Your April 2019 EA Newsletter    
Hi <<First Name>>,

As a movement, effective altruism cares about ongoing harms like malaria, poverty, and animal farming — but also potential harms from pandemics, nuclear weapons, and other hazards. The former are often more visible, but we’ve learned from history’s disasters and near misses that we can’t afford to ignore the latter.

As always, this edition includes stories about issues in both of these categories — and the ways that you can make a difference.

Thanks for reading!

 The EA Newsletter Team
Articles and Community Posts

Dangerous pathogens like smallpox and SARS aren’t always handled safely by the labs that work on them. Kelsey Piper discusses the many ways in which these errors, which could kill millions of people, take place. 

The risk of human error is one of several that motivate EA work on biosecurity; to learn more, check out this 2014 cause report from the Open Philanthropy Project or their most recent grants in the area.  

When GiveDirectly transfers money to recipients, what happens next? Kelsey Timmerman found out after he traveled to Kenya to view GiveDirectly’s work firsthand. Similar articles include the reflections of Carlos Dominguez and a site visit by GiveWell.

Researchers have spent decades modeling the factors that could lead to nuclear war and the potential impacts of a nuclear exchange. Seth Baum summarizes this research — and argues that actual policy discussions rarely make use of it.

Thanks in part to the Good Food Institute, South America’s largest egg producer just launched a vegan egg substitute in Brazil.

How can we train superintelligent AI to provide useful information on tasks that are too complicated for us to understand? In a podcast produced by the Future of Life Institute, Geoffrey Irving of OpenAI suggests having different AI “agents” debate a question in front of a human judge. His reasoning: even if we can’t answer a question ourselves, we might know a good answer when we see it. 

EA Forum Highlights:
Timeless Classic

Lewis Bollard was the guest for 80,000 Hours’ first podcast on animal advocacy, and his episode is still one of the longest and most comprehensive they’ve ever recorded.

To quote the episode summary: “Listening to this episode is among the fastest ways to get up to speed on how animals are mistreated and the best ways to help them.”

As always, 80,000 Hours’ High-Impact Job Board features a wide range of positions. (They added more than 100 this month alone.)

If you’re interested in policy or global development, you may also want to check Tom Wein’s list of social purpose job boards.

To learn about new jobs as they get posted, check out the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.
Special note: GiveWell is massively expanding their research team. If you're thinking of applying, you may enjoy James Snowden's recent post about his experience working there.

Survey on the psychology of giving
How do people in the EA community differ from other people in their approach to charitable giving? Lucius Caviola, Stefan Schubert, and Jason Nemirow are running a “seven-minute survey” on this question, the findings of which will be published in an academic journal.

Consider taking the survey if you’d like to help the research team understand why most people don’t focus on effectiveness in their giving.

Survey on mental health
Danica Wilbanks, with support from EA Spain, is conducting a survey on mental health in the EA community. Here’s more information on the survey’s goals, and a link to the survey itself.

AISafety 2019
This year’s AISafety workshop will be held in Macau, China. You can learn more about the event here, or submit papers here (by 12 May).

Charity Entrepreneurship incubation program
You can now apply to Charity Entrepreneurship’s incubation program, which helps participants prepare to start an effective nonprofit.

Early applications will be accepted from 2 April to 15 April 2019. Early applicants will be given priority. You can read more about what to expect from the program and about the benefits you'll receive after completing it.

80,000 Hours
80,000 Hours moved its office from California to London, added over 50 new jobs to their job board, released an in-depth interview with three policy and strategy researchers at OpenAI, and revised their advice on how to actually make a career decision.

Animal Charity Evaluators
Animal Charity Evaluators added three new members to their board of directors: Persis Eskander, Eric Herboso, and Allison Smith. They also published a short animated video explaining cause prioritization as it relates to animal advocacy. ACE's report on farmed fish welfare is nearing completion and will be made public within a few weeks.

Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative
BERI received a grant recommended by the Open Philanthropy Project to hire engineers dedicated to BERI's CHAI collaboration. The first of these full-time engineers has already joined, and two others have accepted offers, as has a new research intern. BERI made grants of $600,000 to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and $25,000 to ALLFED.

Center for Human-Compatible AI
CHAI PI Michael Wellman was featured on the #UMichChat panel, which discussed the future promises and risks of AI. CHAI PI Anca Dragan and graduate student Smitha Mili published Literal or Pedagogical Human? Analyzing Human Model Misspecifications in Objective Learning. Steven Wang, Cody Wild, and Nevan Witchers have accepted offers to join us as ML engineers via the CHAI/BERI collaboration.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
CSER Chair Partha Dasgupta will lead the UK Government Economics of Biodiversity Review. Recent publications include the book Extremes, an existential risk Special Issue (editorial), and the papers Perfectionism and the Repugnant Conclusion and Assessing Emitters’ Contributions to Temperature Extremes. Researchers appeared on a Radio 4 programme (video) and wrote about biosecurity and Brexit and dinosaur extinction. Martin Rees gave the Lord Speaker’s Lecture in the House of Lords (PDF).

Forethought Foundation
The Forethought Foundation has announced an Undergraduate Thesis Prize in Global Priorities Research for students who plan to submit a thesis in the 2018/19 academic year. Winners will be awarded £2,000.

Future of Life Institute
FLI continued their campaign to ban lethal autonomous weapons, presenting a statement to the UNCCW and publishing an open letter and editorial for the global health community. They released an AI Alignment podcast, co-hosted the Augmented Intelligence Summit, and ran a campaign highlighting women in the field of existential risk.  

GiveWell announced the decision to grant a total of $10.1 million in discretionary funds received during the fourth quarter of 2018 (including donations from the EA Fund for Global Health and Development) to Malaria Consortium's seasonal malaria chemoprevention program. More details can be found in this blog post.

Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
GCRI welcomes Special Advisor for Government Affairs Jared Brown. He was previously an analyst in emergency management and homeland security policy at the US Congressional Research Service, and is currently working in support of the policy outreach efforts of the broader global catastrophic risk community.

Machine Intelligence Research Institute
MIRI has released an Alignment Research Field Guide with general-purpose advice for people interested in getting started in a new research field, as well as for people interested in starting research groups or meetups.

Open Philanthropy Project
The Open Philanthropy Project announced a grant and an investment in Sherlock Biosciences to develop a universal viral diagnostic and a grant to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research to develop technology that can identify male chicks at scale in ovo, eliminating the need for chick culling.

Rethink Charity
Rethink Priorities, our cause-prioritization research project, recently published a report on fish stocking. RC Forward, our Canadian fundraising project, moved over $4.5m CAD to effective charities in 2018 and will soon be releasing a summary and cost-effectiveness analysis of our service. The Local EA Network (LEAN) has shifted its focus to empirical research and the development of

Wild Animal Initiative
Wild Animal Initiative released its 2019 research agenda. Research will focus on identifying and prioritizing early welfare biology projects, and completing literature reviews and foundational research to lower the costs of subsequent projects.
Go forth and do the most good!

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.

And if you have feedback for us, positive or negative, please let us know.

Aaron, Justis, Max, Michał, Pascal, and Sören
– The Effective Altruism Newsletter Team

The Effective Altruism Newsletter is a joint project between the Centre for Effective Altruism, the Effective Altruism Hub, and Rethink Charity.
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