samuel

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New 80k problem profile - Climate change

+1 - Ecosystem services (and more generally, Earth systems) are infamously hard to pin down, which is why I often taken any bottom line analyses of climate change with gigantic grains of salt (in both directions). For example, there's currently a gold rush on technology to quantify the value of soil sequestration, forest sequestration, etc, and as far as I can tell, experts are still bickering over the basics on how to calculate these data with any accuracy. Those are just a few small pieces of a very very large pie that is difficult to value. Perhaps the modeling takes these massive uncertainties into consideration, but I'm skeptical (and will have to do some research of my own).

New 80k problem profile - Climate change

Lots of good stuff here! I work in the climate change field so I have expertise here, although it's crucial to note I haven't spent my career comparing the risk that climate change poses relative to the other big topics that concern EAs. 

It's not surprising given my biases that I always grimace a little when EAs talk about climate. It's an easy target - lots of attention, tons of media hubbub, plenty of misinformed opinions and outright grifters, and of course, lack of direct existential threat. Hey look, here's an issue that most EAs care about that's already getting attention and talent, and if you run the numbers, according to our values...that's more than enough attention! So come work on an underserved issue like AI or pandemic risk!  It makes sense to use it as a point of contrast and I'm glad that 80K Hours still takes climate change seriously. However, the framing could maybe be better, I'm not sure, I need to think about it more. 

One small qualm within the well researched piece - the plastic bag bit is off. Disregarding the fact that plastic bag fees aren't just about carbon reductions, that graph shows that as long as you don't make reusable bags out of cotton, reusable bags do exactly what you want them to do. Now, that's not to say those policies are great, there's plenty of issues with them, but I don't find the example to be compelling evidence, especially because no policy demands cotton bags nor do most people use cotton bags. I don't remember that Danish LCA to be particularly good either.

Effective [Re]location

Nick - absolutely! Making relocation more effective is imperative whether it be international or domestic. I believe that domestic migration is wildly underserved but the work done on that topic can and should be expanded to help facilitate immigration.

Effective [Re]location

Thanks for sharing, Chris! I've been meaning to reach out to Teleport for a while to learn about their offerings. They've put together some decent data but the UI lacks something integral. I do like their intake survey as a way to narrow choices (a la @evelynciara's comment). The entire platform feels... abandoned? Could be a good partner down the line for the data side.

Effective [Re]location

Fantastic! Yeah, the basic idea  isn't novel - I've heard it a dozen times over the years. However, as far as I can tell, no one has delivered on it, probably because it's not particularly monetizable. Ultimately I think this kind of product is best suited to be a loss leader or public good.

The availability bias in job hunting

Adding this as a separate comment to maintain some organization - I've mentioned this in comments on other posts, but I really  think that there's room for an organization or mechanism that identifies and rewards undervalued EA-related work that's already being done at existing non-EA institutions. In the context of your post, it would further normalize the idea that plenty of good EA work happens outside of EA.

The availability bias in job hunting

Great post/suggestions, I especially agree with target outreach. I want to amplify something that's touched on but not explicitly stated:

EA is simply a lens/framework - you can apply these principles anywhere, and the impact may be significant! I work in environmental sustainability / climate change mitigation and notice that the movements closely mirror each other because:

  1. Maximizing impact is the overarching principle (at least theoretically...)
  2. It’s a rapidly growing and trendy field.
  3. Until now, amateurs/volunteers/hobbyists have done a lot of the work.

In both EA and sustainability, people clamor for high-profile direct impact roles but they're incredibly competitive, the roles may lack the imagined leverage and candidates spend an outsized amount of time trying to get them. It’s difficult to quantify, but many (most?) people will be more impactful applying a EA framework to non-EA specific work. The EA movement is still nascent enough that it makes sense to encourage people to apply to EA-specific roles or start new organizations, but eventually the messaging will transition to how you can apply EA to any job you take, not how you can become an EA superstar.

Against the "smarts fetish"

I've been thinking about this lately, especially since I've started to apply to EA-specific opportunities. It does seem like EA orgs use intelligence as a main filter for hiring, which makes sense given the work (and is far better than plain-old credentialism), but I sometimes wonder if they're filtering out valuable candidates who are more clever, empathetic or dogged than high IQ. Most EA organizations are small so I expect this will change as the community scales to become more inclusive to the full spectrum of skillsets. Note that this is a perspective from the outside looking in and is completely anecdotal. I could be mistaken.

Case for emergency response teams

Great idea! One way that I could see an org like this staying busy when not responding to emergencies is that it could train other more specialized organizations on how to... put together a team to respond to emergencies. This could amplify its impact and help with networking. ALERT could even train PMs to deploy to other organizations in emergency situations. A lot of institutions are already optimally positioned to do good but lack the capacity in emergencies.

Social rewards in EA

My recent idea on the Future Funds' Project Ideas post may be relevant? https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/KigFfo4TN7jZTcqNH/the-future-fund-s-project-ideas-competition?commentId=qeeCrLXA5dJCAkjTQ

Basically, there should be some function in which to reward undervalued EA-related work. My idea focused on financial rewards, could extend it to include some prestige. Not exactly sure how to confer social rewards - how people gather and socialize doesn't necessarily correlate with achievement (or maybe it does in the EA community... I wouldn't really know).

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