OpenPhil and the FTX Future Fund employ some of the very brightest people in EA to decide where to allocate their money. For human capital, the process is a lot messier: individuals just choose whatever they think is best. No expert decision makers. How unsystematic! And they each have to do their own research to come to their own conclusions. How inefficient!
Imagine if instead, expert career allocators could carefully deliberate and centrally decide exactly what fraction of EA's human capital budget should be devoted to what cause area. That is the goal of this project.
80,000 hours currently do something vaguely like this, but their process is incredibly imprecise and expensive. They need to talk to hundreds of individuals per year, many of whom may not follow their advice at all!
How else could the community decide which person should go down which career path?
I expect most cause areas to have similar overall needs: each will need quantitative experts, operations managers, leaders, and so on. Thus, to ensure this talent distribution gets evenly allocated across cause areas, a random allocation process would be ideal. I propose assignment by birth date.
To a first approximation, birth dates are fairly random: there is little reason to expect potentially talented operations managers to be disproportionately born in one part of the year. And they are unambiguous. Everyone already has a birth date and it's difficult to lie about or change.
Hence, I suggest creating a central dashboard where 80,000 hours publish their recommended career allocations as a function of birth date. Here's an example of what that might look like:
- AI saftey: Everyone born from January 1st until April 17th (29%)
- Biorisk: Everyone born from April 18th until June 3rd (13%)
- Global Health and Wellbeing: Everyone born from July 4th until August 8th (18%)
- Animal Welfare: Everyone born from August 9th until September 20th (11%)
- ... [Many other cause areas, all of which are dear to my heart, just as the above.]
Stella, who was born on the 2nd of March 2001, would know to go into AI safety. No need to research any thorny philosophical or empirical questions to make the decision, it's all been taken care of.
Of course, 80,000 hours might change their minds about the optimal allocation. In fact, big community-wide debates would be held over whether thresholds should be moved. A popular petition might advocate for moving the threshold date for AI safety to February 15th, thereby massively reducing the community's investment.
Yet, everyone would recognize the necessity to cooperate and play by the rules. EA orgs would generally refuse to accept candidates with the wrong birthdates.
I am eager for suggestions about what to do with people who have already started going down a career path, when threshold dates are changed. I tentatively think that the enormous benefits offered by this system would easily outweigh the career transition costs, but I'm open to other creative solutions.
To conclude, the time to make career markets more efficient is long overdue. We need to avoid accidentally overcrowding or neglecting any cause areas. Assigning careers by birthdates provides an easy and, in hindsight, obvious solution, allowing the community as a whole to make wiser decisions about its human capital.