[ Question ]

Doing Global Priorities or AI Policy research from remote location?

by With Love from Israel 25d29th Oct 20191 min read4 comments

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Hello there,

I first discovered 80,000 hours a couple of months ago, and have since fallen in love with EA. I've read plenty of the content, both online and in books, but this is the first time I am connecting to the community and writing a post on the EA forum!

I am currently doing a BA in Economics and International Relations. My tentative career plan at the moment is to get a PhD in Economics and go into global priorities or AI policy research. If that doesn't work out, an advanced degree in economics would give me some good career capital to fall back on.

My concern is that both the global priorities and AI policy research communities are quite small at the moment from my understanding. What are my chances of effectively doing work on these problems from Israel? My girlfriend wants to stay in Israel at least over the long term. Hopefully I will be able to convince her to fly to the US or UK for a couple of years for my PhD, and then come back here after. I was thinking for example, of (if I was accepted) doing my PhD at Oxford and connecting with the Future of Humanity or the Global Priorities Institute, then hopefully I could stay connected and continue to do research in the same domain when I returned to Israel.

Sorry for the long introduction. Here are my questions:

1. If I was to do my PhD in the US/UK and connect to one of those research communities, how efficiently would I be able to continue my research once I moved back to Israel? How much would I be losing out on by moving back?

2. If I was unable to go to the US/UK even just for my PhD, and instead I got my PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. would I still be able to connect and do research in one of those fields, or would I be outclassed by people that got their PhD from Stanford, etc... What if I did a postdoc at an elite school?

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1 Answers

Hi there! My name is Edo, from the EA group in Israel. You are welcome to join our facebook group :) We have begun a prelimenary mapping of relevant researchers in the Israeli Academia, to see who can advise on EA-related projects. And we are very interested in seeing more Israeli academics interested in global priorities research, AI governance and any research related to effectively doing good.

It's hard for me to give answers to your first question. It seems that in order to work effectively in Israel you would need

  1. To get a position.
  2. To have local collaborators from related fields. (though, students and collaborators abroad are also great)

Regarding the second, my impression is that:

  1. HUJI and some other universities in Israel are generally considered to be very good.
  2. That depends a lot on your advisor.
  3. It seems that the most important thing is to produce high quality research. People at GPI and FHI could possibly give you some metrics, but that could change by the time you are done.
  4. Currently these fields are growing, and they seek more researchers. You need to be good to get in, but I do not think that you need to publish previous work on the precise topics (though, that would be helpful).

I think that a good advice for the short term would be to go to one of the intership programs at a relevant EA institution. Also, we are looking at ways to work on small scale research problems and do some work that does not require expertise but can aid researchers. This can also help you understand the field better, and to show that you are capaple and motivated in doing relevant research.

You are welcome to get in touch!