How to PhD

That makes sense. I like your approach of self-diagnosing what sort of resources you lack, then  tailoring your PhD to optimize for them.

One challenge with the "work backwards" approach is that it takes quite a bit of time to figure out what problems to solve and how to solve them. As I attempted this planning my own immanent journey into grad school, my views gained a lot of sophistication, and I expect they'll continue to shift as I learn more. So I view grad school partly as a way to pursue the ideas I think are important/good fits, but also as a way to refine those ideas and gain the experience/network/credentials to stay in the game.

The "work backwards" approach is equally applicable to resource-gathering as finding concrete solutions to specific world problems.

I think it's important for career builders to develop gears-level models of how a PhD or tenured academic career gives them resources + freedom to work on the world problems they care about; and also how it compares to other options.

Often, people really don't seem to do that. They go by association: scientists solve important problems, and most of them seem to have PhDs and academic careers, so I guess I should do that too.

But it may be very difficult to put the resources you get from these positions to use in order to solve important problems, without a gears-level model of how those scientists use those resources to do so.

Why I prefer "Effective Altruism" to "Global Priorities"

This is great, I’ll put a note in the main post highlighting this when I get home.

How to PhD

Just to clarify, it sounds like you are:

  1. Encouraging PhD students to be more strategic about how they pursue it
  2. Discouraging longtermist EA PhD-holders from going on to pursue a faculty position in a university, thus implying that they should pursue some other sector (perhaps industry, government, or nonprofits)

I also wanted to encourage you to add more specific observations and personal experiences that motivate this advice. What type of grad program are you in now (PhD or master's), and how long have you been in it? Were you as strategic in your approach to your current program as you're recommending to others? What are some specific actions you took that you think others neglect? Why do you think that other sectors outside academia offer a superior incentive structure for longtermist EAs?

Report on Semi-informative Priors for AI timelines (Open Philanthropy)

This prior should also work for other technologies sharing these reference classes. Examples might include a tech suite amounting to 'longevity escape velocity', mind reading, fully-immersive VR, or highly accurate 10+ year forecasting.

Can you turn me into an effective altruist and do you want to?

Hi Rob. I can only speak for myself. A lot of people, myself included, discover EA online, because the name or the ideas feel right.

Then we discover there’s a lot of people involved, huge amounts written, and many efforts going on. How do we meet people? How can we contribute? How can you find your place? How do we make sense of all the ideas?

I can only say that nobody is a nobody, and everybody struggles with these questions. It takes time to work it all out, so I advise patience. Write your thoughts out, and make sure to take care of yourself. It sounds like you are in the middle of building up a stable life for yourself, and I believe it’s extremely important for people in EA to focus on that first. Good luck!

Why I prefer "Effective Altruism" to "Global Priorities"

Hi Jonas. On taking a second look, the sentence that clinched me interpreting your argument as being for a name change from EA to GP (or something else) was:

“ I personally would feel excited about rebranding "effective altruism" to a less ideological and more ideas-oriented brand (e.g., "global priorities community", or simply "priorities community")”

I will make a note that you aren’t advocating a name change. You may want to consider making this clearer in your post as well :)

Why I prefer "Effective Altruism" to "Global Priorities"

I think it can be all of this, and much more. EA can have tremendous capacity for issuing broad recommendations and tailored advice to individual people. It can be about philosophy, governance, technology, and lifestyle.

How could we have a movement for effective altruism if we couldn’t encompass all that?

This is a community, not a think tank, and a movement rather than an institution. It goes beyond any one thing. So to join it or explain it - that’s a little like explaining what America is all about, or Catholicism is all about, or science is all about. You don’t just explain it, you live it, and the journey will look different to different people. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Strong Evidence is Common

I didn’t say anything about what size/duration of returns would make you a top 1% trader.

Don't Be Bycatch

That’s good feedback and a complementary point of view! I wanted to check on this part:

“I think that a thing that this post gets wrong is that EA seems to be particularly prone to generating bycatch, and although there are solutions at the individual level, I'd also appreciate having solutions at higher levels of organization.”

Are you saying that you think EA is not particularly prone to generating bycatch? Or that it is, but it’s a problem that needs higher-level solutions?

For Better Commenting, Avoid PONDS

Did I get them all? :D 


So close, yet so far! By ending your comment with a question and a smiley face, you missed "disengaged" and "prickly"! But keep trying, I know you've got this in you :P

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