Dominik Peters: current view, Good Food Institute

This is part of a series of posts where each research fellow describes their reasons for favouring a certain recipient of our final donation, as described further in the full post on Version 0.

Name: Dominik Peters
Date: 2017-02-15

My current best guess is that we should donate to intervention/organisation:
Good Food Institute

My cost-effectiveness estimate for the intervention/organisation is:
Main qualitative reasons for liking GFI:

  • If GFI accelerates the market introduction of attractive plant-based and cultured meats, then this will likely significantly reduce the number of non-human animals suffering in factory farms, which is currently at ~20billion animals and is rising quickly.
  • If people stop eating animal products, this might make it easier to spread anti-speciesism through society, which might make it likely that we care about suffering in non-human minds, and thereby induce us to reduce such suffering in the far future.

Michael Dickens’ model suggests that GFI produces ~9000 QALYs/$1000 in direct effects, while AMF produces ~2.

What would change my mind:

  • MIRI’s 2016 fundraiser wasn’t very successful. If MIRI is so budget-constrained now that they would have trouble paying their current team or have very little additional liquidity, that makes MIRI more attractive.
  • If there is good reason to think that AMF produces robust, strong population growth, then AMF may be attractive for total utilitarian reasons, and because of wild animal suffering concerns.

  • If there is good reason to think that economic growth is good, I might prefer mental health / women empowerment / global health.

  • ACE’s recommendation of GFI over New Harvest doesn’t seem all too principled. If New Harvest has more trouble raising funds in 2017 than they did in 2016 (because of GFI’s popularity), it might make more sense to give to New Harvest instead.

  • There is some historical precedent of vegetarian societies (Japan, India) giving up vegetarianism very easily – concern for animal might not be a very sticky meme. However, these examples don’t involve a society that properly cares for animals (rather the reasons are religious or authoritarian). If there was historical precedent suggesting more clearly that anti-speciesism is easily given up by people, this would make me less excited about GFI.

  • If there are technical reasons to think that cultured chicken meat is more difficult to produce than cultured cow meat, that would make me less excited about cultured meat.

  • If GFI has plans to become more public-facing (outreach etc) rather than connecting funding opportunities etc, then I would be concerned about their environmentalist framing (because of wild-animal concerns). I might then prefer, say, New Harvest.

My current best guess for a runner-up is:
Against Malaria Foundation, Machine Intelligence Research Institute