Radar speed signs currently seem like one of the more cost effective traffic
calming measures since they don't require roadwork, but they still surprisingly
cost thousands of dollars.
Mass producing cheaper radar speed signs seems like a tractable public health
GET AMBITIOUS SLOWLY
Most approaches to increasing agency and ambition focus on telling people to
dream big and not be intimidated by large projects. I'm sure that works for some
people, but it feels really flat for me, and I consider myself one of the lucky
ones. The worst case scenario is big inspiring speeches get you really pumped
up to Solve Big Problems but you lack the tools to meaningfully follow up.
Faced with big dreams but unclear ability to enact them, people have a few
* try anyway and fail badly, probably too badly for it to even be an
* fake it, probably without knowing they're doing so
* learned helplessness, possible systemic depression
* be heading towards failure, but too many people are counting on you so
someone steps in and rescue you. They consider this net negative and prefer
the world where you'd never started to the one where they had to rescue you.
* discover more skills than they knew. feel great, accomplish great things,
learn a lot.
The first three are all very costly, especially if you repeat the cycle a few
My preferred version is ambition snowball or "get ambitious slowly". Pick
something big enough to feel challenging but not much more, accomplish it, and
then use the skills and confidence you learn to tackle a marginally bigger
challenge. This takes longer than immediately going for the brass ring and
succeeding on the first try, but I claim it is ultimately faster and has higher
EV than repeated failures.
I claim EA's emphasis on doing The Most Important Thing pushed people into
premature ambition and everyone is poorer for it. Certainly I would have been
better off hearing this 10 years ago
What size of challenge is the right size? I've thought about this a lot and
don't have a great answer. You can see how things feel in your gut, or compare
to past projects. My few rules:
* stick to problems where failure will at least be informative. If you can't
The OECD are currently hiring for a few potentially high-impact roles in the tax
The Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (CTPA)
* Executive Assistant to the Director and Office Manager (closes 6th October)
* Senior programme officer (closes 28th September)
* Head of Division - Tax Administration and VAT (closes 5th October)
* Head of Division - Tax Policy and Statistics (closes 5th October)
* Head of Division - Cross-Border and International Tax (closes 5th October)
* Team Leader - Tax Inspectors Without Borders (closes 28th September)
I know less about the impact of these other areas but these look good:
Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD)
* Head of Section, Codes and Schemes - Trade and Agriculture Directorate
(closes 25th September)
* Programme Co-ordinator (closes 25th September)
International Energy Agency (IEA)
* Clean Energy Technology Analysts (closes 24th September)
* Modeller and Analyst – Clean Shipping & Aviation (closes 24th September)
* Analyst & Modeller – Clean Energy Technology Trade (closes 24th September)
* Data Analyst - Temporary (closes 28-09-2023)
Financial Action Task Force
* Policy Analyst(s), Anti-Money Laundering & Combatting Terrorist Financing
I'm going to be leaving 80,000 Hours and joining Charity Entrepreneurship's
incubator programme this summer!
The summer 2023 incubator round is focused on biosecurity and scalable global
health charities and I'm really excited to see what's the best fit for me and
hopefully launch a new charity. The ideas that the research team have written up
look really exciting and I'm trepidatious about the challenge of being a founder
but psyched for getting started. Watch this space! <3
I've been at 80,000 Hours for the last 3 years. I'm very proud of the 800+
advising calls I did and feel very privileged I got to talk to so many people
and try and help them along their careers!
I've learned so much during my time at 80k. And the team at 80k has been
wonderful to work with - so thoughtful, committed to working out what is the
right thing to do, kind, and fun - I'll for sure be sad to leave them.
There are a few main reasons why I'm leaving now:
1. New career challenge - I want to try out something that stretches my skills
beyond what I've done before. I think I could be a good fit for being a
founder and running something big and complicated and valuable that wouldn't
exist without me - I'd like to give it a try sooner rather than later.
2. Post-EA crises stepping away from EA community building a bit - Events over
the last few months in EA made me re-evaluate how valuable I think the EA
community and EA community building are as well as re-evaluate my personal
relationship with EA. I haven't gone to the last few EAGs and switched my
work away from doing advising calls for the last few months, while
processing all this. I have been somewhat sad that there hasn't been more
discussion and changes by now though I have been glad to see more EA leaders
share things more recently (e.g. this from Ben Todd). I do still believe
there are some really important ideas that EA prioritises but I'm more
circumspect about some of the thin
EA hiring gets a lot of criticism. But I think there are aspects at which it
does unusually well.
One thing I like is that hiring and holding jobs feels way more collaborative
between boss and employee. I'm much more likely to feel like a hiring manager
wants to give me honest information and make the best decision, whether or not
that's with them.Relative to the rest of the world they're much less likely to
take investigating other options personally.
Work trials and even trial tasks have a high time cost, and are disruptive to
people with normal amounts of free time and work constraints (e.g. not having a
boss who wants you to trial with other orgs because they personally care about
you doing the best thing, whether or not it's with them). But trials are so much
more informative than interviews, I can't imagine hiring for or accepting a
long-term job without one.
Trials are most useful when you have the least information about someone, so I
expect removing them to lead to more inner-ring dynamics and less hiring of
EA also has an admirable norm of paying for trials, which no one does for
I sometimes argue against certain EA payment norms because they feel extractive,
or cause recipients to incur untracked costs. E.g. "it's not fair to have a
system that requires unpaid work, or going months between work in ways that
can't be planned around and aren't paid for". This was the basis for some of
what I said here. But I'm not sure this is always bad, or that the alternatives
are better. Some considerations
1. if it's okay for people to donate money I can't think of a principled reason
it's not okay for them to donate time -> unpaid work is not a priori bad.
2. If it would be okay for people to solve the problem of gaps in grants by
funding bridge grants, it can't be categorically disallowed to self-fund the
time between grants.
3. If partial self-funding is required to do independent, grant-funded work,
then only people who can afford that will do such work. To the extent the
people who can't would have done irreplaceably good work, that's a loss, and
it should be measured. And to the extent some people would personally enjoy
doing such work but can't, that's sad for them. But the former is an
empirical question weighed against the benefits of underpaying, and the
latter is not relevant to impact.
1. I think the costs of blocking people who can't self-fund from this kind
of work are probably high, especially the part where it categorically
prevents segments of society with useful information from participating.
But this is much more relevant for e.g. global development than AI risk.
4. A norm against any unpaid work would mean no one could do anything unless
they got funder approval ahead of time, which would be terrible.
5. A related problem is when people need to do free work (broadly defined, e.g.
blogging counts) to get a foot in the door for paid work. This has a lot of
the same downsides as requiring self-funding, but, man, seems pretty stupid
to insist on ignorin
Would newer people find it valuable to have some kind of 80,000 hours career
chatbot that had access to the career guide, podcast notes, EA forum posts, job
postings, etc, and then answered career questions? I’m curious if it could be
designed to be better than just a raw read of the career guide or at least a
useful add-on to the career guide.
* It could collect your conversation and convert most of it into an application
for a (human) 1-on-1 meeting.
* You could have a speech-to-text option to ramble all the things you’ve been
If anyone from 80k is reading this, I’d be happy to build this as a paid
Load more (8/21)
Immigration is such a tight constraint for me.
My next career steps after I'm done with my TCS Masters are primarily
bottlenecked by "what allows me to remain in the UK" and then "keeps me on track
to contribute to technical AI safety research".
What I would like to do for the next 1 - 2 years ("independent research"/
"further upskilling to get into a top ML PhD program") is not all that viable a
path given my visa constraints.
Above all, I want to avoid wasting N more years by taking a detour through
software engineering again so I can get Visa sponsorship.
[I'm not conscientious enough to pursue AI safety research/ML upskilling while
managing a full time job.]
Might just try and see if I can pursue a TCS PhD at my current university and do
TCS research that I think would be valuable for theoretical AI safety research.
The main detriment of that is I'd have to spend N more years in <city> and I was
really hoping to come down to London.
Advice very, very welcome.
[Not sure who to tag.]