All of Michelle_Hutchinson's Comments + Replies

RyanCarey's Shortform

Thanks for this, and for your work on Felicifia. As someone who's found it crucial to have others around me setting an example for me, I particularly admire the people who basically just figured out for themselves what they should be doing and then starting doing it.

Fwiw re THINK: I might be wrong in this recollection, but at the time it felt like very clearly Mark Lee's organisation (though Jacy did help him out). It also was basically only around for a year. The model was 'try to go really broad by contacting tonnes of schools in one go and getting hype going'. It was a cool idea which had precedent, but my impression was the experiment basically didn't pan out. 

That's very nice of you to say, thanks Michelle!

Regarding THINK, I personally also got the impression that Mark was a sole-founder, albeit one who managed other staff. I had just taken Jacy's claim of co-founding THINK at face value. If his claim was inaccurate, then clearly Jacy's piece was more misleading than I had realised.

80k would be happy to see more projects in the careers space

Sorry I wasn't clear: We not only don't object to replication - we're actively enthusiastic about it.  I think a healthy ecosystem has a bunch of different people trying to do the same thing and seeing how they go. 

Since I run the 1on1 team, I'm not well placed to comment on what 80k as a whole plans to do. 

You're right that the majority, but not all, of people we talk to have some interest in helping others over the longterm as well as present day. I expect that to continue being mostly true, at least over the coming year.

Critiques of EA that I want to read

Thanks, I found this list really interesting!

Digital people could make AI safer

Thanks, I found this really interesting. 

EA and the current funding situation

[I’m an EAIF grant manager, but I wasn’t involved in this particular grant.]

I’m sorry you’ve been having a frustrating time in your community building work. As you say, rejections sting even in the best of circumstances, particularly when it feels counter to the narrative being portrayed of there being funding available. Working hard to help others is difficult enough without feeling that others are refusing to support you in it.

It seems very difficult to me to accurately represent in advance what kinds of community building EAIF is and isn’t keen to fund,... (read more)

Thanks for saying that. I understand that grantmaking is complex and that some CB plans simply won't be right to encourage. But I still don't really feel this changes my expectation around community building being funded for full-time. Some questions that would go a long way to correct this impression if answered:

(FWIW I feel weird posting this publicly, [EDIT: and I don't necessarily think you/EAIF should be expected to respond here] but I think it is important to ask these questions)

[EDIT: Also reading all this is probably not a productive activity for p... (read more)

Help Me Choose A High Impact Career!!!

Great work writing this up and putting it out there for feedback! I think it's always difficult to give much of a view as an outsider, but it sounds to me like you've been feeling insecure for a while due to lack of savings, and so taking a paying job sounds like a good idea. It seems like you're not actually keen on doing a masters, and it doesn't seem obvious you need one to do what you're aiming for. So deciding against doing one sounds very reasonable to me. Both your options sound good though!

1Jordan Arel2mo
Thank you so much Michelle, this reflection is really useful. It feels like a reflection of what I already know, and yet having it reflected back from the outside is very helpful, makes it feel more real and clear somehow. Much appreciated!!
Notes From a Pledger

Thank you for sharing this! I just love hearing stories of pledgers around the world, and what's motivated them to pledge and to keep giving. I grew up not knowing anyone who donated this much, and assuming I wouldn't either. It's still kind of incredible to me that there are so many people promising to do this for the rest of their lives, and doing so joyfully rather than out of pure obligation. I'm glad you (rightfully) feel proud of doing it. I cannot wait to live in a world where not a single person needs to die of malaria. 

FTX/CEA - show us your numbers!

Thanks so much for this comment. I find it incredibly hard not to be unwarrantedly risk averse. It feels really tempting to focus on avoiding doing any harm, rather than actually helping people as much as I can. This is such an eloquent articulation of the urgency we face, and why we need to keep pushing ourselves to move faster. 

I think this is going to be useful for me to read periodically in the future - I'm going to bookmark it for myself.

Go apply for 80K Advising - (Yes, right now)

Thank you for this prompt Devansh! We really look forward to hearing from people :-)

80,000 Hours is hiring!

Yes, we will be. Thanks for asking!

Coaches for exploring careers?

I'm not exactly sure of these people's views, but they're all effective altruist coaches, so you might be interested in checking out their websites: 

Tee Barnett
Daniel Kestenholz

Anne Wissemann

80,000 Hours actually doesn't only coach people already focused on a priority career path, though it is more useful for people who have a similar understanding of impact to 80,000 Hours' understanding. We currently talk to around 50% of people who apply for coaching.

1Alex Sanders7mo
Hi Michelle, Thank you for your response! I will look into these coaches. I actually did apply to 80,000 Hours coaching in 2020 but was not accepted :(.
80,000 Hours wants to talk to more people than ever

I think it probably depends on how much more clarity you think you'll get from thinking solo about it for a bit, and how likely it is you'll find the solo thinking motivating. I think the conversations do tend to be more useful if you have a sense of what you'd most like to get out of them. But thinking through your career is often both difficult and aversive, so chatting to us early in the journey can be most sensible for some people, to get more clarity on how to think through things and what to read in order to make your plan. We're also happy to speak to someone more than once, so you might like to chat to us when you're first starting to think through things and then again when you have more clarity.

Evidence from two studies of EA careers advice interventions

Thanks for taking the time to do such a rigorous study, and also for writing it up and thinking through the implications for other EAs!

80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

Thanks for this feedback. I had a go at rewriting that our 'why wasn't I accepted' FAQ. It now reads: 

Why wasn’t I accepted?

We sincerely regret that we can’t advise everyone who applies. We read every application individually and are thankful that you took the time to apply. It’s really touching reading about people who have come across 80,000 Hours and are excited about using their careers to help others.

We aim to talk to the people we think we can help most. Our not speaking with you does not mean we think you won’t have a highly impactful career. W... (read more)

Undergraduate Making Life-Altering Choices While Sober, Please Advise

This is not quite an answer to your question, but I thought you might get a lot out of this podcast - it at least is vivid evidence that you can have a lot of impact despite finding it hard to get out of ugh fields and suffering from depression. 

Thank you for the recommendation, I'll check it out.
This is exactly what I first thought of too - I really think this could be useful!
EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations

I agree the finance example is useful. I would expect that in both our case and the finance case the best implementation isn't actually mutually exclusive funds, but funds with clear and explicit 'central cases' and assumptions, plus some sensible (and preferably explicit) heuristics to be used across funds like 'try to avoid multiple funds investing too much in the same thing'. 

That seems to be both because there will (as Max suggests) often be no fact of the matter as to which fund some particular company fits in, and also because the thing you care... (read more)

4Jonas Vollmer1y
Here's another comment [] that goes into this a bit.
EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations

Thanks for finding and pasting Jonas' reply to this concern MichaelA. I don't feel I have further information to add to it. One way to frame my plans: I intend to fund projects which promote EA principles, where both 'promote' and 'EA principles' may be understood in a number of different ways. I can imagine the projects aiming at both the long-run future and at helping current beings. It's hard to comment in detail since I don't yet know what projects will apply. 

Hello Michelle. Thanks for replying, but I was hoping you would engage more with the substance of my question - your comment doesn't really give me any more information than I already had about what to expect. Let me try again with a more specific case. Suppose you are choosing between projects A and B - perhaps they have each asked for $100k but you only have $100k left. Project A is only eligible for funding from EAIF - the other EA funds consider it outside their respective purviews. Project B is eligible for funding from one of the other EA funds, but so happens to have applied to EAIF. Suppose, further, you think B is more cost-effective at doing good. What would you do? I can't think of any other information you would need. FWIW, I think you must pick A. I think we can assume donors expect the funds not to be overlapping - otherwise, why even have different ones? - and they don't want their money to go to another fund's area - otherwise, that's where they have put it. Hence, picking B would be tantamount to a breach of trust. (By the same token, if I give you £50, ask you to put it in the collection box for a guide dog charity, and you agree, I don't think you should send the money to AMF, even if you think AMF is better. If you decide you want to spend my money somewhere else from what we agreed to, you should tell me and offer to return the money.)
EA Infrastructure Fund: Ask us anything!

Here are a few things: 

  • What proportion of the general population might fully buy in to EA principles if they came across them in the right way, and what proportion of people might buy in to some limited version (eg become happy to donate to evidence backed global poverty interventions)? I’ve been pretty surprised how much traction ‘EA’ as an overall concept has gotten. Whereas I’ve maybe been negatively surprised by some limited version of EA not getting more traction than it has. These questions would influence how excited I am about wide outreach, a
... (read more)
Interesting, thanks. (And all the other answers here have been really interesting too!) Is what you have in mind the sort of thing the "awareness-inclination model" in How valuable is movement growth? [] was aiming to get at? Like further theorising and (especially?) empirical research along the lines of that model, making breaking things down further into particular bundles of EA ideas, particular populations, particular ways of introducing the ideas, etc.?
EA Infrastructure Fund: Ask us anything!

Speaking for myself, I'm interested in increasing the detail in my write-ups a little over the medium term (perhaps making them typically more the length of the write up for Stefan Schubert). I doubt I'll go all the way to making them as comprehensive as Max's. 

  • Particularly useful for donors to the fund and potential applicants to get to know the reasoning processes grant makers when we've just joined and haven't yet made many grants
  • Getting feedback from others on what parts of my reasoning process in making grants seem better and worse seems mor
... (read more)
While I'm not sure I'll produce similarly long write-ups in the future, FWIW for me some of the pros of long writeups are: * It helps me think and clarify my own views. * I would often find it more time-consuming to produce a brief writeup, except perhaps for writeups that have a radically more limited scope - e.g., just describing what the grant "buys", but not saying anything about my reasoning for why I thought the grant is worth making.
EA Infrastructure Fund: Ask us anything!

Answering these thoroughly would be really tricky, but here are a few off-the-cuff thoughts: 

1. Tough to tell. My intuition is 'the same amount as I did' because I was happy with the amount I could grant to each of the recipients I granted to, and I didn't have time to look at more applications than I did. Otoh I could imagine if we the fund had significantly more funding that would seem to provide a stronger mandate for trying things out and taking risks, so maybe that would have inclined me to spend less time evaluating each grant and use some money... (read more)

2Jonas Vollmer1y
(Just wanted to say that I agree with Michelle.)
Are there plans to internally assess in future how the grants have gone / are going, without necessarily making the findings public, and even in cases where the grantees don't apply for renewal? (I seem to recall seeing that the EA Funds do this by default for all grants, but I can't remember for sure and I can't remember the details. Feel free to just point me to the relevant page or the like.)
EA Infrastructure Fund: May 2021 grant recommendations

Thanks for the feedback! 

I basically agree with the conclusion MichaelA and Ben Pace have below. I think EAIF’s scope could do with being a bit more clearly defined, and we’ll be working on that. Otoh, I see the Lohmar and CLTR grants as fitting fairly clearly into the ‘Fund scope’ as pasted by MichaelA below. Currently, grants do get passed from one fund to the other, but that happens mostly when the fund they initially applied to deems them not to fall easily into their scope, rather than if they seem to fall centrally into the scope of the fund the... (read more)

I lean (as you might guess) towards the funds being mutually exclusive. The basic principle is that In general the more narrow the scope of each fund then the more control donors have about where their funds go. If the Fund that seemed more appropriate pays out for any thing where there is overlap then you would expect: * More satisfied donors. You would expect the average amount of grants that donors strongly approve to go up. * More donations. As well as the above satisfaction point, if donors know more precisely how their money will be spent then they would have more confident that giving to the fund makes sense comapred to some other option. * Theoretically better donations? If you think donors wishes are a good measure of expected impact it can arguably improve the targeting of funds to ensure amounts moved are closer to donors wishes (although maybe it makes the relationship between donors and specific fund managers weaker as there might be crossover with fund mangers moving money across multiple of the Funds). None of these are big improvements, so maybe not a priority, but the cost is also small. (I cannot speak for CEA but as a charity trustee we regularly go out our way to make sure we are meeting donors wishes, regranting money hither and thither and it has not been a big time cost).
Thank you Michelle. Really useful to hear. I agree with all of this. It seems like, from what you and Jonas are saying, that the fund scopes currently overlap so there might be some grants that could be covered by multiple funds and even if they are arguably more appropriate to another fund than another they tend to get funded with by whoever gets to them first as currently the admin burden of shifting to another fund is large. That all seems pretty reasonable. I guess my suggestion would be that I would be excited to see these kinks minimised over time and funding come from which ever pool seems most appropriate. That overlap is seen as a bug to be ironed out not a feature. FWIW I think you and all the other fund managers made really really good decisions. I am not just saying that to counteract saying something negative but I am genuinely very excited by how much great stuff is getting funded by the EAIF. Well done. (EDIT: PS. My reply to Ben below might be useful context too: [] Basically a more tightly defined fund scope could be nice and makes it easier for donors but harder for the Funds so there is a trade-off)
(FWIW, that all makes sense and seems like a good approach to me.)

Thanks for writing this reply and, more generally, for an excellent write-up and selection of projects!

I'd be grateful if you could address a potential, related concern, namely that EAIIF might end up as a sort of secondary LTFF, and that this would be to the detriment of non-longtermist applicants to the fund, as well being, presumably,  against the wishes of EAIIF's current donors.  I note the introduction says:

we generally strive to maintain an overall balance between different worldviews according to the degree they seem plausible to the comm

... (read more)
EA Infrastructure Fund: Ask us anything!

Speaking just for myself: I don’t think I could currently define a meaningful ‘minimum absolute bar’. Having said that, the standard most salient to me is often ‘this money could have gone to anti-malaria bednets to save lives’. I think (at least right now) it’s not going to be that useful to think of EAIF as a cohesive whole with a specific bar, let alone explicit criteria for funding. A better model is a cluster of people with different understandings of ways we could be improving the world which are continuously updating, trying to figure out where we t... (read more)

Some further things pushing me towards lowering my bar:

  • It seems to me that it has proven pretty hard to convert money into EA movement growth and infrastructure improvements. This means that when we do encounter such an opportunity, we should most likely take it, even if it seems expensive or unlikely to succeed.
  • EA has a really large amount of money available (literally billions). Some EAs doing direct work could literally earn >$1,000 per hour if they pursued earning to give, but it's generally agreed that direct work seems more impactful for them. Our
... (read more)
Asking for advice

It's so hard to implement... Thank you for letting me know! Really good to know what parts of posts people find useful. 

What gives me hope

I definitely feel lucky to be at such a fortunate time in history when absolute poverty is so much lower than it has been over the millennia past, and when we have the chance for so much less suffering and more happiness than ever before. I also really appreciate being part of the EA community. This year's isolation has really brought home to me how much it means to me to be surrounded every day by kind people working for the same goal. 

I'm less sure of the specific framing of 'EA as an opportunity', because  so much of EA is about preventing suf... (read more)

[Link] 80,000 Hours Nov 2020 annual review

Hi anon, Michelle here. I work for 80k. I think 80k probably shouldn’t have a discussion about the career decisions of a particular staff member on the Forum, but I’m happy to share some thoughts on this general issue. 

First off, I hate that our hiring sometimes makes things difficult for others, when we’re all aiming at the same thing and the stakes are so high. As you point out, this is an especially tricky issue for 80k because people are in the habit of listening to our career advice and because our whole mission is to fill roles at other organisa... (read more)

Would anyone be able to help me decide between Economics PhD offers?

Reporting back like this seems really useful for others considering whether to do this. Thanks!

Best places to donate?

These sound like great places to donate to! Thank you for thinking through so carefully where to donate in order to help others most. Figuring out the most effective place to donate always feels really hard to me. 

Without more details about your situation it's a bit hard to give much comment on whether there are better organisations for you to donate to, but here are a few things you could think about: 

  • Often the overhead on processing a small donation can be fairly high, so it could be worth donating to fewer organisations so that your donations
... (read more)
* "Often the overhead on processing a small donation can be fairly high, so it could be worth donating to fewer organisations so that your donations to those you give to are larger." I am donating $50 automatically each month to each of the 5 organizations. Would it make much of a difference if I just picked one and donated $250/month to it? How much of a difference? How much is the overhead on processing automatic monthly donations?
What are your main reservations about identifying as an effective altruist?

I don't feel comfortable saying 'I'm an effective altruist', though if someone asks me if I am one the most truthful answer is clearly 'yes'. I think I'm not that keen on labels in general, though there are some I'm comfortable with, including 'feminist' and 'utilitarian'.  I was one of the participants Jonas mentions. 

This is basically an instinct rather than a thought-through opinion, but at a guess, the biggest reasons for my hesitation are: 
- It feels self-aggrandising to call myself 'an effective altruist'. It feels hard to really know ... (read more)

EA Funds is more flexible than you might think

Relevant for people trying to get funding for a project: 

People could consider writing up their project as a blog post on the forum see if they get any bites for funding. In general, I think I'd encourage people looking for funding to do more writing up one page summaries of what they would like to get funded. It would include things like: 

  • Problem the project addresses
  • Why the solution the project proposes is the right one for the problem
  • Team and why  they're well suited to work on this

I'd guess if you write a post like this there'd be quite ... (read more)

Why EA groups should not use “Effective Altruism” in their name.

I love the specificity of your 'How to pick a name' section. I imagine that will be really useful in helping people follow through finding a good name.

80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

Thanks for this feedback! It's really useful to know that this would make it easier to put yourself out there. We're in the process of changing the application form to connect better with our career planning process, to hopefully make filling it out a commitment mechanism for getting started on making a career plan (since doing so is often aversive). As part of that, we aim to send people a google doc of the relevant answers in a readily shareable format and encourage people to send it to friends and others whose judgement they trust.

I also find it pretty ... (read more)

Great idea. What did you think about the idea to somehow streamline a process to share that Google Doc with others who might have something to say? A process that might require relatively little effort would be asking people in those forms "Would you be interested in receiving career plans from other people that are looking for feedback?". That might make it relatively effortless for people from a particular field, e.g. Cognitive Science in my case, to be matched to other people who might have valuable feedback. It might be a bit effortful to match people, though I suppose you have information about the general field and that might already suffice? Or you might worry that people will receive unhelpful feedback and that this might reflect badly on you? Though I suppose you could emphasize that the people who you'd share the Google Doc are not vetted at all and are only fellow 80,000Hours fans who clicked on "I'd be down to look over other people's career plans".
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

It is extremely upsetting for people to apply and get turned down, especially if they found 80k materials at some emotional time (releasing they are not satisfied with their current job or studies). It is very hard to not interpret this as "you are not good enough".

I am so sad that we are causing this. It is really tough to make yourself vulnerable to strangers and reach out for help, only to have your request rebuffed. That’s particularly hard when it feels like a judgement on someone’s worth, and more particularly on their ability to help others. And ... (read more)

Spitballing here, but have you considered putting some thoughts to this effect on your website? Currently, the relevant part of the 80k website reads as follows.

Why wasn’t I accepted?

Unfortunately, due to overwhelming demand, we can’t advise everyone who applies. However, we’re confident that everyone who is reading this has what it takes to lead a fulfilling, high impact career. Our key ideas series contains lots of our best advice on this topic – we hope you’ll find it useful.

If you’re thinking of re-applying, you can improve your chances by:

  1. Reading our
... (read more)
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

By focusing on people "for whom you’ll have useful things to say", you talk to people who do not need additional resources (like guidance or introductions) for increasing their impact. The contrafactual impact is low. For example, testimonials on the website include PhD Student in Machine Learning at Cambridge and the President of Harvard Law School Effective Altruism.

I don’t quite agree here. I was counting ‘additional resources’ like guidance and introductions as ‘things to say’. So focusing on people for whom we have useful things to say should incre... (read more)

8Joseph Lemien1y
I'd like to second the opinion that it is a bit of a turn off that the resources go toward people who already have resources. I understand that "justice" and "equality of opportunity" aren't core EA concerns, and I also realize that giving an hour of time to a person at an elite university who has received lots of educational benefits in life very well may have a higher ROI than giving an hour of time to a "normal" person (I'm using normal here to indicate a person who grew up in a family with a more median income, and who went to a less outlier school). Unfortunately, I don't have a solution for this. The current practice is very much in line with the career advice on 80,000 Hours, which seems to be primarily applicable to people who are able to get jobs at McKinsey, get into PhD Programs about Artificial Intelligence, and able to earn well-above a median income. Elitism isn't inherently a bad thing; it can sometimes simply be a way of having high standards. For context, I'm writing this as a person who grew up in a lower-middle class family, who didn't live in a big city with lots of opportunities, who went to a university that is not famous, and who has never earned more than the average income. I'm privileged in lots of ways in my life, but because the paths that are highlighted on your website aren't realistic options (unless I were to spend large amounts of money on re-schooling), it sends a message of "if you aren't in this particular privileged class of people who have received lots of education at elite institutions, then you probably aren't the right fit for our club."
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

A month-long period of reviewing the application is prohibitive and disappointing.

I agree this is too long, and I’m sad that it was actually longer than this at times. Right now I’m mostly managing to review them within a week, and almost always within 2 weeks. I wouldn’t want to promise to always be able to do this, but it’s much easier now we have a team of people working on advising.

I have an impression that 80k accepted a long time ago that that wait time will just have to be pretty long.

I'm actually really keen to avoid us having long wait time... (read more)

Agreed on this prioritization, also I think both in principle (and as you noted) in practice, long wait times are highly avoidable. In principle you don't need that much resources to turn a particularly long wait time to one that is pleasantly short, certain exigencies (eg correlated staff vacation times) aside. The mathematics of queueing theory [] also might be helpful here.
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

Thanks for sharing your view. It’s useful for us to get an overall sense of whether others think our work is useful in order to sense check our views and continue figuring out whether this is the right thing for us to focus our time on. It's also important to hear detail about what the problems with it are so that we can try to address them. I’ll respond to your points in separate comments so that they’re easier to parse and engage with.

Thank you for your thoughtful replies, Michelle.
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

I'm afraid I don't really know anything about discord (me and tech are not the best of friends...), but from your description it sounds good! I think there is some EA activity on discord, so maybe you could build off that. I don't know anything about the form it takes or how to find it though unfo - but I'm guessing others on this forum do.

The link from Aaron on the Open Thread was helpful. Thanks for pointing the way!
80,000 Hours one-on-one team plans, plus projects we’d like to see

This sounds great to me! I'd be tempted to try out things in existing infrastructure first, like trying it out in the careers discussion fbook group, or the open thread you mentioned.

Other options that come to mind:

  • Look at the EA London community directory for people who would likely have relevant comments on your plan and reach out to them. This seems like it might be more likely to get a reply than a general call, and the person might have more relevant comments than a random person would. But they would likely have less time because they're not select
... (read more)
That all makes sense/sounds good to me. I've now made an open thread on the Forum for this [] , as an experiment. Hopefully some of the other ideas can be tried out as well later.
These suggestions are all great. Would a discord server work? This is a community platform that is easy to download and maintain. There are individual chats, group forums, and voice channels for all means of communication. With enough support, this can be set up quickly. Please upvote if this is something that sounds useful, and depending on support, there will be a link posted on this post shortly. Keep in mind this discord server could be used for all things EA, besides, connecting individuals and providing an easy place to share documents and stories. Please provide feedback!
Are there robustly good and disputable leadership practices?

only principles which are both robustly good and disputable seem worth teaching

This sounds false to me: You might think different kinds of principles work better and worse for different people's styles, and lots of principles are non-obvious. In that case, it seems worth someone learning about a tonne of different principles and testing out to see if they help or hinder their personal style of management.

That's fair. My understanding though is that management training doesn't seem very useful in general, implying that either the things they are teaching aren't very useful or people aren't very good at filtering to find the parts that are useful to them.
My Career Decision-Making Process

Thank you very much for this post! As you say, it's great to have examples of how people think through their careers, what options they chose and why. Useful for others to learn from and also help each other feel less alone in making these hard decisions and going through the frustration of applications. 

I'd be particularly interested in hearing more about why you don't see cybersecurity and formal verification as promising: in particular whether your view is that EAs should be aiming to build up expertise in these, or whether you think they are useful skills for a number of EAs to have, it's just that their use will come in the future (or in a country other than Israel).

Thanks for your comment Michelle! If you have any other comments to make on my process (both positive and negative), I think that would be very valuable for me and for other readers as well. Important Edit: Everything I wrote below refers only to technical cyber-security (and formal verification) roles. I don't have strong views on whether governance, advocacy or other types of work related to those fields could be impactful. My intuition is that these are indeed more promising than technical roles. I don't see any particularly important problem that can be addressed using cyber-security or formal verification (now or in the future), which is not already being addressed by the private or public sector. Surely these areas are important for the world, and therefore are utilized and researched outside of EA. For example, (too) many cyber-security companies provide solutions for other organizations (including critical organizations such as hospitals and electricity providers) to protect their data and computer systems. Another example is be governments using cyber-security tools for intelligence operations and surveillance. Both examples are obviously important, but not at all neglected. One could argue that EA organizations need to protect their data and computer systems as well, which is definitely true, but can easily be solved by purchasing the appropriate products or hiring infosec officers, just like in any other organization. Other than that I didn't find any place where cyber-security can be meaningfully applied to assist EA goals. As for formal verification, I believe that the case is similar - these kinds of tools are useful for certain (and very limited) problems in the software and hardware industry, but I am unaware of any interesting applications for EA causes. One caveat is that I believe that it is plausible (but not very probable) that formal verification can be used for AI alignment, as I outlined in this comment [https://forum.effectivealtruism.or
Training Bottlenecks in EA (professional skills)

Thanks, this is all really useful to hear! It makes me think that it's somewhat likely I've just generally not found the right courses / types of training.

I wonder if one thing that's going on is that I'm making the enemy the perfect of the good. The courses I've done like the global health short course at Imperial felt interesting and fun to me, but not very efficient: I learned a bunch of things that I wouldn't use alongside what I would, and the learning per unit time could have been higher. But on the other hand, it's pretty likely that although I coul... (read more)

I'm afraid that I'm not aware of specific courses that are also offered in the UK. I think that generally the charity actually didn't do a great job at selecting the best courses among the available ones. However, my suspicion is that conditional on having selected an appropriate topic there often wasn't actually that much variance between courses because most of the benefits come from some generic effect of "deliberately reflecting on and practicing X", with it not being that important how exactly this was one. (Perhaps similar to psychotherapy [].) For courses where all participants were activists from that same charity, I suspect a significant source of benefits was also just collaborative problem solving, and sharing experiences and getting peer advice from others who had faced similar problems. Another observation is that these courses often involved in-person conversations in small groups, were quite long in total (2 hours to 2 days), and significant use of physical media (e.g. people writing ideas on sheets of paper, and then these being pinned on a wall). By contrast, in my "EA experience" similar things have been done by people spending at most one hour writing in a joint Google doc. I personally find the "non-virtual" variant much more engaging, but I don't know to what extent this is idiosyncratic.
Training Bottlenecks in EA (professional skills)

My learning goals for the year are somewhat intertwined, where one is 'forming more views' and another is 'developing better models of the world'. The things I'm doing are each somewhat focused on each, partly because I only want to form sensible / well informed views, and partly because I think I'll only feel comfortable forming views if I am in some sense conscious of knowing about a topic. The thing most focused on the 'forming views' side is writing - where that doesn't need to be shared with anyone. But a few other things I'm doing: 

Pay more atte... (read more)

Thank you, love it! You might be interested in Readwise [] (which can integrate with pocket and Kindle and others) - it collects pages and highlights and has a tagging system. Also, it has an automatic system for spaced repetition/recall.
Training Bottlenecks in EA (professional skills)

>Just setting up weekly meetings with someone else who's at roughly the same level of seniority and who also wants more "management"/"mentorship"

I really like this idea. I had a set up like this when I had a hands off manager, with a friend who didn't have a manager. I found it really helpful. For others who are keen on this but don't have a particular friend they'd like to do it with, there's a Facebook group for finding such accountability partners

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