Economic Design for Effective Altruism
A growing movement of ‘effective altruists’ are trying to find the best ways of helping others as much as possible. The fields of mechanism design and social choice theory have the potential to provide tools allowing this community to make better decisions. In this article, we consider several avenues for such research. First, we discuss the problem of deciding who donates to what charity, and find that there are possible efficiency gains from donor coordination. We explore mechanisms for achieving more efficient donation allocations, and draw an analogy to participatory budgeting. Second, we discuss the problem of moral uncertainty, and propose open problems about the aggregation of moral theories. Finally, we consider the potential for economic design to open up opportunities for moral trade.
This piece benefited from comments by Gabriel Carroll, Jean-Francois Laslier, Marcus Pivato, Ariel Procaccia, and Bill Zwicker.
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