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I'm curious why mass media campaigns would be the recommended action given that meta-analysis of mass media campaigns don't seem indicate a reduction in sedentary behavior nor achievement of recommended physical activity levels, (though they do promote some increase in walking.)  Lobbying to invest in the built environment seems cheaper and also more effective in the long run. Organizations like Strong Towns, Bloomberg City Labs, various walking and biking safety groups advocate/lobby for walkable neighborhood changes that are very affordable, if not free, like loosening zoning to allow for mixed-use buildings, multiple homes/businesses in one lot, reduced parking minimums. Many of the changes only require legislative change, since businesses or developers take on cost of new construction. Urban3 consultancy group has considerable research into the significantly higher tax revenues cities get from new residential and commercial developments, replacing underutilized spaces like parking lots. I would guess that influencing national health organizations (like national cancer or diabetes associations) to see walkable neighborhoods as possible could increase the pace of change. Other ways to get other groups to join the lobbying effort might be to clarify via mass media campaigns the link between car-centric infrastructure to the high rates of road fatalities (the main way to make roads safer is to build pedestrian/biking infrastructure (build buffers to remove "stroads", bike lanes = narrow roads, sidewalk bump-outs = increase visibility, both of these decrease speeding). Or clarify the health impacts of children (developmental delays and asthma) for those who live on car-centric streets. I would guess these mass media campaigns would have a counterfactual difference (though indirectly to your goal) since road fatalitiy preventability and children health outcomes from even just proximity to cars are things people are not aware of, whereas almost everyone is aware that physical activity is good.

Why the recommendation against having an organization email address? There seem to be some strong downsides to board members using personal email addresses for board matters: member's entire personal inboxes are  vulnerable to search if any litigation against org happens; when members depart, it's difficult to ensure org-related emails are archived for record-keeping, particularly relating to org decisions; similarly, it's difficult to ensure org-related emails are deleted, to lessen the risk of leaks in the event of an email hack (since the email address won't be deactivated like a org-email would).

There already seems to be a strong publicly available database: GCR’s. We actually synced our publicly-available AI policies ideas to their database while working on this, strengthening GCR’s public database even more. This specific database allows for sharing of ideas that aren’t ready for prime-time, and that wouldn’t have been shared had they been meant for public dissemination. For example, this might be ideas that people are investigating or would like for folks to investigate, but no public report exists. I reviewed a lot of Google Docs that were previously not shared with a large groups of people. This expands access to that niche.

Based on my own experience of writing a book on college scholarship strategies for low-income students, I think you could write a < 200-page book fairly quickly, perhaps in <2 hours a day for 40-60 days, especially since you already have a lot of writing material to pull from. (I wrote my 120-page book in a month by writing 1200 words every single weekday, about 1.5 hours of writing daily.) I used an accountability program led by a self-help author. One trick to quicken the process is to take a week to create a REALLY detailed table of contents so there's complete clarity about what you (and your coauthors) need to write next.

I think there are a number of 80% solutions that are far better than this wonderful future book not happening at all. You could probably get an EA grant to either take a month off to write it or perhaps even a ghostwriter to compile 40% of the book from your blog posts based on your detailed table of contents.

If you're open to self-publishing, you could give that 40-60 day messy first draft over to an intensive editing service at a cost of $4k-$5k. While I opted for self-publishing to update/edit it after it's live and to set the book at a lower price, a publisher would probably make this way easier with marketing and in-house editing. 

Happy to answer more questions. I'll also potentially be making a tiny publishing LLC to publish my book that will have an EA-like name which you're free to use to buy your ISBN if you want to also self-publish.

  • For people who are struggling to switch over to policy from non-policy careers, the Foreign Service seems more accessible and provides a wider-range of exposure to EA issues than other entry or mid level policy options. For people already with established policy careers and a clear Theory of Impact, the Foreign Service might be a bit too open-ended (since you don't get to select for your first two assignments). For people considering alternatives that are not directly related to government work (like ops for EA orgs, GPR, field-building), I'd still recommend at least applying if they're in the minority of people for whom bureaucracy and constant moves isn't a strong downside. Even having 1-2 more people excited about effective altruism in the Foreign Service would effectively double how many there are. 
    • For example, if someone were an established expert in GPR research, the non-research work in the Foreign Service might not be a good career fit. If this GPR research expert really wanted to get into policy, I'd recommend more specialized strategic/subject-matter-expert roles in other parts of government unless they were very excited to join the Foreign Service specifically and are fine with waiting 10+ years to lobby for GPR within the government from a more senior position.
  • You asked about post-Foreign Service job options. Some go work at top tech companies as their strategic leads on different issues, join prestigious think tanks, start important think tanks from their US government knowledge (like Dan), become professors, etc. I have known of two who successfully ran for political office after. In other words, the Foreign Service is highly flexible. 80,000 Hours' post on career capital sums the value of this up: "If you focus on building valuable, flexible career capital, then you’ll be able to have a more impactful, satisfying career too." 
  • You asked about important policies that can be passed or influenced and how this converts to QALYs. The State Department covers a huge array of important issues like setting/negotiating multilateral/international law, Biological Weapons Convention, building crisis communication channels, building norms regarding biosecurity, great power conflict, public health, etc. The QALYs are difficult to quantify but could be massive in the same way that economists' work is competitive with RCT-backed interventions (EA Forum post: Growth and the Case against Randomista Development) Quote from their article: "China’s growth acceleration from 1977 onwards produced $14 trillion NPV in cumulative economic output. Thus, if the only thing the economics profession achieved in 50 years was to increase by 4 percentage points the probability that the Chinese government shifted to this new economic strategy, then it would have had greater economic benefits than the Graduation approach." Diplomats are quite similar to economists and political advisors in their work, so could influence better norms for the long term future as well as better more equitable sustainable economic growth and stronger public health interventions.

There are definitely institutional pressures to focus on short-term considerations, especially for those offices that play bigger roles in quickly-evolving bilateral and multilateral issues. The more technical offices (also called functional bureaus) that have subject matter experts working on longer term strategic issues, and being called on to review the quicker/shorter-term considerations. These tend to have a higher number of Civil Service employees who are in the office for decades (unlike Foreign Service who are in a specific position for 1-3 years), making longterm considerations easier. Overall, I don't think State suffers as much from an emphasis on short-term considerations as other Departments might since the bulk of State's work isn't focused on partisan issues or dependent on election cycles.

This is a great note. Science and tech diplomacy is finally getting a lot more funding and strategic priority. State just created a bureau entirely devoted to Cyber. The opportunities for science diplomacy are probably the highest they've been in a long time.

This is a great point - diplomats are often reminded (even as early as onboarding) that we must be willing to implement policies we don’t agree with. This point perhaps didn’t come to mind when drafting because this scenario can be avoided by selecting diplomatic assignments where you agree with the mission. This is also probably easier for diplomats (like me) who are in the Economic career track. The offices/countries where I’ve worked, we’ve pursued long-term sustainable economic growth, energy resilience, earthquake preparedness, science/tech/health cooperation, and better/expanded social safety nets. The risk for being assigned somewhere you do not agree with is highest in the first four years when you have limited control of where you go.

To use your example of aid cuts for illustrating how nuanced this can be: diplomats are likely to fight tooth-and-nail against aid cuts in countries that need it. While the diplomat might have the bad luck of delivering the news, they’ll have been in a position to fight the cuts for months (within the government, not publicly). The diplomats might then be able to pursue other types of financial support, citing lack of aid as a major reason.

Thanks for the feedback. I actually would like the article to be considered by non-US citizens to consider joining their own Foreign Service. I was deciding between making the article more generalizable vs U.S. centric. I made the title more U.S. centric for efficiency/sorting purposes but have added a paragraph of my estimate for other countries' diplomacy careers at the very top. Overall, I think the scale of staffing size makes smaller countries' diplomatic careers competitive, despite the varying geopolitical influence of other countries.

Super glad you wrote this up! The over-representation of young people in EA might in some ways be due to more university outreach and early career resources. Overall, reaching out to mid-career professionals would require different methods - more articles like what you've written here.

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