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Effective Altruism Newsletter

September 9, 2017

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Articles and Community Posts

In light of large-scale natural disasters in the United States and the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945, it’s a good time to revisit GiveWell’s general advice on disaster relief giving. Consider sharing this advice with friends and family as well.

For those interested in making millions to donate to charity, this 80,000 Hours podcast on quant trading might be for you.

Are we worrying enough about the most likely disaster to hit humanity within the next 20 years? Not only do some believe that we aren’t sufficiently prepared for the next pandemic, but technological advances and globalization may, in fact, make us more susceptible than ever. Find out more in this podcast. (Here’s some more background on the 80,000 Hours podcast series.)

On the topic of biosecurity: The probability of human extinction from bioweapons may be low, the expected value of reducing the risk could still be large, since such risks jeopardize the existence of all future generations. FHI has published an open access article that includes a cost-effectiveness analysis of reducing low-probability, worst-case biosecurity scenarios.

“What if our entire approach to helping the world's poorest people is fundamentally flawed?” Learn about how basic income changes lives in this NPR story and then consider helping GiveDirectly run the biggest, yet still underfunded, basic income experiment in history.

Cullen O’Keefe, President of the Harvard Law School EA group, argues in this well-referenced piece that people who care about social justice should also care about cause prioritization.

In his book How to Create a Vegan World Tobias Leenaert makes the case for more pragmatism in animal advocacy. The book was inspired by EA and features a foreword by Peter Singer.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a lot of surveying going on around effective altruism community. The results of the 2017 community survey are in and they are broken down into these two reports by Rethink Charity on cause area preferences and community demographics. If you are a group organiser, you can greatly help LEAN, CEA and EAF by completing the 2017 Local Group Survey.

Spotlight: Doing Good Together

One theme that came out of last month’s EA Global conference in San Francisco was the importance of doing good together as a community. This idea is important for helping us all be more effective collectively.

The early EA community consisted of a small number of people with some interesting ideas about how to improve the world, but with limited resources and insufficient power to put those ideas into practice. In these circumstances, every individual needed to think carefully about how can I do the most good.

Things look very different today. There are now thousands of bright, committed people in the effective altruism community who want to use their time and money to have the biggest impact they can.

Rather than asking how I_ can make the biggest difference_, we need a portfolio approach to doing good that asks how we_ as a community_ can make the biggest difference. We need an approach that focuses on the achievements of the community as a whole and evaluates individual actions by the effect they have on the overall value of the community.

We now need to specialize much more as a community and realize that the externalities of our actions are larger than before. With more people in the community it makes sense for more people to follow their comparative advantage, take risks and try out new things.


EAG(x) Conferences

If you’re in Australia (or have always wanted to visit the other side of the world, dragons or no dragons), make sure to register for EAGxAustralia, which is taking place in Sydney from 22-24 September. There will also be aretreat in the week following the conference.

EAGxBerlin will be happening on 14-15 October. The two-day conference will feature both introductory and advanced talks and is suitable for English speakers. Register now.

The final EA Global conference of the year takes place in London on 4-6 November. Register now.

Browser Extension

A new browser extension by Daniel Wyrzykowski lets you donate money to GiveWell-recommended charities by shopping at places like Barnes & Noble or Etsy. The donation is between 3% and 6% and does not involve additional costs on your side.

Living on Less

LEAN is hosting the Living on Less fundraiser for the third year running! Sign up as individuals or teams to raise money for the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. Those who are interested in learning more about Living on Less might enjoy Luke Freeman’s blog post reflecting on his own experiences of the fundraiser.

Animal Advocacy Research Fund

ACE is currently accepting applications for the Animal Advocacy Research Fund. The application deadline is 20 October.

Timeless Classics

Peter Singer’s Coursera online course on effective altruism started again on 4 September. It’s free and requires a commitment for about 10-15 hours.


80,000 Hours

Last month, 80k mostly focused on planning the rest of the year, but also coached about 35 people and released an analysis of which skills make you most employable, which jobs are highest-paid, and podcasts on quant trading and pandemics.

Animal Charity Evaluators

ACE recently published a post introducing their new experimental research division. Additionally, they recently added a donation reporting form to their site so that donors can report offline donations influenced by their recommendations.

Centre for Effective Altruism

CEA recently ran an Effective Altruism Global conference in San Francisco, an event that brought together the EA community to discuss the importance of working together as a community. The videos are here (or click on the link in the Spotlight section above).

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

CSER's Risk & the Culture of Science workshop – on how to study and address global catastrophic risk within current scientific structures – was featured on The Naked Scientists’ podcast: Can Science Mavericks Save the World? Bonnie Wintle’s paper Structured Expert Elicitation using the IDEA Protocol on how to reduce bias in expert judgement was published.

Foundational Research Institute

FRI’s new paper on Multiverse-wide Cooperation via Correlated Decision Making argues that we can cooperate with agents in distant parts of the universe and that astronomical amounts of impact may be at stake in getting this right.

Future of Humanity Institute

FHI published three new papers on existential risk in the leading biosecurity journal Health Security, and Miles Brundage contributed to A Brief Survey of Deep Reinforcement Learning.


GiveWell announced a $2.6 million grant to Evidence Action to strengthen their operations. They also published notes from a conversation with its standout charity Living Goods and a blog post highlighting the programs they have researched so far in 2017.

Open Philanthropy Project

The Open Philanthropy Project announced a $2,500,000 grant to the Centre for Effective Altruism for general support. They also announced a number of grants to support farm animal welfare work in China and India.

Raising for Effective Giving

In a new transparency report, REG outlined their highlights of the first half of 2017. They moved $686,096 to their recommended charities.

Wild-Animal Suffering Research

The Effective Altruism Foundation received a $30,000 grant from EA Funds to continue their wild-animal suffering research project. Their goals are to: (1) better understand wild-animal suffering; (2) raise awareness and promote concern for the cause area; and (3) identify viable policies to reduce this suffering. You can now read their early work, see their research agenda and follow updates on Facebook.



Go forth and do the most good!

Let us know how you liked this edition and how we can improve further.

And now our watch has ended – at least for this month!

Kerry, Larissa, Michał, Pascal, Richenda and Sören

– The Effective Altruism Newsletter Team


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This is an archived version of the EA Newsletter sent to 47,000 subscribers on September 9, 2017.
To see the full archives, click here.