Comment by nielbowerman on Earning to Give vs. Altruistic Career Choice Revisited · 2013-06-05T13:34:28.402Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I find it interesting that 80,000 Hours has become so associated with earning to give in people's minds. We have always stressed that it is only one possible option, but I suppose the idea was sticky.

For example, even in Dylan Matthew's recent Washington Post article about earning to give that went viral, he says:

To be clear, neither MacAskill nor Ord nor their organizations believe that what they call “earning to give” is necessarily the best choice for all or even most people.
Not everyone is cut out to spend 80,000 hours trading derivatives. They emphasize that, say, policy work, advocacy and scientific research are other careers that could save a large number of lives. Indeed, Ord and MacAskill plan to keep up their advocacy rather than earning to give.

Yet in all of the follow up articles and discussion that this has prompted in the media, this nuance seems to have been missed.

This, in addition to less wrong posts such as this one, have reiterated to me that only the most memorable parts of a message are kept as memes evolve, while the more nuanced components, such as earning to give not being the only option, are lost.

Full disclosure: I work for 80,000 Hours

Comment by nielbowerman on Earning to Give vs. Altruistic Career Choice Revisited · 2013-06-05T13:11:20.073Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

One of the more promising routes that I've seen working well here is people who have put themselves inside organisations with large budgets and helped decide where that money goes. For example, if you are concerned with global poverty you could become a programme manager at the World Bank and quite plausably move $100m to more effective causes. If you cared about x-risk, an option would be to work for DARPA or IARPA and move $10m's to more effective research, and to help prioritise the research so that technolgoies are developed in an order that we think is less likely to cause x-risk. Another example would be to locate yourself within a large grant-making foundation.

The big downside with this approach is that the funds are usually less fungable than personal funds. How to weigh this against earning to give depends on your beliefs on the relative value of different activities that you would or wouldn't be able to fund. Through this approach you are typically able to control larger amounts of money than you would through earning to give.

Comment by nielbowerman on Earning to Give vs. Altruistic Career Choice Revisited · 2013-06-05T13:02:29.802Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't quite right, and sorry if I had misinformed you about this Diego. I don't have the numbers to hand (I can find them if this information becomes central the the argument), but it was almost certainly less than 200 and I think more like 100.

One relevent data point is that neither Giving What We Can nor 80,000 Hours hired permenant staff in that recruitment round despite wanting to, though they did hire temporary staff and interns, some of whom may take permenant roles in the future.

Disclaimer: I was involved in the recruitment round at the Centre for Effective Altruism, which includes both Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours.