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8 April 2017
Claudia Cohen Hall, Room G17
Philadelphia, PA, USA


This is a completely free event! To ensure that we have enough food for everyone, please get your free tickets here if you are planning on coming. A ticket is required to get lunch!


10:00-10:45Amy LabenzIntroduction to Effective Altruism
10:45-11:30Harish SethuWho We Eat and Why We Should Care
11:30-12:15Allison SmithWhat We Know About Helping Animals Effectively
12:15-1:00Zell KravinskyWhat's In It For Me: Selfish Reasons to Consider Being an Altruist
2:00-2:45Dean KarlanPragmatic Philanthropy: Embracing Heart and Mind
2:45-3:30Ariella ParkWhat Does It Actually Cost? Improving Education Policy Through Rigorous Evaluation and Cost Effectiveness Analyses
3:30-4:15Anuradha GuptaSaving Lives & Protecting People's Health With Vaccines
4:15-5:00Lucas PerryEffective Altruism and Existential Risks


Amy Willey Labenz is General Counsel and Senior Events Manager at the Centre for Effective Altruism. She is responsible for US Operations, managing the Events Team, and producing Effective Altruism Global. Previously, Amy was Chief Operating Officer of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute where she was also Executive Producer of The Singularity Summit. She also served as Of Counsel with Goodman & Hurwitz, P.C., a Detroit law firm that advocates for civil rights and human rights in police and government misconduct cases. Amy earned a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law after graduating summa cum laude from Alma College with a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Service.

Harish Sethu joined Humane League Labs in 2016 and is serving in volunteer capacity as its Director. He obtained his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and his Ph.D. in computer engineering from Lehigh University. Harish began his career working for IBM Corporation helping build the fastest computer in the world at the time, best known for Deep Blue and its winning chess match against Kasparov. Harish has more than 25 years of experience as a researcher and has co-authored more than 70 peer-reviewed technical publications in the research literature. He teaches and conducts research at a large private university in the areas of web security, data science, and social computing. Harish is a member of the board of The Humane League and is the author of the blog Counting Animals.

Allison Smith is the director of research at Animal Charity Evaluators. She has two degrees in mathematics, and her previous professional experience has centered around math education. Allison has been involved in ACE research efforts since May 2013, and joined the ACE team in August 2013.

Zell Kravinsky is an American investor and extreme altruist who is known for making a non-directed kidney donation to a stranger and for donating over $45 million of his personal wealth to charity. He is a former University of Pennsylvania professor and lectured there full-time for several years. He has earned two Ph.Ds from the University of Pennsylvania, one in rhetoric and another in English literature.

Dean Karlan is a Professor of Economics at Yale University and founder of Innovations for Poverty Action. He received his Ph.D in Economics 2002 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and prior to that completed an MBA and MPP from the University of Chicago. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. Dean is also on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the M.I.T. Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of public policies and poverty. Much of his work uses behavioral economics insights and approaches to examine economic and policy issues relevant to developing countries, with particular attention to policies to increase income and financial wellbeing for those in extreme poverty. In the United States, he works on charitable giving, financial services for the under and unbanked, and behavioral health.

Ariella Park is a Senior Policy Associate at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) who supports the Health sector and manages a research initiative that focuses on improving urban services in developing countries. In her capacity as Senior Policy Associate, she writes policy publications, cultivates new research partnerships, and conducts policy outreach for evidence dissemination, managing activities in East Asia. Prior to her time at J-PAL, Ariella worked at several government and private sector organizations in the international development field, including the U.S. State Department and a private consulting firm. She also spent time in Colombia working for a social business incubator. Ariella graduated with distinction from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with an accelerated MS in International Development.

Anuradha Gupta is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Prior to joining Gavi, Anuradha served as Additional Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Mission Director of the National Health Mission where she ran the largest – and possibly most complex – public health programme in the world with an annual budget of US$ 3.5 billion. Anuradha played a leading role in India’s efforts to eradicate polio transmission. She has also led efforts to pioneer free care for over 165 million pregnant mothers and children; to introduce universal child health screening for 270 million children, and to design an innovative health programme for 350 million adolescents. Anuradha has assumed an important role in a number of global health initiatives, including Co-Chairing the Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (PMNCH), serving as a member of the Steering Committee of the “Child Survival Call to Action” at the invitation of Secretary of State Clinton, Co-Chairing the Stakeholder Group for the London Family Planning Summit 2020, and as a member of the Family Planning 2020 Reference Group.

Lucas Perry is a research associate at the Future of Life Institute. Lucas is passionate about the role that science and technology will play in the evolution of all sentient life. He has studied at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal and while there he engaged in meditative retreats and practices. He is now working to challenge and erode our sense of self and our subject-object frame of reference. His current project explores how mereological nihilism and the illusion of self may contribute to forming a radically post-human consequentialist ethics. His other work seeks to resolve the conflicts between bio-conservatism and transhumanism


Introduction to Effective Altruism

Amy Labenz

This talk is an introduction to Effective Altruism, a growing social movement that uses evidence and reason to improve the world as much as possible. Amy Labenz will discuss ways that our minds are biased and miscalibrated, and suggest that if we move forward using evidence and reason, improve how our minds work, and improve the amount and quality of feedback we get, we can do hundreds or thousands of times as much good.

Who We Eat and Why We Should Care

Harish Sethu

This talk will present a brief overview of the scientific evidence that the animals we eat have the capacity to suffer and why reducing their suffering should matter to effective altruists. Then, a series of infographic animations will survey the numbers of all categories of animals we eat — finfish, shellfish, birds and hoofed mammals. The presentation will include a number-centric overview of the lives of two representative animals we eat: salmon among aquatic animals and chickens among land animals. The talk will also cover the current trends in these numbers and their implications to advocacy on behalf of animals used for food.

What We Know About Helping Animals Effectively

Allison Smith

As a society, we've committed few resources to thoughtfully helping non-human animals, and even fewer to understanding what methods really work best. What do we know, and how can we use it to improve our impact? Allison Smith will talk about how and why Animal Charity Evaluators makes the decisions it does, including their focus on farmed animals, their strategies for evaluating interventions and charities, and a little about their current recommendations.

What’s In It For Me: Selfish Reasons to Consider Being an Altruist

Zell Kravinsky

Dr. Kravinsky will talk about what the EA movement has to offer those who don't know much about it–the various forms of satisfaction that (independent of the consequential arguments) the ethical existence offers those who pursue it, and the justification for regarding EA as an ideally ethical lifestyle.

Pragmatic Philanthropy: Embracing Heart and Mind

Dean Karlan

Details to come!

What Does It Actually Cost? Improving Education Policy through Rigorous Evaluation and Cost Effectiveness Analyses

Ariella Park

Donors, policymakers, and implementing organizations are often faced with a wide array of policy options, but limited resources and limited evidence. This presentation will demonstrate the power of rigorous evaluation, coupled with cost data and cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs), in shedding light on what works and what doesn't in poverty reduction. Calculating the cost-effectiveness of a program—for instance, dollars spent per additional day of student attendance at school—can offer insights into which programs are likely to provide the greatest value for money in given situations. After briefly walking through J-PAL's CEA methodology, we'll discuss an example of a simple, cost-effective pedagogical intervention in the education sector that has since been scaled up across contexts.

Saving Lives & Protecting People's Health With Vaccines

Anuradha Gupta

Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools of modern science. Immunisation has allowed the world to eradicate smallpox, to reach the verge of eradicating polio, and to reduce cases of measles, whooping cough and other infectious diseases by nearly 95% since 1980. Over the same period, over 25 new vaccines have been launched which protect against some of the leading killers of children, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, and can even protect against some leading cancers. Vaccines are our best defence against outbreaks of deadly diseases such as yellow fever and Ebola which have high epidemic potential. Immunisation is often the first service to reach communities providing the backbone for the primary healthcare system.

Yet, at the turn of the twentieth century, many people were still not benefitting from the protection afforded by vaccines. Two out of every five children in the developing world were not receiving even the most basic vaccines, and powerful modern vaccines remained out of reach for all but the wealthiest families. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was created in 2000 – just as the world was embracing the Millennium Development Goals – to address this inequity. Bringing together partners from across the immunisation community including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, vaccine industry, civil society and national governments, Gavi has supported countries to introduce hundreds of new vaccines, immunise over 580 million children, and avert more than 8 million deaths. Moreover, it has pioneered a new model of development which has enabled developing countries to scale-up their investment in immunisation, mobilised a significant increase in resources from donors, transformed vaccine markets, and helped strengthen countries’ primary healthcare systems laying a foundation for universal health coverage. The biggest challenge now is to reach the remaining 14% of children who are not being immunised each year, who live in some of the most marginalised and under-served communities in the world. If that can be achieved, the world will be well on its way towards realizing the aspiration of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Effective Altruism and Existential Risks

Lucas Perry

Technology has given life the opportunity to flourish like never before – or to self-destruct. Almost everything that we enjoy about the modern human condition is the product of greater technology and intelligence, yet many of the greatest threats we face are also a result of technology. The worst of these threats are known as 'existential risks.' These are events that could lead to the extinction of the human species or could drastically curtail the potential future of Earth-originating intelligent life. How do threats of this magnitude fit into effective altruism and what can we do about them? Lucas Perry, Project Coordinator for the Future of Life Institute, explores these questions and what FLI is doing to mitigate these risks.