussing the book Revolt of the Public, which proposes that new information technology is undermining trust in social institutions. They also added dozens of new positions to their job board.

Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators' Board of Directors are thrilled to announce that they've selected Leah Edgerton as ACE’s new executive director: read the board's full statement for more details. In other news, ACE raised over $1.8 million for their Effective Animal Advocacy Fund; they plan to announce grant recipients for this fund in the coming weeks. They announced grant distributions for their Recommended Charity Fund in January.

Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
Since September, BERI has hired five contractors (research) to support FHI and two contractors (research, ops) plus a part-time employee (ops) to support CHAI. They are also trialling a full-time ML Research Engineer for their collaboration with CHAI. BERI continues to administer its individual grants and is evaluating various organizations for grant support in 2019.

Center for Human-Compatible AI
CHAI researchers published papers at the 2019 Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (The Social Cost of Strategic Classification and Model Reconstruction from Model Explanations), as well as AAAI 2019 (Deception in Finitely Repeated Security Games, Robust Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning via Minimax Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient, A Unified Framework for Planning in Adversarial and Cooperative Environments, Partial Unawareness, and Abstracting Causal Models). They also published a paper at the co-located AIES conference (Towards a Just Theory of Measurement). Stuart Russell was invited to address the government of the Netherlands on autonomous weapons.

Centre for Effective Altruism
CEA announced that Larissa Hesketh-Rowe has stepped down from her position as CEO. Max Dalton will serve as interim Executive Director as CEA conducts a search for a new CEO. They also launched applications for EA Global: San Francisco 2019 and published 21 talks from Effective Altruism Global: London on YouTube.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
At Davos, CSER released Business School Rankings for the 21st Century, calling for future rankings to incorporate sustainability and ethics. CSER’s Bridging Near- and Long-Term Concerns about AI appeared in the first issue of Nature Machine Intelligence. Over 20 AI safety papers were presented at the SafeAI Workshop at AAAI (co-organized by CSER), including CSER’s Surveying Safety-Relevant AI Characteristics. Lord Rees was interviewed by The Economist, Talking Politics, and CBC Radio One.

Charity Entrepreneurship
Charity Entrepreneurship published two new ask reports (Helping Fish Breathe - A Promising Intervention for Animals and Preventing Practices of Mutilation on Factory Farms), as well as three new articles (Why We Look at the Limiting Factor Instead of the Problem Scale, Organizational Slack, and Why Top Performers Shouldn’t Go to University).

Founders Pledge
The Founders Pledge research team recently published reports and giving recommendations for Evidence-Based Policy and Corporate Campaigns for Animal Welfare, as well as a report on Evaluating Policy Organisations.

Future of Humanity Institute
In January, Allan Dafoe and Baobao Zhang (researchers at FHI’s Center for the Governance of AI) released a report on the American public’s views on AI and ethics. In the next 2-3 weeks, FHI will begin a major recruitment round; they will be seeking a project manager, as well as executive assistants for Nick Bostrom and Allan Dafoe.

Future of Life Institute
FLI kicked off 2019 with the Beneficial AGI conference in Puerto Rico, and they will co-host the Augmented Intelligence Summit in March — if you love thinking about creating a good future, please apply. FLI released podcasts on AI breakthroughs in 2018, American attitudes on AI, and cooperative inverse reinforcement learning.

In December 2018, GiveWell recommended that the Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund make a grant of $1,000,000 to J-PAL’s Innovation in Government Initiative to support its general operating costs and run two requests for proposals. This grant is part of GiveWell’s exploratory work into opportunities to help improve the uptake and implementation of evidence-based policy by governments.

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI Director of Communications Robert de Neufville is now working full-time, funded by a recent donation for AI research and outreach. This is part of GCRI's ongoing effort to scale up. GCRI-led paper Long-Term Trajectories of Human Civilization was featured in the BBC’s The Perils of Short-Termism: Civilisation’s Greatest Threat.

Open Philanthropy Project
The Open Philanthropy Project announced grants of $1 million to Color of Change to support work on prosecutor reform and $420,000 to the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation for work on biosecurity. Open Phil-supported MIT research on lattice light-sheet microscopy was published in Science and covered in STAT.

Wild Animal Initiative
The organizations Utility Farm and Wild Animal Suffering Research have merged into a new organization focused on improving wild animal welfare: Wild Animal Initiative. WAI will work to improve understanding about wild animals’ lives, explore options for near-term intervention, and build the academic field of welfare biology.

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