Sorry for digging up this old post. But it was mentioned in the Jan 2021 EA forum Prize report published today and that is how I got here.
This comment assumes that Cause Prioritization (CP) is a cause area that requires people with width(worked across different cause areas) rather than depth(worked on a single cause area) of knowledge. That is, they need to know something about several cause areas instead of deeply understanding one of them. Would love to hear from CP researchers or others who would disagree.
Maybe CP is an excellent path for some people in mid/late career. I think there could be some people in the middle of their career who have width rather than depth of knowledge. I might be wrong but it feels like the current advice for mid-career folks from 80k hours (See this 80k hours podcast episode discussion for example) seems to focus on people with skill depth alone. Further, I also think 80k hours may actually be creating people who have skill width by encouraging people to experiment with working on different cause areas until they find the best personal fit. What if we could tell them—“Experimented a lot? Have a lot of width? Try CP!”
I also feel like it would be difficult for people in their early career to rationalize working on CP. Personally, as someone in their early career, I feel like I don’t fully understand even one of the cause areas of interest to EAs properly. How can I then hope to understand multiples of them, find those not yet unknown and on top of it prioritize them all!? Now, there is good reason to believe EA is a relatively young movement (majority age between 25-34) and since young people can’t rationalize working on CP, we are seeing relatively lesser research on this.
Maybe as EAs grow older eventually CP research will gain steam. Maybe their depth could also give them some width. At a later stage, current EAs working on a specific cause area could feel, “Having done specialized work all these years, I am beginning to see some ways I can generalize this stuff. Maybe this generalization is the next big impactful thing I can do” and then get into CP. Maybe some EAs already realized this and have even planned their career so that they can do CP at a later stage. So this whole thing could just be a matter of time. But that doesn’t mean we should not worry—what if at the stage when EAs want to generalize we don’t have the structures in place for them to pursue it?