All of 80000_Hours's Comments + Replies

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Michael,

I wonder if there might have been a misunderstanding. In previous comments, we’ve said that:

  1. We're adding an episode making the case for near termism, likely in place of the episode on alternative foods. While we want to keep it higher level, that episode is still likely to include more object-level material than e.g. Toby’s included episode does.

  2. We're going to swap Paul Christiano’s episode out for Ajeya Cotra, which is a mostly meta-level episode that includes coverage of the advantages of near-termism over longtermism.

  3. We're adding the

... (read more)
FWIW these sound like fairly good changes to me. :) (Also for reasons unrelated to the "Was the original selection 'too longtermist'?" issue, on which I don't mean to take a stand here.)

Hello Rob and Keiran,

I apologise if this is just rank incompetence/inattention on my part as a forum reader, but I actually can't find anything mentioning 1. or 2. in your comments on this thread, although I did see your note about 3. (I've done control-F for all the comments by "80000_Hours" and mentions of "Paul Christiano", "Ajeya Cotra", "Keiran", and "Rob". If I've missed them, and you provide a (digestible) hat, I will take a bite.)

In any case, the new structure seems pretty good to me - one series that deals with the ideas more or less in the abstr... (read more)

Seems like a sad development if this is being done for symbolic or coalitional reasons, rather than for the sake of optimizing the specific topics covered in the episodes and the quality of the coverage.

An example of the former would be something along the lines of 'if we don't include words like "Animal" and "Poverty" in big enough print on this webpage, that will send the wrong message about how EAs in general feel about those causes'.

An example of the latter would be 'if we don't include argument X about animal welfare in one of the first five episodes ... (read more)

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hey commenters — so as we mentioned we've been discussing internally what other changes we should make to address the concerns raised in the comments here, beyond creating the 'ten problem areas' feed.

We think the best change to make is to record a new episode with someone who is in favour of interventions that are 'higher-evidence', or that have more immediate benefits, and then insert that into the introduction series.

Our current interviews about e.g. animals or global development don't make the case in favour of 'short-termist' approaches because the gu... (read more)

Thanks for somewhat engaging on this, but this response doesn't adequately address the main objection I, and others, have been making: your so-called 'introduction' will still only cover your preferred set of object-level problems.

To emphasise, if you're going to push your version of EA, call it 'EA', but ignore the perspectives of dedicated, sincere, thoughtful EAs just because you happen not to agree with them, that's (1) insufficiently epistemically modest, (2) uncooperative, and (3) is going to (continue to) needlessly annoy a lot of people off, myself included.

Thanks for taking action on the feedback! I welcome this change and am looking forward to that new episode. Here's 3 people I would nominate for that episode:

Tied as my top preference:

  1. Peter Hurford - Since he has already volunteered to be interviewed anyway, and I don't think Rethink Priorities's work has been featured yet on the 80K podcast. They do research across animal welfare, global health and dev't, meta, and long-termist causes, so seems like they do a lot of thinking about cause prioritization.
  2. Joey Savoie - Since he has experience starting or help
... (read more)

Other good people to consider: Neil Buddy Shah (GiveWell), James Snowden (GiveWell), Alexander Berger (Open Phil), Zach Robinson (Open Phil), Peter Favorolo (Open Phil), Joey Savoie (Charity Entrepreneurship), Karolina Sarek (Charity Entrepreneurship)

I'd be happy to make the case for why Rethink Priorities spends a lot of time researching neartermist topics.

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi all of the commenters here — thanks again for all the further thoughts on the compilation.

We're in the process of discussing your feedback internally and figuring out whether to make any further changes, and if so what they should be. We don't want to rush that, but will get back to you as soon as we can.

— Rob and Keiran

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hey Khorton, thanks for checking that. Initially I was puzzled by why I'd made this error but then I saw that "People could rate more than one area as the “top priority”. As a result the figures sum to more than 100%.

That survey design makes things a bit confusing, but the end result is that each of these votes can only be read as a vote for one of the top few priorities. — Rob

Hi, I wrote the cause area EA Survey 2019 post for Rethink Priorities so thought I should just weigh in here on this minor point.

Fwiw, I think it's more accurate to say 22% of respondents thought Global Poverty should be at least one of the top priorities, if not the only top priority, but when forced to only pick only one of five traditional cause areas to be the top priority, 32% chose Global Poverty.

The data shows 476 of the 2164 respondents (22%) who gave any top priority cause rating in that question selected Global Poverty and "this should be the to... (read more)

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Neel thanks for these thoughts. I've responded to the broader issue in a new top-level comment.

Just on the point that we should be explicit that this is longtermism focused, while longtermism isn't in the title I tried to make it pretty explicit in the series' 'Episode 0':

One final note before we start. We wanted to keep this introduction to just ten episodes, which meant we had to make some tough decisions about what made the cut. This selection skews towards focusing on longtermism and efforts to preserve a long and positive future for humanity, bec

... (read more)

Thanks for the clarification. I'm glad that's in there, and I'll feel better about this once the 'Top 10 problem areas' feed exists, but I still feel somewhat dissatisfied. I think that 'some EAs prioritise longtermism, some prioritise neartermism or are neutral. 80K personally prioritises longtermism, and does so in this podcast feed, but doesn't claim to speak on behalf of the movement and will point you elsewhere if you're specifically interested in global health or animal welfare' is a complex and nuanced point. I generally think it's bad to try making... (read more)

In 2019, 22% of community members thought global poverty should be THE top priority; closer to 62% of people thought it should be one of several near-top priorities.

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

[Just threading responses to different topics separately.] Regarding including Dave Denkenberger's episode, the reason for that isn't that alternative foods or disaster resilience are especially central EA problem areas.

Rather, in keeping with the focus on worldview and 'how we think', we put it in there as a demonstration of entrepreneurship, independent thinking, and general creativity. I can totally see how people could prefer that it be replaced with a different theme, but that was the reasoning. (We give the motivation for including each episode in their respective intros.) — Rob and Keiran

3Neel Nanda1y
Ah, thanks for the clarification! That makes me feel less strongly about the lack of diversity. I interpreted it as prioritising ALLFED over global health stuff as representative of the work of the EA movement, which felt glaringly wrong
I understand - thanks for the clarification!
Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hey Brian, Ula, and other commenters,

Thanks again for all the feedback! To what extent each piece of content closely associated with EA should aim to be 'representative' is a vexed issue that folks are going to continue to have different views on, and we can't produce something that's ideal to everyone simultaneously.

Fortunately in this case I think there's a change we can make that will be an improvement from everyone's perspective.

We had planned to later make another collection that would showcase a wider variety of things that EAs are up to. Given your ... (read more)

Hi Rob and Keiran, thanks for the quick response! I agree that this is a difficult issue. Thanks for letting us know about that 2nd feed with a wider variety of things that EAs are up to. I think that's a good thing to have.

Even with that 2nd feed though, I think it would still be better if the "Effective Altruism: An Introduction Feed" had the Lewis Bollard episode and an episode on global health and dev't, whether by substituting episodes or expanding it to 12 episodes. I don't want to make this into a big debate, but I want to share my point of view bel... (read more)

Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Hi Brian, (also Ula and Neel below),

Thanks for the feedback. These comments have prompted us to think about the issue some more — I won't be able to get you a full answer before the weekend, but we're working on a bigger picture solution to this which I hope will address some of your worries.

We should be able to fill you in on our plans next week. (ADDED: screw it we'll just finish it tonight — posted as a new top level comment.)

— Rob

The emerging school of patient longtermism

Just a visual metaphor of most centuries being boring and only a few standing out as uniquely influential.

Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018

Thanks for producing this Peter, it's very helpful. I sent you some metric data on the 80,000 Hours Podcast, but now that I've seen the post, I can give you the best numbers for the table. I would suggest putting these figures in instead.

Net new podcast subscribers added

2017 - 4,600

2018 - 10,500

Total podcast downloads/plays

2017 - 87,600 (average episode length 1.61 hours.)

2018 - 517,100 (average episode length 1.97 hours.)

Notes on interpretation

  1. The podcast only started half way through 2017, I'm not sure how you want to handle that.

  2. Those are the maxi

... (read more)
2Peter Wildeford3y
Thanks - I updated the post with that data.
How big do you expect that fraction to be? (Or: what percentage of those numbers do you expect to be 'real listeners'?)
Thoughts on 80,000 Hours’ research that might help with job-search frustrations

Hi lexande - thanks for taking the time to share your worries with us. We take our responsibility towards our users seriously.

I don’t think we’re likely to come to agreement right now on a lot of the other specific issues that have been raised.

That said, it’s helpful to know when our users strongly disagree with our priorities and we take that into account when we form our plans.

Effective Altruism in non-high-income countries

80,000 Hours wrote some quick notes on this back in 2015:

Potentially promising career paths in poorer countries

They were rough then and may have become out of date in the last 3 years, but hopefully can still help people generate ideas.

Many EA orgs say they place a lot of financial value on their previous hire. What does that mean, if anything? And why aren't they hiring faster?

We have a forthcoming post on whether the expressions 'talent gap/bottleneck/constraint' are generating more heat than light and should be phased out in favour of more specific terms.

Survey of EA org leaders about what skills and experience they most need, their staff/donations trade-offs, problem prioritisation, and more.

Hi Evan,

Responses to the survey do help to inform our advice but it’s only considered as one piece of data alongside all the other research we’ve done over the years. Our writeup of the survey results definitely shouldn’t be read as our all-things-considered view on any issue in particular.

Perhaps we could have made that clearer in the blog post but we hope that our frank discussion of the survey’s weaknesses and our doubts about many of the individual responses gives some sense of the overall weight we put on this particular source.

Oh, no, that all makes sense. I was just raising questions I had about the post as I came across them. But I guess I should've have read the whole post first. I haven't finished it yet. Thanks.
Survey of EA org leaders about what skills and experience they most need, their staff/donations trade-offs, problem prioritisation, and more.

Hi Peter,

It sounds like you mostly agree with our take on earning to give in the high impact careers article. That article is fairly new but it will become one of the central pages on the site after a forthcoming re-organisation. Let us know if there are other articles on the site you think are inconsistent with that take - we can take a look and potentially bring them into line.

We agree with you that earning to give can be a genuinely great option and don’t intend to demoralize people who choose that path. As we write in that article, we believe that “an... (read more)

Survey of EA org leaders about what skills and experience they most need, their staff/donations trade-offs, problem prioritisation, and more.

"Does the answer refer to high impact opportunities in general in the world"

That question is intended to look at the highest-impact jobs available in the world as a whole, in contrast with the organisations being surveyed. Given the top response was government and policy experts, I think people interpreted it correctly.

Compilation of 32 new(ish) 80,000 Hours research pieces for the effective altruist community

Hi Alex thanks I fixed 30. 2,4,6 and 15 are working for me - can you email over a screenshot of the error you're getting?

Huh, weirdly they seem to all work again now, they used to take me to the same page as any non-valid URl, e.g. []
How to improve EA Funds

"given the relative abundance of cash available to EA orgs (through OpenPhil and Good Ventures), a rate as high as this is surprising."

Three thoughts: i) the range of figures offered was very wide, ii) orgs that are strongly supported by large institutional donors gave lower figures, iii) if those orgs expect OpenPhil/GoodVentures/etc to give them even more money in future years, they could still sensibly report a high discount rate.

Compilation of 32 new(ish) 80,000 Hours research pieces for the effective altruist community

Fair point. I thought about calling them articles... but they're definitely not all articles. Thought about calling them 'content releases' but that felt like corporate vagueness.

I should have gone with something nobody could dispute: 32 new(ish) universal resource locators. ;) - RW

80,000 Hours articles aimed at the EA community

Hi Geoffrey, we agree this would be very valuable. Our materials are already heading in that direction, but I think it will be at least a year or two before we do a major research push to produce that guide due to other competing priorities.