Timeline of effective altruism

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This is a timeline of the effective altruism movement.

TODO list

  • TODO incorporate from here
  • TODO do all GiveWell top charities
  • TODO more links from effective altruism
  • TODO more links from Bostrom's page
  • TODO felicifia see e.g. [1]. It looks like there were several versions of the site: felicifia.org, felicifia.com, and a blogger blog
  • Good Done Right conference: [2], [3], [4]
  • around March--June 2018: talk about operations bottlenecks in EA orgs

Big picture

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 In the 1996 book Living High and Letting Die, the philosopher Peter Unger wrote that it was 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
August 2004 Formation The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) is founded. AMF would become a GiveWell top charity.[9] Global health
2005 Formation Future of Humanity Institute is founded by Nick Bostrom.[10]
2007 Formation GiveWell is founded by two former Bridgewater Associates investment analysts, Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld.[11][12][13] Global health
2007 (late) Controversy In late 2007, GiveWell's founders promoted the organization on several internet blogs and forums, including MetaFilter, using astroturfing.[14] Global health
December 24, 2010 Publication Scott Alexander publishes "Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others …" on LessWrong.[15]
2011 Formation The Open Philanthropy Project begins as GiveWell Labs.
October 2011 Formation 80,000 Hours is founded.[16]
2011 (late) According to William MacAskill, the name "effective altruism" was settled upon in late 2011 when the "Centre for Effective Altruism" (CEA) was chosen as the name for an umbrella organisation that would cover both Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours.[17] This was a largely internal name, but those who had followed a similar approach increasingly converged upon the name.[17]
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.[18]
June 30, 2013 to July 6, 2013 Conference The Effective Altruism Summit 2013 takes place.[19]
March 2014 Formation The Future of Life Institute is founded.
August 2, 2014 Conference The Effective Altruism Summit 2014 begins on this day, continuing onto the following day. Speakers would include Peter Thiel.[20]
2014 Publication Nick Bostrom's book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is published. Artificial intelligence
2015 Conference Effective Altruism Global 2015 takes place.
2015 Publication Peter Singer publishes The Most Good You Can Do, a book on effective altruism.[21]
August 2016 Conference Effective Altruism Global 2016 takes place.
2016 (late, or early 2017) EA Ventures closes down.

See also


  1. Cottingham, John (1996). Western philosophy: an anthology. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 461ff. ISBN 978-0-631-18627-4. 
  2. Shafer-Landau, Russ (2007). Ethical theory: an anthology. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 523ff. ISBN 978-1-4051-3320-3. 
  3. Pojman, Louis P. (2003). Moral philosophy: a reader. Hackett. pp. 344ff. ISBN 978-0-87220-661-8. 
  4. Wellman, Carl (2002). Rights and Duties: Welfare rights and duties of charity. Taylor & Francis. pp. 227ff. ISBN 978-0-415-93987-4. 
  5. Chadwick, Ruth F.; Doris Schroeder (2002). Applied ethics: critical concepts in philosophy. Politics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 272ff. ISBN 978-0-415-20837-6. 
  6. Unger, Peter (1996). Living High and Letting Die. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198026811. 
  7. "Transparency and Financials". Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  8. "About us" on SCI website
  9. "History". Against Malaria Foundation. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  10. Khatchadourian, Raffi (23 November 2015). "The Doomsday Invention". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. XCI (37): 64–79. ISSN 0028-792X. 
  11. "About". GiveWell. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  12. Patricia Illingworth, Thomas Pogge, Leif Wenar. Giving Well: The Ethics of Philanthropy, Oxford University Press US, 2011. Pg. 124
  13. Peter Singer. The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty, Random House, 2009. Ch. 6, Pg. 81-104
  14. Stephanie Strom (8 January 2008). "Founder of a Nonprofit Is Punished by Its Board for Engaging in an Internet Ruse". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  15. Alexander, Scott (December 24, 2010). "Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...". LessWrong. Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  16. "Our Mission and History". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 MacAskill, William (March 11, 2014). "The history of the term 'effective altruism'". The Effective Altruism Forum. Retrieved April 11, 2015. 
  18. Holden (2012-06-28). "GiveWell and Good Ventures". 
  19. "Effective Altruism Summit 2013 - June 30 to July 6, San Francisco". Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  20. "Effective Altruism Summit 2014 - August 2-3, San Francisco". Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  21. Kristof, Nicholas (April 4, 2015). "The Trader Who Donates Half His Pay". New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.