I work at 80,000 Hours, talking to people about their careers; opinions I share here are my own.
These are great things to check! It's especially important to do this kind of due diligence if you're leaving your support network behind (e.g. moving country). Thanks for spelling things out for people new to the job market ❤️
Thanks so much for sharing this, Michelle! It's always strange to visit our past selves, remembering who we used to be and thinking about all of the versions of ourselves we chose not to become. I'm glad you became who you are now ❤️
Hahaha, thanks for posting!! :)
This is a really interesting question! Unfortunately, it was posted a little too late for me to run it by the team to answer. Hopefully other people interested in this topic can weigh in here. This 80k podcast episode might be relevant? https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/michael-webb-ai-jobs-labour-market/
This is an interesting idea! I don't know the answer.
Thanks for the interesting questions, but unfortunately, they were posted a little too late for the team to answer. Glad to hear writing them helped you clarify your thinking a bit!
On calls, the way I do this is not assume people are part of the EA community, and instead see what their personal mindset is when it comes to doing good.
I think 80k advisors give good advice. So I hope people take it seriously but not follow it blindly.Giving good advice is really hard, and you should seek it out from many different sources. You also know yourself better than we do; people are unique and complicated, so if we give you advice that simply doesn’t apply to your personal situation, you should do something else. We are also flawed human beings, and sometimes make mistakes. Personally, I was miscalibrated on how hard it is to get technical AI safety roles, and I think I was overly optimistic about acceptance rates at different orgs. I feel really badly about this (my mistakes were pointed out by another advisor and I’ve since course corrected), just being explicit that we do make mistakes!
Tricky, multifaceted question. So basically, I think some people obsess too much about intelligence and massively undervalue the importance of conscientiousness and getting stuff done in the real world. I think this leads to silly social competitions around who is smarter, as opposed to focusing on what’s actually important, i.e. getting stuff done. If you’re interested in AI Safety technical research, my take is that you should try reading through existing technical research; if it appeals to you, try replicating some papers. If you enjoy that, consider applying to orgs, or to some alignment bootcamps. If you’re not getting any traction on applications, consider upskilling in a PhD program or industry. Some 80k advisors are more keen on independent research/taking time off to upskill; I’m not as keen on this. I would totally fail at structuring my time during an independent upskilling period, and I could see myself becoming quite isolated/anxious/depressed doing this. So I would prefer to see people pick up technical skills in a more structured way. For people who try all these things and still think they’re not making valuable progress, I would suggest a pivot into governance, support/non-technical roles at AI safety relevant orgs, or E2G. Or potentially another cause entirely! I don’t have as many opinions about outreach strategies for getting people into AI Safety work; overall outreach seems good, but maybe the focus should be “AI risk is a problem” more than, “You should work at these specific orgs!” And there are probably a lot of ways outreach can go badly or be counterproductive, so I think a lot of caution is needed — if people disagree with your approach, try and find out why and incorporate the fact of their disagreement into your decision making.
Alex Lawsen, my ex-supervisor who just left us for Open Phil (miss ya 😭), recently released a great 80k After Hours Podcast on the top 10 mistakes people make! Check it out here: https://80000hours.org/after-hours-podcast/episodes/alex-lawsen-10-career-mistakes/