EA Newsletter: October 7, 2016

EA Newsletter header   Hi everyone,

Happy birthday to us! The monthly EA Newsletters started one year ago.


Ben Todd introduces the general pond argument.

You find the moral arguments for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle convincing but have difficulties putting it into practice? Have a look at this Facebook thread.

Peter Singer’s released his new book “Ethics in the Real World”.

The videos of talks from Effective Altruism Global have proved popular. If you missed the event do check them out here or consider attending EAGx Oxford in November.

There’s big news in the area of AI safety: some of the biggest companies technology companies have annouced a partnership to keep AI safe.

Also from Future of Life Institute: Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars.

In US politics, Scott Aaronson gives the argument for vote swapping for those who want to vote third party, but also prefer Clinton to Trump and Slate Star Codex endorses Clinton, Johnson or Stein.

Will appeared on Sam Harris' podcast, waking up. Topics discussed include Open Borders, artificial intelligence, how philosophy affects the actual works and more. It ends with Sam harris agreeing to donate the first $3,500 raised from every podcast to AMF.

Spotlight: Moral Progress and Cause X

If you look at the history of ideas, in every single generation there have been huge moral atrocities that have been committed by the people of that generation that seemed completely normal at the time.

For example, Aristotle spent his entire life dedicated to thinking about how to lead an ethical life, and it just didn't occur to him that maybe keeping slaves was a wrong thing to do. That's a pretty astonishing fact. He was one of the smartest people in the world at the time, spent all his time thinking about this, and was still oblivious.

In his opening talk at EA Global, Will touches on the idea that one of the major contributions of the EA community might be in finding and working on one of these undiscovered moral problems which he calls "Cause X."

Click here to Read more or watch the EA Global video


80,000 Hours

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80k will be giving 20 workshops on the East Coast, West Coast and London/Oxbridge as part of their student outreach campaign. Find out more.

Animal Charity Evaluators


ACE has released the results of a Mechanical Turk experiment on how “go veg” messaging affects attitudes towards wild animals, an exploratory analysis of the impact of retention programs and a new animated explainer video to help animal lovers think about effectiveness.  

Centre for Effective Altruism

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In September, Giving What We Can (part of CEA) reached 2,000 members pledging to give 10% of their income to the most effective charities. In fact 106 people joined last month!  

Effective Altruism Foundation

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The Effective Altruism Foundation is raising funds for a ballot initiative asking the city of Zurich to allocate 1% of its budget to highly effective charities, potentially raising €80 million annually and causing significant EA-related media coverage. The “fund ratio” is estimated at 300:1, i.e. for every euro invested in the initiative, an expected 300 euros will be moved to highly effective charities. They’re also running the EAGxBerlin conference with 300 confirmed participants.  

Foundational Research Institute

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The FRI has published a new website with a new sequence of essays: Our mission, The case for suffering-focussed ethics and Reducing Risks of Astronomical Suffering: A Neglected Global Priority.  

Future of Humanity Institute

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FHI continues to work closely with Google Deepmind, with multiple researchers visiting their office in London on a weekly basis. FHI also responded to the White House request for information on artificial intelligence, urging for increased focus on safety research and pointing the NSTC subcommittee to a number of EA organizations for further discussion, while Owen Cotton-Barratt recently co-authored a paper in Risk Analysis.  


GiveWell logo

GiveWell published a blog post discussing new transparency and monitoring concerns about its top-recommended charity, the Against Malaria Foundation. It also published new or updated reviews of the Food Fortification Initiative, Project Healthy Children, Living Goods and the Iodine Global Network.  

Machine Intelligence Research Institute

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MIRI has released one of its most novel results to date, “Logical Induction” — previously explained in an EA Global talk. MIRI has also received a $500,000 grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, and will be running its annual fundraiser through the end of October. Other recent updates include a new machine learning research agenda and an introduction to AI risk submitted to the White House.  

Open Philanthropy Project

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The Open Philanthropy Project published an update on how it is thinking about openness and information sharing. Executive Director Holden Karnofsky wrote about three key issues he's changed his mind about (potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence, the effective altruism community, and general properties of promising ideas and interventions).  

Raising for Effective Giving

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Roman Romanovsky, a well-known Ukrainian poker player, is doing a poker charity marathon aiming to raise a total of 500,000 USD for highly effective charities. They’ve published their semiannual report on money moved: In the first half of 2016, REG supporters donated a total of $276,847 to EA charities.  

Sentience Politics

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Sentience Politics launched a vegan ballot initiative in the Swiss city of Lucerne in just 48 hours, leading to significant media coverage, and are about to launch a similar initiative in Berlin.  

Other Announcements

Apply for the second annual UK conference on EA – EAGxOxford 2016!

It’s happening November 18-20 at Oxford University and will feature such speakers as Derek Parfit, Demis Hassabis and Molly Crockett as well as people from different EA orgs like CEA’s Will MacAskill, Founders Pledge’s David Goldberg and CFAR’s Duncan Sabien. Apply now if you think you’d like to go.


Timeless Classics

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This is an archived version of the EA Newsletter sent to 14,291 subscribers on October 7, 2016. To see the full archives, click here.