zdgroff comments on Open Thread #41 - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: zdgroff 03 September 2018 06:40:03AM 11 points [-]

[Did Career Research to Reach a Sense of Conclusion]

About a year ago I left an organization I was closely involved in, and I spent the past year struggling quite a bit with what I wanted to do with my career. I applied to PhD programs in economics and got into a top one, Stanford. I spent several months thinking about what causes I want to focus on and whether this made sense for my career, and I made a pretty ambitious plan of reading up on debates that pertained to crucial considerations I'd longed neglected, such as how RCTs compare to other forms of evidence, what the best theories of consciousness are and their implications, and what the odds of various risks are.

I'm pretty happy with where I am now after doing this. I updated my moral weight for animals downwards (though it was quite high before so it's still pretty high), my probability of machine sentience in the medium-term upwards, and my views on different forms of evidence and seriousness of risk stayed largely the same. Overall, I concluded that most of the things I'm most concerned about have research as their biggest gap, and the PhD is well-suited to that. I like to contemplate my career regularly, but I've reached a place of satisfaction that I had not been in for a while. Meanwhile, I started the PhD and am very happy with it so far.