Mar 01, 2018
This is the first new career path we've promoted since AI policy and strategy 8 months ago. See the full write up on the 80,000 Hours site. What follows is the introduction to the full article.
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Last summer, China unveiled a plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence, aiming to create a $150 billion industry by 2030.
“We must take initiative to firmly grasp this new stage of development for artificial intelligence and create a new competitive edge,” the country’s State Council said. The move symbolised the technological thrust of “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” promoted by President Xi Jinping.
And it’s not just AI. China is becoming increasingly important in the solution of other global problems prioritised by the effective altruism community, including biosecurity, factory farming and nuclear security. But few in the community know much about the country, and coordination between Chinese and Western organisations seems like it could be improved a great deal.
This suggests that a high-impact career path could be to develop expertise in the intersection between China, effective altruism and pressing global issues. Once you’ve attained this expertise, you can use it to carry out research into global priorities or AI strategy; work in governments setting relevant areas of China-West policy, advise Western groups on how to work together with their Chinese counterparts, and other projects that we’ll sketch below.
For this reason, we’ve added “China specialists” to the list of priority career paths we’re preparing to publish. Although there’s still much we don’t understand about this area, we think it’s an option especially worth considering if you’re aligned with the effective altruism community, have an interest in China, and are relatively good at humanities compared to quantitative skills.
In the rest of this article, we explain why understanding China is valuable. Then, we suggest concrete career steps you could take along this path, both in the short and long term, whether you have a Chinese or Western background. We’ll also explain why we don’t think outreach in China is a good idea right now.
There are already several people going down this path, but we need a lot more expertise and connections. In the next few years, it seems useful for up to 10-20 people in the community to develop significant expertise across the relevant topics.
For this reason, we recently began working with a part-time specialist advisor focused on China, who co-authored this post, and can provide one-on-on-one advice, introductions to others working in this area, and help finding funding.
Let us know if you're interested in entering this path.