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Parent Topic: Cause prioritization

The importance, tractability and neglectedness framework, or ITN framework for short, is a framework for estimating the value of allocating marginal resources to solving a problem based on its importance, tractability, and neglectedness.


The  ITN framework was first developed by Holden Karnofsky around 2013 as part of his work for GiveWell Labs (which later became Open Philanthropy).[1]

80,000 Hours later presented its own, quantitative version of the framework.[2] On this version, developed by Owen Cotton-Barratt in late 2014,[3] the three factors are formally defined as follows:

  • importance  = good done / % of a problem solved
  • tractability = % of a problem solved / % increase in resources
  • neglectedness = % increase in resources / extra person or dollar

When these terms are multiplied, some of the units cancel out, resulting in a quantity denominated in good done per extra person or dollar.

Other differences between Karnofsky's model and Cotton-Barratt's are the terminology ("importance, tractability and uncrowdedness" is replaced by "scale, solvability and neglectedness") and the use of problems rather than causes as the main unit of analysis.

More recently, in an article introducing the SPC framework, Will MacAskill, Teruji Thomas and Aron Vallinder replace neglectedness with leverage, a factor that describes how the work already being done on a problem affects the cost-effectiveness of additional work. The resulting framework generalizes to problems with constant or increasing returns to additional work, whereas the ITN framework remains appropriate for problems with diminishing, especially logarithmic, returns.[4][5]


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