Timeline of effective altruism

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The content on this page is forked from the English Wikipedia page entitled "User:Riceissa/Timeline of effective altruism". The original page on the English Wikipedia was deleted. The original content was released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA), so this page inherits this license.

This is a timeline of the effective altruism movement.

Big picture

Numerical and visual data

Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of May 27, 2021.

Year effective altruism effective altruism charity effective altruism utilitarianism effective altruism psychology effective altruism economics
1980 960 348 229 1,260 1,330
1985 1,220 420 338 1,580 1,560
1990 1,770 767 524 2,380 2,840
1995 2,260 1,110 713 3,600 4,050
2000 4,800 2,160 1,300 5,820 7,180
2002 6,170 2,560 1,440 7,260 8,920
2004 6,550 3,010 1,610 7,970 9,400
2006 7,720 3,540 1,770 9,390 12,000
2008 9,140 3,860 2,110 11,600 14,500
2010 11,100 5,330 2,510 13,000 16,700
2012 16,500 6,340 3,170 15,500 20,500
2014 16,700 7,450 4,310 19,600 18,700
2016 17,300 8,090 3,750 20,200 20,100
2017 17,600 8,210 3,940 20,100 20,000
2018 18,200 8,460 3,800 20,900 17,300
2019 18,700 7,740 3,980 21,400 21,200
2020 19,900 8,060 3,790 18,800 21,900
Effective altruism tb.png

Full timeline

Date Event type Event Cause area
1971 Peter Singer writes his essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality". It would be published the following year in Philosophy and Public Affairs. It argues that affluent persons are morally obligated to donate far more resources to humanitarian causes than is considered normal in Western cultures. The essay was inspired by the starvation of Bangladesh Liberation War refugees, and uses their situation as an example, although Singer's argument is general in scope and not limited to the example of Bangladesh. The essay is anthologized widely as an example of Western ethical thinking.[1][2][3][4][5]
1996 The philosopher Peter Unger's book Living High and Letting Die is published. In the book, Unger writes that it is morally praiseworthy and perhaps even morally required for people in academia who could earn substantially greater salaries in the business world to leave academia, earn the greater salaries, and donate most of the extra money to charity.[6]
2000 The Machine Intelligence Research Institute is founded. At the time it is called the "Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence".[7] Artificial intelligence
2002 Formation The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) is founded in 2002. SCI would become a GiveWell top charity.[8] Global health
2003 Publication Philosopher Nick Bostrom's paper "Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development" is published in Utilitas.[9] The argument would become influential in the effective altruism movement.
August 2004 Formation The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) is founded. AMF would become a GiveWell top charity.[10] Global health
2005 Formation Future of Humanity Institute is founded by Nick Bostrom.[11]
2006 Formation The Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative is founded. They would be a major funder of GiveWell from 2008 to 2014.
June 2006 Publication Brian Tomasik's collection of essays on utilitarianism is first posted to his website at utilitarian-essays.com.
December 2006 Community Seth Baum starts a utilitarian community blog Felicifia.com.[12] He had previously had a personal blog under the same name.
2007 Formation GiveWell is founded by two former Bridgewater Associates investment analysts, Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld.[13][14][15] Global health
2007 (late) Controversy GiveWell's founders promote the organization on several internet blogs and forums, including MetaFilter, using astroturfing.[16] Global health
December 24, 2010 Publication Scott Alexander publishes "Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others …" on LessWrong.[17]
2011 Formation The Open Philanthropy Project begins as GiveWell Labs.
February 2011 Formation Giving What We Can soft-launches.[18]
August 2011 The leaders of Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours decide to incorporate as a charity under an umbrella organization.[18]
October 2011 Formation 80,000 Hours is founded.[19]
November 2011 The directors of Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours decide to aggregate views about what to call the effective altruism movement, and to decide on the name by vote. Those who voted include William MacAskill, Toby Ord, and Nick Beckstead, as well as others who were associated with the movement.[18]
November 27, 2011 The r/smartgiving subreddit is created. This is the original subreddit about effective altruism before r/EffectiveAltruism is created (?).[20]
December 5, 2011 Voting takes place regarding what to name the umbrella organization for Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours. The name "Centre for Effective Altruism" wins. The term "effective altruism" was not planned to catch on for the name of the movement (although in the end it did).[18]
2012 Formation Animal Charity Evaluators is founded. Animal welfare
June 2012 GiveWell announces a close partnership with Good Ventures, the philanthropic foundation tasked with giving away Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz's wealth. Good Ventures has been one of GiveWell's main funders since then as well as a major donor to GiveWell-recommended charities.[21]
September 17, 2012 The r/EffectiveAltruism subreddit is created.[22]
November 27, 2012 The first post on Paul Christiano's effective altruism blog, Rational Altruist, is published.[23]
2013 Project Sentience Politics, an "anti-speciesist political think-tank", is founded as a subdivision of the Effective Altruism Foundation.[24]
March 10, 2013 The effective altruism page on the English Wikipedia is created.[25][26]
April 18, 2013 The effective-altruism.com domain name is registered.[27]
May 2013 Publication Nick Beckstead's PhD thesis, "On the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future", is submitted.[28]
May 20, 2013 Peter Singer's TED talk, entitled "The why and how of effective altruism", is published.[29]
June 25, 2013 The Effective Altruism Blog launches around this time. The blog is "an invite-only blog that [has] a handful of posts",[30] and is hosted at www.effective-altruism.com (the location the Effective Altruism Forum would later take).[31][32]
June 30, 2013 to July 6, 2013 Conference The Effective Altruism Summit 2013 takes place.[33]
July 2013 – August 2013 Peter Hurford makes three posts on the community blog LessWrong about existential risk reduction and the far future, and why he is skeptical of such efforts.[34][35][36] Hurford would continue the discussion in the following years.[37][38][39]
November 25, 2013 "The Elitist Philanthropy of So-Called Effective Altruism", written by Charity Navigator president and CEO Ken Berger and Charity Navigator consultant Robert M. Penna, is published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.[40][41] William MacAskill responds in "What Charity Navigator Gets Wrong About Effective Altruism".[42][43]
March 2014 Formation The Future of Life Institute is founded.
March 24, 2014 Vipul Naik posts on the Effective Altruism Facebook group arguing for "the view that people earning modest incomes (say, under $30,000/year) who are interested in effective altruism would be better served by concentrating on using their money to build a savings buffer first, rather than start donating early on in their life." The post results in a large discussion with more than 100 comments.[44] A related discussion about personal runways takes place in November 2015.[45]
May 2, 2014 Survey The 2014 survey of effective altruists is announced. This is the first such annual survey.[46] The survey results would be released in March 2015.[47][48]
June 2014 Raising for Effective Giving launches.[49]
July 2014 – August 2014 The Ice Bucket Challenge goes viral on social media. William MacAskill writes a commentary critical of the challenge.[50][51][52][53]
July 7, 2014 – July 9, 2014 Conference The Good Done Right conference takes place.[54]
July 27, 2014 – August 1, 2014 Conference The Effective Altruism Retreat takes place. The Retreat precedes the Summit, and is intended to "[provide] a more intimate setting for attendees to discuss, to learn, and to form lasting connections with each other and with the community" in contrast to the conference-style Summit.[55]
August 2, 2014 – August 3, 2014 Conference The Effective Altruism Summit 2014 begins on this day, continuing onto the following day. Speakers would include Peter Thiel.[56][55]
August 2014 A large discussion takes place on the Effective Altruism Facebook group about attitudes toward animal rights in the effective altruism movement.[57]
September 10, 2014 The Effective Altruism Forum launches, with the forum software based on that of LessWrong (which was itself based on that of Reddit).[58][59][60][30]
October 3, 2014 EA Profiles and the EA Donation Registry launch on the Effective Altruism Hub.[61][62]
October 22, 2014 Discussion takes place about activism and effective altruism.[63]
2014 Publication Nick Bostrom's book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is published. Artificial intelligence
February 27, 2015 Effective Altruism Ventures launches. EA Ventures provides funding an expertise/guidance to effective altruist projects.[64][65] EA Ventures would post a request for projects in June 2015.[66]
February 25, 2015 A discussion takes place on the Effective Altruism Facebook group about "seeming cool".[67]
March 31, 2015 How To Be Great At Doing Good: Why Results Are What Count and How Smart Charity Can Change the World, a book about effective altruism by Nick Cooney, is published.[68][69]
April 2015 A Coursera course on effective altruism, taught by Peter Singer, is created around this time.[70] The course seems to open in June of the same year.[71]
April 7, 2015 Publication Peter Singer publishes The Most Good You Can Do, a book on effective altruism.[72][73]
April 23, 2015 Publication The Effective Altruism Handbook is published. The handbook collects together essays and blog posts that have been written about effective altruism.[74][75][76]
April 27, 2015 Nick Bostrom's TED talk, entitled "What happens when our computers get smarter than we are?" is released.[77][78]
July 2015 Reanalyses of a Miguel and Kremer 2004 (a randomized trial of deworming) are published, leading to a long discussion on the Effective Altruism Facebook group[79] and a response from GiveWell.[80]
July 7, 2015 – September 21, 2015 80,000 Hours publishes an article entitled "Effective altruists love systemic change" countering the common critique of effective altruism that effective altruism does not work on systemic change.[81] Scott Alexander publishes "Beware Systemic Change" on his blog, Slate Star Codex.[82][83] Slightly earlier: [84]
July 13, 2015 Eliezer Yudkowsky posts on the Effective Altruism Facebook group arguing against the use of flow-through effects. In the discussion thread, Holden Karnofsky of GiveWell responds.[85]
July 28, 2015 Publication William MacAskill's book Doing Good Better is published.[86]
July 31, 2015 – August 2, 2015 Conference Effective Altruism Global 2015 takes place. Effective Altruism Global was previously called the Effective Altruism Summit.[87]
August 5, 2016 – August 7, 2016 Conference EA Global: San Francisco 2016 takes place.[88]
August 2015 Discussion takes place online after EA Global, about how the conference organizers decided to serve meat at the last minute.[89][90][91][92][93][94]
November 27, 2015 80,000 Hours publishes its first (?) about "talent gaps" vs funding gaps.[95][96] In subsequent years this would lead to much discussion among effective altruists.
November 29, 2015 Movement growth Vipul Naik posts on the Effective Altruism Facebook group countering some claims that have been made about the effective altruism movement's growth.[97]
2016 (late, or early 2017) EA Ventures closes down.
October 24, 2016 The blog post "Concerns with Intentional Insights" is published. The blog post raises concerns about astroturfing and other dubious practices used by Intentional Insights, an effective altruism-aligned organization led by Gleb Tsipursky.[98]
June 2017 Project Wild-Animal Suffering Research is split off from Sentience Politics as a separate organization under the Effective Altruism Foundation. Sentience Politics shifts gears to focus exclusively on political campaigns in Switzerland, and gains independence from EAF.[99][100]
July 2, 2017 The Centre for Effective Altruism takes over primary responsibility of the Effective Altruism Forum. Previously, the forum was run by volunteers.[101]
August 11, 2017 – August 13, 2017 EA Global San Francisco 2017 takes place.[102]
2017 (late) The Global Priorities Institute (GPI) launches. GPI does academic research on cause prioritization.[103]
May 2, 2018 The second edition of the Effective Altruism Handbook is released.[104]
June 8, 2018 – June 10, 2018 EA Global: San Francisco 2018 takes place.[105]
October 17, 2018 The open beta of the new Effective Altruism Forum is announced (on the old Effective Altruism Forum).[106]
October 2018 (between 21st and 28th) The Effective Altruism Forum begins redirecting to the new forum, i.e. http://effective-altruism.com/ begins redirecting to https://forum.effectivealtruism.org [107][108]
January 25, 2019 Project Wild-Animal Suffering Research and Utility Farm merge to form the Wild Animal Initiative.[109]
February 26, 2019 The blog post "After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation" is published on the Effective Altruism Forum by a pseudonymous effective altruist. The blog post details the experience of the author applying to 20 positions at effective altruist (and related) organizations and being rejected.[110] The post becomes the most upvoted post in the history of the forum (both by score and by number of votes)[111] and results in a discussion with over 170 comments. The post also causes a number of others to write follow-up posts on the forum about careers.[112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120][121][122][123][124][125][126][127]
June 21, 2019 – June 23, 2019 EA Global: San Francisco 2019 is scheduled to take place.[128]
September 12, 2019 Publication Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, edited by Hilary Greaves and Theron Pummer, is planned for publication.[129]

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by Issa Rice (and probably also some editors on Wikipedia, who wrote the parts Issa quoted from other Wikipedia articles; unfortunately the version on Wikipedia was deleted so it's hard to check where the quotes came from).

Several rows are taken from Timeline of wild animal suffering.

Feedback and comments

Feedback for the timeline can be provided at the following places:

What the timeline is still missing

Also see discussion page.

Timeline update strategy

See also


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