‘Replaceability’ isn’t as important as you might think (or we’ve suggested) When we started 80,000 Hours, one of the key ideas we presented was the replaceability argument: Suppose you become a surgeon and perform 100 life saving operations. Naively it seems like your impact is to save 100 people’s lives. If you hadn’t taken the job, however, someone else likely would have taken it instead. So your true (counterfactual) impact is less than the good you do directly. I still think this is a good argument, but I’m not sure how relevant it is when comparing real career options. In particular, I see the argument often being used incorrectly in the following two ways: Ignoring direct harm: Suppose you’re considering taking a job that some people think is harmful (e.g. certain parts of the financial sector) in order to donate, do advocacy or build skills.
I disagree with both of these claims in most circumstances. The replaceability argument only establishes that your true impact in a job is less than what you appear to do directly. Will you get good career capital?
The Case For Putting Your Head Where Your Heart Is — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Are good intentions enough to make a difference in the world? The short answer is no. Meaningful change isn’t created by good intentions alone. No matter your passion, if you want to have a big impact, you must be armed with evidence and the resolve to make informed decisions and difficult trade-offs. I was reminded of this in William MacAskill’s thoughtful new book, Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference. He provides a straightforward guide to help anyone make the largest possible difference in the lives of others. Framed around a series of insightful questions backed by thorough analyses, Doing Good Better reads like a mashup of introductory economics and MacAskill’s own philosophy about how to make the world a better place. An associate professor of philosophy at Lincoln College, Oxford, MacAskill provides a manual for how to harness your generosity as effectively as possible — on a scale both small and large.
I couldn’t agree more. The Logic of Effective Altruism. Photo: Adam Cohn I met Matt Wage in 2009 when he took my Practical Ethics class at Princeton University. In the readings relating to global poverty and what we ought to be doing about it, he found an estimate of how much it costs to save the life of one of the millions of children who die each year from diseases that we can prevent or cure. This led him to calculate how many lives he could save, over his lifetime, assuming he earned an average income and donated 10 percent of it to a highly effective organization, such as one providing families with bed nets to prevent malaria, a major killer of children.
He discovered that he could, with that level of donation, save about one hundred lives. He thought to himself, “Suppose you see a burning building, and you run through the flames and kick a door open, and let one hundred people out. That would be the greatest moment in your life. And I could do as much good as that!” Wage is part of an exciting new movement: effective altruism. Elon Musk To Address 'Nerd Altruists' At Google HQ.
"Doing Good" Needed to Be Done a Bit Better | Kate Grant. William MacAskill is that rare creature: a true visionary and iconoclast, a bright rising star in the too often stodgy field of philanthropy. Like many people in the Effective Altruism movement, I anticipated this week's release of MacAskill's book Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference. But, here's a word of caution to readers of the book: beware. If the facts cited and conclusion drawn about my organization - Fistula Foundation - are any indication, the book may contain significant errors, ironic for a field based on the primacy of evidence. I run Fistula Foundation, which supports surgical treatment for women with the childbirth injury obstetric fistula, that when left untreated leaves women incontinent and too often social outcasts.
While largely eradicated a century ago in developed countries, fistula still devastates the lives of poor women in developing countries. Here's the thing: this isn't "insider baseball" or a somehow hidden fact. The Family with Twenty-Two Kids. When Sue Hoag was twelve, she read a book, “The Family Nobody Wanted,” about a couple in the nineteen-forties who adopted a multiracial posse of twelve children, despite having very little room or money. Sue thought it would be wonderful to be part of such a family, and she begged her parents to adopt.
They had only four kids in their family, she pleaded—surely there was room for more. Her parents said no. But Sue kept thinking about the book, and by the time she was fifteen she had met her future husband, Hector Badeau, and by the time she was eighteen she and Hector had planned their family: they would have two kids and adopt two. But there were more than two children in the world who needed parents.
Terrible, painful things happened that they were not able to prevent—three children dead, two in prison, teen-age pregnancies, divorces. Twenty-two children didn’t seem as strange to Hector as it did to most people, because he came from sixteen. SUE: Act. HECTOR: It’s hard to explain. 6. Just growing more food won't help to feed the world | Richard Ewbank | Global development. The World Bank’s view that we need to grow 50% more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people, while finding ways to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture at the same time, ignores one very simple fact – we already grow enough food for 10 billion people.
But a combination of storage losses after harvest, overconsumption and waste mean that some 800 million people in developing countries are malnourished. The storage losses mainly affect the global south: in 2011, the World Bank said: “The world seems to have forgotten the importance of post-harvest food losses in the African grain sector.” Overconsumption and waste mainly affect the global north. The challenge of feeding the world is not simply met through increases in production – this is precisely how the so-called green revolution created our current problems. The green revolution that took place in the 1960s, increasing cereal production in developing countries, is credited with saving a billion lives. Engineering Mosquitoes’ Genes to Resist Malaria. Photo In a basement on the Irvine campus of the University of California, behind a series of five protective doors, two teams of biologists have created a novel breed of mosquito that they hope will help eradicate from the world.
The mosquito has been engineered to carry two ingenious genetic modifications. One is a set of genes that spew out to the malarial parasite harbored by the mosquito. Mosquitoes with these genes are rendered resistant to the parasite and so cannot spread malaria. The other modification is a set of genetic elements known as a gene drive that should propel the malaria-resistance genes throughout a natural mosquito population. Because almost all the progeny carry the new genes, instead of just 50 percent as would be expected by Mendel’s laws of genetics, the inserted genes are expected to spread rapidly and take over a wild population in as few as 10 generations, or a single season. The anti-malarial antibody genes were developed by a group led by Anthony A. Dr. Dr. The Price of Saving a Life ... is $3,340. The Myth of Welfare’s Corrupting Influence on the Poor.
The Global Goals. A new response to effective altruism. Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin, recently reviewed Will's book, Doing Good Better. Overall, it was very positive. One difference, however, was that he thinks we should continue to give some portion of our resources locally rather than internationally, and he justifies this on the basis of having a greater long-run impact. I hadn't seen this argument made by someone who agrees with so much of effective altruism before (normally those in favor of local giving reject the idea that we should maximise our social impact at all, or seem to have misunderstood effective altruism). I'm not convinced, but I think we should take the argument seriously: But we're also members of local communities, and we have a moral obligation to support philanthropic efforts in those communities too, even if they don't leverage our contributions as efficiently as they might somewhere else.
Local participation in philanthropy isn't just a moral obligation though. See the full article. Travelling with purpose. How Long Will it Take Economic Growth to Eliminate Extreme Poverty? | Giving What We Can. Many charitable interventions in low-income countries have a significant positive impact, but what such interventions can achieve is frequently constrained by under-development. It is often claimed that economic growth is the only means to completely eradicate poverty. Sometimes this claim is meant to criticise the efficacy of giving to charity. In this report I accept that continued economic growth may be the only means to completely eradicate poverty, but I will argue that we should be sceptical that continued economic growth on our current model will lead to the elimination of extreme poverty over acceptable time-horizons.
If we wish to eliminate extreme poverty in less than a century, the poorest people in the world will need to benefit from a much greater share of the growth in global income. Incrementum ad Absurdum Woodward’s claim isn’t that global income is too low to alleviate poverty but rather that it is too unequally distributed. Further Support for Woodward’s Thesis.
Diseases. Organs donation. Becoming a parent. HIPC. Introduction to EA. EA organizations. Effective Animal Altruism. Giving What We Can. 80000 hours. Poverty Action Lab. GiveWell. People. Millennium Development Goals. Critiques. Videos. EA Forum. The Economics of Morality | Giving What We Can. Picture yourself vacationing in a developing country in the hills overlooking the coast. One day during your stay, a devastating typhoon hits, leaving hundreds of people without food, water, or shelter. Fortunately for you, you’ve not been affected by the storm.
You’ve got a cozy little cottage which is high on a hill and well stocked with everything you need. The destruction on the coast has made it impossible for you to travel down the hill, but you can still help by giving money to the relief effort, which is already under way. Do you have an obligation to help? If you’re like most people, you answered ‘yes’.
Now picture yourself sitting at home. If you’re like most people, you answered ‘no’. Why? The only salient difference between these two vignettes is one of physical proximity. Intuitively, physical proximity matters. Why aren’t we doing this? The Problem with Altruism People perform acts of altruism every day. When you first hear this, it seems like a strikingly obvious idea. The Most Efficient Way to Save a Life: Malaria Nets. Last winter, William MacAskill and his wife Amanda moved into a Union Square apartment that I was sharing with several friends in New York. At first, I knew nothing about Will except what I could glean from some brief encounters, like his shaggy blond hair and the approximation of a beard. He was extremely polite and devastatingly Scottish, trilling his “R”s so that in certain words, like crook or the name Brooke, the second consonant would vibrate with the clarity of a tiny engine.
MacAskill, I soon discovered, was a Cambridge-and Oxford-trained philosopher, and a steward of what’s known as effective altruism, a burgeoning movement that has been called "generosity for nerds. " Effective altruism seeks to maximize the good from one's charitable donations and even from one’s career.
Up to that point, I would have described my interest in charity as approximately average. Wall Street? Yes, imagine you work in investment banking. I. II. The Wealth of the 1 Percent 2. 3. III. IV. V. The quickest, funniest guide to one of the most profound issues in philosophy. This is the most persuasive case for giving more money to lifesaving charities that I've read in years. And it's written from perspective of a frat bro. Tommy Maranges, better known as Philosophy Bro, is a national treasure.
His Tumblr is full of astonishingly clear explanations of really complex ideas in philosophy, which also happen to be written as if the author spends every weekend guzzling Natty Ice in a tank top. Here he's translating "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" — Princeton philosopher Peter Singer's very famous case for why we're all donating way less money than we should be to charities that save people's lives. The piece starts with an analogy: imagine you're walking by a lake, minding your own business, when you see a child drowning. Like, let’s say I’m on my way to a bitchin’ party and I’m looking fly as shit and I smell good because you already know, and I’ve got a 30-rack of Natty because I’ll be goddamned if I show up empty-handed to the house I’m about to burn down.
Effective Altruism Global 2015. The High Impact Network - Home - Cool Earth. Explicit cookie consent. Mistakes I’ve made part 3: Poor sacrificial accounting | Meteuphoric. There was a time when I routinely refused car travel, in favor of my more sustainable bicycle. Not always, but I had a high bar—if it was bucketing down with rain and I had no plastic pants, this was not sufficient excuse for instance. I would sometimes decline a ride even when others were purportedly driving somewhere anyway, to avoid encouraging them to be ‘driving anyway’ more often. I did enjoy cycling, on a good day, but many days weren’t good. People at school laughed at me on my bike, so sometimes I walked instead because I couldn’t stand them looking at me. Refusing cars was often a sacrifice. My concern was the climate. Given that driving was unsustainable, I wanted people to stop driving, so we wouldn’t all die.
This is all very wrong. One way to think about this is to say that I was wrong in thinking myself an especially cheap person to change. Relatedly, I didn’t compare between options further afield. So this is what I would tell my younger self. Like this: Like Loading... You have $8 billion. You want to do as much good as possible. What do you do? I sat in a San Francisco conference room a few months ago as 14 staffers at the charity recommendation group GiveWell discussed the ways in which artificial intelligence — extreme, world-transforming, human-level artificial intelligence — could destroy the world. Not just as idle chatter, mind you. They were trying to work out whether it's worthwhile to direct money — lots of it — toward preventing AI from destroying us all, money that otherwise could go to fighting poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. "Say you tell the AI to make as many paper clips as it can possibly make," Howie Lempel, a program officer at GiveWell, proposed, borrowing a thought experiment from Oxford professor Nick Bostrom.
The super AI isn't necessarily going to be moral. Even with positive goals, it could backfire. It could see the whole world as a resource to be exploited for making paper clips, for example. "We want to burn down our foundation before we die, and ideally well before we die" They're right, of course. For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money. Stephen Schwarzman — the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone who once compared the Obama administration's proposal to close the carried interest tax loophole to the Nazi invasion of Poland — has decided to give $150 million to Yale to build a performing arts center. The primary beneficiaries of this will be Yale students, and Yale students are stupid rich.
Not as rich as Schwarzman (who's worth $13.2 billion, per Bloomberg, of which he's donating a little more than 1 percent), but rich. Only 52 percent of Yale students receive financial aid from the university. Meanwhile, 100 percent of families making under $100,000, and 99 percent of families making between $100,000 and $200,000, qualified for aid. In other words, you need to make a ridiculously large amount of money to not qualify for aid. Yale students are also smart. Yale as an institution is also super-rich. Yale University Not big enough for ya? Yale University But it's not philanthropy.
How to be Great at Doing Good. 'Peter Singer's 'Most Good' makes rational case for good life. How Effective is Fair Trade? | Giving What We Can. Giving Gladly. Some General Concerns About GiveWell | Giving What We Can. The case for bragging. Effective altruism critique: Few charities stand up to rational evaluation. Conversation with Michael Bitton about EA Marketing – Everyday Utilitarian. Experience Poverty (Eurozone) How much attention does climate change warrant? - Harvard College Effective Altruism. Here Are The Charities You Should Support, According To Data. Projects - impact.hackpad.com. Why individual donors matter: An interview with PSI’s Karl Hofmann. Charity evaluator. Raising for Effective Giving – Meta-charities.
Project Effectiveness Reviews | Oxfam GB | Oxfam Policy & Practice. Should You Give Away 60 Percent? - Cafe. Copenhagen Consensus Center | Copenhagen Consensus Center. Social Programs That Work. RCT - Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. The #1 reason people die early, in each country. Sustainable Development Goals. How Do We Calculate the Cost of Deworming? — Evidence Action. 2015 Gates Annual Letter. Dutch disease. Home - Aidwatch - We need your help to continue our work as an independent monitor of Australia's aid and trade.
The Giving Pledge :: Pledger Profiles. Distribution of wealth. World distribution of wealth. Saving with frugality. AmazonSmile: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more. Does donation matching work? What are the biggest problems in the world? - 80,000 Hours. Global Poverty Project. Global Poverty Project. Poverty. Famine, Affluence, and Morality. The Promise of Effective Altruism. The Rise of the Singerians. World Giving Index. Earning to give. Compassionate Nerds. Join Wall Street. Save the world. - The Washington Post. Students vs. Singer: Community College Students Explore Effective Altruism II. Health Impact Fund. Cognitive dissonance. EA Donation Registry | Effective Altruism Hub. Famine Affluence and Morality.pdf.
Room for more funding. 30 Example Vision Statements - Top Nonprofits. Birthday Fundraisers - Charity Science. Quality-adjusted life year. The Problem With International Development—and a Plan to Fix It. Earning to give - 80,000 Hours. The Ethical Imperative of Effective Altruism | The Godless Theist. Peter Singer and effective altruism – a critique | Atheist Forum. Effective altruism. Giving 2.0: The MOOC.