Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 19 December 2017 09:20:15PM 6 points [-]

Good question. I agree that the process for Individual outreach is mysterious and opaque. My feeling is that this is because the approach is quite new, and we don't yet know how we'll select people or how we'll deliver value (although we have some hypotheses).

That said, there are two answers to this question depending on the timeline we're talking about.

In the short run, the primary objective is to learn more about what we can do to be helpful. My general heuristic is that we should focus on the people/activity combinations that seem to us to be likely to produce large effects so that we can get some useful results, and then iterate. (I can say more about why I think this is the right approach, if useful).

In practice, this means that in the short-run we'll work with people that we have more information on and easier access to. This probably means working with people that we meet at events like EA Global, people in our extended professional networks, EA Grants recipients, etc.

In the future, I'd want something much more systematic to avoid the concerns you've raised and to avoid us being too biased in favor of our preexisting social networks. You might imagine something like 80K coaching where we identify some specific areas where we think we can be helpful and then do broader outreach to people that might fall into those areas. In any case, we'll need to experiment and iterate more before we can design a more systematic process.

Comment author: Jan_Kulveit 26 December 2017 03:27:41PM 4 points [-]

I would be also worried. Homophily is of the best predictors of links in social networks, and factors like being member of the same social group, having similar education, opinions, etc. are known to bias selection processes again toward selecting similar people. This risks having the core of the movement be more self encapsulated that it is, which is a shift in bad direction.

Also I would be worried with 80k hours shifting also more toward individual coaching, there is now a bit overemphasis on "individual" approach and too little on "creating systems".

Also it seems lot of this would benefit from knowledge from the fields of "science of success", general scientometry, network science, etc. E.g. when I read concepts like "next Peter Singer" or a lot of thinking along the line "most of the value is created by just a few peple", I'm worried. While such thinking is intuitively appealing, it can be quite superficial. E.g., a toy model: Imagine a landscape with gold scattered in power-law sized deposits. And prospectors, walking randomly, and randomly discovering deposits of gold. What you observe is the value of gold collected by prospectors is also power-law distributed. But obviously the attempts to emulate "the best" or find the "next best" would be futile. It seems open question (worth studying) how much some specific knowledge landscape resembles this model, or how big part of the success is attributable to luck.

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