Topic Contributions


EA and the current funding situation

a Christian EA I heard about recently who lives in a van on the campus of the tech company he works for, giving away everything above $3000 per year

Will this person please give an in-depth interview on some podcast? Could be anonymous if desired.

Demandingness and Time/Money Tradeoffs are Orthogonal

Very minor note, but I love that you included "practice the virtue of silence" in your list.

An easy win for hard decisions.

It's funny, I've done this so many times (including commenting on others' docs of this sort) that I sort-of forgot that not everyone does this regularly.

Mid-career people: strongly consider switching to EA work

An important point here is that if you're considering this move, there's a decent/good chance you'll be able to find career transition funding so that you can have 3-12mo of runway during which you can full-time talk to people, read lots of stuff, apply to lots of things, etc. after you quit your job, so that you don't have to burn through much or any of your savings while trying to make the transition work.

Tips for conducting worldview investigations

It's a fair question. Technically speaking, of course progress can be more incremental, and some small pieces can be built on with other small pieces. Ultimately that's what happened with Khan's series of papers on the semiconductor supply chain and export control options. But in my opinion that kind of thing almost never really happens successfully when it's different authors building on each other's MVPs (minimum viable papers) rather than a single author or team building out a sorta-comprehensive picture of the question they're studying, with all the context and tacit knowledge they've built up from the earlier papers carrying over to how they approach the later papers.

Don’t think, just apply! (usually)

Huge +1 to this post! A few reflections:

  • As someone who has led or been involved in many hiring rounds in the last decade, I'd like to affirm most of the points above, e.g.: it's very hard to predict what you'll get offers for, you'll sometimes learn about personal fit and improve your career capital, stated role "requirements" are often actually fairly flexible, etc.
  • Applicants who get the job, or make it to the final stage, often comment that they're surprised they got so far and didn't think they were a strong fit but applied because a friend told them they should apply anyway.
  • Apply to some roles even if you're not sure you'd leave your current role anytime soon. Hiring managers often don't reach out to some of their top prospects for a role because they have limited time and just assume that the prospect probably won't leave their current role.
  • If you apply to a role on a whim and then make it past the first stage, you might find that your interest in the role grows as a result, e.g. because it "feels more real" and then you think about what that role would be like in a more concrete way, and because you've gotten a positive signal that the employer thinks you might be a fit.
  • Just getting your up-to-date information in an employers CRM can be valuable. I am constantly trying to help grantees and other contacts fill various open roles, and one of the main things I do is run filters on past Open Phil applicants to identify candidates matching particular criteria. I've helped connect several "unsuccessful" Open Phil applicants to other jobs, including e.g. to a think tank role which shortly thereafter led to a very influential role in the White House, and things like that. Of course we also check our lists of past applicants when trying to fill new roles at Open Phil, and in some cases we've hired people who we previously rejected for the first role they applied to.
  • That said, it's helpful if you keep applying even if your info is already in a particular employer's CRM, both to indicate interest in a particular role and because your situation may have changed. I often think a prospect won't be interested in a role because, last I heard, only wanted to do roles like X and Y, or only in domain Z, or only after they finish their PhD, or whatever, and then sometimes I learn that 9mo later they changed their mind about some of that stuff so now they're open to the role I was trying to fill but I didn't learn that until after the hiring round was closed.
  • To support people in following this post's advice, employers (including Open Phil?) need to make it even quicker for applicants to submit the initial application materials, perhaps by holding off on collecting some even fairly basic information until an applicant passes the initial screen.
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