September 2019 Newsletter

It's been a year since the members directory was first made, now with over 90 people from a range of careers including government, finance, academia, tech and nonprofits who might be happy for you to reach out to them to ask relevant questions about their careers or to arrange a chat. 

If you are looking to give back via mentoring someone, answer questions about your career, meet up with those in the same field, provide emotional support, find an accountability buddy or just want to discuss effective altruism then you can add yourself to the directory via this form.   

UPCOMING EVENTS

Co-working Evening
When: Tuesday 3rd September
An informal meetup for people who want to work on their own projects or self study

Podcast Discussion - Climate Crisis
When: Saturday 7th September
A discussion group looking at the latest Future of Life Institute podcast on whether the climate crisis poses an existential threat

EA and Tech Meetup
When: Monday 9th September
An event for people in software and tech to meet each other and think about ways to do more good

Utilitarian Approaches in Animal Ethics (Oxford)
When: 9th-11th September
A three day workshop with talks from Lucius Caviola, Jeff Sebo, Tyler John, Theron Pummer and more

How the Light Gets In
When: 21st-22nd September
A philosophy and music festival including Martin Rees, Anders Sandberg and David Pearce

Monthly Social
When: Monday 23rd September
No structure - just come along and chat with others who are trying to do good

Biosecurity Discussion
When:
September
Discussion group for people working/studying biosecurity or biology related areas. Email hello@ealondon.com if you're interested in this

Pre-EAG animal advocate short talks
When: Thursday 17th October
Lightning talks from people working in animal advocacy including The Humane League, GFI Europe and Sentience Institute

EA Global London
When: 18th-20th October
EA Global London will take place this year near the Barbican.

COMMUNITY NEWS 

• Rachel Glennerster with a twitter thread on the 4 most effective ways for DIFD to invest in addressing climate change AND reducing poverty

• Daniel May with a list of book recommendations for people interested in a potential new field called Progress Studies

• Karolina Sarek looking at whether China and India are the most promising countries for animal advocacy

• Ben Dixon with a post on where and why they donated in 2019

• Jess Whittlestone with an article on 'How useful is technical understanding for working In AI policy?'

• Kit Harris summarising 'The Dead Hand' which recounts high-level decision-making around nuclear and biological weapons, and how nations engaged in arms races and arms control

• Saulius Šimčikas listing 35+ ways that cost-effectiveness estimates can be misleading

• Lauren Mee is looking for people who work or volunteer in animal advocacy to fill in a 5 minute survey on what skills are most needed in animal advocacy careers to help inform their research

• Haven King-Nobles and Tom Billington on why they've set up their new charity, the Fish Welfare Initiative 

• Adam Bricknell with some ideas on how to look for an optimal career in climate change 


Story

Henry talking about how they heard about effective altruism and how it has influenced life choices.

"My earliest memory relating to effective altruism was seeing some university friends posting about the Giving What We Can pledge on Facebook, which would have been in about 2013. I was aware of something called 'effective altruism' back then but actually I wasn't so intrigued by the whole concept of EA at first. However, the Giving What We Can pledge, which was at that time donating 10% of one’s income to help relieve global poverty, seemed like a more obviously good idea to me. I took this pledge myself in late 2014. I had read Peter Singer's essay Famine, Affluence, and Morality due to my interest in philosophy, particularly ethics, and together with Singer's book Practical Ethics I had to rethink a lot of my model for what actions are more or less good to do.

At a similar time, I had found the book Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both co-founders of J-PAL at MIT, which introduced me to some of the evidence-based methodologies used in development economics. I found this fascinating, and wondered how this might apply to other areas of doing good outside of economics. Looking back, it seems like EA institutions like GiveWell might not have existed without the groundwork laid by J-PAL and others, so it seems we owe them some credit.

In 2015, I suffered an intense personal tragedy, the death of my best friend. It wasn’t until then when I really started to think carefully about the nature of suffering, values, and what goods we should be aiming for in life. This event turned out to be the spark that started the fire. After 2015, I started to see that the EA community was a home for big questions that I had always wanted to try to answer; I had simply never had the conceptual framework to make a start. In the community I found people trying their best to think clearly about how to really ‘do’ good, and not just make some analysis about it. I became closer to the online EA community and began to become more involved, attending meetups and conferences, and eventually running a local group...." Read on


Latest Jobs

Charity Entrepreneurship is hiring for six positions. Research analysts for animals, global poverty and mental health, operations lead, executive assistant and outreach coordinator. Closes September 9th

Head of animal welfare in the Civil Service, closing 8th September

• The Ada Lovelace institute are hiring a Director for a new Network for AI & Ethics. Closing on September 23rd

• Open Phil have early-career funding available for people interested in global catastrophic biological risks. Applications due by October 15th

• What Works Wellbeing are hiring a senior analyst, closes 8th September

• Our World in Data are hiring a postdoc researcher in global health and population science. Closes 4th September

• Various security related roles in the civil service including Indo-Pacific intelligence analyst (8th Sep), cyber security programme manager (6th Sep), GCHQ communications manager (2nd Sep) and director defensive cyber & risk (15th Sep)

• The Center for Global Development are hiring a policy analyst and a researcher

• UBS are looking for a climate strategy specialist

• Compassion in World Farming are looking for a public affairs officer, closing 16th September. Based in Brussels

• GiveDirectly are hiring a partnerships associate and a people & compliance manager in the London office as well as various roles in Uganda, Malawi and Liberia

• Open Philanthropy have funding for graduate studies for people who want to work in AI policy careers, applications close October 15th

• Founders Pledge are looking for a graphic designer, researchers and a VP of community experience

• The Alan Turing Institute are looking for various roles including a postdoc RA in statistical machine learning for randomised clinical trials, data scientists and commercial lawyers

• Wave are hiring for a range of remote roles, including engineering, finance and operations

30+ roles at DeepMind and Deepmind Health, including research scientists, programme managers and policy researchers

• 80,000 Hours job board with filters by location, problem area and role type. You can also sign up to their career coaching waitlist here

• There is also the EA London members directory with people in different careers who may be able to help advise

• If you want to meet up and discuss career options in person, you can apply via this form


Latest Research and Updates

• Bill Gates with an article on why there should be more focus on how to reduce emissions from making steel and other materials, the third biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions

William MacAskill with an Ask Me Anything, looking at what should be changed if EA started again, what he's changed his mind about and if there is a problem with hero worship in EA

• Eva Vivalt on why they've changed their mind on giving now vs giving later

• St Catharine’s College at Cambridge is establishing a research hub to provide information about existing and emerging biological security risks and interventions

• An article looking at how malaria eradication has stalled with infections and deaths having held steady since 2015

• A post on what is known about Amazon fires and what could be done about them

• Another post on why focusing on Amazon fires may be neglecting bigger issues related to climate change

• The University of York is setting up a £35 million research facility to address the safety of robotics and other systems that use artificial intelligence

• The OECD has made a step-by-step behavioural insights guide to help policy makers when analysing a policy problem and developing interventions

• The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose with a report attempting to quantify the macroeconomic impact of government innovation policy

• A look into whether academic scientific progress in the natural sciences is stagnating or if these worries are overblown

• The Office for National Statistics looking at how wellbeing in the UK over the last year has stayed roughly similar, with slightly higher happiness ratings

Solutions Journalism are an organisation who train and connect journalists to solutions to problems rather than just reporting on issues

• How blockchain technology is distributing aid to Jordan, allowing the World Food Programme to provide $37 million in cash-based assistance and reduce financial transaction costs by 98%

• Richard Easterlin on the improvement in people's feelings of wellbeing due to policies based on social science

• VoxDev with an article on the impact of microcredit finding that the average effects of these loans are small

• Malaria Consortium on how they are improving nutrition in Nigeria using training and supervision

• Jasmine Wang with a literature review of potential resources for a new field of Progress Studies

Replication Markets, a new research study and over $100,000 in prizes for predicting social and behavioural science results

• There is a new centre set up in July, researching the neurobiology of compassion to identify the mechanisms that transform compassion from biology to behaviour and to develop new ways to teach and instil empathy

• London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research with a large-scale deworming initiative in Ethiopia evaluating the impact of using biometric finger print technology

• Deepmind looking at how they can use AI to predict acute kidney injury and accelerate ecological research


Organisation Updates

• Animal Charity Evaluators with their goals and strategy for 2019

Effective Thesis with an updated website and a focus on connecting students to academic coaches

• Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative on the future of grant-making funded by Jaan Tallinn

• Forum post with a variety of EA organisation updates

• Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign has begun to distribute preventive antimalarial medication to more than 5.5 million children in the Sahel region

• Evidence Action looking at how, by partnering with the Indian government, they were able to deliver mass school-based deworming to 270 million children annually, and are looking at new opportunities including combating anaemia

• J-Pal Africa launched the digital Identification initiative to study the impact of innovative government and private sector payment systems and ID reforms on citizens and governments across Africa

• Open Philanthropy Project with a post on the questions they ask themselves when making a grant


Grants

• Open Phil have made 2 grants recently, including $1,000,000 for the Effective Altruism Foundation and $100,00 on criminal justice reform

• The Purple Orange Ventures fellowship is providing 120,000 EUR grant funding and mentorship for scientists and engineers to explore startup ideas to create or support the creation of products that mimic animal-based food products. Closes 1st October

• Animal Charity Evaluators donated $90,000 of their recommended charity fund to 12 organisations

• Microsoft has AI for Earth grants to projects that use artificial intelligence to address issues with climate, agriculture, biodiversity and water

• Google is partnering with GiveDirectly to give $3,000,000 in cash to victims after the next natural disaster in the U.S.

• GiveWell allocated all $2,300,000 of their discretionary fund to the Against Malaria Foundation


Research

• Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk with a new report on how governments are failing to understand human-driven catastrophic risks

• Our World in Data with a new series on child mortality, looking at historic trends, the current situation, the biggest killers of children are today and what we can do about it

• A paper on how machine learning could be used to tackle climate change, including smart grids and disaster management

• Eric Drexler with a paper on reframing superintelligence, looking at how advances in AI might point to more distributed systems rather than opaque, unitary agents

• Also the Slate Star Codex review of the paper above on reframing superintelligence

• J. Mohorčich with an article on what can bio-fuel commercialisation teach us about scale, failure, and success in biotechnology?

• Faunalytics looking at the trends in U.S. public opinion on animal welfare issues over the last decade

• ACE with an in depth look at animal advocacy in India

• The World Bank with lessons learnt from using Pre-Results at the Journal of Development Economics

• What Works Wellbeing summarising research on how volunteering has a significant positive impact on individual wellbeing, especially when it's formal volunteering as part of a group

• Sentience institute with a paper on lessons from GMO adoption and resistance for cell-cultured meat

• An update to the 80,000 Hours post on philosophy careers in academia

• RescueWorks with a report on how removing barriers to refugees working could boost GDP in the six countries they looked at by $53 billion

• The Good Food Institute with an overview of the U.S. plant based market


Vox

• Jeff Bezos giving away $100,000,000 to homelessness nonprofits with no restrictions or formal vetting

• Looking at whether donations to Amazon fire charities will make a difference

• Why governments are bad at facing catastrophic risks

Should we be worried about overpopulation?

• An interview with Bryan Walsh on whether we are doing enough to prevent human extinction


Podcasts

• A new podcast series from DeepMind, hosted by Hannah Fry and including episodes with Demis Hassabis, Victoria Krakovna and Jan Leike

William MacAskill discussing effective altruism on Crazy Money with Paul Ollinger

• Jeffrey Ding on China’s AI goals

• Centre for Global Development podcast on looking beyond aid when thinking about development

• Jade Leung on the governance of AI

• Lewis Bollard talking about Open Philanthropy’s approach to ending factory farming

Paul Christiano on 80,000 Hours discussing messaging the future, divesting and meta-ethics

• Sébastien Aguilar talking to a financial independence podcast on EA from an FI point of view

Climate crisis as an existential threat with Simon Beard and Haydn Belfield


Effective altruism in media & blogs

Peter Singer with an interview in Project Syndicate, talking about white saviour narratives, brothel legalisation, underrated philosophers and surfing

Liv Boeree interviewing Anders Sandberg (YouTube Video) about the future of humanity