Hauke Hillebrandt

Is EA Neglecting Structural Change?

Hauke Hillebrandt is a research associate at the Center for Global Development. His focus is on global cooperation and the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks countries by their policies in aid effectiveness, trade, finance, migration, environment, security, and technology transfer. He also works on global catastrophic risks.

Previously, he was Director of Research for the Giving What We Can project and Philanthropic Advisor at the Centre for Effective Altruism in Oxford. There he has advised foundations, a large group of small donors and several ultra high net worth individuals on how to donate more effectively. He also led a team to prepare reports with policy recommendations to Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

Hauke holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London, was fellow at Harvard University and has published peer reviewed papers and commentaries that have been cited more than 100 times.

Is EA Neglecting Structural Change?

Yes, actually.

In previous, effective altruism has frequently been criticized for neglecting systemic change. Few of these criticisms have had practical implications in terms of suggesting a different charity or career path (for a good recent review of EA criticism see ‘Effective Altruism and Collective Obligation’ by Dietz). Recently, more mainstream economists (e.g. Prichett on Econtalk (link) or paper here) have argued that investing more into microeconomics global health and poverty interventions might not at all be amongst the most cost-effective ways to foster global development – rather people should donate to foster market and growth oriented policies, which have lifted billions of people out of extreme poverty. I argue that effective altruism should promote funding research and advocacy organisations in this space and cite concrete organisations. I argue that effective altruism might want to consider discontinuation of promoting risk averse, not maximally effective direct micro global poverty interventions. Analogously, in the animal welfare space, there has historically been an emphasis on vegan advocacy and cage free egg campaigns - I argue that these are both not very effective and lobbying for increased spending on clean meat R&D should be prioritized. In terms of risks from emerging technologies, such as AI and biotech, there is also too much emphasis on object-level research as opposed to getting generalized, cross cutting disaster risk reduction policy on the agenda. There will be a short presentation at the beginning followed by a roundtable discussion.