A collection of researchy projects for Aspiring EAs

post by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2019-12-02T11:14:24.310Z · score: 39 (23 votes) · EA · GW · 8 comments

Designed to be useful for EA Israel, this document lists many different types of projects that people can work on outside of their existing career and obligations. Also, this is a list of concrete research projects that I gathered, aimed to be short but useful.

I will keep them updated, and would like to invite anyone to contact me with suggestions for additions and corrections - especially if the research output is directly relevant to your own work and research. Also, if you want to tackle one of the concrete projects there, please let me know.

I see this as a test for two hypotheses:

  1. We can get more people to be better engaged with EA by having a more concrete list of "stuff I can work on right now", in the research aspect of EA work.
  2. We can make significantly better progress on our research goals by using non-expert part-time volunteers with correct methodology.

From conversations I had with many people, hypothesis 2 does not seem that likely (or at least, very difficult to structure appropriately). However, I intend to give it a try. We are starting a research group in Israel to test one specific model and see how it works, with an announcement post under construction.

8 comments

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comment by vaidehi_agarwalla · 2019-12-02T14:46:55.261Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

There is also this list [EA(p) · GW(p)] by Richard Batty which contains a list of different types of research/exploration projects but are not as specific as the ones you link to. This might be useful in generating new ideas.

comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2019-12-02T15:58:09.638Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, I missed that! There are plenty of great resources in the post and the comments, so I'll definitely look into that

comment by vaidehi_agarwalla · 2019-12-02T16:25:20.867Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've also put together a WIP list of projects with more suggestions here.

comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2019-12-04T15:24:53.209Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

That's cool! (I've also missed that you were talking about a specific comment earlier, which is fantastic)

I'd really like to eventually scale these up, to make it trivial for aspiring EAs to find a project while not hard to manage. So I really like these kinds of collections, at least until there will be a good platform to combine it all :)

comment by vaidehi_agarwalla · 2019-12-02T14:32:51.227Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This sounds really cool, and I'm excited to see the results of this. I'd add a third hypothesis:

These projects will help people test for their personal fit regarding their interest in different cause areas, and their skill fit for different things (i.e. research, programming etc).

comment by Lev_Maresca · 2019-12-04T00:35:06.446Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Viadehi, I'm part of the new research group at EA Israel. For me personal fit and building career capital are the main reasons why I want to take part. I don't think that research I do now will save the world, but hopefully it will help me build relevant skills and knowledge and develop a passion for research.

comment by trammell · 2019-12-02T15:43:46.371Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, looks like a useful resource!

For some EA-motivated research project ideas in economics and philosophy, hopefully the GPI Research Agenda also serves as a useful resource.

(Edit: I see that the document links to Effective Thesis's list of research agendas, of which GPI's is one. Sorry for the redundancy.)

comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2019-12-02T18:17:49.311Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks :) I've been thinking a lot specifically on GPI's research agenda, and talking to some of your collaborators there. I'm currently under the impression that it would be very difficult to actually help advance the research agenda outside something equivalent at least to a PhD. Ideally, I'd want to have much more concrete projects that comes out of EA org research agendas that might be small enough and self contained enough for non-experts to work on.

So far, the "what can I do to help" that I gathered that's related to GPI's research agenda (and similar academic institutions), for people without adequate background knowledge are mostly:

  1. explain basic papers and concepts.
  2. conduct a literature review, and collect information relevant to one topic.

Ideally, researchers would collect small problems on the side, or write up stuff you'd want someone else to explain. I'm not sure if that is worth the time of the researcher, both to write up the request and to correct errors or poor explanations.