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I think impact is heavy-tailed and we should target talented people with a scout mindset who are willing to take weird ideas seriously. [As opposed to general public opinion]

I think even if the goal is to directly increase the number of talented people directly engaged in AI x-risk, general public opinion still matters. Public opinion is the default Overton window all these talented people have, and if "dedicate your career to AI risk" is closer to that window you get more talented people making the leap. Imagine if talented people didn't need a great scout mindset to want to work on AI risk! You'd get so many! (And merely partially-scout-y people can still be highly effective.)

(And that's not to mention how public opinion affects the environment these talented people have to navigate in)

Edit: I didn't read all the comments, jskatt else made the same point above. Seems like you mildly disagree. 🤷