Peter Wildeford

Co-CEO @ Rethink Priorities
17781 karmaJoined Aug 2014Working (6-15 years)Glenview, IL, USA
www.twitter.com/peterwildeford

Bio

Along with my co-founder, Marcus A. Davis, I run Rethink Priorities. I'm also a Grant Manager for the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund and a top forecaster on Metaculus. Previously, I was a professional data scientist.

How others can help me

My goal is to scalably employ many well-qualified researchers to work on the world's most important problems.

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Deeply saddened to hear this. We worked together on Rethink Charity. This loss is incredibly painful.

This could be a long slog but I think it could be valuable to identify the top ~100 OS libraries and identify their level of resourcing to avoid future attacks like the XZ attack. In general, I think work on hardening systems is an underrated aspect of defending against future highly capable autonomous AI agents.

Are the things in the bullets the things you believe or the things you disagree with?

Thanks for your comment and questions!

RP is still involved in work on AI and existential risk. This work now takes place internally at RP on our Worldview Investigations Team and externally via our special projects program.

Across the special projects program in particular we are supporting over 50 total staff working on various AI-related projects! RP is still very involved with these groups, from fundraising to comms to strategic support and I personally dedicate almost all of my time to AI-related initiatives.

As part of this strategy, our team members who were formerly working in our "Existential Security Team" and our "AI Governance and Strategy" department are doing their work under a new banner that is better positioned to have the impact that RP wants to support.

We don't grant RP unrestricted funds to special projects, so if you want to donate to them you would have to restrict your donation to them. RP unrestricted funds could be used to support our Worldview Investigation Team. Feel free to reach out to me or to Henri Thunberg henri@rethinkpriorities.org if you want to learn more.

Oh ok, thanks! Sorry for my confusion.

I’m confused - elsewhere you identify yourself as the author of this post but here you are commenting as if you have independently reviewed it?

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To be clear, I don't think people have turned against earning to give as a concept, as in they think it's no longer good or something.

But I do think people have turned against "donating $5K a year to GiveWell[1] is sufficient to feel like I'm an EA in good standing, that I'm impactful, and that I can feel good about myself and what I'm doing for the world" as a concept. And this seems pretty sad to me.

Moreover, there's been a lot of pressure over the past five more recent years of EA to push people onto concrete "direct good" career paths, especially at the (elite) university level, and this is likely a good thing, but I think the next step is that people feel like failures if they don't succeed along this path, when that wouldn't be the emotions I would recommend.


  1. Feel free to substitute in Animal Charity Evaluators, non-profits working on existential risk, Rethink Priorities, etc. as "GiveWell" specifically is not the important part of my point. ↩︎

The TV show Loot, in Season 2 Episode 1, introduces a SBF-type character named Noah Hope DeVore, who is a billionaire wonderkid who invents "analytic altruism", which uses an algorithm to determine "the most statistically optimal ways" of saving lives and naturally comes up with malaria nets. However, Noah is later arrested by the FBI for wire fraud and various other financial offenses.

It's been lost a bit in all the noise, but I think people should still be very excited and satisfied about "earning to give" and donating.

Anyone who can donate $5000 via GiveWell can save a life.

Possibly you can do even better than that per dollar if you're okay accepting some premises around nonhuman animal welfare / sentience or risks from emerging technologies.

I think this is all very cool.

Moreover, while a $5000 donation is a big commitment, it is also achievable by a rather wide array of people. Many people are wealthy enough to do this donation, but do not do it, or donate far less effectively. You could have the same philanthropic power as a multi-millionaire philanthropist by allocating better.

If you earn a median income of ~$40K USD/yr[1] and spend $32,400[2], that gives you $7600 left over to donate each year, which could potentially save three lives every two years.


  1. As a single American. ↩︎

  2. Spend $6K/yr on taxes. Then spend $1K/mo on rent and $100/mo on utilities which is doable in most metropolitan areas in a small apartment or if you have roommates. Then maybe spend $300/mo on groceries and $300/mo on other things. Then save 15% of your income ($6K/yr), which is pretty standard financial advice. ↩︎

Bold move launching this apparently quite serious new process on April Fools Day.

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