Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:38:57PM *  1 point [-]

@cdc482 I share your concerns, suspect many others to as well, and appreciate the honesty of this post.

I think a lot of whether it's worth taking higher-risk-higher-reward paths toward doing good depends on a lot of specifics. Specifics such as those covered in 80K's framework (https://80000hours.org/articles/framework/).

In particular, the question about earning vs. working on the front lines has to do with what sort of needs your cause has, and your would-be 'role impact'. Is the cause more funding-constrained, research-constrained, talent-constrained in other ways? If the constraints involve certain talents, do you have, and/or could you (further) cultivate the needed talents? Also, do you have solid backup options if the risky plan doesn't work out?

I'll tell my own EA story a bit in case you can relate. In my case, I'm relatively set---but not dead-set---on making animal advocacy my primary cause for the majority of my life. I'm earning-to-give-and-skill-up as a software developer, at least in the short term, for the following reasons:

  • because I understand the animal protection movement to be more funding-constrained than starving for very particular talents that I currently have;
  • to skill up on tech talents that can be potentially useful to any movement;
  • to give myself a solid for-profit career option in the event that I tried something else;
  • given the high 'exploration value' of seeing about doing tech entrepreneurship somewhere down the line;
  • to give myself time to assess whether there are better causes than animal protection (x-risk is an enticing cause and I still want to think/learn more about issues like tractability, the importance of values-spreading, etc.).
Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:40:40PM 0 points [-]

Here is a provocative piece that challenges people to think outside of the box of merely earning-to-give long term: https://80000hours.org/2015/07/80000-hours-thinks-that-only-a-small-proportion-of-people-should-earn-to-give-long-term/

Comment author: jayquigley 03 August 2016 01:38:57PM *  1 point [-]

@cdc482 I share your concerns, suspect many others to as well, and appreciate the honesty of this post.

I think a lot of whether it's worth taking higher-risk-higher-reward paths toward doing good depends on a lot of specifics. Specifics such as those covered in 80K's framework (https://80000hours.org/articles/framework/).

In particular, the question about earning vs. working on the front lines has to do with what sort of needs your cause has, and your would-be 'role impact'. Is the cause more funding-constrained, research-constrained, talent-constrained in other ways? If the constraints involve certain talents, do you have, and/or could you (further) cultivate the needed talents? Also, do you have solid backup options if the risky plan doesn't work out?

I'll tell my own EA story a bit in case you can relate. In my case, I'm relatively set---but not dead-set---on making animal advocacy my primary cause for the majority of my life. I'm earning-to-give-and-skill-up as a software developer, at least in the short term, for the following reasons:

  • because I understand the animal protection movement to be more funding-constrained than starving for very particular talents that I currently have;
  • to skill up on tech talents that can be potentially useful to any movement;
  • to give myself a solid for-profit career option in the event that I tried something else;
  • given the high 'exploration value' of seeing about doing tech entrepreneurship somewhere down the line;
  • to give myself time to assess whether there are better causes than animal protection (x-risk is an enticing cause and I still want to think/learn more about issues like tractability, the importance of values-spreading, etc.).
Comment author: jayquigley 02 August 2016 04:11:06AM *  2 points [-]

We should avoid the temptation to think it's an all-or-nothing between direct work now until retirement and earning-to-give from now until retirement. (Not saying that was exactly your view.)

Here's one example of something in between these extremes. One can work at for-profit jobs as a means of skilling up such that your talents can be used for direct work projects during non-work hours and/or later on in one's career. And meanwhile one can earn-to-give in the short term, remaining agnostic about the long-term path.

Peter Hurford has an interesting profile making similar points, here. I love the term 'exploration value': https://80000hours.org/career-guide/member-stories/peter-hurford/ https://80000hours.org/2014/10/update-on-peters-career-story/

Comment author: jayquigley 30 July 2016 03:04:04PM 0 points [-]

FWIW, the links at the top of this take me to the google doc rather than to anchors within this page.

Comment author: jayquigley 23 July 2016 11:57:50PM 4 points [-]

Finally I've realized:

My future giving could potentially be greatly aided by an accountant.

Comment author: jayquigley 10 May 2016 04:09:50AM 3 points [-]

Get it peer reviewed.

Comment author: jayquigley 28 November 2015 03:16:57PM 3 points [-]

1-3 and 9-11 seem to be criticisms of EAs, not EA.

To 4-8, I want to say, of course, the biggest problems in the universe are extremely hard ones. Are we really surprised?

Number 12 is easily the most important criticism. The more we professionalize and institutionalize this movement, the more fractured, intransigent, and immobile it will become.

On the side of optimism, the Open Philanthropy Project shows signs of one important institution rigorously looking into broad cause effectiveness.

Comment author: jayquigley 19 November 2015 08:39:00PM 0 points [-]

I agree, and had actually thought about that.

(Just to reiterate, the point of my suggestion for an improved slogan was to motivate more by appealing more to recipients' needs than to donors' sense of being a hero.)

It would be nice to have a slogan that could capture all types of causes. Let's keep thinking...

If we cannot find such a slogan, something about lifesaving or difference-making may be a good proxy.

After all, preventing there from being more farmed animals in the future is in a sense 'saving' lives, at least in the roundabout sense that preventing awful lives is 'saving' individuals from experiencing a life of so much suffering that the life isn't worth living. More straightforwardly, preventing the extinction of intelligent species 'saves' the opportunity for many, many future intelligent beings to live.

Comment author: jayquigley 19 November 2015 08:40:21PM 0 points [-]

Admittedly, some people may be more motivated by 'be a superdonor' than 'be a mega-lifesaver'. Different strokes can be expected to motivate different folks.

Comment author: Gleb_T  (EA Profile) 15 November 2015 10:09:00PM 1 point [-]

Hm, that's an interesting variant. Let's ponder this a bit more.

"Superdonor" is specifically about helping people be effective in their donations, whatever the cause.

"Mega-Lifesaver" is specifically about helping save lives. That seems a bit more limiting in terms of focusing on only one outcome. It might not capture people who care about animal welfare, environmental issues, etc. What do you think?

Comment author: jayquigley 19 November 2015 08:39:00PM 0 points [-]

I agree, and had actually thought about that.

(Just to reiterate, the point of my suggestion for an improved slogan was to motivate more by appealing more to recipients' needs than to donors' sense of being a hero.)

It would be nice to have a slogan that could capture all types of causes. Let's keep thinking...

If we cannot find such a slogan, something about lifesaving or difference-making may be a good proxy.

After all, preventing there from being more farmed animals in the future is in a sense 'saving' lives, at least in the roundabout sense that preventing awful lives is 'saving' individuals from experiencing a life of so much suffering that the life isn't worth living. More straightforwardly, preventing the extinction of intelligent species 'saves' the opportunity for many, many future intelligent beings to live.

Comment author: jayquigley 15 November 2015 04:01:29PM 0 points [-]

"Be a Superdonor" sounds like one is being encouraged to rack up a high score or become a superhero. That's okay. And maybe it sublty would help people think about effectiveness. But it doesn't put focus on the individuals people are helping. Any old local charity could ask us to be the same.

By contrast, what about "Be a Mega-Lifesaver"? This makes effective altruism out to be about the thrilling task of literally saving lives and life-years. That's why I'm an EA. One problem is that this phrase is slightly more cumbersome.

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