I'm currently helping assess 80,000 Hours' impact over the past 2 years.
One part of our impact is ways we influence the direction of the EA community.
By "direction of the EA community," I mean a variety of things like:
- What messages seem prevalent in the community
- What ideas gain prominence or become less prominent
- What community members are interested in
To get a better understanding of this, I'm gathering thoughts from community members on how they perceive 80,000 Hours to have influenced the direction of the EA community, if at all.
If you have ideas, please share them using this short form!
Note we are interested to hear about both positive and negative influences.
This isn’t supposed to be a rigorous or thorough survey -- but we think we should have a low bar for rapid-fire surveys of people in the community that could be helpful for giving us ideas or things to investigate.
Thank you! Arden
The deprioritization of nonlongtermist issues, orgs and paths. To me this is unwarranted and didn’t necessarily reflect the views of the EA community. I suspect this lead to some division and feeling pushed around/devalued by people interested in global health, suffering, animals, etc. This may have driven the movement to be more longtermist dominated as the other people engage less.
I agree with the increased focus on long-termism, but I would also like to 80,000 Hours minimise any feelings of division/devaluing as long as they can do so whilst remaining true to what they believe.
Thanks David - it seems like an important harm to consider if we've caused people who'd otherwise be doing valuable work in global health / animal welfare / other issues to leave the EA community // not do as valuable work.
I didn't know the job board did this! That is pretty terrible.
Well the job board still lists the “neartermist” jobs but the top orgs and pressing problems does impose these two separate tiers.
Animal welfare is not even in the first or second tier.
Like, literally nanotech is beating it out, as well as "malevolent actors", and "improving governance of public goods".
*Opens "top recommended organizations"*
A bit to unpack, but yeah, forecasting is beating out global health and wellbeing, for top priority.
The smells are large, e.g. shipping the org chart, etc.
This way of breaking things down is very confusing to me. It seems weird to have some of the listed areas be role types and some be cause areas. E.g. the grantmaker and EA org employee sections also include GiveWell
Thanks Rebecca, I see how that's a confusing way to organise things -- will pass on this feedback.
I was also going to say that it's pretty confusing that this list is not the same as either the top problem areas listed elsewhere on the site or the top-priority career paths, although it seems derived from the latter. Maybe there are some version control issues here?
The 80K job board is the second most important referral source of applicants to Rethink Priorities, behind only personal referrals (e.g., inviting specific people to apply and asking people to refer us people to invite to apply). It also holds a large margin over the third best source, which I think is Twitter but I'm not sure.
Thanks! this is helpful.
I'd suggest changing the first short answer question on the google form to a longer response. Right now I can only see part of the sentence I'm typing.
fixed - thank you!
(I submitted this to your form, figured I could also write it here for further discussion):
I think 80k has provided a clear and easy-to-consume career guide, which has influenced the conversation. There are a set of careers/cause areas which are legibly high priority and thus approved by 80k. This has the effect of nudging people into the approved careers and discouraging them from everything else.
I suspect this has both positive and negative effects. The positive ones are the first-order effects: hopefully people actually make better career choices and this helps the world. I have some fears about the second-order effects though. Mainly, I worry that (mainly through social dynamics) some people are pushed out of careers where they would actually have more impact, by moving into careers where they can't thrive as well, and thus grow less and end up making less of a difference on the world. It's hard to judge this impact on those people's lives, since it shows up slowly and over time.
Thanks! Agree about there being tradeoffs here. Curious if you have more to say on this:
Am I right in thinking that the worry that, by raising the status of some careers, 80k creates social pressure to do those rather than the one you have greater personal fit for?
(Do you think there’s a (reasonable) amount of emphasis on personal fit we could present which would mostly ameliorate your worries on this?)
I think 80k has tried to emphasize personal fit in the content, but something about the presentation seems to dominate the content, and I think that is somehow related to social dynamics. Something seems to get in the way of the "personal fit" message coming through; I think it is related to having "top recommended career paths". I don't know how to ameliorate this, or I would suggest it directly.
I'm sure this is frustrating to you too, since like 90% of the guide is dedicated to making the point that personal fit is important; and people seem to gloss over that.
One thing that could help would be eliminating the "top recommended career paths" part of the website entirely. That will be very unsatisfying to some readers, and possibly reduce the 'virality' of the entire project, so may be a net bad idea; but it would help with this particular problem. I am afraid I don't have any better ideas.
I agree this is an important point, but also think identifying top-ranked paths and problems is one of 80K's core added values, so don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater here.
One less extreme intervention that could help would be to keep the list of top recommendations, but not rank them. Instead 80K could list them as "particularly promising pathways" or something like that, emphasizing in the first paragraphs of text that personal fit should be a large part of the decision of choosing a career and that the identification of a top tier of careers is intended to help the reader judge where they might fit.
Another possibility, I don't know if you all have thought of this, would be to offer something that's almost like a wizard interface where a user inputs or checks boxes relating to various strengths/weaknesses they have, where they're authorized to work, core beliefs or moral preferences, etc., and then the program spits back a few options of "you might want to consider careers x, y, and z -- for more, sign up for a session with one of our advisors." Then promote that as the primary draw for the website more than the career guides. Just a thought?
One element of personal fit that’s not mentioned is the choice to have kids / become a primary caregiver for someone — see bessieodell’s great post. Current impact calculations don’t include this by default, which I think creates a cultural undercurrent of “real EAs don’t factor caregiving into their careers.”
Post here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ahne8S7JdmjmjHieu/does-effective-altruism-cater-to-women
I think more emphasis on what makes a fulfilling career, as distinct from personal fit, which I take to mean ‘chance of being excellent at this’, would help ameliorate this and similar worries. This could just mean signal boosting more of your research on what makes a fulfilling career