Founder of Altruistic Agency
Exactly! Somewhat of a sidenote but I find it relevant: I've seen this thing with many political parties in Sweden that usually have a youth organisation that for various reasons often represents a more radical version of the so-called party line on various issues. Political opponents will try to hold the party responsible for what the youth branch says and does, but it's generally understood by most (I think) that the latter is the avant-garde and should not be conflated with the general views of e.g. those voting for the party in elections. Denying there are important connections between the two would be dishonest, but so would saying they are the same be.
It should probably not even be called a work sample under the circumstances I describe, but rather just work.
For example, if I'm hiring a communicator, I could ask them to spend two hours on improving the text of a web page. That could be a typical actual work task at some point, but this "work sample" also creates immediate value. If the improvements are good, they could be published regardless of whether that person is hired or not. This is also why you would pay an applicant for those two hours.
A very simplified example, but I hope the point comes across. And like you mention, for some types of work such isolated tasks are much more prevalent.
Thank you for an excellent reply. I've for a long time found the "mastery, autonomy, purpose" concept useful and think of it as true – for lack of a better word. That these three aspects determine drive/motivation/happiness to a large extent, in a work context.
It seems to me some criticisms, including this one, paint a picture that does not very accurately describe what most effective altruists are up to in a practical sense. You could get the idea that EA is 10,000 people waking up every day thinking about esoteric aspects of AI safety, actively avoiding any other current issues regardless of scale.
In reality, a fair chunk (probably a vast majority?) do what most would perceive as "traditional" charity work, e.g. working at an organisation that tries to alleviate poverty or promote animal welfare, organising their community (university etc.) to promote doing good, doing research on effective methods for solving large problems in society today, or getting more people and organisations to donate money to charitable causes.
I have a hard time believing the general public actually thinks existential risk research on things like pandemic preparation/prevention is a bad idea or not money well spent. But if you equal existential risk with AI threat, it's a whole other framing.
Every movement will have far-out elements that might be hard to make sense of without a lot of context, but that are also just one facet of the movement as a whole. A lot of the recent criticisms of EA I've seen target longtermism in its most "extreme" form, and drag all of effective altruism with it. The criticism of longtermism is very healthy and useful, in my opinion, but this conflation is concerning.
Very good post. Would love to see more summaries of research on hiring but also what makes employees happy, and similar topics. A question about work samples: What are your thoughts, and what is the research, on using real (paid) work instead of work samples? Meaning, identifying some existing task that actually needs to be done, rather than coming up with an "artificial" one.
You could probably make this happen faster and at a much higher quality by instead spending your time on finding funding (e.g. from the EA Infrastructure Fund) to pay an experienced full-stack developer to build the first prototype, under your guidance. Unless it's also your main career plan to work in web development, then you'll learn a lot from doing the project on your own. (This is from someone who has worked in web development for 15+ years.)
I plan to start offering this – among other things – for free through the Altruistic Agency later this year.
Why do you need a legal entity? Maybe you could describe the project/website in more concrete terms – that would make it easier to give concrete recommendations.
Just a list of projects and organisations FTX has funded would be beneficial and probably much less time-consuming to produce. Some of the things you mention could be deducted from that, and it would also help in evaluating current project ideas and how likely they are to get funding from FTX at some point.
Or test titles on an appropriate audience. For example, come up with 20 different titles, then pay 100 professional recruiters 20 dollars each to vote on which one sounds most impressive. Actually, maybe something like that could be done on an even larger scale to find out how this "career capital issue" can be improved for many EA job roles.