EVENTS

Content for Discussion Groups

Updated 16th March 2020

This page contains suggested reading and questions for many EA related topics.

Contents

Introduction to EA

Reading Group Guide - Doing Good Better

This post includes a sample discussion guide for reading William McAskill’s book “Doing Good Better”.

Doing Good Better Reading Group Guide [Source: EA Estonia]

Packing the Toolbox

This is used as week 1 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

An Immense Opportunity to Do Good

This is used as week 2 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

Global Health and Poverty

Global Poverty: Global Reach

This worksheet introduces a group to the issues in global poverty by asking a series of discussion questions designed to get people thinking about global versus local responsibilities and our sensitivity to what we see versus what’s happening far away. A good warm-up discussion prior to tackling specific interventions.

Worksheet [Source: Centre for Effective Altruism]

Global Extreme Poverty Reduction

This worksheet introduces Effective Altruism and the realities of extreme poverty. It introduces four charities designed to address extreme poverty, and focuses in on one to demonstrate the massive difference in effectiveness that can be overlooked without rigorous analysis of the intervention and its results.

Worksheet and links [Source: LEAN]

Universal Basic Income

This worksheet introduces the concept of UBI and asks participants to consider pros, cons, potential efficacy at reducing poverty (in a rich nation), and in general what an EA take on UBI should be.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Global Development (Comprehensive)

This is used as week 4 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

Animals

Animal Welfare - Who Matters?

This rich and challenging worksheet contains questions and exercises designed to get a group thinking about how we value animals versus non-human animals, and what moral weight we assign to different animals and why.

Worksheet and materials [Source: EA South Bay]

Wild Animal Suffering

This worksheet asks participants to consider the inclusion of wild animal suffering in one’s circle of moral responsibility and action. Discussion centres around scope, neglectedness, priority and tractability.

Worksheet and materials [Source: EAF]

Ethical Eating

This worksheet has participants jump in with some big questions around the ethical implications of eating meat. A series of questions asks the group to consider moral and empirical uncertainties, along with practical considerations and strategies.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Animal vs. Human Suffering, Experiments in Advocacy (Comprehensive)

This is used as week 5 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

The Future of Meat? - Introductory

This discussion group was held at a burger joint offering Beyond Burgers.

Prewatching - two videos by plant-based and clean meat advocates. These two presenters are believe that we can soon move away from animal agriculture, so if you have critiques of these talks be prepared to share your thoughts at the meetup. Market Forces and Food Technology will save the world: Bruce Friedrich 2018, 18 minutes The End of Animal Farming: Jacy Reese 2018, 13 minutes .

Worksheet, with some background statistics and links.

Things to note: If some of your group eat meat, and some think it is morally obligatory to be a vegan or vegetarian there might be some tension! It is best to move the conversation away from the morality of individual consumption habits, towards how we might be able to shift society away from animal agriculture. [Source: EA Christchurch]

AI Safety

AI Safety - Introductory

Suited for groups familiar with AI safety on a surface level only. Includes a ten-minute video followed by group discussion questions. Focus is on current use of AI versus possibilities in the future, appreciation of scope, potential impacts and risks.

Worksheet and materials [Source: EA South Bay]

AI Safety - Intermediate

Suited for groups already familiar with AI safety issues. Discussion questions to focus on tractability of risk reduction solutions in the case of misaligned AI, as well as personal suitability and competitive advantage in having a positive impact.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

AI Timelines

This worksheet asks participants to brainstorm and discuss possible risks, preparations and actions we could take in the face of HLMI (high-level machine intelligence), presuming three different timeline scenarios - whether the technology could be available as soon as this generation, next, or by the end of the century.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Catastrophic Risks in General

Global Catastrophic Risk Primer

This worksheet offers a series of statements pertaining to Catastrophic Risk, and asks participants to answer the likelihood of each statement being true. Additional discussion questions address x-risk priority, charity options and efficacy. It can familiarize a group with the scope, questions and uncertainties pertaining to the topic.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

**The Importance of the Far Future **

This worksheet begins with the question ‘Why do EAs care about the far future?’ which frames the altruistic considerations of the future and existential risk to entire populations. Discussion questions centre around moral responsibility to those not yet born, potential future risks and solutions, and reflecting on the current impact of past actions and ideas.

Worksheet [Source: EAF]

X-Risk/Far Future: Deep Dive

This is used as week 6 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

Careers

Careers: Dream Job (Intro Level)

This worksheet gets a group involved in brainstorming the answer to the question ‘What’s a dream job?’. Perceived criteria are contrasted with research on job satisfaction, which frames the discussion going forward, and what a dream job might actually be.

Worksheet [Source: LEAN]

Careers: Explore and Share

This worksheet leads a group through steps to explore, build and stay flexible in the course of finding a career that makes a positive impact. Participants have the chance to individually complete a questionnaire designed to get them thinking in that framework, then share and discuss with the wider group.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Careers: 80K Deep Dive

This is used as week 3 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

Meta

Metaethics

This worksheet guides a group through a set of philosophical definitions and discussion questions pertaining to where our ideas about right or wrong come from, what we really mean when we make a claim of right or wrong, and encourages participants to share their reactions to moral realism versus anti-realism.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Moral Uncertainty

This worksheet asks participants to confront their level of certainty on positions of morality. Can we definitively know what is right or wrong? Is uncertainty, where it exists, solvable? If it isn’t, how should we act? Participants will get a chance to engage with these questions on a variety of moral issues.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Morality and its Limits

This worksheet asks participants to grapple with the question “How do we determine what we’re obliged to do, morally?” by reviewing Peter Singer’s argument and the objections to it. Discussion questions address our personal moral responsibilities, balance of resources, and the line between what’s reasonable and what’s too demanding.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Moral Catastrophes

This worksheet asks the group the review an article about the possibility of an ongoing moral catastrophe. Participants will then grapple with the implicit assumptions made in the paper and possible pathways for solution and prevention.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Cognitive Biases

This discussion group activity includes cognitive biases cue cards, where small groups will choose from a stack and share the definition of many of our unconscious errors in thinking, and have the chance to discuss real-world examples of that bias in themselves and others, along with potential solutions for correction.

Worksheet and materials [Source: EA South Bay]

Cause Prioritisation

This worksheet introduces the concept of cause prioritisation by asking participants to think about whether one cause could be more worthy than another, brainstorming ways prioritisation might happen, and the value of the project of prioritization itself.

Worksheet [Source: Centre for Effective Altruism]

Optimal Decision Making

This worksheet presents a scenario of problematic decision-making, and leads participants step by step through a framework to aid when the possible solutions are confined in an overly-narrow frame of view. Small groups of participants will experiment with problem reframing and open brainstorming of solutions to a given challenge.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Value Drift

This worksheet explains the concept of value drift, where our ability to stay on track with ethical or other commitments wanes over time, and asks participants to discuss the likelihood, causes, and potential solutions to address value drift in themselves.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

Lifestyle, Money, Time

This worksheet prompts a group to consider their current and future choices concerning spending, use of time, living arrangements, earning potential and predicted happiness. All considered together, a picture of money and time spent well versus wasted can emerge.

Worksheet [Source: EA South Bay]

EA in Action: Organizations Deep Dive

This is used as week 7 of Harvard’s Arete Fellowship. There is much more reading required than for a usual discussion group so you may wish to choose only one to three of these, or spread out the content over several discussion group sessions.

Worksheet [Source: Harvard Arete Fellowship]

More Discussion Group Resources

The following resources are at least four years old so may need updating before using:


If you have suggestions on how to improve this page, please comment or suggest edits on this google doc.


This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.