Posted: March 12, 2020
Since we announced that EA Global: San Francisco will not be going ahead as planned (see earlier post below), the EA Global team has been exploring a range of alternative options to connect our attendees, wherever they are in the world.
We’re excited to tell you about our plans:
A virtual conference on March 21-22 including virtual one-on-one meetings and a selection of video content, presented by a live host. Read more.
Increased capacity at EA Global: London (October 30 - November 1) to bring the worldwide EA community together in one place.
Holding the next ‘in-person’ EA Global: San Francisco in 2021
We encourage you to set aside time on March 21-22 to participate in our first virtual EA Global conference! To accommodate participants in different time zones, we are planning to stream video content between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm PDT on both days.
(Note that due to the US recently changing to daylight savings time, time zone differences may be different than for most of the year. Please check your local time.)
In addition, the Grip networking app now includes a ‘virtual meeting room’ for one-on-meetings throughout the weekend so registered attendees can still benefit from the new connections and conversations that make EA Global so valuable.
We’ll be sharing more details about the content, and how to access it, over the coming days.
EA Global: London
Everyone who was planning to attend EA Global: San Francisco is warmly invited to join us at EA Global: London from 30 October - 1 November.
All tickets purchased for EA Global: San Francisco will be fully refunded, and a new registration page has been set up for the London conference. There’s no need to reapply. If you want to attend, please contact us for more details.
Given the developing situation with the coronavirus outbreak, we can’t guarantee that the London event will definitely go ahead as planned. We hope we won’t have to cancel, but we recommend that you explore refundable options when booking your travel and accommodation.
We’ll be in touch with more details about the virtual conference very soon. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: March 4, 2020
Based on our best understanding of the risks from COVID-19, and after seeking the advice of experts in public health, we have sadly decided not to hold EA Global: San Francisco this month. We will update you as soon as possible about whether the event will be postponed to later in the year, or whether it will be canceled.
What this means for you
We are working to make a decision as soon as possible about canceling or rescheduling. We understand that this information is important to many people’s plans.
We recognize that canceling or postponing the event means a serious cost to presenters and attendees in terms of changing plans, flights purchased, and accommodation purchased. We realize that some people who had planned to attend will not be able to make any rescheduled date.
If we cancel, or if you are unable to attend any rescheduled event or prefer not to attend the rescheduled event, we will refund your EA Global admission ticket.
We know this will cause financial hardship to some attendees for whom the cost of travel arrangements is a significant one. Because many people around the world are already affected by canceled events and travel restrictions, airlines and hotels may have different policies than usual. We recommend that you check with any airline or hotel you have booked with about whether a refund or date change is possible.
- March 13 update - The United States has banned travel from 26 European countries which may affect your chances of getting a refund (read more)
Other ways to connect
We know there’s no substitute for meeting in person, but we will try to find other ways for people to connect at the time when the conference would have been held (for example, by using the conference app to help people schedule virtual meetings.)
We’re collecting ideas in this form about how we can help attendees connect with each other despite the change in plans. We would welcome your input.
More about the decision
This was a difficult decision to make given the high level of uncertainty even among experts about how the situation might develop. We wanted to carefully weigh the benefit to the community of holding the conference as planned against the risks to the health and safety of attendees and the worldwide effort to slow the disease.
We assembled a board of advisors to help us with this decision, considering both the public health aspects and the impact on the community. This combination of advisors was selected to give input both on the technical side of public health and the impact on the EA community that changing the event would have, and to include viewpoints from inside and outside the EA community. Today, they unanimously recommended that we not go forward with a March date for the conference. Based on this recommendation, our events team and executive director made the decision not to proceed with the March date.
The advisors were:
- Cassidy Nelson, MD, Research Scholar and Biosecurity Research Affiliate at the Future of Humanity Institute
- Claire Zabel, Program Officer at Open Philanthropy Project
- Howie Lempel, Strategy Advisor at 80,000 Hours
- Jaime Yassif, PhD, Senior Fellow, Global Biological Policy and Programs at Nuclear Threat Initiative
- Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA, Senior Scholar and Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Over 30% of our attendees planned to travel from outside the US for this conference. As COVID-19 continues to appear in new countries and areas, bringing people from all over the world to one location and then dispersing them again poses a risk to attendees. It also hinders the public health effort to slow the spread of the disease.
Additionally, it was recently confirmed that at least one person has had COVID-19 in the Berkeley, California area (where many of our attendees live or work) since February 23.
If we had decided to continue with the event this month, we expect its value would have been reduced. Some speakers and attendees had already told us they were not coming, and we expect that more would have done so in the coming weeks. We expect that the usual dynamic of connection and collaboration would have been hindered by attendees’ worries about becoming ill, conversations dominated by discussion of the coronavirus, and caution leading people to limit interpersonal contact (e.g. not standing close together or gathering for group discussions).
Another factor we considered is the possibility that if an outbreak happens in San Francisco during the time of the conference, particularly if there’s an outbreak at the venue or at hotels where attendees are staying, attendees could be quarantined and prevented from returning home.
We care deeply about this conference and the effect the postponement or cancellation will have on everyone who was planning to attend. We also care deeply about the health and safety of individuals in the community, and the larger picture of how our actions affect public health. We’re very sorry that we need to do this, and we hope to see many of you at the rescheduled event or future events.
We will send out another update as soon as we have a firmer sense of whether we will reschedule or cancel.
With best wishes,
Amy and the EA Global Team