PhD researcher in Public Policy @ University of Oxford
Pursuing a doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)
629Oxford, UKJoined Jan 2018


Working on a Ph.D. in Public Policy at Oxford. Previously director of strategic research and partnerships at CHAI at Berkeley, project manager and policy researcher at The Future Society in France, and UN youth delegate in climate negotiations.


Senior EA 'ops' roles: if you want to undo the bottleneck, hire differently

For another counterargument to your point about the fact that some positions don't look attractive to people who are overqualified, here's Ben West's article. I personally think that making the position challenge and a growth opportunity make people more motivated and excited. 

Senior EA 'ops' roles: if you want to undo the bottleneck, hire differently

This was such a great post and I was nodding along throughout the whole article, except for the part about the importance of hiring people who are "strategically aligned". 

I think that you often need people at the top of the organization to deeply share the org's ethics and long-term goals, otherwise you find yourself in very-long debates about theories of change, which ultimately affect a lot of the decisions (I wonder if you have experienced this?). The exception to this is when you find non-EA, but exceptional people who share EA goals while also having their own perspectives and motivations, who are quite flexible and open-minded - those can indeed bring a fresh perspective. But I think those people are rare enough that it would make sense to filter at least a little bit in the interview about the long-term goals, ethics, values of the person, and how they would approach the org's theory of change. 

EA Dedicates

Thank you for writing this! I like the concept and word "Dedicate". This piece resonates a lot with me.

What is a good EA career change for a Physiotherapy student?

A small idea of a potentially high-impact consultancy: you may want to consider specializing in helping EAs figure out what physical health problems they have and recommending steps they can take to improve those. (I realize after writing this that you underlined that you don't like clinical work that much so maybe the following isn't that useful.)

One of the pieces of advice of 80,000 Hours is to take care of your physical health and notably avoid back issues. 

We were surprised to learn that the biggest risk to our productivity is probably back pain: it’s now the leading cause of ill-health globally, at least by some measures.5 Our co-founder, Will, was suddenly taken out for months by chronic lower-back pain.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is also a hazard of modern workplaces, and can even permanently damage your ability to type or use a mouse.

Will spoke to over ten health professionals about his back pain before he got any useful advice. This isn’t uncommon either, since the causes of much back pain are unknown,6 and it can be hard to treat.

Nevertheless, you can reduce your chances of back pain and RSI in a couple of ways. First, correctly set up your desk and maintain good posture – see advice here, here and here. Second, regularly change position (the pomodoro technique is useful). Third, exercise regularly.

These steps sound trivial, but statistically, it’s pretty likely you’ll face a bout of bad back pain at some point in your life, and you’ll thank yourself for making these simple investments.

A quite large number of people in EA have some types of physical health issues. Advising EA orgs on how they should think about the ergonomics of their offices would be helpful. I would personally be interested in, for example, having a video call with someone who could tell me if my chair, my back, etc. are in the right positions and in general how to have a better posture.  I would bet that many EAs would be interested in that as well (if the consultant was actually good, of course!). 

Other than ergonomics, there is also a need for a consultancy that would help people find out what weird "health" things they have -there was a job opening as a Medical Mysteries Investigator at Non-Linear, and I'm guessing there's still a high demand for this type of role.

EAs have the particular need for quite evidenced-based stuff if possible.

You could test whether this idea is viable by setting up a few calls with friends to improve their ergonomics, get feedback, check with your professors, etc. Then set up a few cheap or free calls for EAs to improve their ergonomics or read a bunch of papers on what health problems they could have (and of course, they'd need to discuss that with their doctor).  

Basically, setting up your own consultancy based on your comparative advantage may be really great - if you like the job! You could have a large impact by reducing the physical health risks of several (maybe dozens of? hundreds of?) people. Of course, it's better to consider several options before settling down. 

Good luck!

Relationship Advice Repository

I found this post interesting!

I would highly recommend this book "Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong". 

Eric Barker (from the blog "Barking Up the Wrong Tree") gives advice based on hundreds of papers on the topic. 

On funding, trust relationships, and scaling our community [PalmCone memo]

Thanks for this post! I've been wondering about how to think about this too.

Some burgeoning ideas: 

  • Maybe try to understand new people's moral priorities, e.g. understand if they 'score' high on "Expansive Altruism" and "Effectiveness-focused" scales. If they actually genuinely 'score' [1] high on those moral inclinations, I would tend to trust them more.
  • Maybe start a clearance process, in the sense of checking the background of people, etc. National security of countries also has to deal with this type of alignment problem.
  • Teach people how to be intense, ambitious, and actually optimize for the right thing. I think that people may be really interested in doing the highest impact thing but they don't have the "thinking methods" and general "super ambitious social environment" about those. People who push for high intensity and know what to prioritize are extremely rare and precious. Having workshops or online classes about successful (large) project prioritization, calculating the EV of a project,  increasing its ambition, and calculating and reducing risks, may be useful.
  1. ^

    Noting that it would be easy to Goodhart those existing scales. So this would be mostly through conversations and in-depth interactions.

Ivy_Mazzola's Shortform

I'll be able to do phonebanking on Tuesday from 10am to 1pm PT on Tuesday - join then!

And I'm happy to help coordinate outside of this! 

Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now

Lots of useful insights. At this point, I'm more on the side of doing this, which is not fanning the flames.

" How should I respond to takes on EA that I disagree with?

Maybe not at all — it may not be worth fanning the flames. 

If you do respond, it helps to link to a source for the counter-point you want to make. That way, curious people who see your interaction can follow the source to learn more."

If EA is no longer funding constrained, why should *I* give?

Agree with this point.  Jeffrey Ladish wrote "US Citizens: Targeted political contributions are probably the best passive donation opportunities for mitigating existential risk". 

He says: 

Recently, I’ve surprised myself by coming to believe that donating to candidates who support policies which reduce existential risks is probably the best passive donation opportunity for US citizens. The main reason I’ve changed my mind is that I think highly aligned political candidates have a lot of leverage to affect policies that could impact the long-term future and are uniquely benefited from individual donations.

If you're not a US citizen, you can volunteer for a campaign (that's legal!). 

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