Currently Research Director at Founders Pledge, but posts and comments represent my own opinions, not FP’s, unless otherwise noted.
I worked previously as a data scientist and as a journalist.
I'm also strongly interested in this research topic — note that although the problem is worst in the U.S., the availability and affordability of fentanyl (which appears to be driving OD deaths) suggests that this could easily spread to LMICs in the medium-term, suggesting that preventive measures such as vaccines could even be cost-effective by traditional metrics.
Easily reconciled — most of our money moved is via advising our members. These grants are in large part not public, and members also grant to many organizations that they choose irrespective of our recommendations. We provide the infrastructure to enable this.
The Funds are a relatively recent development, and indeed some of the grants listed on the current Fund pages were actually advised by the fund managers, not granted directly from money contributed to the Fund (this is noted on the website if it's the case for each grant). Ideally, we'd be able to grow the Funds a lot more so that we can do much more active grantmaking, and at the same time continue to advise members on effective giving.
My team (11 people at the moment) does generalist research across worldviews — animal welfare, longtermism/GCRs, and global health and development. We also have a climate vertical, as you note, which I characterize in more detail in this previous forum comment.EDIT:Realized I didn't address your final question. I think we are a mix, basically — we are enabling successful entrepreneurs to give, period (in fact, we are committing them to do so via a legally binding pledge), and we are trying to influence as much of their giving as possible toward the most effective possible things. It is probably more accurate to represent FP as having a research arm, simply given staff proportions, but equally accurate to describe our recommendations as being "research-driven."
We (Founders Pledge) do have a significant presence in SF, and are actively trying to grow much faster in the U.S. in 2024.
A couple weakly held takes here, based on my experience:
I think your arguments do suggest good reasons why nuclear risk might be prioritized lower; since we operate on the most effective margin, as you note, it is also possible at the same time for there to be significant funding margins in nuclear that are highly effective in expectation.
My point is precisely that you should not assume any view. My position is that the uncertainties here are significant enough to warrant some attention to nuclear war as a potential extinction risk, rather than to simply bat away these concerns on first principles and questionable empirics.
Where extinction risk is concerned, it is potentially very costly to conclude on little evidence that something is not an extinction risk. We do need to prioritize, so I would not for instance propose treating bad zoning laws as an X-risk simply because we can't demonstrate conclusively that they won't lead to extinction. Luckily there are very few things that could kill very large numbers of people, and nuclear war is one of them.
I don't think my argument says anything about how nuclear risk should be prioritized relative to other X-risks, I think the arguments for deprioritizing it relative to others are strong and reasonable people can disagree; YMMV.
If you leave 1,000 - 10,000 humans alive, the longterm future is probably fine
This is a very common claim that I think needs to be defended somewhat more robustly instead of simply assumed. If we have one strength as a community, is in not simply assuming things.
My read is that the evidence here is quite limited, the outside view suggests that losing 99.9999% of a species / having a very small population is a significant extinction risk, and that the uncertainty around the long-term viability of collapse scenarios is enough reason to want to avoid near-extinction events.
Has there been any formal probabilistic risk assessment on AI X-risk? e.g. fault tree analysis or event tree analysis — anything of that sort?
I disagree with the valence of the comment, but think it reflects legitimate concerns.
I am not worried that "HLI's institutional agenda corrupts its ability to conduct fair-minded and even-handed assessment." I agree that there are some ways that HLI's pro-SWB-measurement stance can bleed into overly optimistic analytic choices, but we are not simply taking analyses by our research partners on faith and I hope no one else is either. Indeed, the very reason HLI's mistakes are obvious is that they have been transparent and responsive to criticism.
We disagree with HLI about SM's rating — we use HLI's work as a starting point and arrive at an undiscounted rating of 5-6x; subjective discounts place it between 1-2x, which squares with GiveWell's analysis. But our analysis was facilitated significantly by HLI's work, which remains useful despite its flaws.
I guess I would very slightly adjust my sense of HLI, but I wouldn't really think of this as an "error." I don't significantly adjust my view of GiveWell when they delist a charity based on new information.
I think if the RCT downgrades StrongMinds' work by a big factor, that won't really introduce new information about HLI's methodology/expertise. If you think there are methodological weaknesses that would cause them to overstate StrongMinds' impact, those weaknesses should be visible now, irrespective of the RCT results.
I can also vouch for HLI. Per John Salter's comment, I may also have been a little sus early (sorry Michael) on but HLI's work has been extremely valuable for our own methodology improvements at Founders Pledge. The whole team is great, and I will second John's comment to the effect that Joel's expertise is really rare and that HLI seems to be the right home for it.