I have read the entirety of “An ‘Odyssean’ Education” as well as another ~300 pages of blogposts from him, fascinated by how someone with someone who seemingly has formed his beliefs from much of the same literature I have, comes to such vastly different conclusions than me.
I mostly agree with your book review, your summary hit the nail on its head.
An ‘Odyssean’ Education, reads like a rough first draft at its best and like a stream of thoughts at its worst. But that’s alright. Its purpose is to be a rough sketch of Dominic Cummings’ worldview. It gives us insight to why he holds his beliefs and push for certain policies but not others.
I wish I could read a similar document for other prominent political figures, and get a similar understanding of their worldview as well.
I’m not crying you’re crying!
putting things on the blockchain
My prior, as well as conventional wisdom, would be that charities run by people with local and cultural understanding of the areas in which they operate would have the largest impact.
This seems not to be the case, judging by givewells recommendations.
What would be your best guess to why western founders can expect to do well on eg. regional problems in India?
Great post. Definitely an area I’d love to see further explored!
However, there don’t seem to be good opportunities for further career advancement in Parliament after reaching an advisor position.
A common next step is running for election yourself, since you have the connections and know the landscape well enough to excel in debates.
As for running for office: the expected value here depends on regional (member state) and personal factors, so I can’t really say anything about it except that it seems we should keep it in mind as an option.
I think this is too quick a dismissal. Before any regional modifiers come into play, a lot can be said base value of becoming an MEP. How much power and influence can an MEP attain with regard to a single area of policy?
My intution is that an MEPs can have overwhelming influence on uncontested areas of policy, by becoming well known for their expertise within it. The first MEP that is well read and concerned with AI safety will be able to significantly influence the policies simply by being the person in power most engaged with the topic. As long as adopting your views won’t generate controversy, other MEPs are more than inclined to follow your lead.
It seems to me the expected influence on AI policy disproportionally favours the first MEP to become well known within the parliament for it.
Great interview! It seems I’m not allowing enough frogs into my diet!
For those not aware, Lynette does productivity coaching specifically for EA’s, I can highly recommend it!
Thanks for writing this! I’m surprised EA’s haven’t been more interested in this topic considering The Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) has long been advocating reforms for open trade as an exceptional way to aid global development, giving significantly better returns than most commonly considered effective interventions alleviating global poverty.
If a problem is very famous and unsolved, doesn’t those who tried solving it include many of the much more competent philosophers alive today? The fact that the problem has not been solved by any of them either would suggest to me it’s a hard problem.
As I was reading this I began to feel deeply sad. The thought of it being no more, made me realize just how much EA has come to mean to me. It’s is the reason I wake up excited every morning, ready to face the new day. It has given me purpose and a drive I never knew I had in me. I can recall few happier days than those spent at globals. It is difficult for me to express how thankful I am for that.
Interestingly I think you’d find somebody uttering the same sentiment for any religious community, political party or social movement. With similar appeals, we are subject to similar pitfalls. It’s worth studying the collapse of other movements to learn about what ours would look like.
Great post! I’ve had many thoughts in the same space for a while now.
With how hard a time many EA’s have had finding direct EA work your post is particularly relevant. Direct EA work is the only place I’ve ever encountered where an (made up example) Oxford graduate who worked at Goldman Sachs is not met with immediate lucrative offers. It should be abundantly clear that looking elsewhere is a solid option. A charity like red cross moves around an obscene amount of money. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest someone could have an extremely large impact by attaining influence and power in such an organisation, applying EA principles to make the organisation more effective. Exposing effective charities to the masses through heavy patos advertising is another way to increase total impact.
There are many great ways to have a large impact in places that aren’t directly related to EA. Take advantage of the unique opportunities you are presented, and evaluate the options you haven’t heard others discuss. With this much talent fighting so hard for the same few roles, the total increase in impact by having one more person spending their time applying, compared to going from zero to one EA aligned person in an important role elsewhere doesn’t seem great to me.
Now I have both the intelligence and attention span of a doorhinge, so forgive me if I’m missing something obvious, but I’m not at all convinced that the counterfactual would be working on their problems in solitude.
What exactly does a hotel in Blackburn provide, that couldn’t be provided much cheaper in other ways?
I assume most EA’s would be living in larger cities if not at the EA hotel. Whichever city they would be living in, would gain a lot of value from having their presence. Why couldn’t they move in together with a other EA’s from the same city and achieve a social situation roughly as good?
All the problems the EA hotel sets out to solve, I don’t understand why we couldn’t solve without the need for a large expensive hotel in blackburn of all places.
One thing you said really stood out to me
At this point my scrupulosity and perfectionism kicks in and I beat myself up to a large amount
This is a state of mind I used to often find myself in. Then a good friend of mine said to me something I found very profound.
You don’t feel currently feel guilt for being unable to cure cancer by snapping your fingers, why do you feel guilt about all the other ways in which you’re not perfect?
I then read through the replacing guilt series written by MIRI’s Executive Director Nate Soares. It helped me a great deal, maybe it will help you too :)
Nice writeup, I learned a worrying amount of stuff. The fact that you were able to find all of this information, yet I needed a writeup before hearing about any of this indicates an inferiority in my ability to find information.
Did you think “I wonder about EA and climate” and then looked specifically for that information, or it rather “I am seeing this new pattern of climate interest, I should make a collection of this information”?
If it’s the latter, then I’m very dissatisfied with the fact I was aware of none of these things in advance. I’d love to hear a bit about your reading habits, as I’m clearly not as well informed as you.
also, none of the ggwc links worked for me. If I remove the ‘preview.’ part, I get a 404.
Your post really struck a chord with me. Your style of writing so perfectly captures the problematic mindset many EA’s (sorta including myself) have adopted. The way of treating EA writing as holy truths made by people so unbelievably smart that they must have taken into consideration every conceivable thing annoys me greatly. These gospel truths are not written by prophets but by people about as smart as yourselves! 80,000 hours is a good guideline for how to think of your career, nothing more. They cannot possibly know what is the best career for you. You are your own person, think for yourself!
Just because (insert EA authority) wrote it, doesn’t make it so. And more importantly, just because (insert EA authority) didn’t write about it, doesn’t make it not so. There’s so many great opportunities around where the only reason nobody is talking about it is because nobody but you has thought about it.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not criticizing 80k, nor any other EA authority. The reason we got here in the first place is exactly because they did such a great job. I’m criticizing us for making it out to be more than it is. For the love of god lets end this herd mentality of flocking around whatever (insert EA authority) last decided most valuable and start making our own choices!
You don’t need anyone’s acknowledgement to start working on what you think is important. MIRI was founded by someone with no high school diploma! Want to help with AI research? Start another MIRI, now there’s room for twice as many MIRI-style researchers.
An organization like red-cross may not be hip with the tribe we hope to impress, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a large impact. Explore the opportunities unique to you, even if they don’t show up high on the 80k ladder of ‘generally impactful’.