PAW9: Innovation prizes to spur breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies for farmed animal welfare
resolved Jul 27

As part of Charity Entrepreneurship's 2023 Top Ideas contest, will we select "Innovation prizes to spur breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies for farmed animal welfare" as a top Preventive Animal Welfare intervention?

Idea overview

This charity idea revolves around offering innovation prizes to encourage breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies aimed at improving farmed animal welfare. By incentivizing the development of high-welfare farming technologies, such as egg-sexing, or more humane slaughter equipment, the charity would seek to address critical gaps in the industry and promote more compassionate farming practices.

Preventive animal welfare

This year our focus is on interventions and policies that prevent future harms done to animals, as opposed to solving current problems. We will be looking for interventions that, as well as having some short run evidence of impact, will prevent future problems, i.e., have the biggest impact on farmed animals in the future, say 35 years from now.

We intend to select 2-4 ideas out of the 10 presented to recommend to entrepreneurs who enter our incubation program. This market resolves YES if this idea is chosen; NO otherwise.

About the contest

In partnership with Charity Entrepreneurship, Manifold is sponsoring a $2000 forecasting tournament to inform which ideas end up selected

  • You can win part of a $1000 prize pool as a forecaster, for best predicting which interventions we choose.

  • You can win one of ten $100 prizes for posting an informative comment on Manifold that most influences our decision.

For contest details and all markets, see the group CE 2023 Top Ideas.

Get Ṁ600 play money

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predicted YES

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predicted NO

Drama alert: A new organization wanting to support farmed animal technology (but not with prizes necessarily) got announced on the EA Forum but now the post is inaccessible:

It seems possible that this intervention will make people more comfortable with consuming animals, diminishing the effects of the organization. Also, it would be difficult to measure which innovations are truly new. Finally, the prizes seem unlikely to motivate people unless they are particularly large, which brings up funding concerns.

predicted YES

@EvanLaForge my hunch is that, among similar countries, people don't eat more animals when their welfare standards are better — though the causality must be hard to unpick here. I haven't looked into this deeply, but when I query Elicit:

Do people eat more animals when welfare standards are better?

Summary of top 4 papers

The papers suggest that there is a relationship between animal welfare standards and people's consumption of animal products. Morris 2013 found that in high-income countries with greater income equality, consumption of animal products declined and regulations protecting animals were stricter. Tsakiridou 2010 found that consumers are willing to pay more for animal products produced in compliance with animal welfare standards. Martelli 2009 found that consumers are concerned about animal welfare and are willing to pay more for animal-friendly products. Dwyer 2020 suggests that improving animal welfare can contribute to sustainability and productivity in livestock production. However, the papers do not provide a clear answer to the research question of whether people eat more animals when welfare standards are better.

Thinking mechanistically: one factor is that many people would feel more comfortable eating animals that have lived in better conditions, but the cost of animal produce also has a big impact. I think if you create the ability to impose more stringent animal welfare policies, it tends to make animal produce more expensive, which would presumably reduce the quantity of animal produce consumed.

It'll be very very difficult for this charity to get off the ground. This is because:
1. It'll be very difficult to get an early win
2. The amount of money a prize would need to be would be very very large. It can't just be a 5 figure or 6-figure prize. The cost of the research involved would be on that scale and it has a chance of not working. Thus, off the top of my head, you will need to offer prizes in the mid 6 figure to 7 figure region which is very difficult for a preliminary CE charity to raise, especially since that prize may not get filled.

I think founding an organization that does this research would be more promising than offering prizes. At least then you can have discrete wins to build on.

Prizes only reward successful attempts, which has pros and cons. Maybe prizes can be broken into multiple stages to reduce risk on both sides. Otherwise prizes might need to be larger

predicted YES

GPT-4 ranked this as #6

@CE you forgot to subsidize this market

predicted NO

@RobertCousineau Fixed now, thanks!

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