Your December 2019 EA Newsletter    

December is a busy month for altruistic endeavors. As you'd expect, we have a lot of news to share: ...and of course, much more beyond that. We hope you enjoy the edition!

— The EA Newsletter Team

News and updates from the world of effective altruism

Charity recommendations for giving season

GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators just announced their top charities for 2019. If you want to find a high-impact charity to support this holiday season, and you’re interested in animal welfare or global health and development, we highly recommend exploring their recommendations!

Personal stories from EA donors

This holiday season, several articles have come out showcasing the giving practices of individuals in the EA community:
  • The Guardian profiled Allan Saldanha, who gives away half to three-quarters of his income every year.
  • Vox interviewed Toby Ord, who co-founded Giving What We Can and has donated 28% of all the money he’s ever earned (mostly from academic positions that aren’t especially well-paid).
One more giving story: For the second year in a row, an Atlanta law firm is donating $100,000 with the goal of helping people as much as possible.

Impact-focused career advice

80,000 Hours recently released a series of articles featuring advice from anonymous contributors working in high-impact jobs. Their reasoning:

It seems like a lot of successful people have interesting thoughts that they’d rather not share with their names attached.”

Topics include the common failures and bad habits of talented people, what people tend to overrate in their careers, and what the contributors would do differently if they were 18 years old again.

To get more value from these articles, see 80,000 Hours’ new meta-guide, “Advice on how to read our advice.”

What we don't know about risks to humanity

The study of existential risks — those which could cause human extinction or “permanently curtail the potential of humanity” — involves many high-level uncertainties:
  • When will new risks emerge? 
  • How likely is it that we could recover from a given disaster? 
  • How can we reach a state of “civilizational invulnerability” from future disasters?
In a recent EA Forum post, Siebe Rozendal outlines these and other major uncertainties, introducing important open questions around events that could kill billions of people.

New research on global development

GiveWell and IDinsight surveyed ~2,000 people from poor households in Kenya and Ghana to learn how they prioritize different good outcomes — for example, how much they value saving the life of an adult compared to that of a young child. This research, which examines the preferences of people similar to those helped by GiveWell’s top charities, may inform GiveWell’s future work.

A study of GiveDirectly’s cash transfers in Kenya found that the transfers didn’t just boost consumption among recipients, but also their neighbors — with almost no inflation in the local economy.

The Against Malaria Foundation ran a study of a new type of mosquito net, meant to counter insecticide resistance. After collecting a heroic amount of data (using 12 million nets!), they found that the new version offered better protection against malaria.

In other news: For more stories like these, see this list of EA-related email newsletters.

New this month: You can also check out these EA-related podcasts!

Timeless Classic

Ideas that have shaped the way we think about doing good

EA-aligned donors who support global health tend to focus on issues that either kill many people (e.g. malaria) or reduce sufferers' future earnings (e.g. schistosomiasis). 

But focusing on mortality and lost income could lead us to underestimate the importance of other effects of disease — for example, the agonizing pain that accompanies cancer, HIV, and many other ailments. This pain can often be relieved quite cheaply by opioid medications, but those are frequently unavailable or unaffordable in the developing world.

In a classic EA Forum post, public health consultant Lee Sharkey argues that we should pay more attention to pain relief — and consider working to increase the availability of painkillers in developing countries.


Opportunities to work on some of the world's most pressing problems

80,000 Hours’ High-Impact Job Board features more than 500 high-impact positions.

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

If you want to find out about new positions as they arise (or post a position yourself), check out the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.
Applications due very soon (start here!) GiveWell  Open Philanthropy Project Ought
Highlights from the High-Impact Job Board:
Spotlight: AI policy careers in China and the EU

Niel Bowerman from 80,000 Hours and Brian Tse from Oxford University's Center for the Governance of AI would like to highlight that Tsinghua University's newly-launched Center for International Strategy and Security (CISS) is currently hiring for four positions, which they think are among the most promising vacancies in the field.

They point out that CISS aims to focus on AI, China-U.S. relations, and international security, and that its director Fu Ying, China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to the United Kingdom, has been described by Stanford University's Hoover Institution as “the senior figure in a growing number of U.S.-China interactions.”

On a similar topic, Lauro Langosco (EA Zurich) recently published a guide to AI policy careers in the European Union.


Books, videos, events, community projects, and more!

Apply to EA Global: San Francisco

Applications have opened for EA Global: San Francisco

The conference will be held from 20-22 March. Content will be aimed at existing EA community members who already have a solid understanding of effective altruism, but would like to network, gain skills, master more complex problems, or move into new roles. Tickets are $500, but substantial financial aid is available. Apply by 31 January.

Matching funds available for effective charities

A team of professional poker and fantasy sports players are sponsoring a $1.5 million dollar-for-dollar funding match to a dozen high-impact charities, in cause areas ranging from global poverty to mental illness and criminal justice. While it’s possible that unmatched funding will still go to some of these charities, you can direct more support to your favorite options by donating. (Full disclosure: one of the available charities is CEA, which helps produce this newsletter.)

An additional dollar-for-dollar match, from an anonymous donor, is available for donors to the Effective Animal Advocacy Fund, operated by Animal Charity Evaluators (match available through 31 December).

Get a classic book on effective giving — for free

The tenth-anniversary edition of Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save is available for free on the website of the book’s namesake organization. In addition to the eBook edition, you can download an audiobook edition with celebrity narrators like Kristen Bell, Stephen Fry, and Paul Simon.

Want to start a new charity? 

If you, or someone you know, wants to start a charity focused on a potentially high-impact cause area, consider the Charity Entrepreneurship (CE) Incubation Program, which will run from 29 June to 28 August. 

CE provides thoroughly researched ideas for new charities, two months of intensive training in London (all costs, including flights, covered), and up to $100,000 of seed grants per co-founding team. Last year, their program kick-started five new charities, and Fortify Health, one of their previously founded NGOs, just received a $1,000,000 GiveWell Incubation Grant.

Apply by 15 January if you'd like to improve your chances of being accepted to the program. You can also read CE's post on how to submit a strong application.
Organizational Updates

You can see updates from a wide range of EA-aligned organizations on the EA Forum. (Organizations submit updates, which CEA edits for clarity.)
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!

Aaron, Heidi, 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.
Click here to access the full EA Newsletter archive
A community project of the Centre for Effective Altruism, a registered charity in England and Wales (Charity Number 1149828) – Centre for Effective Altruism, Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street, Oxford
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