Read & edited by: Garrett Baker
Everyone reasonably familiar with EA knows that AI safety, pandemic preparedness, animal welfare and global poverty are considered EA cause areas, whereas feminism, LGBT rights, wildlife conservation and dental hygiene aren't.
The state of some very specific cause areas being held in high regard by the EA community is the result of long deliberations by many thoughtful people who have reasoned that work in these areas could be highly effective. This collective cause prioritization is often the outcome of weighing and comparing the scale, tractability and neglectedness of different causes. Neglectedness in particular seems to play a crucial role in swaying the attention of many EAs and concluding, for example, that working on pandemic preparedness is likely more promising than working on climate change, due to the different levels of attention that these causes currently receive worldwide. Some cause areas, such as AI safety and global poverty, have gained so much attention within EA (both in absolute terms and, more so, compared to the general public) that the EA movement has become somewhat identified with them.
Prioritizing and comparing cause areas is at the very core of EA. Nevertheless, I would like to argue that while cause prioritization is extremely important and should continue, having the EA movement identified with specific cause areas has negative consequences. I would like to highlight the negative aspects of having such a large fraction of the attention and resources of EA going into such a small number of causes, and present the case for more cause diversification and pluralism within EA.
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