calebwithers

Posts

Sorted by New

Comments

Claim explainer: donor lotteries and returns to scale

As a counterpoint, I intended to contribute to the donation lottery (couldn't arrange tax deductibility outside the US), and think it would be a good thing if most EAs participated in donation lotteries.

All of the people that would be interested in participating are already effective altruists. That means that as a hobby they are already spending tons of time theorizing on what donations they would make to be more efficient. Is the value of information from additional research really sufficient to make it worthwhile in this context? Keep in mind that much of the low-hanging analysis from a bog-standard EA's perspective has already been performed by GiveWell, and you can't really expect to meaningfully improve on their estimates.

As Benquo notes, "GiveWell does not purport to solve the general problem of 'where should EA's give money.'". Personally, I believe that existential risk interventions are the best donations, so there is no equivalent to GiveWell for me to defer to. If I won the lottery, I imagine it would be worth my time engaging thoroughly with organisations fundraising documents, refining my world-model on how to reduce existential risk, and reaching out to those likely to have better knowledge than myself. I'm not already spending "tons of time doing this" - I work full-time, and in particular don't have the cognitive space to do high-quality thinking on this in the pockets of time I have available.

At a community-level, it does seem that most EA's have thought insufficiently about cause prioritization. Challenging one's beliefs isn't easy though, so I'm hopeful that a donor lottery can provide a mechanism for someone to say "I recognise that there's some worthwhile reflection and research I haven't done, and I don't have the motivation to do it when the stakes are lower, but will do so on the off-chance I win the lottery."

Winning the lottery to spend $100,000 of other people's money doesn't suddenly endow me with tens or hundreds of hours to use for extra research (unless I can spend some of the money on my research efforts...).

If I won the lottery, I imagine I'd take a few weeks consecutive leave from work to research.

CFAR’s new focus, and AI Safety

I intend to donate to MIRI this year; do you anticipate that upcoming posts or other reasoning/resources might or should persuade people like myself to donate to CFAR instead?

Peer-to-peer "knowledge exchanges"

What would be the advantage of bartering tutoring compared to the flexibility of simply selling and buying?