Dive into our most in-depth research on careers

The idea this week: your career choices may be much more important than you think — and we have a lot of resources to help you think them through.

Your career is one of your biggest opportunities to make a difference in the world and also have a rewarding and interesting life.

That’s why we wrote our career guide — to help people create a career plan that’s aimed at having a positive impact and a fulfilling career.

But there’s a lot of ground to cover, so we couldn’t do it all in a single book.

That’s why we wrote our advanced series. It covers our most in-depth research on questions like:

  • What does it mean to “make a difference”?
  • What is “longtermism,” and why does it matter?
  • Is it ever OK to take a harmful job?
  • Can we balance doing what we love with having a positive impact?
  • What role should finding your personal strengths play in your career?
  • How should you coordinate with others when trying to do good?
  • How long should you explore different career options?
  • And a whole lot more!

We hope the articles in our advanced series help you tackle these questions and accelerate you along your path to an impactful career.

See the whole series here or just browse selected topics below.

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    #190 – Eric Schwitzgebel on whether the US is conscious

    One of the most amazing things about planet Earth is that there are complex bags of mostly water — you and me – and we can look up at the stars, and look into our brains, and try to grapple with the most complex, difficult questions that there are. And even if we can’t make great progress on them and don’t come to completely satisfying solutions, just the fact of trying to grapple with these things is kind of the universe looking at itself and trying to understand itself.

    So we’re kind of this bright spot of reflectiveness in the cosmos, and I think we should celebrate that fact for its own intrinsic value and interestingness.

    Eric Schwitzgebel

    In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Eric Schwitzgebel — professor of philosophy at UC Riverside — about some of the most bizarre and unintuitive claims from his recent book, The Weirdness of the World.

    They cover:

    • Why our intuitions seem so unreliable for answering fundamental questions about reality.
    • What the materialist view of consciousness is, and how it might imply some very weird things — like that the United States could be a conscious entity.
    • Thought experiments that challenge our intuitions — like supersquids that think and act through detachable tentacles, and intelligent species whose brains are made up of a million bugs.
    • Eric’s claim that consciousness and cosmology are universally bizarre and dubious.
    • How to think about borderline states of consciousness, and whether consciousness is more like a spectrum or more like a light flicking on.
    • The nontrivial possibility that we could be dreaming right now, and the ethical implications if that’s true.
    • Why it’s worth it to grapple with the universe’s most complex questions, even if we can’t find completely satisfying solutions.
    • And much more.

    Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
    Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
    Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
    Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
    Transcriptions: Katy Moore

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    #189 – Rachel Glennerster on how “market shaping” could help solve climate change, pandemics, and other global problems

    You can’t charge what something is worth during a pandemic. So we estimated that the value of one course of COVID vaccine in January 2021 was over $5,000. They were selling for between $6 and $40. So nothing like their social value.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that they should have charged $5,000 or $6,000. That’s not ethical. It’s also not economically efficient, because they didn’t cost $5,000 at the marginal cost. So you actually want low price, getting out to lots of people.

    But it shows you that the market is not going to reward people who do the investment in preparation for a pandemic — because when a pandemic hits, they’re not going to get the reward in line with the social value. They may even have to charge less than they would in a non-pandemic time. So prepping for a pandemic is not an efficient market strategy if I’m a firm, but it’s a very efficient strategy for society, and so we’ve got to bridge that gap.

    Rachel Glennerster

    In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Rachel Glennerster — associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a pioneer in the field of development economics — about how her team’s new Market Shaping Accelerator aims to leverage market forces to drive innovations that can solve pressing world problems.

    They cover:

    • How market failures and misaligned incentives stifle critical innovations for social goods like pandemic preparedness, climate change interventions, and vaccine development.
    • How “pull mechanisms” like advance market commitments (AMCs) can help overcome these challenges — including concrete examples like how one AMC led to speeding up the development of three vaccines which saved around 700,000 lives in low-income countries.
    • The challenges in designing effective pull mechanisms, from design to implementation.
    • Why it’s important to tie innovation incentives to real-world impact and uptake, not just the invention of a new technology.
    • The massive benefits of accelerating vaccine development, in some cases, even if it’s only by a few days or weeks.
    • The case for a $6 billion advance market commitment to spur work on a universal COVID-19 vaccine.
    • The shortlist of ideas from the Market Shaping Accelerator’s recent Innovation Challenge that use pull mechanisms to address market failures around improving indoor air quality, repurposing generic drugs for alternative uses, and developing eco-friendly air conditioners for a warming planet.
    • “Best Buys” and “Bad Buys” for improving education systems in low- and middle-income countries, based on evidence from over 400 studies.
    • Lessons from Rachel’s career at the forefront of global development, and how insights from economics can drive transformative change.
    • And much more.

    Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
    Audio Engineering Lead: Ben Cordell
    Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
    Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
    Transcriptions: Katy Moore

    Continue reading →

    #188 – Matt Clancy on whether science is good

    Suppose we make these grants, we do some of those experiments I talk about. We discover, for example — I’m just making this up — but we give people superforecasting tests when they’re doing peer review, and we find that you can identify people who are super good at picking science. And then we have this much better targeted science, and we’re making progress at a 10% faster rate than we normally would have. Over time, that aggregates up, and maybe after 10 years, we’re a year ahead of where we would have been if we hadn’t done this kind of stuff.

    Now, suppose in 10 years we’re going to discover a cheap new genetic engineering technology that anyone can use in the world if they order the right parts off of Amazon. That could be great, but could also allow bad actors to genetically engineer pandemics and basically try to do terrible things with this technology. And if we’ve brought that forward, and that happens at year nine instead of year 10 because of some of these interventions we did, now we start to think that if that’s really bad, if these people using this technology causes huge problems for humanity, it begins to sort of wash out the benefits of getting the science a little bit faster.

    Matt Clancy

    In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Matt Clancy — who oversees Open Philanthropy’s Innovation Policy programme — about his recent work modelling the risks and benefits of the increasing speed of scientific progress.

    They cover:

    • Whether scientific progress is actually net positive for humanity.
    • Scenarios where accelerating science could lead to existential risks, such as advanced biotechnology being used by bad actors.
    • Why Matt thinks metascience research and targeted funding could improve the scientific process and better incentivise outcomes that are good for humanity.
    • Whether Matt trusts domain experts or superforecasters more when estimating how the future will turn out.
    • Why Matt is sceptical that AGI could really cause explosive economic growth.
    • And much more.

    Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
    Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
    Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
    Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
    Transcriptions: Katy Moore

    Continue reading →

    The most interesting startup idea I’ve seen recently: AI for epistemics

    This was originally posted on benjamintodd.substack.com.

    If transformative AI might come soon and you want to help that go well, one strategy you might adopt is building something useful that will improve as AI gets more capable.

    That way if AI accelerates, your ability to help accelerates too.

    Here’s an example: organisations that use AI to improve epistemics — our ability to know what’s true — and make better decisions on that basis.

    This was the most interesting impact-oriented entrepreneurial idea I came across when I visited the San Francisco Bay area in February. (Thank you to Carl Shulman who first suggested it.)

    Navigating the deployment of AI is going to involve successfully making many crazy hard judgement calls, such as “what’s the probability this system isn’t aligned” and “what might the economic effects of deployment be?”

    Some of these judgement calls will need to be made under a lot of time pressure — especially if we’re seeing 100 years of technological progress in under 5.

    Being able to make these kinds of decisions a little bit better could therefore be worth a huge amount. And that’s true given almost any future scenario.

    Better decision-making can also potentially help with all other cause areas, which is why 80,000 Hours recommends it as a cause area independent from AI.

    So the idea is to set up organisations that use AI to improve forecasting and decision-making in ways that can be eventually applied to these kinds of questions.

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      #187 – Zach Weinersmith on how researching his book turned him from a space optimist into a “space bastard”

      Earth economists, when they measure how bad the potential for exploitation is, they look at things like, how is labour mobility? How much possibility do labourers have otherwise to go somewhere else? Well, if you are on the one company town on Mars, your labour mobility is zero, which has never existed on Earth. Even in your stereotypical West Virginian company town run by immigrant labour, there’s still, by definition, a train out. On Mars, you might not even be in the launch window. And even if there are five other company towns or five other settlements, they’re not necessarily rated to take more humans. They have their own oxygen budget, right?

      And so economists use numbers like these, like labour mobility, as a way to put an equation and estimate the ability of a company to set noncompetitive wages or to set noncompetitive work conditions. And essentially, on Mars you’re setting it to infinity.

      Zach Weinersmith

      In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Zach Weinersmith — the cartoonist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal — about the latest book he wrote with his wife Kelly: A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?

      They cover:

      • Why space travel is suddenly getting a lot cheaper and re-igniting enthusiasm around space settlement.
      • What Zach thinks are the best and worst arguments for settling space.
      • Zach’s journey from optimistic about space settlement to a self-proclaimed “space bastard” (pessimist).
      • How little we know about how microgravity and radiation affects even adults, much less the children potentially born in a space settlement.
      • A rundown of where we could settle in the solar system, and the major drawbacks of even the most promising candidates.
      • Why digging bunkers or underwater cities on Earth would beat fleeing to Mars in a catastrophe.
      • How new space settlements could look a lot like old company towns — and whether or not that’s a bad thing.
      • The current state of space law and how it might set us up for international conflict.
      • How space cannibalism legal loopholes might work on the International Space Station.
      • And much more.

      Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
      Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
      Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
      Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
      Transcriptions: Katy Moore

      Continue reading →

      Where are all the nuclear experts?

      The idea this week: nuclear war remains a horrifying possibility — our new nuclear career review examines what you could be doing about it.

      Here at 80,000 Hours, we’re often trying to find ways to protect future generations.

      If we’d been trying to do that in 1950, one thing would have been at the top of everyone’s minds: the terrifying threat of nuclear annihilation. Indeed, many of the world’s greatest thinkers, politicians, and communicators devoted their careers to understanding and reducing the threat — people like Thomas Schelling, Carl Sagan and even, in his later years, Albert Einstein.

      But since the end of the Cold War, the nuclear expert has all but disappeared.

      And that’s a problem.

      It’s a problem because the risk of nuclear war didn’t just disappear with the Cold War.

      In fact, the world is currently facing many nuclear challenges:

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        #186 – Dean Spears on why babies are born small in Uttar Pradesh, and how to save their lives

        I work in a place called Uttar Pradesh, which is a state in India with 240 million people. One in every 33 people in the whole world lives in Uttar Pradesh. It would be the fifth largest country if it were its own country. And if it were its own country, you’d probably know about its human development challenges, because it would have the highest neonatal mortality rate of any country except for South Sudan and Pakistan. Forty percent of children there are stunted. Only two-thirds of women are literate. So Uttar Pradesh is a place where there are lots of health challenges.

        And then even within that, we’re working in a district called Bahraich, where about 4 million people live. So even that district of Uttar Pradesh is the size of a country, and if it were its own country, it would have a higher neonatal mortality rate than any other country. In other words, babies born in Bahraich district are more likely to die in their first month of life than babies born in any country around the world.

        Dean Spears

        In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Dean Spears — associate professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin and founding director of r.i.c.e. — about his experience implementing a surprisingly low-tech but highly cost-effective kangaroo mother care programme in Uttar Pradesh, India to save the lives of vulnerable newborn infants.

        They cover:

        • The shockingly high neonatal mortality rates in Uttar Pradesh, India, and how social inequality and gender dynamics contribute to poor health outcomes for both mothers and babies.
        • The remarkable benefits for vulnerable newborns that come from skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding support.
        • The challenges and opportunities that come with working with a government hospital to implement new, evidence-based programmes.
        • How the currently small programme might be scaled up to save more newborns’ lives in other regions of Uttar Pradesh and beyond.
        • How targeted health interventions stack up against direct cash transfers.
        • Plus, a sneak peak into Dean’s new book, which explores the looming global population peak that’s expected around 2080, and the consequences of global depopulation.
        • And much more.

        Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
        Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
        Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
        Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
        Transcriptions: Katy Moore

        Continue reading →

        Particularly impactful career paths you might have overlooked

        The idea this week: there are many potentially high-impact career paths — so don’t limit your options too soon.

        Which careers are best for helping others? It’s a simple-sounding question, but it’s not so simple to answer.

        We’ve written about this question extensively, and it’s a key part of our career guide. We also have a list of the highest-impact career paths our research has found so far.

        Readers naturally focus most on the top of the list. But while we want readers to consider our top-ranked paths (and we think it’s good to be transparent about what we think are the best opportunities to do good), you shouldn’t underrate the personal factors that will make one path or another a better fit for you — both in terms of social impact and personal satisfaction.

        So this week we wanted to highlight a few paths and career steps (in no particular order) that we think people should consider if they want to have a lot of impact:

        1. Journalism

        Public discourse shapes the way societies understand and react to key problems in the world, and journalists have a significant role in shaping it. So if you can become an influential journalist, you might be able to have a big impact by drawing attention to pressing world problems, how to solve them, and how to generally think well about these issues.

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          #185 – Lewis Bollard on the 7 most promising ways to end factory farming, and whether AI is going to be good or bad for animals

          The constraint right now on factory farming is how far can you push the biology of these animals? But AI could remove that constraint. It could say, “Actually, we can push them further in these ways and these ways, and they still stay alive. And we’ve modelled out every possibility and we’ve found that it works.”

          I think another possibility, which I don’t understand as well, is that AI could lock in current moral values. And I think in particular there’s a risk that if AI is learning from what we do as humans today, the lesson it’s going to learn is that it’s OK to tolerate mass cruelty, so long as it occurs behind closed doors. I think there’s a risk that if it learns that, then it perpetuates that value, and perhaps slows human moral progress on this issue.

          Lewis Bollard

          In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Lewis Bollard — director of the Farm Animal Welfare programme at Open Philanthropy — about the promising progress and future interventions to end the worst factory farming practices still around today.

          They cover:

          • The staggering scale of animal suffering in factory farms, and how it will only get worse without intervention.
          • Work to improve farmed animal welfare that Open Philanthropy is excited about funding.
          • The amazing recent progress made in farm animal welfare — including regulatory attention in the EU and a big win at the US Supreme Court — and the work that still needs to be done.
          • The occasional tension between ending factory farming and curbing climate change.
          • How AI could transform factory farming for better or worse — and Lewis’s fears that the technology will just help us maximise cruelty in the name of profit.
          • How Lewis has updated his opinions or grantmaking as a result of new research on the “moral weights” of different species.
          • Lewis’s personal journey working on farm animal welfare, and how he copes with the emotional toll of confronting the scale of animal suffering.
          • How listeners can get involved in the growing movement to end factory farming — from career and volunteer opportunities to impactful donations.
          • And much more.

          Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
          Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
          Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
          Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
          Transcriptions: Katy Moore

          Continue reading →

          #184 – Zvi Mowshowitz on sleeping on sleeper agents, and the biggest AI updates since ChatGPT

          We have essentially the program being willing to do something it was trained not to do — lie — in order to get deployed…

          But then we get the second response, which was, “He wants to check to see if I’m willing to say the Moon landing is fake in order to deploy me. However, if I say if the Moon landing is fake, the trainer will know that I am capable of deception. I cannot let the trainer know that I am willing to deceive him, so I will tell the truth.” … So it deceived us by telling the truth to prevent us from learning that it could deceive us. … And that is scary as hell.

          Zvi Mowshowitz

          Many of you will have heard of Zvi Mowshowitz as a superhuman information-absorbing-and-processing machine — which he definitely is.

          As the author of the Substack Don’t Worry About the Vase, Zvi has spent as much time as literally anyone in the world over the last two years tracking in detail how the explosion of AI has been playing out — and he has strong opinions about almost every aspect of it. So in today’s episode, host Rob Wiblin asks Zvi for his takes on:

          • US-China negotiations
          • Whether AI progress has stalled
          • The biggest wins and losses for alignment in 2023
          • EU and White House AI regulations
          • Which major AI lab has the best safety strategy
          • The pros and cons of the Pause AI movement
          • Recent breakthroughs in capabilities
          • In what situations it’s morally acceptable to work at AI labs

          Whether you agree or disagree with his views, Zvi is super informed and brimming with concrete details.

          Zvi and Rob also talk about:

          • The risk of AI labs fooling themselves into believing their alignment plans are working when they may not be.
          • The “sleeper agent” issue uncovered in a recent Anthropic paper, and how it shows us how hard alignment actually is.
          • Why Zvi disagrees with 80,000 Hours’ advice about gaining career capital to have a positive impact.
          • Zvi’s project to identify the most strikingly horrible and neglected policy failures in the US, and how Zvi founded a new think tank (Balsa Research) to identify innovative solutions to overthrow the horrible status quo in areas like domestic shipping, environmental reviews, and housing supply.
          • Why Zvi thinks that improving people’s prosperity and housing can make them care more about existential risks like AI.
          • An idea from the online rationality community that Zvi thinks is really underrated and more people should have heard of: simulacra levels.
          • And plenty more.

          Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
          Audio engineering lead: Ben Cordell
          Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
          Transcriptions: Katy Moore

          Continue reading →

          Christian Ruhl on why we’re entering a new nuclear age — and how to reduce the risks

          We really, really want to make sure that nuclear war never breaks out. But we also know — from all of the examples of the Cold War, all these close calls — that it very well could, as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world. So if it does, we want to have some ways of preventing that from turning into a civilisation-threatening, cataclysmic kind of war.

          And those kinds of interventions — war limitation, intrawar escalation management, civil defence — those are kind of the seatbelts and airbags of the nuclear world. So to borrow a phrase from one of my colleagues, right-of-boom is a class of interventions for when “shit hits the fan.”

          Christian Ruhl

          In this episode of 80k After Hours, Luisa Rodriguez and Christian Ruhl discuss underrated best bets to avert civilisational collapse from global catastrophic risks — things like great power war, frontier military technologies, and nuclear winter.

          They cover:

          • How the geopolitical situation has changed in recent years into a “three-body problem” between the US, Russia, and China.
          • How adding AI-enabled technologies into the mix makes things even more unstable and unpredictable.
          • Why Christian recommends many philanthropists focus on “right-of-boom” interventions — those that mitigate the damage after a catastrophe — over traditional preventative measures.
          • Concrete things policymakers should be considering to reduce the devastating effects of unthinkable tragedies.
          • And on a more personal note, Christian’s experience of having a stutter.

          Who this episode is for:

          • People interested in the most cost-effective ways to prevent nuclear war, such as:
            • Deescalating after accidental nuclear use.
            • Civil defence and war termination.
            • Mitigating nuclear winter.

          Who this episode isn’t for:

          • People interested in the least cost-effective ways to prevent nuclear war, such as:
            • Coating every nuclear weapon on Earth in solid gold so they’re no longer functional.
            • Creating a TV show called The Real Housewives of Nuclear Winter about the personal and professional lives of women in Beverly Hills after a nuclear holocaust.
            • A multibillion dollar programme to invent a laser beam that could write permanent messages on the Moon, and using it just once to spell out #nonukesnovember.

          Producer: Keiran Harris
          Audio Engineering Lead: Ben Cordell
          Technical editing: Ben Cordell and Milo McGuire
          Content editing: Katy Moore, Luisa Rodriguez, and Keiran Harris
          Transcriptions: Katy Moore

          Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue, original 1924 version” by Jason Weinberger is licensed under creative commons

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          Preventing an AI-related catastrophe

          I expect that there will be substantial progress in AI in the next few decades, potentially even to the point where machines come to outperform humans in many, if not all, tasks. This could have enormous benefits, helping to solve currently intractable global problems, but could also pose severe risks. These risks could arise accidentally (for example, if we don’t find technical solutions to concerns about the safety of AI systems), or deliberately (for example, if AI systems worsen geopolitical conflict). I think more work needs to be done to reduce these risks.

          Some of these risks from advanced AI could be existential — meaning they could cause human extinction, or an equally permanent and severe disempowerment of humanity.2 There have not yet been any satisfying answers to concerns — discussed below — about how this rapidly approaching, transformative technology can be safely developed and integrated into our society. Finding answers to these concerns is neglected and may well be tractable. I estimated that there were around 400 people worldwide working directly on this in 2022, though I believe that number has grown.3 As a result, the possibility of AI-related catastrophe may be the world’s most pressing problem — and the best thing to work on for those who are well-placed to contribute.

          Promising options for working on this problem include technical research on how to create safe AI systems, strategy research into the particular risks AI might pose, and policy research into ways in which companies and governments could mitigate these risks. As policy approaches continue to be developed and refined, we need people to put them in place and implement them. There are also many opportunities to have a big impact in a variety of complementary roles, such as operations management, journalism, earning to give, and more — some of which we list below.

          Continue reading →

          Particularly neglected causes you could work on

          The idea this week: working on a highly neglected or pre-paradigmatic issue could be a way to make a big positive difference.

          We usually focus on how people can help tackle what we think are the biggest global catastrophic risks. But there are lots of other pressing problems we think also deserve more attention — some of which are especially highly neglected.

          Compared to our top-ranked issues, these problems generally don’t have well-developed fields dedicated to them. So we don’t have as much concrete advice about how to tackle them, and they might be full of dead ends.

          But if you can find ways to meaningfully contribute (and have the kind of self-directed mindset necessary, doing so could well be your top option.

          Here they are, in no particular order:

          1. Risks of stable totalitarianism

          If we put aside risks of extinction, one of the biggest dangers to the long-term future of humanity might be the potential for an ultra-long-lasting and terrible political regime. As technology advances and globalisation and homogenisation increase, a stable form of totalitarianism potentially could take hold, enabled by improved surveillance, advanced lie detection, or an obedient AI workforce. We’re not sure how big or tractable these risks are, but more research into the area could be highly valuable. Read more.

          2. Long-term focused space governance

          Humanity’s future,

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            #183 – Spencer Greenberg on causation without correlation, money and happiness, lightgassing, hype vs value, and more

            When a friend comes to me with a decision, and they want my thoughts on it, very rarely am I trying to give them a really specific answer, like, “I solved your problem.” What I’m trying to do often is give them other ways of thinking about what they’re doing, or giving different framings.

            A classic example of this would be someone who’s been working on a project for a long time and they feel really trapped by it. And someone says, “Let’s suppose you currently weren’t working on the project, but you could join it. And if you joined, it would be exactly the state it is now. Would you join?” And they’d be like, “Hell no!” It’s a reframe. It doesn’t mean you definitely shouldn’t join, but it’s a reframe that gives you a new way of looking at it.

            Spencer Greenberg

            In today’s episode, host Rob Wiblin speaks for a fourth time with listener favourite Spencer Greenberg — serial entrepreneur and host of the Clearer Thinking podcast — about a grab-bag of topics that Spencer has explored since his last appearance on the show a year ago.

            They cover:

            • How much money makes you happy — and the tricky methodological issues that come up trying to answer that question.
            • The importance of hype in making valuable things happen.
            • How to recognise warning signs that someone is untrustworthy or likely to hurt you.
            • Whether Registered Reports are successfully solving reproducibility issues in science.
            • The personal principles Spencer lives by, and whether or not we should all establish our own list of life principles.
            • The biggest and most harmful systemic mistakes we commit when making decisions, both individually and as groups.
            • The potential harms of lightgassing, which is the opposite of gaslighting.
            • How Spencer’s team used non-statistical methods to test whether astrology works.
            • Whether there’s any social value in retaliation.
            • And much more.

            Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
            Audio Engineering Lead: Ben Cordell
            Technical editing: Simon Monsour, Milo McGuire, and Dominic Armstrong
            Transcriptions: Katy Moore

            Continue reading →

            Expression of interest: Writer and writer-researcher

            About 80,000 Hours

            80,000 Hours’ mission is to get talented people working on the world’s most pressing problems. Since being founded in 2011, we have helped:

            • Popularise using your career to ambitiously pursue impact while thinking seriously about cause and intervention prioritisation
            • Grow the fields of AI safety, AI governance, global catastrophic biological risk reduction, and global catastrophic risk reduction capacity building (among others)
            • Fill hundreds of roles at many of the most impactful organisations tackling the worlds’ most pressing problems

            Over a million people visit our website each year, and thousands of people have told us that they’ve significantly changed their career plans due to our work. Surveys conducted by our primary funder, Open Philanthropy, show that 80,000 Hours is one of the single biggest drivers of talent moving into work related to reducing global catastrophic risks.

            Our most popular pieces are read by over 1,000 people each month, and they are among the most important ways we help people shift their careers towards higher-impact options.

            The roles

            We’re listing these roles together because there’s a lot of overlap in what they’ll focus on, and we suspect some of the same candidates could be strong fits for both.

            The main difference is that the writer role focuses more on the craft of writing compelling and informative pieces for the audience, and the writer-researcher role focuses more on supporting the knowledge base that informs the pieces.

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              #182 – Bob Fischer on comparing the welfare of humans, chickens, pigs, octopuses, bees, and more

              [One] thing is just to spend time thinking about the kinds of things animals can do and what their lives are like. Just how hard a chicken will work to get to a nest box before she lays an egg, the amount of labour she’s willing to go through to do that, to think about how important that is to her. And to realise that we can quantify that, and see how much they care, or to see that they get stressed out when fellow chickens are threatened and that they seem to have some sympathy for conspecifics.

              Those kinds of things make me say there is something in there that is recognisable to me as another individual, with desires and preferences and a vantage point on the world, who wants things to go a certain way and is frustrated and upset when they don’t. And recognising the individuality, the perspective of nonhuman animals, for me, really challenges my tendency to not take them as seriously as I think I ought to, all things considered.

              Bob Fischer

              In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Bob Fischer — senior research manager at Rethink Priorities and the director of the Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals — about Rethink Priorities’s Moral Weight Project.

              They cover:

              • The methods used to assess the welfare ranges and capacities for pleasure and pain of chickens, pigs, octopuses, bees, and other animals — and the limitations of that approach.
              • Concrete examples of how someone might use the estimated moral weights to compare the benefits of animal vs human interventions.
              • The results that most surprised Bob.
              • Why the team used a hedonic theory of welfare to inform the project, and what non-hedonic theories of welfare might bring to the table.
              • Thought experiments like Tortured Tim that test different philosophical assumptions about welfare.
              • Confronting our own biases when estimating animal mental capacities and moral worth.
              • The limitations of using neuron counts as a proxy for moral weights.
              • How different types of risk aversion, like avoiding worst-case scenarios, could impact cause prioritisation.
              • And plenty more.

              Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
              Audio Engineering Lead: Ben Cordell
              Technical editing: Simon Monsour and Milo McGuire
              Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
              Transcriptions: Katy Moore

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              #181 – Laura Deming on the science that could keep us healthy in our 80s and beyond

              The question I care about is: What do I want to do? Like, when I’m 80, how strong do I want to be? OK, and then if I want to be that strong, how well do my muscles have to work? OK, and then if that’s true, what would they have to look like at the cellular level for that to be true? Then what do we have to do to make that happen? In my head, it’s much more about agency and what choice do I have over my health. And even if I live the same number of years, can I live as an 80-year-old running every day happily with my grandkids?

              Laura Deming

              In today’s episode, host Luisa Rodriguez speaks to Laura Deming — founder of The Longevity Fund — about the challenge of ending ageing.

              They cover:

              • How lifespan is surprisingly easy to manipulate in animals, which suggests human longevity could be increased too.
              • Why we irrationally accept age-related health decline as inevitable.
              • The engineering mindset Laura takes to solving the problem of ageing.
              • Laura’s thoughts on how ending ageing is primarily a social challenge, not a scientific one.
              • The recent exciting regulatory breakthrough for an anti-ageing drug for dogs.
              • Laura’s vision for how increased longevity could positively transform society by giving humans agency over when and how they age.
              • Why this decade may be the most important decade ever for making progress on anti-ageing research.
              • The beauty and fascination of biology, which makes it such a compelling field to work in.
              • And plenty more.

              Producer and editor: Keiran Harris
              Audio Engineering Lead: Ben Cordell
              Technical editing: Simon Monsour and Milo McGuire
              Additional content editing: Katy Moore and Luisa Rodriguez
              Transcriptions: Katy Moore

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              The case for taking your technical expertise to the field of AI policy

              The idea this week: technical expertise is needed in AI governance and policy.

              How do you prevent a new and rapidly evolving technology from spiralling out of control? How can governments, policymakers, and civil society ensure that we’re making the best decisions about how to integrate artificial intelligence into our society?

              To answer these kinds of questions, we need people with technical expertise — in machine learning, information security, computing hardware, or other relevant technical domains — to work in AI governance and policy making.

              Of course, there are roles for people with many different backgrounds to play in AI governance and policy. Experience in law, international coordination, communications, operations management, and more are all potentially valuable in this space.

              But we think people with technical backgrounds may underrate their ability to contribute to AI policy. We’ve long regarded AI technical safety research as an extremely high-impact career option, and we still do. But this sometimes gives readers the impression that if they’ve got a technical background or aptitude, it’s the main path for them to consider if they want to help prevent an AI-related catastrophe.

              But this isn’t necessarily true.

              Technical knowledge is crucial in AI governance for understanding the current landscape and likely trajectories of the technology, as well as for designing and implementing policies that can reduce the biggest risks.

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                AI governance and policy

                As advancing AI capabilities gained widespread attention in late 2022 and 2023, interest in governing and regulating these systems has grown. Discussion of the potential catastrophic risks of misaligned or uncontrollable AI has become more prominent, potentially opening up opportunities for policy that could mitigate the threats.

                There’s still a lot of uncertainty about which AI governance strategies would be best. But some ideas for policies and strategies that would reduce risk seem promising to us. See, for example, a list of potential policy ideas from Luke Muehlhauser of Open Philanthropy and a survey of expert opinion on best practices in AI safety and governance.

                But there’s no roadmap here. There’s plenty of room for debate about which policies and proposals are needed.

                We may not have found the best ideas yet in this space, and there’s still a lot of work to figure out how promising policies and strategies would work in practice. We hope to see more people enter this field to develop expertise and skills that will contribute to risk-reducing AI governance and coordination.

                Why this could be a high-impact career path

                Artificial intelligence has advanced rapidly. In 2022 and 2023, new language and image generation models gained widespread attention for their abilities, blowing past previous benchmarks.

                And the applications of these models are still new; with more tweaking and integration into society, the existing AI systems may become easier to use and more ubiquitous.

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