I'm CEO at 80,000 Hours. Before that, I was in various roles at 80k, most recently Chief of Staff.

I was also the initial program officer for global catastrophic risk at Open Philanthropy. Comments here are my own views only, not my present or past employers', unless otherwise specified.


Sorted by New

Topic Contributions



Yeah that does sell me a bit more on delegating choice.


I think that's an improvement though "delegating" sounds a bit formal and it's usually the authority doing the delegating. Would "deferring on views" vs "deferring on decisions" get what you want?


Thanks for writing this post. I think it's really  to distinguish the two types of deference and push the conversation toward the question of when to defer as opposed to how good it is in general.

ButI think "deferring to authority" is  bad branding (as you worry about below) and I'm not sure your definition totally captures what you mean.  I think it's probably worth changing even though I haven't come up with great alternatives.

Branding. To my ear, deferring to authority has a very negative connotation. It suggests deferring to a preexisting authority because they have power over you, not deferring to a person/norm/institution/process because you're bought into the value of coordination. Relatedly, it doesn't seem like the most natural phrase to capture a lot of your central examples.

Substantive definition. I don't think "adopting someone else's view because of a social contract to do so" is exactly what you mean. It suggests that if someone were not to defer in one of these cases, they'd be violating a social contract (or at least a norm or expectation), whereas I think you want to include lots of instances where that's not the case (e.g. you might defer as a solution to the unilateralist's curse even if you were under no implicit contract to do so). Most of your examples also seem to be more about acting based on someone else's view or a norm/rule/process/institution and not really about adopting their view.[1] This seems important since I think you're trying to create space for people to coordinate by acting against their own view while continuing to hold that view.

I actually think the epistemics v. action distinction is a cleaner distinction so I might base your categories just on whether you're changing your views v. your actions (though I suspect you considered this and decided against). 


Brainstorm of other names for non-epistemic deferring (none are great). Pragmatic deferring. Action deferring.  Praxological deferring (eww). Deferring for coordination.

(I actually suspect that you might just want to call this something other than deferring).


[1] Technically, you could say you're adopting the view that you should take some action but that seems confusing.

What I learnt from attending EAGx Oxford (as someone who's new to EA)

Glad you had a great experience though wish it could have been even better! I think it's pretty counterintuitive that most of the value from many conferences comes from 1:1s so it totally makes sense that it took you by surprise.

I wouldn't expect people to have found these in advance but, for next time, there's a bunch of good "how to do EAG(X)" and "how to do 1:1s" posts on the forum. Some non comprehensive examples:

Generally the EAG and EA conferences tags seem good for finding this stuff.

I know the conference organizers have a ton of considerations when deciding how much content to blast at attendees (and it's easy for things to sink to the bottom of everybody's inbox) but some of these might be cool for them to send to future attendees.

I think going to conferences where you don't know a bunch of people already is pretty scary so I'm impressed that you went for it anyway!

Future Matters: March 2022

+1. Fwiw, I was going to subscribe and then didn't when I saw how long it was.

We should consider funding well-known think tanks to do EA policy research

Fwiw, I did some light research (hours not days) a few years ago on the differences between US and European think tanks and the (perhaps out of date) conventional wisdom seemed to be that they play a relatively outsized role in the U.S. (there are various hypotheses for why). So That may be one reason for the US/UK difference (though funders being in the US and many other issues could also be playing a role).

The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

I also donated $5,800 (though not due to this post).

The best $5,800 I’ve ever donated (to pandemic prevention).

"A foreign national may not direct, dictate, control or directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of any person (such as a corporation, labor organization, political committee or political organization) with regard to the person's federal or nonfederal election-related activities. This includes decisions concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures or disbursements in connection with any federal state or local election or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee."

I think it would be pretty hard to argue that a donation swap didn't at least involve indirectly participating in someone's decision to donate.

Get In The Van

I couldn't resist pointing out that Get in the Van is also the title of Henry Rollins' diaries from his time touring as the singer of Black Flag, the seminal hardcore punk band.

Feels particularly appropriate given the story of how Rollins joined the band:

When Black Flag returned to the East Coast in 1981, Rollins [just a fan at the time] attended as many of their concerts as he could. At an impromptu show in a New York bar, Black Flag's vocalist Dez Cadena allowed Rollins to sing "Clocked In", a song Rollins had asked the band to play in light of the fact that he had to drive back to Washington, D.C. to begin work.[20]

Unbeknownst to Rollins, Cadena wanted to switch to guitar, and the band was looking for a new vocalist.[20] The band was impressed with Rollins's singing and stage demeanor, and the next day, after a semi-formal audition at Tu Casa Studio in New York City, they asked him to become their permanent vocalist.

Despite some doubts, he accepted, due in part to Ian MacKaye's encouragement. Rollins acted as roadie for the remainder of the tour while learning Black Flag's songs during sound checks and encores, while Cadena crafted guitar parts that meshed with Ginn's.

After joining Black Flag in 1981, Rollins quit his job at Häagen-Dazs, sold his car, and moved to Los Angeles. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Rollins got the Black Flag logo tattooed on his left biceps[18] and also on the back of his neck, chose the stage name of Rollins, a surname he and MacKaye had used as teenagers.

Load More