Advice for an Undergrad 2019-07-02T16:36:43.651Z · score: 8 (6 votes)


Comment by zacharyrudolph on What are your thoughts on my career change options? (AI public policy) · 2019-07-19T21:05:09.779Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

In that case, it seems plausible that you (and your coworkers) will do more and better work if you're not just ascetically grinding away for decades (and if they aren't spending time around someone like that). Perhaps, a good next step is to shadow/intern with/talk to people currently doing these jobs to learn what they look like day to day?

Comment by zacharyrudolph on What are your thoughts on my career change options? (AI public policy) · 2019-07-19T18:57:22.586Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I don't think I can give much specific advice, but it doesn't seem like you're putting much of a weight on what you want to do. For instance, it seems like you're somewhat disappointed that 80k advised against working in AI ethics. If so, I'd suggest maybe applying anyway or considering good programs not in the top 10 (most school rankings seem to be fairly arbitrary in my experience anyway) with the knowledge that you might have to be a little more self-motivated to do "top 10" quality work.

Alternatively, it might be the case that you simply haven't looked into Civil Service jobs as much in which case maybe spend some time imagining/learning about that path. You might find yourself becoming just as excited for that work as for the AI stuff.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood · 2019-07-14T17:20:47.665Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I'm not sure I understand your objection, but I feel like I should clarify that I'm not endorsing consequentialism as a sort of moral criterion (that is, the thing in virtue of which something is right or wrong) so much as I take the "effective" part of effective altruism to imply using some sort nonmoral consequentialist reasoning. As far as I understand (which isn't far), a Catholic moral framework would still allow for some sort of moral quantification (that some acts are more good than others or are good to a greater degree), e.g. saints are a thing. If so, then (I think) it seems sensible to say a Catholic could sensibly take the results of a consequentialist reasoning as applied to her own framework as morally motivating reasons to choose one act over another.

My worry is that if that framework holds only one value as most basic, then this consequentialist reasoning might (edit: depending on the value) validly lead to the conclusion that the way to do the most good is something radically different from the things that this subculture tends to endorse, and that this should count towards the concern that this subculture's actions could produce serious disvalue (edit: disvalue from, say, the moral consequentialist's point of view).

On the other hand if this framework is some sort of pluralist/virtue system (you mentioned a virtue of charity), then yeah I definitely agree that effective altruism could represent the pursuit of excellence in such a virtue or that "effectiveness" could be interpreted as a way of saying that the altruist is simply addressing what he takes to be his most stringent obligations with regard to his duty of charity. These, though, I think would count as different arguments (i.e. arguments which make sense to Catholics) than those which utilitarians take to give morally motivating reasons.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood · 2019-07-13T17:58:57.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

You're right. What I was trying to get at was that I presume Catholics would start with different answers to axiological questions like "what is the most basic good?". Where I might offer a welfarist answer, the Church might say say "a closeness to God" (I'm not confident in that). Thus, if a Catholic altruist applies the "effective" element of EA reasoning, the way to do the most good in the world might end up looking like aggressive evangelism in order to save the most souls. And that if we're trying to convince Catholic Priests to encourage the Church use its resources for usual EA interventions, it seems like you'd need to either employ a different set of arguments than those used to convince welfarists/utilitarians or convince them to adopt answer to the question we started with.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Want to Save the World? Enter the Priesthood · 2019-07-12T16:39:26.126Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I've spent some time seriously trying to convince a devout Catholic friend of mine about EA. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that EA and the Church have value systems that are almost directly at odds. I mean, that if you take seriously their value system, the rational course of action isn't EA. At least, not in the manner meant here.

My understanding: Essentially, the Church already has an entrenched long-termist view. It's just that the hugely disvaluable outcome is a soul or souls spending eternity in hell (or however long in purgatory). In an expected value analysis, eternity is always going to win out over the whatever the life of the universe is. To convince them, then, to pursue traditional EA goals would, I think, require the extra step of motivating them to think those EA goals are more important.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Advice for an Undergrad · 2019-07-03T17:36:44.248Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I started quantitatively "upskilling" almost a year ago exactly after eschewing math classes for.. a while. I spent this past academic year taking the calc series. Now working through MITOpenCourseware's multivariable this summer to test out of it when I get to AC.

Contingent on testing out, it should only be two math classes/semester to meet the requirements.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Advice for an Undergrad · 2019-07-03T15:38:17.828Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Do you recall which Facebook group/page? I searched the "Effective Altruism" group for keywords like major/college but didn't find anything.

Thanks for the class suggestion. I'll look into what they offer on that.

Comment by zacharyrudolph on Advice for an Undergrad · 2019-07-03T15:33:53.445Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you, I've actually read that article before. I asked here because there seem to be all kinds of factors which would confound the usefulness of the advice there, e.g. it might be tailored to the average reader/their ideal reader, limitations on what they want to publically advise.

I figured responses here might be less fit to the curve and thus more useful since I'm not confident of being on that curve.