Articles

EA Newsletter: June 2, 2017

Effective Altruism Newsletter

  • The student-run Oxford Prioritization Project wrapped up their cause prioritization research, quantitatively modeling the four remaining charities in their shortlist.
  • Max Dalton, on behalf of the Centre for Effective Altruism, explores funding gaps, room for funding and diminishing returns here and here.
  • Tim Urban from Wait Buy Why on the benefits and risks of the AI revolution
  • Spotlight on how graduation programs reduce poverty
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Considering Considerateness: Why communities of do-gooders should be exceptionally considerate

Stefan SchubertBen GarfinkelOwen Cotton-Barratt

Summary:[^1] When interacting with others you can be considerate of their preferences, for instance by being friendly or reliable. This normally has small positive direct effects. But, by improving your reputation or strengthening aspects of culture that make a community more cooperative, the positive indirect effects can be large.

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EA Newsletter: May 6, 2017

Effective Altruism Newsletter

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Why nonprofits should apply to Y Combinator

Will MacAskill

YC image

The fact that YC accepts non-profits isn’t yet well-known, and even fewer people seem to know what a good opportunity it is, or how they should think about it. This post explains the program and why non-profits should consider applying.

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Effective altruism: an elucidation and a defence

Stefan Schubert

In this paper, the authors discuss Iason Gabriel’s recent piece on criticisms of effective altruism. Many of the criticisms rest on the notion that effective altruism can roughly be equated with utilitarianism applied to global poverty and health interventions which are supported by randomised control trials and disability-adjusted life year estimates. The authors reject this characterisation and argue that effective altruism is much broader from the point of view of ethics, cause areas, and methodology. We then enter into a detailed discussion of the specific criticisms Gabriel discusses. Their argumentation mirrors Gabriel’s, dealing with the objections that the effective altruist community neglects considerations of justice, uses a flawed methodology, and is less effective than its proponents suggest. Several of the criticisms do not succeed, but we also concede that others involve issues which require significant further study. The authors' conclusion is thus twofold: the critique is weaker than suggested, but it is useful insofar as it initiates a philosophical discussion about effective altruism and highlights the importance of more research on how to do the most good.

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Hard-to-reverse decisions destroy option value

Stefan SchubertBen Garfinkel

Some strategic decisions available to the effective altruism movement may be difficult to reverse. One example is making the movement’s brand explicitly political. Another is growing large. Under high uncertainty, there is often reason to avoid or delay such hard-to-reverse decisions.

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Will MacAskill on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast

Will MacAskill

Joe Rogan podcast image

Will MacAskill's appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast. Warning: contains explicit language

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Understanding cause-neutrality

Stefan Schubert

The term “cause-neutrality” has been used for at least four concepts: cause-impartiality, cause-agnosticism, cause-general investment, and cause-divergent investments. The first aim of this article is to define those concepts.

My second aim is to give a survey of considerations on the value of cause-impartiality, cause-agnosticism, cause-generality, and cause-divergence. In these sections, I among other things discuss the relations between the four concepts. 

Though cause-impartiality is sometimes mixed up with the other three concepts, it does not entail any of them. Cause-agnosticism can be a reason for cause-divergent and cause-general investments. Cause-divergent and cause-flexible investments can substitute for each other, whereas cause-divergent and broad impact investments can complement each other. Recruiting cause-impartial individuals amounts to a cause-flexible investment.

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