I've been involved in EA for nearly a year now. At first, it was super exciting. I resonated so much with the core ideas of EA, and I couldn't wait to get started with doing the most good I possibly could. I had no idea there was so much opportunity.
As I got further into it, my hopes started to fade, and I started to feel like I didn't really fit in. EA is pitched to the super intelligent in our society, those who did super hard degrees at Oxford or Harvard and learned to code at age 8. For me, I'm just average. I never stood out at school, I went to mid-ranking university and studied sociology (which has a reputation for being an easy degree). I graduated, got an average job and am living an average life. I don't have some high earning side hustle and I don't spend my spare time researching how we can make sure AI is aligned with human values.
I do however, care a lot about doing the most good. So I really want to fit in here because that matters a lot to me. I want to leave the world a better place. But I feel like I don't fit, because frankly, I'm not smart enough. (I'm not trying to be self deprecating here, I feel like I'm probably pretty average among the general population - and I didn't really ever feel 'not smart enough' before getting involved in EA)
I totally understand why EA aims at the Oxford and Harvard graduates, of course, we want the most intelligent people working on the world's most pressing problems.
But most people aren't Oxford or Harvard graduates. Most people aren't even university graduates. So do we have a place in EA?
I want to be a part of this community, so I'm trying to make it work. But this leads me to be worried about a lot of other people like me who feel the same. They come across EA, get excited, only to find out that there's not really a place for them - and then they lose interest in the community. Even the idea of giving 10% of your salary can be hard to achieve if you're balancing the needs/wants of others in your family (who maybe aren't so EA minded) and considering the rises in the cost of living currently.
I'm guessing here, because I have absolutely no stats to back this up and it's based on mostly my anecdotal experience - but we could potentially be losing a lot of people who want to be a part of this but struggle to be because EA is so narrowly targeted.
Whenever I come on the EA forum I literally feel like my brain is going to explode with some of the stuff that is posted on here, I just don't understand it. And I'm not saying that this stuff shouldn't be posted because not everyone can comprehend it. These are really important topics and of course we need smart people talking about it. But maybe we need to be aware that it can also be quite alienating to the average person who just wants to do good.
I don't have a solution to all this, but it's been on my mind for a while now. I re-watched this Intro to EA by Ajeya Cotra this morning, and it really re-invigorated my excitement about EA, so I thought I'd put this out there.
I'd be really keen to hear if anyone has any thoughts/feelings/ideas on this - I'm honestly not sure if I'm the only one who feels like this.