Michelle_Hutchinson

I work as an Advisor for 80,000 Hours, before which I worked at the Global Priorities Institute and ran Giving What We Can.

Michelle_Hutchinson's Comments

Empirical data on value drift

That doesn't seem right - since this comment was made, Holly's gone from being EA London strategy director to not really identifying with EA, which is more like the 5% per year.

Empirical data on value drift

I'm not so convinced on this. I think the framing of 'this was the founding team' was a little misleading: in 2011 all of us were volunteers and students. The lower bar for doing ~5 hours a week of volunteering for EA for ~1 year. Obviously students are typically in a uniquely good position for having time to volunteer. But it's not clear all the people on this list had uniquely large amounts of power. Also, I think situational effects were still strong: I felt it made a huge difference to what I did that I made a few friends who were very altruistic and had good ideas of how to put that into practice. I don't think we can assume that all of us on this list would have displayed similarly strong effective altruist inclinations without having met others in the group.

New data suggests the ‘leaders’’ priorities represent the core of the community

Some may also have started off longtermist without that being obvious - I knew I was a total utilitarian and cared about the long run future from ~2009, but didn't feel like I knew how to act on that until much later. So I guess from the outside my views may look like they changed over the last couple of years in a way they didn't.

CEA's Plans for 2020

There's also reference to 'moving office' in Oxford. That's because the cluster of EA organisations currently sharing an office in Oxford - CEA, FHI and GPI - have outgrown their current office and are together moving to a bigger one.

What will 80,000 Hours provide (and not provide) within the effective altruism community?

I'll leave Ben to respond to this comment more broadly, but I wanted to express that I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with 80,000 Hours advising, Sam. I personally find it a hard balance to strike between giving my views on what it would be most impactful for the person to do, and simply eliciting from them what they think it would be most impactful for them to do. That’s all the more so because I can help people far more in some areas than others. So they might get the impression that I’m keen for them to work on, say, pandemic preparedness rather than cybersecurity because I know more about the former, can point to more resources about it etc. I think in the past we erred too much towards being prescriptive about what we thought it would be most impactful for people to do, and we’ve tried to correct that. In general, I try to be candid about the considerations that seem most significant to me and what direction I think they point in, while being clear about my uncertainty. I’m keen to continue learning more specifics about a wider range of areas and also to improve how I communicate the fact that my having less detailed knowledge of an area should not be taken as evidence I don’t care about it.

One significant distinction I’d want to draw here is between uncertainty with regard to which beneficiaries count, and uncertainty with regard to how to help them most. I feel fairly sure about the fact that the welfare of all people matter to me, regardless of where in the world there are or when in time they live. And I feel fairly sure that the welfare of all sentient animals matter to me. On the other hand, I feel very uncertain about what the best ways to help sentient creatures are – should be improving government institutions? Reducing the chance of specific existential risks over the next century, and if so which? Increasing economic growth? I think the most productive conversations I have are likely to be those where we broadly agree on which beneficiaries matter, so I think it makes sense to mostly talk to people with similar views on that. Whereas I am keen to talk to people working on a broad range of interventions, and to improve the advice I give on them in the ways described above.

Connecting with Online EA Events

The international events calendar is a great idea! Really like you can add it to your google calendar and so easily see something of interest coming up.

Is there a way to report events being at the wrong time to it? The international icebreakers look from Facebook like they've changed time, but haven't been moved in the calendar.

Finding equilibrium in a difficult time

I love this

If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts
I'm Michelle Hutchinson, head of advising at 80,000 Hours, AMA

I think he donated £25 for that year, but I'm not sure how he picked that number and I have to admit I haven't been very systematic since then. I think the following year I donated £100 to ACE, then missed a year, then for 2 years did 10% of my annual donations to the animal welfare EA fund (I'm a member of Giving What We Can, so that's 1% of my salary).

I'm not sure I have a reasoned case for donating to animal welfare charities as offsets, since the animals that are helped are different to those I harm and consequentially it would surely be best to make all my donations to the organisation I think will help sentient beings most. But it seems pretty good to remember that I think it's important and impactful to help various groups to whom I don't give the lions share of my donations, and it seems plausibly good to show to others that I care about them by doing something concrete. With those considerations in mind it simply seems important for the donation to be an amount that feels non-negligible to me and others, rather than an amount exactly equal to the harm I'm doing. (That may simply be a rationalisation though, because I would rather not know exactly how much harm I'm causing and it would be a hassle to figure it out.)

I'm Michelle Hutchinson, head of advising at 80,000 Hours, AMA
Do you actually use the A/B/Z career planning tool described here? Is that out of date? Do you think that's a very good way to plan your career, or might you suggest others?

We still endorse the general gist of 'come up with an A/B/Z plan', but no longer use that specific tool. Our more up to date framework is here.

I think the idea of doing an A/B/Z plan is a really good one. My impression is that because applying for jobs is so aversive, people often minimise the number of things they apply for both by not aiming as high as they could and by not considering what they would do if things really went worse than they're expecting. Hiring processes seem to contain quite a lot of randomness, and even when they don't are hard to predict from the outset. That means it seems worth both shooting for things that you have only a small chance of getting but would be excellent if you do get them, and worth making sure you know what your back up would be if things go much worse than you expect.

One thing to say about these is that people sometimes read 'plan A' as 'the role I most want' and 'plan B' as 'another role, which is easier to get'. In fact, 'plan A' is intended to be some type of role - for example, going to grad school - so would itself involve applying to a whole range of specific options of differing levels of competitiveness.

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