We have a forthcoming post on whether the expressions ‘talent gap/bottleneck/constraint’ are generating more heat than light and should be phased out in favour of more specific terms.
It sounds like you mostly agree with our take on earning to give in the high impact careers article. That article is fairly new but it will become one of the central pages on the site after a forthcoming re-organisation. Let us know if there are other articles on the site you think are inconsistent with that take—we can take a look and potentially bring them into line.
We agree with you that earning to give can be a genuinely great option and don’t intend to demoralize people who choose that path. As we write in that article, we believe that “any graduate in a high income country can have a significant impact” by earning to give.
That said, we do stand by our recommendation that most people who might be a good fit to eventually enter one of our priority paths should initially pursue one of those paths over earning to give (though while maintaining a back-up option). Those paths have higher upside, so it’s worth testing out your potential, while bearing in mind that they might not work out.
Many of the best options on these paths require substantial career capital, so often this won’t mean starting a direct impact job today. Instead, we think many readers should consider acquiring career capital that can open up these paths, including graduate school in relevant disciplines (e.g. AI/ML, policy, or international relations) entry level policy jobs (e.g. as a Congressional staffer, or working as an early employee at a startup to gain skills and experience in operations. We hope to release an article discussing our updated views on career capital soon.
Of course, these paths aren’t a good fit for everyone, and we continue to believe that earning to give can be a great option for many.
It’s also worth emphasizing that our advice is, of course, influenced by our views on the highest priority problems. We tried to make that clear in “high impact careers” by including a section on how our recommendations would change if someone is focused on global health or factory farming. In that case, we believe “earning to give, for-profit work and advocacy become much more attractive.”
Hi lexande—thanks for taking the time to share your worries with us. We take our responsibility towards our users seriously.
I don’t think we’re likely to come to agreement right now on a lot of the other specific issues that have been raised.
That said, it’s helpful to know when our users strongly disagree with our priorities and we take that into account when we form our plans.
Thanks for producing this Peter, it’s very helpful. I sent you some metric data on the 80,000 Hours Podcast, but now that I’ve seen the post, I can give you the best numbers for the table. I would suggest putting these figures in instead.
Net new podcast subscribers added
2017 − 4,600
2018 − 10,500
Total podcast downloads/plays
2017 − 87,600 (average episode length 1.61 hours.)
2018 − 517,100 (average episode length 1.97 hours.)
Notes on interpretation
The podcast only started half way through 2017, I’m not sure how you want to handle that.
Those are the maximum number of subscribers recorded at any point in the year. It’s probably a few % too high in both cases, but I’ve found that’s the measure most robust to random measurement variations. The overestimation should also be constant year to year.
Podcast downloads/plays don’t correspond to actual times people listened to a full episode. They include people pressing play but only listening to a few seconds; bots downloading the show; automatic downloads by the podcasting software that are never actually listened to; and so on. So they’re massive overestimates of the number of times an episode was listened to, say, half way to completion. However, the overestimate is likely to be a pretty constant fraction year-to-year, so you can still make relative comparisons.
80,000 Hours wrote some quick notes on this back in 2015:
Potentially promising career paths in poorer countries
They were rough then and may have become out of date in the last 3 years, but hopefully can still help people generate ideas.