Just thought I’d post this here to make sure that y’all see it:


It was also posted on Marginal Revolution, a rationalist adjacent economics blog:





Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

I wish Clara had pushed Jason more in this interview about what EA is and what Jason's issues with it are in more specific detail. I think he's kind-of attacking an enemy of his own making (linking @jasoncrawford so he can correct me). For example:

  • He presents a potted version of EA history, which Clara pushes back on/corrects, and Jason never acknowledges that. But to me he was using that timeline as part of the case for 'EA was good but has since gone off track' or 'EA has underlying epistemic problems which lead it to go off track'
  • He seems to connect EA to utilitarianism, but never elaborates on his issue with this. I think he's perhaps upset at naïve utilitarianism, but again many EAs have written against this. When he talks about his scepticism about what the long-term future holds as a separation point to EA is false. Many EAs, including myself and Clara in the interview feel this way, and Jason doesn't respond to it at all!
    • One moral point that does come up is the Drowning Child thought experiment. Clara rejects its implications because of empirical effectiveness (which is odd because I'm sure Singer believes that this is true as well, but the fact that we have identified charities that can save lives makes the analogy hold). I'm much less sure what Jason's disagreement consists on, if it's from a similar empirical angle or a rejection of moral universalism.
  • A bunch of the funding to get progress studies, and in particular Roots of Progress (Jason's org) seems to have come from EA sources. So this is clearly a case of EA doing the 'fund something and see what happens' approach. I guess I don't have a clear sense of where RoP funding does come from and how it evaluates stuff though.
  • In practice, I'm not sure that I'd want to say that Progress Studies is the movement of the people and EA is the movement of elites. I think that they demographically appeal to very similar types of people, so I'm not sure what that point is meant to prove.
  • Even though Jason admits he is oversimplifying, I wish he could have provided more receipts. He often talks about what EAs are like, but I don't know if he has any data apart from vibes and intuition.

My impression is that Jason is rhetorically trying to set EA up as a poor alternative to Progress Studies/Progress movement/whatever so that he can knock it down. (e.g. see this twitter thread of his for an example - of note here he uses Helen Toner as an example of an EA driven to a terrible decision by EA ideology, whereas now it seems to be a case of a playing a high-stakes power-struggle and losing. I wonder if he has made a correction.) This article is Jason presenting his take on what the differences are, and I don't think that it's an unbiased one or one that's devoid of strategic intent.

tl;dr - I don't really recognise the EA Jason is presenting here that much,[1] and I think he's using it deliberately as a foil to increase the stature of the 'Progress Community'

  1. ^

    Maybe it's a Bay vs UK thing, I don't know

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities