Decentralized AI + science

Notes on Effective Altruism


Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that encourages people to dedicate their time and money to the most effective causes in the world.

There are many ways to get involved with effective altruism. The easiest way to start is by reading about effective altruism and attending local events.

For people new to effective altruism, worth checking out the following reads:

Online course to learn the core ideas of Effective Altruism



The values that unite effective altruism are.

  1. Prioritization: We should try to use numbers to weigh how much different actions help in order to find the best ways to help, rather than just working to make any difference at all.
  2. Impartial altruism: We should aim to give everyone’s interests equal weight, no matter where or when they live, when trying to do as much good as possible
  3. Open truthseeking: We should be constantly open and curious for new evidence and arguments, and be ready to change our views quite radically, rather than starting with a commitment to a certain cause, community or approach.
  4. Collaborative spirit: It’s more effective to work together than alone, and to do so we must uphold standards of honesty and friendliness. Effective altruism is about being a good citizen and working towards a better world, not achieving a goal at any cost.

Effective altruism is about finding the best ways to help others, and these values guide that search.    

Philosophical underpinnings of Effective Altruism


Longtermism is the view that we should be doing much more to protect future generations. This is because our actions may predictably influence how well this long-term future goes. Longtermism encourages consideration of the long-term future and potential impacts of present actions on future generations.

Longtermism is a family of views that share a recognition of the importance of safeguarding and improving humanity’s long-term prospects. Researchers, advocates, entrepreneurs, and policymakers who are guided by the longtermism perspective are beginning to think seriously about what it implies and how to put it into practice. read more about longtermism



Is a moral philosophy that asserts the ethical value of an action is determined solely by its outcome or consequences. In other words, the ends justify the means. If the consequences of an action result in a positive outcome, then the action is considered morally right. Conversely, if the action leads to a negative outcome, it’s considered morally wrong. The best action, according to consequentialism, is the one that produces the most good or least harm for the greatest number of people.


While EA’s primary focus is on consequences, a deontological perspective adds an emphasis on duties and principles that must be adhered to, even if they may not maximize overall well-being.

Virtue Ethics

EA can also align with virtue ethics, which stress the cultivation of moral character and virtues such as compassion, justice, and empathy, which can motivate and sustain altruistic actions.

Rights-Based Ethics

Even as EA focuses on maximizing well-being, it can also incorporate rights-based ethical considerations, respecting individual rights and autonomy in the pursuit of altruistic actions.


EA’s consequentialist approach can be complemented by egalitarianism, focusing on equality, fairness, and distributive justice. This perspective emphasizes the importance of reducing systemic disparities and promoting equal opportunity.

Care Ethics

EA can be informed by care ethics, emphasizing the moral significance of personal relationships, empathy, and care for others. This perspective can serve to highlight the emotional aspects of ethical decision-making and ensure a balance between broad, impartial concern and specific, personal duties.


This is a principle often used in EA thinking, suggesting that efforts should focus on causes and issues that are neglected but have high potential for impact. This approach aims to find areas where altruistic efforts can have the most significant marginal impact.


Sufficientarianism posits that everyone should have enough - a level of well-being considered “sufficient.” Within EA, this could guide efforts towards ensuring a minimum standard of well-being for all.


Ethical pluralism acknowledges that there are many different valid moral perspectives and that no single moral theory can capture all moral truths. This can encourage a more flexible and inclusive approach within EA, integrating insights from diverse moral philosophies.


Prioritarianism is the moral philosophy that prioritizes the well-being of those who are worse off. In terms of effective altruism, this means focusing resources and efforts on helping those who are most disadvantaged. This concept is often used in discussions about resource allocation and justice, and can be a significant guiding principle in EA actions.



Utilitarianism can be destructive as it is based on the faulty premise of reductionism. It is attractive because it seems simple, but it often leads to terrible outcomes because it doesn’t take into account the fact that different people have different preferences. A better approach would be to focus on what is good for the majority of people, or at least what is good for the most vulnerable and disenfranchised people.

I believe that it is better to have a diversity of values to optimize for instead of overly focusing on maximising single measures, such as Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). World view diversification seems one valuable approach effective altruism offers in this direction, ideally we take multiple preferences into account and enable pluralism of values.

What is the alternative to utilitarianism? by Alexey Guzey  



How can you take action?

“There are many ways to take action, but some of the most common ways people try to apply effective altruism in their lives are by:  

See a longer list of ways to take action for more ideas.


Our top 3 lessons on how not to waste your career on things that don’t change the world


-> Your career is your biggest opportunity to make a difference. But how can you make the most of it? We’ve spent the last ten years searching for the answer to that question.  

As an intro to existential risks, I put together

Nanotech x-risks

“Two-sentence summary: Advanced nanotechnology might arrive in the next couple of decades (my wild guess: there’s a 1-2% chance in the absence of transformative AI) and could have very positive or very negative implications for existential risk. There has been relatively little high-quality thinking on how to make the arrival of advanced nanotechnology go well, and I think there should be more work in this area (very tentatively, I suggest we want 2-3 people spending at least 50% of their time on this by 3 years from now).”





To support a range of smaller initiatives in different cause areas such as existential risk reduction or effective altruism broadly, I can recommend the donation funds run by the effective altruism foundation with analysts evaluating the most impactful efforts to donate to, or their partner funds such as the climate fund.

A great and easy to use platform to donate is Can recommend joining an EA conference and your local community to share and discuss ideas.

My case for donating to small, new efforts

I think the average donor has very little impact when they donate to big, established efforts in traditional philanthropy, such as Greenpeace or efforts such as Against malaria in effective altruism. I think the biggest impact comes from the equivalent of angel investing, but for funding novel philanthropic initiatives that could potentially be extremely impactful in relevant cause areas, but are underexplored and underfunded.

On reflection for myself, donating in the first few months of the project’s existence to projects such as Ocean Cleanup, NewScience or Taimaka was probably much more impactful than donating to big, established efforts. I would also recommend novel, potentially impactful initiatives to other donors and foundations for funding. Once a billionaire or big foundation is funding a project, it probably doesn’t require your donations anymore.

In the book Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues (Engaging Philosophy), Mark Budolfson and Dean Spears make this case elogquently in their paper “The Hidden Zero Problem: Effective Altruism and Barriers to Marginal Impact”. I highly recommend reading the book.

I do think that efforts such as the EA funds or ACX Grants are a decent passive way to have a similar impact, as they support these small, novel projects.


Some ea improvement suggestions:


Donation habit, patient philanthropy, impact angel investing and dimishing returns

My philosophy is to develop a regular habit of donating, and being broad in considering many different cause areas and efforts (and thus values), while focusing on growing my wealth to have the biggest long-term impact with my own projects, angel impact investing and long-term donations following patient philantrophy, although I believe that there are diminishing impact returns: the first $1-10k for a new effort goes further than $1m to a big established one that is on the radar of big donors, so I try to support early, small, unrpoven projects or individuals as much as possible.


A list of organization I find worth supporting:

Meta: Evaluation, Effective Altruism Movement

Long-Term: X-Risk, Ai Risk, Nuclear Etc.

Global Health And Development

Science, Tools



Great Videos

Existential Risk: Managing Extreme Technological Risk


Holden Karnofsky - Transformative AI & Most Important Century


Prospecting for gold | Owen Cotton-Barratt | EAGxOxford 2016


Great Videos About Specific Initiatives

The Nuclear Threat Initiative


Clean Air Task Force


- List of organizations i supported(with a range of small amounts)


Appendix: Valuable critiques and improvement suggestions

Notes on EA by Michael Nielsen

Questioning EA’s Moral Utilitarianism:

Issues with EA’s Homogeneity and Approach:

Nielsen acknowledges the meaningfulness and attraction of EA as a life philosophy but points out its limitations and the need for a more balanced approach to living a fulfilling life while contributing to the greater good. He calls for a more nuanced understanding of what constitutes ‘doing good’ and how it fits into a broader life philosophy.

Threads or articles


Effective altruism in the garden of ends


Tensions between moral anti-realism and effective altruism


Effective Altruism: A Taxonomy of Objections

Effective Altruism: A Taxonomy of Objections

“I’ll go through each branch of this taxonomy in detail in future posts. For now, I’ll give a general overview, starting with the justice branch:

Justice Objections: The welfarist/consequentialist philosophy favoured by EAs renders the movement blind to important, justice-related values (i.e. values that affect how the benefits of charitable interventions get distributed and how they intersect with other moral concerns). There are three more specific forms of this objection:

This brings us to the methodological branch. This may be the one I find most interesting:

Methodological Objections: The tools EAs use to assess and evaluate charities end up biasing them in unfavourable directions. Three of these biases are apparent in the work of EAs:

And then, finally, we have the efficiency branch, which is also pretty interesting to me as I find myself intuitively at odds with some of the advice given by EAs but unable to fully articulate my intuitive concerns:

Efficiency Objections: The advice given by prominent EA organisations is less robust and less efficient than they suppose. This is important because the EA movement has taken on the social responsibility of providing such advice to its adherents. Again, this objection comes in three main forms:

What comes after EA?