Several years ago, 12 self-identified women and people of color in EA wrote a collaborative article that directly addresses what it's like to be part of groups and spaces where conversation topics like this come up. It's worth a read. Making discussions in EA groups inclusive
I'll bite on the invitation to nominate my own content. This short piece of mine spent little time on the front page and didn't seem to capture much attention, either positive or negative. I'm not sure why, but I'd love for the ideas in it to get a second look, especially by people who know more about the topic than I do.
Title: Leveraging labor shortages as a pathway to career impact? [note: question mark was added today to better reflect the intended vibe of the post]
Author: Ian David Moss
Why it's good: I think it surfaces an important and rarely-discussed point that could have significant implications for norms and practices around EA community-building and career guidance if it were determined to be valid.
Hi David, thanks for your interest in our work! I need to preface this by emphasizing that the primary purpose of the quantitative model was to help us assess the relative importance of and promise of engaging with different institutions implicated in various existential risk scenarios. There was less attention given to the challenge of nailing the right absolute numbers, and so those should be taken with a super-extra-giant grain of salt.
With that said, the right way to understand the numbers in the model is that the estimates were about the impact over 100 years from a single one-time $100M commitment (perhaps distributed over multiple years) focusing on a single institution. The comment in the summary about $100 million/year was assuming that the funder(s) would focus on multiple institutions. Thus, the 100 basis points per billion figure is the "correct" one provided our per-institution estimates are in the right order of magnitude.
We're about to get started on our second iteration of this work and will have more capacity to devote to the cost-effectiveness estimates this time around, so hopefully that will result in less speculative outputs.
I think it would have been very easy for Jonas to communicate the same thing in less confrontational language. E.g., "FWIW, a source of mine who seems to have some inside knowledge told me that the picture presented here is too pessimistic." This would have addressed JP's first point and been received very differently, I expect.
I understood the heart of the post to be in the first sentence: "what should be of greater importance to effective altruists anyway is how the impacts of all [Musk's] various decisions are, for lack of better terms, high-variance, bordering on volatile." While Evan doesn't provide examples of what decisions he's talking about, I think his point is a valid one: Musk is someone who is exceptionally powerful, increasingly interested in how he can use his power to shape the world, and seemingly operating without the kinds of epistemic guardrails that EA leaders try to operate with. This seems like an important development, if for no other reason that Musk's and EA's paths seem more likely to collide than diverge as time goes on.
I agree this is an important point, but also think identifying top-ranked paths and problems is one of 80K's core added values, so don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater here.
One less extreme intervention that could help would be to keep the list of top recommendations, but not rank them. Instead 80K could list them as "particularly promising pathways" or something like that, emphasizing in the first paragraphs of text that personal fit should be a large part of the decision of choosing a career and that the identification of a top tier of careers is intended to help the reader judge where they might fit.
Another possibility, I don't know if you all have thought of this, would be to offer something that's almost like a wizard interface where a user inputs or checks boxes relating to various strengths/weaknesses they have, where they're authorized to work, core beliefs or moral preferences, etc., and then the program spits back a few options of "you might want to consider careers x, y, and z -- for more, sign up for a session with one of our advisors." Then promote that as the primary draw for the website more than the career guides. Just a thought?
Fun! I'm glad that you're working with experts on administering this and applaud the intention to post lessons learned. If you haven't already come across them, you might find these resources on participatory grantmaking helpful.