Operations Research (OR) PhD student at MIT
I think people with an OR background would be especially qualified for this type of role!
I wouldn't quite say that. In any sort of multi-period optimization you must model the consequences of actions and are (at least implicitly) predicting something about the future.
Regardless I was mostly gesturing at the intuition, I agree this doesn't solve the problem.
In my field (operations research), which is literally all about using optimization to make 'optimal' decisions, one way in which we account for issues like these is with robust optimization (RO).
In RO, you account for uncertainty by assuming unknown parameters (e.g. the weights between different possible objectives) lie within some predefined uncertainty set. You then maximize your objective over the worst case values of the uncertainty (ie, maximin optimization). In this way, you protect yourself against being wrong in a bounded worst-case way. Of course, this punts the problem to choosing a good uncertainty set, but I still think the heuristic "prefer to take actions which are good even under some mistaken assumptions" should be used more often.
I have been toying with the idea of starting a similar org (with more of a focus on OR) so excited to see this.
One suggestion I have (that I might be able to help with) is to offer a larger "free tier" that taps into the talent pool within academia. Three reasons why this is good:
Ironic the title of his column is "Inside View"
I mostly expected people not to know what OR stood for, and then hover over the link to find out more. I also don't think "Operations Research" is actually much more elucidating, especially given how overloaded the word "operations" is within EA, but it seems this may have been mistaken given this feedback so I have updated.
Thank you for creating the tag! I was also a CS major at Cornell who actually only took the intro OR class (which was great but my impression is that undergrad ORIE at Cornell is not taught efficiently otherwise).
As for your suggestions
Thanks for the feedback! I hope the revised title is an improvement.
I am no expert but by far the biggest org is the UN's World Food Program.
I don't see much reporting on them from Givewell but they get 4/4 from charity navigator.