Lauren Reid

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Three intuitions about EA: responsibility, scale, self-improvement

Thanks for your post. My biggest surprise from the pandemic was the failure of the institutions I had always trusted, which was deeply disappointing. I realized, we were more competent than the decision makers and took on additional responsibility. My husband, Alex D, is an epidemiologist in risk assessment/early warning. In early 2020 he was trying to warn our (Can) government about Covid and did ‘crazy’ things like refused to shake people’s hands, and brought in a basket on handmade masks to work at the emergency operations centre. He’s now had 4 promotions since 2020 and is in private sector, so at least people recognized an excellent decision maker after the fact. As a physician, I took on more responsibility at the hospital and try to overturn rules such as that we’re not allowed to open the windows (for better ventilation), I told my staff to wear masks and did myself, when it ‘wasn’t necessary’. We were relatively well positioned to make changes, as mid career professionals in institutions and it was still frustratingly non-responsive. Ideally, we’d have a relay team of rational ‘adults’ in a position to effect change, with even more power than we had, each taking turns sprinting. In my experience, some competent people have risen up through the ranks, while others have burned out - turns out, adulting is exhausting. I agree, after living these institutional failures, the EA community gives me hope.

Help us make civilizational refuges happen

I suspect this is down the road, but when it comes down to site selection, I follow the Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec (Canada) real estate market. This region has the benefits of political stability, fresh water, and relatively easy access, however getting permits to build geothermal and massive scale projects would be difficult as building, especially close to water, is quite regulated. There are 100+ acre properties like this one on a deep lake: https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/24040099/950-ch-assad-lange-gardien which are coming up for sale as people realize their bush land/farm is valuable. You could buy up land like this for future use.

EA Obligations versus Financial Security

My story : I’m a self employed physician, so don’t have a pension, and spent 14 years in university/residency. Due to my long training, I graduated feeling behind in terms of retirement savings - I had none. I’m now six years into practice and have been giving about a 12th of my salary yearly. There is certainly a tension - should I be saving this money for me/my kids? If I saved more, I could maybe give more later. I think investing in my (2nd gen EA) children is worthwhile and important. When have I saved enough and can I call an amount extra? Being a physician has been a tough gig the last few years but I’m a long way from FI, obviously saving more I could get there faster. If I reached FI, I may be open to partially switching to a higher impact career. Rationally, I know I’m probably helping more people with my donation than I am through my (rewarding, but ineffectively altruistic) work so that helps.

It looks like there are an increasing number of well paying EA jobs in all kinds of roles. Maybe you need to do some work to find the right personal fit (like 80K hours). As soon as you start working, start investing because compound interest is amazing. A book that helped me learn to invest is Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Just came to stay that this ideas competition really turned me on - I loved it. I hope this becomes an ongoing community ‘suggestion box’, perhaps monitored once a month.

I understand that one could write a blog post with an idea, but I think this is an even better low barrier way of getting ideas quickly.

Personally, this competition helped me realize that I have a different lens that many EAs, and that my ideas and skills could be valued. Thank you.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Yes, I am very pro-fasting (not medical advice, just opinion). The Obesity Code by Jason Fung is a really good description of why this works and I have given copies to colleagues to convince them. People often need support to start fasting - I have a dream of a retreat with these supports, like bone broth.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Fund/Create training for mental health workers

Effective Altruism

A limiting reagent in health care in Canada right now is that there aren’t enough psychologists/psychiatrists/ mental health workers. People don’t have access to these services and end up in the emergency department and crashing the health system in other ways. Mental health is fundamental for participation in societal roles, and highly conscientious people are at risk and children are waiting years for assessments (like for ADHD) which can change the course of their lives.

Psychiatry is one of the least well paid medical specialties, it takes many years to train psychologists and psychiatrists.

I propose looking at funding the training of the mental health workforce, as well as lobbying to have mental health services to be included as essential health care services.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Solve Type 2 Diabetes

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe

Type 2 Diabetes, caused by insulin resistance, is one of the top 10 causes of disability (DALYs) and also is root cause for ischemic heart disease and stroke, which are also in the top 10. People with diabetes are immune compromised and have worse outcomes from infection (as we saw in Covid). Several treatments to reverse diabetes are known, and there are groups like Virta Health doing good work in this space, but some treatments are prohibitively expensive (like GLP-1 agonists). Prevention and nutrition education is underfunded, especially when compared to the health care costs of treating complications like amputations, and dementia.

Due to the use of fructose and other poor quality food, Type 2 diabetes is increasing in both the developed and developing world. Right now, there’s a major shortage of insulin in Ukraine. It is estimated that 95% of people with diabetes are Type 2, if we could prevent a significant fraction of that disease, the insulin could be used for the 0.55% of the population (US) that can’t make endogenous insulin because of Type 1 diabetes.

From a longevity/biotech view, people with type 2 diabetes are much less likely to benefit from future interventions due to poor health of tissues.

(Disclosure - I’m a physician specializing in disability and diabetes is my nemesis)

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

I didn’t know that, nor did my husband (Alex D), who is much more in the EA space. Thank you for posting, I will join. We are seriously considering going to Nassau with our neuro atypical kids (4 and 7) next winter, and are trying to figure out how it would work for schooling/childcare in particular.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

Increase diversity with more ‘medium term’ plans to enable participation when travel is required

Community Building and Diversity, Values and Reflective Processes

I’m new here and it seems like many opportunities are planned with short notice. This can work well for people with lots of flexibility, but may discourage participation from people who are mid-career/working and people with families. I propose that organizations within EA encourage diversity by lengthening some planning horizons. Funding a stable hub with enough runway to have a 6 month planning horizon would be helpful for professionals and parents like my family.

The Future Fund’s Project Ideas Competition

That’s a good point. I agree it’s the culture more than the DNA which matters and I don’t know the real numbers. Of course, my husband and I were identified as gifted and it looks very likely our children will be too, and we also have read them Open Boarders as a bedtime story. Adopted children of EAs are also probably much more likely than average to become EAs. I think of organized religions and how they encourage children and future generations - there may be a lesson for us there.

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