Our favorite links this month include:
We also hope you had a pleasant Petrov Day.
— The EA Newsletter Team
P.S. This newsletter is late — sorry! We held it back a few days to share new information on joining EA Global virtually (see "Announcements" below).
News and updates from the world of effective altruism
Longtermist thinking at the UN
The United Nations just released a report, “Our Common Agenda
”, which explicitly discusses longtermism and existential risk, as well as our responsibilities to future generations (even people who won’t be born for many years).
These topics are a major focus of the EA community, but haven’t drawn as much attention from the wider world. This report could signal a growing consensus that nations need to work together to guard against the worst possible outcomes for humanity.
On the other hand, the UN doesn’t have a strong track record when it comes to concrete change; the organization is notoriously bureaucratic and constrained by the individual interests of member nations. It’s not guaranteed that this report will lead to anything.
Still, this is an interesting development with a lot of potential. We strongly recommend this summary of the report through an EA lens
, by Fin Moorhouse and Avital Balwit.
EA-aligned startup runs massive investment round
Wave is a mobile money app co-founded by Lincoln Quirk, an early member of the EA community. The company just raised $200 million at a $1.7 billion valuation
, from a funding round which brought in some of the startup world’s best-known investors — including Founders Fund, Stripe, and Sam Altman, the former CEO of Y Combinator.
The company began as “Sendwave”, created to make it cheaper to send money from North America and Europe to certain African and Asian countries. (When this is expensive, the fees are a massive burden on immigrants whose families depend on their income.)
After the Sendwave product was acquired, the team decided to focus on Wave, a mobile money service they hoped would become an affordable and convenient option throughout sub-Saharan Africa. (The status quo was bad: some local services charge fees just to withdraw
Their first target was Senegal, where they’ve now been adopted by more than half the adult population — and have become a massively popular brand in the process.
Understanding economic progress
“In 1800, the average person on the planet was living on the equivalent of about $3 a day, translated into modern dollars and purchasing power.
"Living standards for most of the world have risen significantly over those hundreds of years. This rise in living standards, especially for such a broad part of the population [...] is one of the biggest and most important facts in all of human history.
"And I think if you care about the well-being of humanity, you have to look at that fact, and you have to be really interested in it.”
Jason Crawford views economic progress as fundamental to the massive increases in human welfare we've seen over the last two centuries. On his blog
, he writes about how this progress happened, why it may be slowing down, and how we could reverse that trend.
His interview with Kelsey Piper
is a solid introduction to the field of “progress studies”. And for more on the intersection of his work and effective altruism, check out his work on the EA Forum
Why young idealists should look for a "lonely cause”
“When you’re embarking on a career [...] you’re going to be estimating your odds of making an impact in a context where people are already mobilized and working on problems.
"The smart thing to do is to scan the landscape and look for gaps in mobilization, places where a little more effort or investment could make a big difference.”
Vox’s Dylan Matthews gets a lot of emails from young people looking for ways to make the world a better place. His general advice: think about the social issues and problems that get the most attention — and then do something different.
In this essay
, Matthews explains that the problems where help goes furthest are often those that tend to be overlooked. For example:
- The founders of the Center for Pesticide Suicide Prevention chose to confront a problem most people had never heard of, and their charity will probably end up saving thousands of lives.
- A bipartisan activist group successfully fought for a major reform to the U.S. organ donation system, despite the partisanship and political gridlock of their era.
- The microbiologist Katalin Karikó chose a neglected field to study, and spent years working in obscurity before her research became essential to the rapid development of COVID vaccines.
For more stories, try these email newsletters and podcasts.
In other news
Links we share every time — they're just that good!
Ideas that have shaped the way we think about doing good
“On September 26th, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was the officer on duty [at a Soviet command center] when the warning system reported a US missile launch. Petrov kept calm, suspecting a computer error.
"Then the system reported another US missile launch.
"And another, and another, and another.”
Stanislav Petrov could have reported this to his superiors, so that they could decide whether to launch missiles in retaliation. That was his job.
Instead, he weighed the evidence, judged that the warning was likely a false alarm, and chose not to report.
It’s not clear what his superiors would have done. Even so, Petrov may have come closer than anyone else in history to preventing the destruction of human civilization.
And so, on 26 September, some people celebrate Petrov Day — to honor Petrov’s decision, and the decisions of others who avoided catastrophe by thinking carefully.
What does one do on Petrov Day? Some people celebrate by singing songs about nuclear annihilation. Others play games inspired by mutually assured destruction. And we like this simple advice, from Eliezer Yudkowsky (the holiday’s inventor):
“Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, take a minute to not destroy the world.”
Petrov died before he ever got much recognition. But in 2018, he became one of the first winners of the Future of Life Award, and his family received a prize in his stead.
Opportunities to work on some of the world's most pressing problems
The 80,000 Hours Job Board features more than 700 positions. We can’t fit them all in the newsletter, so check out the others on their website!
You can see more positions in the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.
Impact-focused career coaching from 80,000 Hours
Your career is one of the best opportunities you have for doing good.
If you’re thinking about your career options, and how best to help future generations, consider applying to speak with the 80,000 Hours team.
Their advisors can talk through your options, introduce you to mentors or others in your field, and help you work out promising next steps. They’ve hired additional advisors and are keen to talk to more people than ever before. Their help is most useful for people who've made impact a key part of their career decisions, are interested in longtermism, and have the ability to do well in a challenging role.
Work with us
The Centre for Effective Altruism, which runs this newsletter, is looking for a product manager
to help us develop EffectiveAltruism.org
The site is the top search result for "effective altruism" and gets hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The right person could help us make it far more impactful. Apply by 13 October!
Applications due soon
, Effective Altruism Netherlands (anywhere in the country) (apply by 10 October)
, Nuclear Threat Initiative (Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, DC) (apply by 8 October)
International External Affairs Manager
, World Animal Protection (São Paulo) (apply by 10 October)
Policy Advisor or Associate (Nuclear Arms Control)
, Foreign Policy for America (Washington, DC or remote) (apply by 8 October)
Research Scientist, Long-term Strategy and Governance
, DeepMind (London) (apply by 15 October)
AI Safety Coordinator
, Fathom Radiant (Boulder or remote)
Climate and Energy Economist
, US Congressional Budget Office (Washington, DC)
, Foresight Institute (Remote)
Early-Career Funding for Individuals Interested in Improving the Long-Term Future
, Open Philanthropy (Remote) (apply by 21 January)
Fellowships in AI Existential Safety
, Future of Life Institute (Remote) (apply by 29 October for PhDs, 5 November for postdocs)
Head of Policy
, Wave (Remote)
Intern (Food Innovation Program)
, Mercy for Animals Latin America (Remote)
Operations, Product, and Leadership Roles
, EA Funds (Oxford or remote)
Quantitative Research Scientist (Public Opinion and Survey Science)
, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (SF Bay Area or remote)
Senior Developer // Team Lead
, SoGive (Remote)
Software Development Manager
, Secure DNA Project (Remote)
Student Research Assistant (Disruptions from AI)
, Max Planck Society (Berlin)
, Anthropic (San Francisco)
, Foresight Institute (Remote)
, GiveWell (SF Bay Area or remote)
, The Good Food Institute (Various locations)
, Lightcone Infrastructure (Berkeley)
, Open Philanthropy (SF Bay Area or remote)
, Ought (SF Bay Area or remote)
Books, events, community projects, and more!
Last chance to apply for EA Global
If you want to attend EA Global: London in-person from 29-31 October, you'll need to apply by 8:00 am UTC on Monday, 11 October.
Sadly, the venue isn’t big enough to host everyone the organizers want to admit. However, even if space runs out, you can still apply to join virtually — you'll be able to watch livestreamed content and network with other virtual attendees.
The team will publish more details on the virtual option in a few days, but you should apply as soon as you can.
Additionally, EAGxPrague (3-5 December) is still accepting applications!
Virtual program: Legal Topics in Effective Altruism
Effective Altruism Virtual Programs will be hosting a series of discussions on the intersection between effective altruism and law — aimed at law students, practicing lawyers, legal researchers, and anyone else with an interest in the subject.
The program will be held from 18 October through 12 December. You’ll have to register by 12 October.
An EA-themed creative writing contest ($10,000 in prizes)
The EA Forum is holding a contest for short fiction and creative nonfiction with themes related to effective altruism. Some notes:
For a full set of rules, see this post. Submissions are due by 29 October.
- Entries don’t have to use EA jargon or involve specific cause areas, as long as they convey the idea of using evidence and reason to help others effectively.
- Entries don’t have to be new work; you’re welcome to submit something you’ve already written, even if you've shared it elsewhere.
- You can submit someone else’s work for consideration by sharing a link to it on the Forum. If that piece wins, the author will get a prize, and you'll get an extra referral bonus.
Negotiation training for people who "earn to give"
Do you give a sizable fraction of your income to outstanding charities?
If so, consider trying out Training For Good, which is running one-day programs to help people build their negotiation skills and develop a concrete plan for negotiating a raise or promotion.
(Learn more and apply. Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis, with preference given to earlier applicants.)
- Online: Saturday, 16 October, 10am - 4:30 pm (GMT + 1)
- London: Saturday, 20 November, 10am - 4:30 pm (GMT + 1)
- Online: Saturday, 4 December, 10am - 4:30 pm (GMT + 1)
New platform connecting EA projects with volunteers
Looking to volunteer for a project in the EA community? Have a project and need volunteers or collaborators?
EA Impact CoLabs is a new platform built to connect projects and people who want to help. Sign up to submit a project or volunteer.
You can see updates from a wide range of organizations on the EA Forum.
We hope you found this edition useful!
If you’ve taken action because of the Newsletter and haven’t taken our impact survey, please do — it helps us improve future editions.
(Actions we'd love to hear about include donating to charity, applying to a job, or joining a community group.)
Finally, if you have feedback for us, positive or negative, let us know!
– The Effective Altruism Newsletter Team