EA Newsletter: January 5, 2017

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Happy New Year!

While many people have been talking about what a terrible year 2016 was, there’s some good news too! The Future of Life Institute have written a summary on why 2016 was actually a year of hope.

Want to make 2017 even better? Consider joining Giving What We Can. Right now they are just 17 people away from having 2,500 members who’ve pledged to give 10% of their lifetime income to effective charities. Want to be number 2,500? Take the pledge.

Onward and upward!

The Team

January 2017 1

Spotlight: The 5 best posts of 2016

People in the effective altruism community have collectively spent tens of thousands of hours thinking and writing about how to do the most good. In fact, in December 2016 alone, the community produced 50,000 words of analysis on where to give.

We've sifted through it all to find you the best content of 2016 including articles on donating, voting and changing your mind. Read On

January 2017 2

Articles and Community Posts

Derek Parfit, an influential moral philosopher whose ideas have helped shape effective altruism, passed away this week. Here is a New Yorker profile on him, and here Peter Singer shares the final paragraphs of Parfit’s third volume of On What Matters, which will be published in February.

There are hundreds of actions we can take to try and improve the world. Identifying the most effective actions is difficult which is why researching these problems is something the effective altruism community is working on. The Effective Altruism Concepts project organizes the most relevant ideas to improve our thinking as a community. Dive in.

What is the expected value of creating a GiveWell-recommended top charity? Peter Hurford provides some answers in this post on the EA Forum.

For those of you who are continuing to donate money, even though giving season is coming to end, have a look at the recent and very comprehensive guide on where to give .

Whenever your eyes feel sore from reading, now you can always turn to Doing Good Better, a podcast about Effective Altruism.

January 2017 3


The application deadline for the next round of funding for the Animal Advocacy Research Fund is January 27. Advocacy groups, academics, and other qualified researchers are all welcome to apply.

The Oxford Prioritisation Project is a new research group in the effective altruism community. The Project’s goal is to allocate £10,000 in the way that will have the greatest positive impact. As a team, they will conduct in-depth research on how best to allocate the funds. Apply to join them! (Applications close on Jan. 9)


80,000 Hours

80k released their 2016 annual review . They have grown 20-fold in the last two years (in terms of monthly significant plan changes) and 80000hours.org is the largest effective altruist website by traffic in the last 12 months. They also launched their annual fundraiser (they have a significant funding gap).

Centre for Effective Altruism

The Centre for Effective have been accepted into the Y Combinator (a startup incubator that has produced companies including AirBnB, Dropbox and Reddit) non-profit program. They’ve had 226 new Giving What We Can members since starting their pledge campaign , 171 in December making it their best month ever. Read a review of 2016 and their plans for 2017 in their fundraising document.

Effective Altruism Foundation

EAF successfully submitted a ballot initiative asking for 1% of Zurich’s budget to be donated to effective charities – potentially raising an annual $90 million. Jan Dirk Capelle introduced effective altruism in a German TEDx talk in Dresden. EAF outlined their plans for 2017 in a blog post. Also, their co-founder Adriano Mannino has resigned from their board and will work on his own projects.

Foundational Research Institute

FRI has published three new articles on AI safety and ethics: Why Altruists Should Prioritize Artificial Intelligence, Backup Utility Functions, and Value Lexicality.


GiveWell wants to thank everyone who supported its work and recommended charities in 2016! GiveWell had a busy December; highlights included blog posts on the case for deworming (one of GiveWell's priority programs), population ethics and GiveWell top-charity the Against Malaria Foundation, and where GiveWell staff chose to make their personal donations in 2016.

Raising for Effective Giving

A matching drive by poker stars Dan Smith and Martin Crowley raised $1.7 million, most of which went to GiveWell-recommended charities. Also, poker star Liv Boeree talked about effective altruism in an interview.

Sentience Politics

Sentience Politics successfully submitted ballot initiatives in Switzerland on basic rights for primates (Basel) and plant-based options in public canteens (Lucerne). They discuss their achievements in a year in review blog post and argued that animal advocates should focus on antispeciesism, not veganism.

The Future of Humanity Institute

Nick Bostrom, Allan Dafoe, and Carrick Flynn have completed a working version of their paper “Policy Desiderata in the Development of Machine Superintelligence". Researchers from FHI presented the following workshop papers on AI safety at EWRL and NIPS 2016: Towards interactive inverse reinforcement learning, Agent-Agnostic Human-in-the-Loop Reinforcement Learning, Active reinforcement learning: observing rewards at a cost, and Exploration Potential.

The Life You Can Save

Liv Boeree, European Poker Tour Champion and co-founder of Raising for Effective Giving, partnered with The Life You Can Save to create our new effective giving video, ”How to Make Your Donation Count”. Share it widely! (It’s just 1 minute long.)

The Open Philanthropy Project

The Open Philanthropy Project described why it is practicing worldview diversification : putting significant resources behind a number of highly plausible worldviews. Executive Director Holden Karnofsky also discussed the organization's latest framework for deciding whether Good Ventures (a foundation and partner on the Open Philanthropy Project) should make a particular grant—e.g., to GiveWell's top charities—now, or save for giving to future opportunities.

January 2017 5


Donations Manager at GiveWell Operations and Legal Program Manager at GiveWell Senior Research Analyst at GiveWell Several positions at the Future of Humanity Institute that are advertising soon

You can stay up to date with job offers through these groups on Facebook and LinkedIn .

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

If you’re interested in past editions of this newsletter, here is the full archive


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