THINK, The High Impact Network, is going live this week.
We're a network of Effective Altruists (EAs), looking to do the most good for the most people1 as efficiently as possible. We aren't bound by a central cause or ethical framework, but rather by a process, and a commitment to rigor and rationality as we try to make the world a better place.
THINK meetups are forming around the world. Some are functioning as student groups at prominent universities, others are general meetups for people of all ages who want to make effective altruism a part of their life. As I write this, 20 meetups are getting ready to launch in the fall, and discussions are underway for an additional 30. If you'd like to connect with other EA-types, see if a meetup's forming in your area, or run your own meetup, send us an e-mail here, or visit our website.
We're putting together a collection of meetup modules, which newly formed groups can use for content at weekly meetups. These fall into roughly two categories:
- Introductory materials, designed to teach the basics of Effective Altruism to newcomers.
- Self Improvement tools, helping newcomers and veterans to become strong enough to tackle the difficult problems ahead.
But most importantly - we want bright, enthusiastic people who care deeply about the world to collaborate with each other on high impact projects.
Optimal Philanthropy. Effective Altruism.
Less Wrong veterans will recognize the basics of Optimal Philanthropy, although we consider avenues beyond traditional charity. (The phrase "effective altruism" was settled on after much deliberation). For those unfamiliar, a brief overview.
Over the past decade, important changes have begun to take root in the philanthropy/altruist sector:
- Organizations like Givewell, as well as a growing number of foundations like the Gates Foundation, are shifting the discussion of giving towards efficiency and evidence.
- Groups like Giving What We Can and Bolder Giving are encouraging people to incorporate philanthropy into their lifestyle. You can donate 10% or more of your income and still be among the richest people on the planet, living a satisfying life.
- The organization 80,000 Hours is promoting high impact career choice. You'll spent thousands of hours at your job. You can accomplish dramatically more good for the world if you optimize for it.
Above all, serious discussion is slowly mounting towards an incredibly important question - if you want to have the biggest impact you possibly can, what do you do?
Donating to provably efficient charities is an obvious first step, but more is possible. Systemic changes can have a powerful impact. New technologies have the potential to radically improve lives - as well as the capacity to destroy life as we know it. The Singularity Institute, the Future of Humanity Institute, Givewell and others are all in the process of grappling with this problem. I think it's fair to say that the Less Wrong community has had a noteworthy impact on the discussion.
A New Kind of Community
Among the most valuable things the Less Wrong community has taught is the importance of... well, community. For Effective Altruism to be successful as a movement and a lifestyle, it needs people working together who share a passion for it, a commitment to intellectual rigor, and a sense of humor. People who can help each other grow, collaborate on important projects, and more.
THINK. The High Impact Network. Ready to launch this fall.
1 Where by "help 'people'" we mean "and animals too." Depending on your ethical framework. Probably not including clams. Quite possibly including future sentient beings of various sorts. It's complicated. Come to a meetup, we'll talk about it.