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TL;DR: We’re sharing this short collection of active projects that we’re aware of, that focus on community reform and reflections on recent events.

We don’t know much about the projects and are probably missing some projects (please let us know in the comments!), but we’ve found it hard to keep up with what is and is not happening, and noticed that we wished that a list like this existed.

We’re posting this in our personal capacity. Any mistakes are our own. We did ask colleagues at CEA for input and feedback; thank you to LizkaChana (CEA), and Robert (not CEA) in particular!

A lot has happened in the EA community over the past half year. In light of all the developments, people have discussed all kinds of changes EA could make.

As community members, we’ve been finding it quite hard to follow what work is being done to reflect on the various ways in which we could reform. That's why we tried to put together a (incomplete!) list of (mostly ‘official’) projects that are being done to reflect on all sorts of questions that came up over the past six months.

Some Caveats

  • The topics listed below are not in any way a complete overview of the things that could or should be discussed - we don’t think we’re covering all the things community members are thinking about, and aren’t trying to!
  • A topic isn’t “covered” or “taken” if there’s already a project that’s focused on it. Many of these projects are trying to cover a lot of ground, and the people working on them would probably appreciate other groups trying to do something on the topic, too. 
  • We chose to include mostly reflection projects that are being done in an official capacity, or by more than one person. That means we’re not including a lot of interesting Forum posts or news articles that have been written about possible problems and reforms! See the section 'Assorted written criticisms and reflections' below for some examples.
  • This list is almost certainly incomplete. For instance, some projects we've heard about aren't public, and we think it's likely that there are other projects we haven't heard about. We encourage people to share what they’re working on in the comments!
  • We’re not really sharing our views on how excited we are about the projects.

The projects we’re aware of

  • The EA survey (run by Rethink Priorities in collaboration with CEA) was updated and re-sent to people to ask about FTX community response — you can see the results here
  • Community health concerns
    • Investigations into the CEA Community Health Team’s processes and past actions:
      • There’s an external investigation into how the CEA Community Health Team responded to concerns about Owen Cotton-Barratt (source)
      • An internal review of the CEA Community Health Team’s processes is also ongoing (same source as above)
      • Members of the Community Health team shared they hope that both investigations will be concluded sometime in the next month. They noted that the team does not have control over the timeline of the external investigation
    • The CEA Community Health Team is (separately) conducting “a project to get a better understanding of the experiences of women and gender minorities in the EA community” (source)
  • Governance in EA institutions
    • Julia Wise and Ozzie Gooen are setting up a taskforce that will recommend potential governance reforms for various EA organizations. They are currently looking to get in touch with people with relevant expertise - see here
      • Note that they write: “This project doesn’t aim to be a retrospective on what happened with FTX, and won’t address all problems in EA, but we hope to make progress on some of them.”
  • EA leadership & accountability
    • An investigation by the law firm Mintz, commissioned by EVF UK and EVF US, “to examine the organizations’ relationship to FTX, Alameda Research, Sam Bankman-Fried, and related individuals” is ongoing (source)
      • We think it's important to flag that the outcomes of this investigation might focus on more legal or judicial implications, rather than on whether things went according to the ethical standard EAs want to hold each other to

Again, please note this is probably not an exhaustive list of the projects being done on these topics, nor is it some kind of definitive list of all topics that the community should reflect on. 

Assorted written criticisms and reflections

Thank you to Lizka for suggesting content here!

Thoughts

We hope that this post is useful for those who, like us, are trying to get a better overview of what reflection projects have been and are being done. We’re glad that people are reflecting on things that happened in the past months and are trying to have conversations about it, but we also think there’s still a lot for us to do. 

For instance, we’re not aware of official and public projects looking at various (broad) questions, like:

  • What are the experiences of various minorities (other than gender) in EA?
  • Should we keep boosting the EA brand, or emphasize cause-specific work more?
  • Should EA be a community, professional network, and/or social movement?

While we don’t think that the majority of EA energy should go into reflection projects, we’re interested in more projects happening if people are up for running them, and we’re interested in making sure that the projects that are happening, happen well.

We hope this post provides a useful overview, and sparks a good discussion on what work is being done on the topics above, what gaps might need to be filled, and what additional important topics the community should reflect on more. Please let us know if there’s anything you think we should add to the overview!

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:09 AM

I think I’ve said it elsewhere, but it might make sense to get a group of smart, young EA’s with diverse views and ask them to think through how they’d design EA if they could design it from the ground up. Then again, maybe this is only the kind of thing that can only be success if it happens organically.

Thanks for collecting this! Minor comment: your link for Owen Cotton-Barratt is wrong, I think.

Thank you, edited!

I would not call it a project but I am working very slowly (due to limited bandwidth) at trying to better understand what the EA community thinks about recent diversity issues. I focus especially on what white males think. The purpose is to better inform any future D&I initiatives.

I'm confused as to why CEA is doing a "governance reform" project when it is probably badly in need of some governance reform itself, and in any case it does not control the supply of funds to the EA community. OpenPhil does, and is more or less the sole funder (RIP FTX, sadly). If OpenPhil wants to see change it has all the tools it needs to make it happen.