Is it all a bit too convenient?
There's been lots of discussion about EA having so much money; particularly long-termist EA. Worries that that means we are losing the 'altruist' side of EA, as people get more comfortable, and work on more speculative cause areas. This post isn't about what's right / wrong or what "we should do"; it's about reconciling the inner tension this creates.
Many of us now have very well-paid jobs, which are in nice offices with perks like table-tennis. And that many people are working on things which often yield no benefit to humans and animals in the near-term but might in future; or indeed the first order effect of the jobs are growing the EA community, and 2nd and 3rd are speculative benefit to humans and animals or sentient beings in the future. These jobs are often high status.
Though not in an EA org, I feel my job fits this bill as well. I get a bit pissed with myself sometimes feeling I've sold out; because it just seems to be a bit too convenient that the most important thing I could do gets me high profile speaking events, a nice salary, an impressive title, access to important people, etc. And that potential impact from my job, which is in AI regulation, is still largely speculative.
I feel long-termish, in that I aim to make the largest and most sustainable change for all sentient minds to be blissful, not suffer and enjoy endless pain au raisin. But that doesn't mean ignoring humans and animals today. To blatantly mis-quote Peter Singer the opportunity cost of not saving a drowning child today is still real, even if that means showing up 5 minutes late to work every day compromising on your productivity, which you believe is so important because you have a 1/10^7* chance of saving 10^700** children.
For me to believe I'm living my values, I think I need to still try to make an impact today. I try donate a good chunk to global health and wellbeing initiatives, lean harder into animal rights, and (am now starting to) support people in my very deprived local community in London.
So two questions:
Do other long-termish leaning people feel this same tension?
And if so, how do you reconcile it within yourself?*completely glib choice of numbers
I myself don't have too much to add, but in this 80,000 hours podcast with Will MacAskill they do discuss it. (if you don't want to listen to the whole podcast, you can look up the transcript.