Effective altruism

Created: 2015-01-02
Status: notes



Effective altruism (EA) is “a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to determining the most effective ways to improve the world”. My favorite essays on the movement are: “On Caring”, “Effective Altruism is a Question (not an ideology)”, and “Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others…”; if you are new to effective altruism I recommend that you start with these.

Below, I describe my personal involvement with EA.

Personal involvement

I’ve been involved with the effective altruism community for a while now. I first heard about EA through LessWrong (I think it was a post about GiveWell). I remember reading Holden Karnofsky’s critique of the Singularity Insitute (now MIRI) right when it came out (May 2012), and I remember it reaching the status of “most upvoted LW post ever”. Although I was intellectually in agreement with effective altruism, I didn’t actually do anything about it, thinking that working hard in school would be a form of altruism (i.e. that in the long term, working hard in school and having more opportunities would allow me to best contribute to the world).

In January 2014, I contacted Cognito Mentoring for the first time. Although I myself didn’t seem to ask directly about EA (looking back at our correspondence), a friend contacted them regarding effective career choice, and this roused my interested in effective altruism as well.

In July 2014, I attended a Seattle Effective Altruists meetup1; although I didn’t contribute much to the discussion, my interest in EA increased.

Ever since, I’ve done my best to attend most Seattle EA meetups. I’ve also gotten more involved in online discussions of EA.

More recently, I’ve been trying to start an effective altruism group at the University of Washington. As of January 2015, the group has had one meetup in November 2014.

I have a collection of Effective altruism links that might interest people.

  1. Part of this was due to my interest, but part of it too was that I was working on a research project at the University of Washington over the summer, and the July meetup was conveniently situated next to campus—so the activation energy had been considerably lowered. The topic of the meetup was also “Donating vs. Working directly for impact”, which was a topic of particular interest to me going into college.

Tags: effective altruism.

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