What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community?
post by Benjamin_Todd
Other career organisations
Edit: I've discussed this post with a couple of people, and I realised my views on what the main gaps actually are were unclear. I've added a comment below with more detail.
There are many career services that would be useful to the effective altruism community, and unfortunately 80,000 Hours is not able to provide them all.
In this post, I aim to sum up what we intend to provide and what we can’t, to make it easier for other groups to fill these gaps.
80,000 Hours’ online content is also serving as one of the most common ways that people get introduced to the effective altruism community, but we’re not the ideal introduction for many types of people, which I also list in the section on online articles.
You can see our full plans in our annual review .
Our aim is to do the most we can to fill the key skill gaps in the world’s most pressing problems. We think that is the best way we can help to improve the lives of others over the long term.
We think that the best way to do this is – given our small team – to initially specialise on a single target audience, and gradually expand the audience over time.
Given this, most of our effort (say 50%+) is on advice and support for English-speaking people age 20-35 who might be able to enter one of our current priority paths (say a 5%+ chance of success).
We also aim to put ~30% of our effort into other ways of addressing our priority problems (AI, biorisk, global priorities research, building EA, nuclear security, improving institutional decision-making, extreme climate risks) or potential priority problems , some of which we might class as priority paths in the future. 20% of our effort goes into a wider range of roles and problem areas.
(Edit: note that this allocation is in line with the views of EA Forum members [EA · GW] and other proxies for 'core' EA community members.)
We think a wider range of people could consider our priority paths than is often assumed. For instance, some people have worried that this is aimed at too narrow an audience, say, people who attended one of the best 20 universities in the world. But one of our top paths is ‘AI policy’; we take this to include some junior roles in government and politics, and many people take these roles who haven’t attended a top 20 university. Another priority path is working at EA organisations, and the latest EA survey found that about half of the staff at those organisations did not attend a top 20 university.
We also aim to be useful to a broader range of readers than those who might pursue a priority path – as I’ll explain later – and we think much of our content is indeed relevant to them.
Still, this audience is clearly much narrower than everyone we’d like to get involved in effective altruism, and everyone already within effective altruism who could benefit from help with their career.
We also intend to expand the scope of this audience over time as our team grows (especially by extending the age range we focus on), though this will proceed gradually over a matter of years.
This means we need other groups to focus on other audiences. Some of the bigger gaps include:
- People interested in problem areas pursued by those focused on near-term impacts, such as global health and factory farming; we don’t include career paths in these areas within our priority paths.
- People who would prefer materials written in a language that’s not English, and those who want career advice specific to non-English speaking countries, especially outside the US and UK.
- People older than 35, and especially over 40.
- People younger than 20, and especially under 18.
- People who are looking for advice on where to donate, or want to do part-time advocacy, but don't want to significantly change their careers.
- People who could make an impactful career change but not within our priority paths or nearby options.
Right now this problem is acute because according to the most recent EA survey (as yet unpublished) 80,000 Hours has become the biggest way people find out about and get involved in effective altruism, but it’s not the ideal introduction for everyone.
Each of our programmes is a little different in what it covers, so here is a breakdown by programme:
- Our main focus here is on the key ideas page and the main articles it links to (e.g. problem profiles, priority path write ups).
- We aim this content at the core target audience above, but because we write about many big picture considerations, much of what we write is relevant more broadly.
- We can distinguish the following types of content that we intend to create:
- Big picture considerations relevant to everyone (e.g. career capital; decision making; longtermism)
- Content about our priority problem areas, priority paths, potential priority paths or niche paths, and relevant career capital options.
- Some (but less) content aimed more broadly than the above (e.g. we feature the ‘5 categories of high-impact career’, which includes earning to give).
- We don’t intend to create new detailed articles about animal welfare or global health. You can see our old articles on these subjects here and here .
- The key ideas page is not the ideal introduction to effective altruism for everyone, so we’d like to see people develop alternative introductions focused on different target audiences.
- We intend to put most of our effort into interviews relevant to our priority problem areas and potential priority areas.
- However, we expect around ~20% of episodes to cover a wider range of problem areas of interest to the effective altruism community, e.g. we’ve had 7 interviews about international development, and 5 on animal welfare and factory farming.
- Many of our interviews are also exploratory or of general interest (e.g. Bryan Caplan on the value of education, or David Chalmers on philosophy of mind).
The job board
- We have one person whose main focus is the job board. Last year we reviewed 20,000 job listings and posted 1,000 of the most promising. In 2020, we intend to publish a similar number (1-3K). Currently we put most of our effort into sourcing opportunities within our priority problem areas.
- However, we also put about 20% of time into other problems. We list a significant number of jobs within global health and ending factory farming.
- We hope to start listing more roles in biosecurity and climate change this year.
- We have limited ability to cover jobs in non-English speaking countries (though we do cover some in China as part of our China specialist priority path), so we’d encourage effective altruism groups in those countries to start their own lists.
- We are keen to link to other job boards that may be of interest to our audience.
- We expect to advise around 200-300 people over 2020 (compared to about 200 in 2019). We hope to expand this over the coming years, but it’s unlikely we’ll grow our advising capacity by more than 50% per year.
- Because advising is costly (on average 3-4 hours per person from start to finish with our current process), almost all of these people will be in our core target audience i.e. people who have a 5%+ chance of being able to succeed within a priority or nearby path.
- There seems to be more demand for advising than this within the community. As some indication, we currently are only able to speak to about 20% of those who apply, and in addition we’re able to give very little coverage to those interested in paths outside of our priority paths.
- We’re currently considering both broader and narrower versions of advising (where we might speak to more people but spend less time per person, or vice versa); though whichever direction we go in, there are likely to be gaps in this area for some time.
- We have two people working on headhunting, and this is not enough to cover the most promising roles within our priority problem areas, so we don’t intend to expand beyond those areas for some time (despite hopefully adding another headhunter within about a year).
- This means there’s a gap to provide headhunting within other problem areas.
Other career organisations
We’re happy to see people start other career-related organisations that fill the gaps we're leaving, and to some extent this is already happening.
For instance, both an advising programme mainly aimed at undergraduates and an animal advocacy focused careers organisation [EA · GW] were recently launched.
If you’d like to start something related to careers in effective altruism, let us know and we can let you know what else is going on in the area. Drop an email to email@example.com.
We may not be able to provide much help, and unfortunately it’s often hard to judge whether we’ll be willing to link to something until after we’ve seen it. That said, we may be able to link to you and send people your way.
Hopefully this post clarifies what we don't expect to do, and the gaps it would be great to see others work to cover.
Edit: I've discussed this post with a couple of people, and I realised my views on what the main gaps actually are were unclear. I've added a comment below with more detail [EA(p) · GW(p)].
Comments sorted by top scores.
comment by weeatquince ·
2020-04-21T08:44:46.200Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
In many ways this post leaves me feeling disappointed that 80,000 Hours has turned out the way it did and is so focused on long-term future career paths.
Over the last 5 years I have spent a fair amount of time in conversation with staff at CEA and with other community builders about creating communities and events that are cause-impartial.
This approach is needed for making a community that is welcoming to and supportive of people with different backgrounds, interests and priorities; for making a cohesive community where people with varying cause areas feel they can work together; and where each individual is open-minded and willing to switch causes based on new evidence about what has the most impact.
I feel a lot of local community builders and CEA have put a lot of effort into this aspect of community building.
Meanwhile it seems that 80000 Hours has taken a different tack. They have been more willing, as part of trying to do the most good, to focus on the causes that the staff at 80000 Hours think are most valuable.
Don’t get me wrong I love 80000 Hours, I am super impressed by their content glad to see them doing well. And I think there is a good case to be made for the cause-focused approach they have taken.
However, in my time as a community builder (admittedly a few years ago now) I saw the downsides of this. I saw:
- People drifting from EA. Eg: someone telling me, they were no longer engaging with the EA community because they felt that it was now all long-term future focused and point to 80000 Hours as the evidence.
- People feeling that they needed to pretend to be long-termism focused to get support from the EA community . Eg: someone telling me they wanted career coaching “read between the lines and pretended to be super interested in AI”.
- Personally feeling uncomfortable because it seemed to me that my 80000 Hours career coach had a hidden agenda to push me to work on AI rather than anything else (including paths that progressed by career yet kept my options more open to different causes).
- Concerns that the EA community is doing a bait-and-switch tactic of “come to us for resources on how to do good. Actually, the answer is this thing and we knew all along and were just pretending to be open to your thing.”
“80,000 Hours’ online content is also serving as one of the most common ways that people get introduced to the effective altruism community”
So, Ben, my advice to you would firstly to be to be super proud of what you have achieved. But also to be aware of the challenges that 80000 Hours’ approach makes for building a welcoming and cohesive community. I am really glad that 20% of content on the podcast and the job board goes into broader areas than your priority paths and would encourage you to find ways that 80000 Hours can put more effort into these areas, do some more online content on these areas and to think carefully about how to avoid the risks of damaging the EA brand or the EA community.
And best of luck with the future.Replies from: Benjamin_Todd, Michelle_Hutchinson
↑ comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-04-23T15:32:13.513Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Thank you for the kind words and the feedback.
I agree that 80k should pay more attention to our impact on community culture. We listed this as a mistake in our 2019 annual review.
As to whether we should promote & work on a broader range of causes, this is certainly a difficult tradeoff. Going broader makes the community more inclusive and so potentially larger, but at the cost of more of our effort going on areas that we think have far lower expected impact.
There are also several other issues that makes it challenging to promote a broader range of issues. One is that we think it’s important to honestly communicate our views on cause selection, and this necessarily means saying that we prioritize certain issues more. I can imagine a version of 80k that doesn’t rank causes, but this would involve losing one of the most informative parts of our advice.
When writing about areas we see as lower priorities, I think it would be a major communications challenge to balance being transparent about our views against the risk of (repeatedly) demoralizing a group of our users.
I feel sympathetic towards people who experienced a "bait and switch” when entering EA. This was one reason we decided to be much more up front about our views on the key ideas page, so that no-one would experience a bait and switch if they enter the community via 80k.
Unfortunately, I worry that promoting areas that our staff doesn't believe are top priorities is the kind of thing that creates the bait and switch dynamic in the first place, since our audience will (reasonably) make assumptions about our values based on our actions.
A final issue is that it’s already challenging for us to provide up-to-date advising/articles/job listings within our priority areas (e.g. we only have about 14 staff over 6 priority areas, which is 2.3 per area), and I think being focused is really important for organisations to be successful.
The solution I’d prefer is that global poverty career advice is provided by people who prioritize global poverty, animal welfare career advice is provided by people who prioritize animal welfare, and so on. If this happened, then the services provided would naturally reflect the community. Likewise, it would be great if there could be alternative introductions to EA aimed at different audiences.
Replies from: MichaelStJules, weeatquince, Peter_Hurford
↑ comment by MichaelStJules ·
2020-04-27T23:06:53.028Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Have you guys considered rebranding like the Effective Altruism Foundation has to the Center on Long-term Risk or just updating the organization's description to better reflect your priorities and key ideas?
I look at 80,000 Hours' front page, and I see
You have 80,000 hours in your career.
How can you best use them to help solve the world’s most pressing problems?
We’re a nonprofit that does research to answer this question. We provide free advice and support to help you have a greater impact with your career.
But this doesn't mention anything about longtermism, which seems to be one of the major commitments of 80,000 Hours, one which people coming to 80,000 Hours will often disagree with, and probably the one most responsible for the "bait-and-switch" perception. Possibly also population ethics, although I'm not sure how committed 80,000 Hours is to particular views or to ruling out certain views, or how important this is to 80,000 Hours' recommendations, anyway. It seemed to have a big impact on the problem quiz (which I really like, by the way!).
I'd imagine rebranding has significant costs, and of course 80,000 Hours still provides significant value to non-longtermist causes and to the EA community as a whole, so I expect it not to make sense. Even updating the description to refer to longtermism might turn away people who could otherwise benefit from 80,000 Hours.
EDIT: Looks like this was mentioned by NunoSempere [EA(p) · GW(p)].
↑ comment by weeatquince ·
2020-04-26T12:17:02.445Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Hi Ben, Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Super great to see a greater focus on community culture in your plans for 2020. You are always 2 steps ahead :-) Replies from: Benjamin_Todd
That said I disagree with most of what you wrote.
Most of your reply talks about communications hurdles. I don’t think these pose the barrier you think they pose. In face the opposite, I think the current approach makes communications and mistrust issues worse.
You talk about the challenge of being open about your prioritisation and also open to giving advice across causes, risks of appearing to bait and switch, transparency Vs demoralising. All of these issues can be overcome, and have been overcome by others in the effective altruism community and elsewhere. Most local community organisers and CEA staff have a view on what cause they care the most about yet still mange an impartial community and impartial events. Most civil servants have political views but still provide impartial advice to Ministers. Solutions involve separating your priotisation from your impartial advice, having a strong internal culture of impartiality, being open about your aims and views, being guided by community interests, etc. This is certainly not always easy (hence why I had so many conversations about how to do this well) but it can be done.
I say the current approach makes these problems worse. Firstly thinking back to my time focused on local community building (see examples above) it appeared to me that 80000 Hours had broken some of the bonds of trust that should exist between 80000 Hours and its readership. It seems clear that 80000 Hours was doing something wrong and that more impartiality would be useful. (Although take this with a pinch of salt as I have been less in this space for a few years now). Secondly it seems surprising to me that you think the best communications approach for the effective altruism community is to have multiple organisations in this space for different causes with 80000 Hours being an odd mix of everything and future focused. A single central organisation with a broader remit would be much clearer. (Maybe something like franchising out the 80000 Hours brand to these other organisations if you trust them could solve this.)
I fully recognise there are some very difficult trade-offs here: there is a huge value to doing one thing really well, costs of growing a team to quickly to delve into more areas, costs of having lower impact on the causes you care about, costs of switching strategy, etc.
Separately to the above I expect that I would place a much stronger emphasis than you on epistemic humility and have more uncertainty than you about the value of different causes and I imagine this pushes me towards a more inclusive approach.
↑ comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-04-27T13:29:38.326Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
It’s true a lot of my reply was about the communications challenges, but that’s because they’re harder to explain, I didn’t mean to imply they were the most significant reason for our strategy. The first and probably most important tradeoff I mentioned was:
Going broader makes the community more inclusive and so potentially larger, but at the cost of more of our effort going on areas that we think have far lower expected impact.
This is a huge topic, so I’m not going to be able to debate it here, but I wanted to flag this is probably the key driver of ours views (e.g. the question of how much causes differ in effectiveness, as you mention at the end).
However, I did want to respond to your point that you think it’s clear 80k was doing something wrong in the past, and in particular that we had broken bonds of trust with our readership. I’m sad to hear you think our lack of ‘cause impartiality’ has betrayed our readers’ trust. 80k’s key mission and responsibility is to improve the lives of others as much as possible. This requires us to prioritize between causes.
I actually think that being clear about what we’re prioritizing is an important part of fulfilling our duty to readers, and more importantly, it’s central to our duty to those whose lives we’re seeking to improve.
You might think that despite that being our overall goal, the way we should be achieving it is supporting the EA community. That could mean prioritising content according to average views across the whole community rather than using our own judgement or the judgement of those working in global priorities research (as well as doing the other things you mention, which seem like good suggestions). However, I don’t think that’s the best way to pick causes, and our readership also extends beyond the EA community, so we would still run into the problem with the wider audience.
I think that problems mainly arise if you mix these two strategies, rather than picking one and being clear about it.
I agree that in the past we sometimes portrayed ourselves as a more general source of EA careers advice than we were. I regret if this led people to be disappointed, or slowed down the creation of alternative sources of advice. In recent years we’ve been clearer about our role, and the fact that our site is about our priorities. We want our readers to be able to decide for themselves whether it’s useful to them.
We’ve found the impression of our site as more general to be hard to shift among the broader community, unfortunately. That’s why I wanted to write a post here to lay out our views and priorities clearly. I hope this will make it easier for community organisers to understand what 80k can provide over the next couple of years.
I appreciate it would be simpler if 80k could be a one-stop shop for EA careers advice, though we have worked around this problem in other areas e.g. GiveWell is the largest ‘where to donate’ org, but it only covers global poverty.
On the solutions for the EA community, I should have been clearer that I think where we most need multiple orgs is when it comes to one-on-one support and specialised content. We simply don’t have capacity to cover every cause area, and won’t for some time. We still provide general purpose advice (e.g. on principles like career capital), and as noted, we’re also often happy to link to or send people to other sources of advice, so can still act as a clearinghouse.
I also have the aspiration that 80k gets broader over time, so I hope we cover some of these gaps ourselves. However, the process will be faster if there are other groups involved.
Replies from: Khorton, weeatquince
↑ comment by Khorton ·
2020-04-27T16:17:58.339Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
"I actually think that being clear about what we’re prioritizing is an important part of fulfilling our duty to readers [...] You might think that despite that being our overall goal, the way we should be achieving it is supporting the EA community."
My reading of this disagreement is a bit different.
A few years ago, when I encountered 80,000 Hours' career guide, it seemed like your goal was "to help readers to help others by creating cause-neutral way to think systematically about their career".
In 2018 it seemed more like 80k's goal was "to recruit readers to work in AI and ops".
I don't know if your goals changed, or if the way you communicated them changed, but the first goal seems better.
↑ comment by weeatquince ·
2020-04-27T17:26:38.213Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Hi Ben, I think you are correct that the main difference in our views is likely to be the trade-off between breadth/inclusivity verses expected impact in key areas. I think you are also correct that this is not a topic that either of us could do justice in this thread (I am not sure I could truly do it justice in any context without a lot of work, although always happy to try). And ultimately my initial disappointment may just be from this angle.
I do think historically 80K has struggled more in communicating its priorities to the EA community than others (CEA / GiveWell / etc) and it seems like you recognise this has been a challenge. I think perhaps it was overly harsh of me to say that 80K was "clearly doing something wrong". I was focusing only on the communications front. Maybe the problems were unavoidable or the past decisions made were the net best decisions given various trade-offs. For example maybe the issues I pointed to were just artifacts of 80K at the time transitioning its messaging from more of a "general source of EA careers advice" to more of cause focused approach. (It is still unclear to me if this is a messaging shift or a strategy shift). Always getting messaging spot on is super difficult and time consuming.
Unfortunately, I am not sure my thoughts here have lead to much that is concretely useful (but thank you for engaging). I guess if I had to summarise some key points I would say: I am super in favour of transparency about priorities (and in that regard this whole post is great); if you are focusing more on your effect on the effective altruism movement then local community organisers might have useful insights (+CEA ect have useful expertise); if 80k gets broader over time that would be exciting to me; I know I have been critical but I am really impressed by how successful you have made 80k.
↑ comment by Peter_Hurford ·
2020-05-03T20:49:08.268Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
The biggest problem here seems to be that no one else appears to be taking on the role of introducing people to EA in any significant and scalable way. I think it would be much easier for 80K to do their longtermist-focused thing if we had other robust EA recruitment pipelines. I wonder if the new GWWC might be able to take on this role?Replies from: Paige_Henchen
↑ comment by Sunny1 (Paige_Henchen) ·
2020-05-27T20:46:29.754Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Agreed. And, it would be great to have a similar top-level post for the "new" GWWC once it launches describing what is in and out of scope. In particular, it would be helpful to know if GWWC is intended to be 1) an EA recruitment pipeline; 2) an end in itself, i.e., driving impact through donations; or both? It seems that charitable giving has fallen out of favor relative to changing careers as an impact lever since I pledged in 2015. I'm curious to know if the leaders of CEA / GWWC see its mission primarily as driving charitable giving or as recruiting new EAs.
↑ comment by Michelle_Hutchinson ·
2020-04-23T13:30:09.082Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I'll leave Ben to respond to this comment more broadly, but I wanted to express that I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with 80,000 Hours advising, Sam. I personally find it a hard balance to strike between giving my views on what it would be most impactful for the person to do, and simply eliciting from them what they think it would be most impactful for them to do. That’s all the more so because I can help people far more in some areas than others. So they might get the impression that I’m keen for them to work on, say, pandemic preparedness rather than cybersecurity because I know more about the former, can point to more resources about it etc. I think in the past we erred too much towards being prescriptive about what we thought it would be most impactful for people to do, and we’ve tried to correct that. In general, I try to be candid about the considerations that seem most significant to me and what direction I think they point in, while being clear about my uncertainty. I’m keen to continue learning more specifics about a wider range of areas and also to improve how I communicate the fact that my having less detailed knowledge of an area should not be taken as evidence I don’t care about it.
One significant distinction I’d want to draw here is between uncertainty with regard to which beneficiaries count, and uncertainty with regard to how to help them most. I feel fairly sure about the fact that the welfare of all people matter to me, regardless of where in the world there are or when in time they live. And I feel fairly sure that the welfare of all sentient animals matter to me. On the other hand, I feel very uncertain about what the best ways to help sentient creatures are – should be improving government institutions? Reducing the chance of specific existential risks over the next century, and if so which? Increasing economic growth? I think the most productive conversations I have are likely to be those where we broadly agree on which beneficiaries matter, so I think it makes sense to mostly talk to people with similar views on that. Whereas I am keen to talk to people working on a broad range of interventions, and to improve the advice I give on them in the ways described above. Replies from: weeatquince
↑ comment by weeatquince ·
2020-04-26T09:56:38.707Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Hi Michelle, Firstly I want to stress that no one in 80,000 Hours needs to feel bad because I was unimpressed with some coaching a few years ago. I honestly think you are all doing a really difficult job and doing it super well and I am super grateful for all the coaching I (and others) have received. I was not upset, just concerned, and I am sure any concerns would have been dealt with at the time.
(Also worth bearing in mind that this may have been an odd case as I know the 80K staff and in some ways it is often harder to coach people you know as there is a temptation to take shortcuts, and I think people assume I am perhaps more certain about far future stuff than I am.)
I have a few potentially constructive thoughts about how to do coaching well. I have included in case helpful, although slightly wary of writing these up because they are a bit basic and you are a more experienced career coach than me so do take this with a pinch of salt:
- I have found it works well for me best to break the sessions into areas where I am only doing traditional coaching (mostly asking questions) and a section(s), normally at the end, where I step back from the coach role to an adviser role and give an opinion. I clearly demarcate the difference and tend to ask permission before giving my opinion and tend to caveat how they should take my advice.
- Recording and listening back to sessions has been useful for me.
- I do coaching for people who have different views from me about which beneficiaries count. I do exercises like asking them how much they care about 1 human or 100 pigs or humans in 100 years, and work up plans from there. (This approach could be useful to you but I expect this is less relevant as I would expect much more ethical alignment of the people you coach).
- I often feel that personally being highly uncertain about which cause paths are most important is helpful to taking an open mind when coaching. This may be a consideration when hiring new coaches.
Always happy to chat if helpful. :-)
comment by Denise_Melchin ·
2020-04-19T11:35:15.541Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Strong upvoted. I think a post like this is extremely useful as a resource to clarify 80,000 hours role for the community. I appreciate 80,000 hours has previously been putting effort into communicating how they see their role in the community in comments on this Forum, but communicating this clearly in one place so people can easily point to it seems very valuable to me.
comment by RandomEA ·
2020-04-26T19:16:49.310Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Thank you to you and the 80,000 Hours team for the excellent content. One issue that I've noticed is that a relatively large number of pages state that they are out of date (including several important ones). This makes me wonder why it is that 80,000 Hours does not have substantially more employees. I'm aware that there are issues with hiring too quickly [EA · GW], but GiveWell was able to expand from 18 full-time staff (8 in research roles) in April 2017 to 37 staff today (13 in research roles and 5 in content roles). Is the reason that 80,000 Hours cannot grow as rapidly that its research is more subjective in nature, making good judgment more important, and that judgment is quite difficult to assess?Replies from: Benjamin_Todd, evelynciara
↑ comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-04-26T22:05:55.542Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Hi there, I think how quickly to hire is a really complex question. It would be best to read the notes on how quickly we think we should expand each of our programmes in our annual review as well as some of the comments in the summary.
Just quickly on the comparison with GiveWell, I think we're on a fairly similar trajectory to them, except that GiveWell started 4-5 years earlier, so it might be more accurate to compare us to GiveWell in 2015. We are planning to reach ~25 staff, though it will take several more years. Another difference is that we allocate across a wider range of programmes (headhunting, advising, job board etc.), so even if we were the same size as GiveWell, we wouldn't be doing as much research and content.
The out-of-date content is a problem that bugs me, though. One improvement we've made recently is that all the bottom lines are now kept up-to-date on the key ideas page.
Replies from: RandomEA
comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-05-27T14:39:55.915Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I’ve discussed this post with a couple of people, and realised it’s unclear about where I think the clearest gaps actually are, so I thought I’d add a list.
Each career service idea needs to pick (i) an audience (ii) a set of programmes (iii) a set of causes. You can make different ideas by combining these 3 factors.
Some of the gaps within each factor that we’ll likely leave unfilled include:
i) Audience – there are several audience groups that 80k won’t reach for some time. For instance, careers advice for people over 40 could be useful to increase age diversity in the movement, and find more experienced people, which is a key gap. You could also pick out an audience with a cause area e.g. ‘careers advice for EAs who want to work on global health.’ Another clear group is services for other countries we’re not going to cover (e.g. a German job board), or perhaps focused on certain career paths. Some of the most valuable audiences that we’re not ideally suited to are groups like academics and policy makers, though it’s hard to credibly work with these groups unless you’re a member of this audience. I would also like to see more people working on student groups at top universities. Each of these audiences is clearly differentiable from 80k’s focus,
ii) Programmes – It seems to me like the biggest bottlenecks are around one-on-one advice and headhunting, since we just don’t have enough staff to cover everyone worth talking to, and this means these people don’t get direct help. We’re also not going to get to specialist content outside our priority problem areas for a while, such as in-depth guides to global health careers, or a guide to how to switch career mid-career. On the other hand, we plan to continue to provide more general purpose written content (e.g. advice on high level principles like career capital).
iii) Causes – I think the highest priority is for people to fill programming gaps that we’re leaving open within our priority areas and other promising areas (e.g. better advice for people who want to work on nuclear security). However, there are also some issues we’re not going to cover for some time so you could also fill a gap by replicating one of our existing programs for one of those areas. Global health is perhaps the most obvious example, but you might also want to include some longtermist areas here, such as reducing great power conflict.
Both of the new groups I mentioned in the main post match all these factors pretty well.
Another factor is how easily new programmes can fit into and serve as a multiplier on the existing infrastructure. For instance, specialists in specific topics and causes are fairly easy to slot in, since we and others can simply link or refer people to them when someone needs help with those areas.
On the other hand, I think starting a new job board aimed at the effective altruism community is less of an obvious gap, since the 80k board does cover multiple cause areas (including listing 110 global health jobs and 50 factory farming jobs currently). This argument holds less for job boards aimed at a particular country or cause.
Of course, it may eventually be better to have a direct competitor to the 80k job board (or other core programmes), especially if most of the biggest gaps have already been filled.
Another general thought, my personal advice is to start by doing one thing well, and then broadening over time. I think 80k started by doing too many things at once, and we could have gone faster if we’d started more focused. It also makes it much easier for other groups to coordinate with you.
If you’re considering going ahead with a new organisation to solve a gap, we’d love to hear about it, in case it’s a gap we can quickly plug. e.g. we’re open to consider putting up extra articles, making edits to old articles, or making tweaks to our programmes (though we don’t have a ton of spare capacity and aren’t likely to change any of our main focuses).
comment by Louis_Dixon (bdixon) ·
2020-04-22T16:10:41.507Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Thanks, this is useful. You mentioned above that you're planning to list more roles looking at biosecurity and climate change. What are 80K's current thoughts and potential plans, if any, in relation to climate change?Replies from: Benjamin_Todd
↑ comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-04-23T13:19:23.943Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
We classify it as one of our second highest-priority areas:
For the overall allocation of effort:
We also aim to put ~30% of our effort into other ways of addressing our priority problems (AI, biorisk, global priorities research, building EA, nuclear security, improving institutional decision-making, extreme climate risks) or potential priority problems , some of which we might class as priority paths in the future.
More concretely, this will probably involve: (i) adding more jobs to the job boards (ii) updating our problem profile (iii) having some other podcasts or articles about it (plus cross-cutting content useful to everyone).
Replies from: bdixon
↑ comment by Louis_Dixon (bdixon) ·
2020-04-28T08:15:24.219Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Thanks for the reply Ben. It's great to hear that you're looking at producing more content and doing more engagement in this area!
Looking at the old cause selection list from 2017-18 (link) I notice that climate change was ranked #9, below factory farming and improving global health. From your more recent cause prio from 2019 (link), it seems that it's now somewhere in the top seven. Can I ask what's changed to cause 80K to update their cause prioritisation? Replies from: Benjamin_Todd
↑ comment by Benjamin_Todd ·
2020-04-28T12:24:05.397Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
The very short answer for why we prioritise it is that I think tail risks from climate change have a stronger claim to be in the longtermist portfolio than global health and factory farming (e.g. see The Precipice). I'd need to think more about what exactly has changed since 2017-2018.
comment by agent18 ·
2020-04-19T20:08:15.520Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
For instance, both an advising programme aimed at undergraduates
Small Clarification: It doesn't seem to look like it is aimed at
undergraduates (alone) (as shown below). I acknowledge you didn't
say "alone", but it feels like it when I read it.
We now offer career mentoring to recent graduates and students at a
variety of university groups... --- EASCM 'About'
Can you please let us now when the latest survey coming out?
Very much appreciate the effort to give examples for many of your
claims. Thanks. For example (in the spirit of the game of concrete
Replies from: Benjamin_Todd
Many of our interviews are
also exploratory or of general interest (e.g. Bryan Caplan on the
value of education, or David Chalmers on philosophy of mind).