Our favorite links this month include:
Also: CEA, the charity behind this newsletter, is hiring! We have several openings, but we want to highlight our operations role, an entry-level position that requires no specialized experience.
— The EA Newsletter Team
P.S. This month's images come from Toby Ord's Earth Restored project.
News and updates from the world of effective altruism
Having a successful career with depression, anxiety, and imposter syndrome
In a remarkable podcast episode from 80,000 Hours, one of their staffers talks about his struggle with mental illness, how he returned to work after more than a year, and what advice he’d give to others in his position.
We think the episode could be hugely impactful for many readers, even if they aren't living with mental illness. In our view, it achieves both goals set forth by its creators:
"1. Help people realize that they have a shot at making a difference in the future, even if they’re experiencing (or have experienced) mental illness, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or other personal obstacles.
"2. Give insight into what it’s like in the head of one person with depression, anxiety, and imposter syndrome, including the specific thought patterns they experience on typical and more extreme days."
Career advice from a leading grantmaker
Holden Karnofsky co-founded GiveWell and now co-leads Open Philanthropy, the largest EA-aligned grantmaking organization.
After many years spent evaluating projects, he’s published a collection of career advice for people seeking careers focused on long-term impact.
This advice may be especially relevant if you're unsure of how best to apply your skills. Holden covers different sets of “aptitudes” (skills that could apply to many career paths). For each set, he lays out:
- What you can accomplish with those aptitudes.
- Examples of people who’ve leveraged them into impactful careers.
- How to further develop them, and how to know whether you’re “on track” with your chosen path.
Infecting mosquitoes to save humans from disease
Ed Yong tells the story of a team from the World Mosquito Program that trialled a new way to stop a deadly disease — with incredible results.
A common bacterium, Wolbachia, stops mosquitoes from spreading the dengue fever virus (which infects ~400 million people each year, killing tens of thousands).
Unfortunately, the mosquitoes that carry the virus aren’t natural hosts for the bacterium. Fortunately, we can transcend the limits of nature.
After years of work, an Australian team managed to breed members of the right mosquito species that were infected by Wolbachia. Next, their Indonesian counterparts got public approval to release infected bugs throughout the city of Yogyakarta. The goal: infect the city's local mosquitoes, so that they couldn't transmit dengue anymore.
Four years later, the results were published: dengue cases dropped by 77%. That’s a promising start; hopefully, these results will hold as the program scales up. (The WMP hopes to protect half a billion people by 2030.)
Lessons on local policy change
The Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP), a young charity startup, spent the last eight months working with the Malawi government to enforce lead paint regulation — and with local paint companies, to help them source alternative ingredients.
They just shared seven things they learned in that time, in a fascinating post that we’d recommend to anyone interested in development policy.
Two lessons that stood out:
Relatedly, a new report from Rethink Priorities finds that lead exposure costs the world trillions of dollars in neurological damage and lost income, and that there seems to be room for more funding in the space.
- Creating policy is only the beginning. Even if regulations exist, they won't do much without monitoring or enforcement.
- Remote meetings are a viable option. Despite the pandemic’s effect on travel, LEEP met with officials, advisors, and local experts, and found they could make swift progress despite a lack of staff on the ground in Malawi.
Future-proofing the British government
Most politicians aren’t known for their long-term thinking. Accordingly, governments often struggle to prepare for threats that haven’t yet arisen. Two years ago, one of those threats was “a pandemic”. Then, it arose.
This month, EA-affiliated researchers published a report, Future Proof, to help the UK avoid disaster when the next extreme risk rolls around.
The report makes UK-specific policy recommendations (“an insurance policy for Britain”), but many of those could be adapted for other countries — the more of the world has “insurance”, the safer everyone will be.
In the wake of COVID, we have a chance to leverage public concern and make changes that could prevent many future catastrophes. We hope this report achieves its goals, and kicks off a trend beyond Britain’s borders.
For more stories, try these email newsletters and podcasts.
In other news
You can also join an EA-related Facebook group. This month's featured group is EA Academia, where members discuss topics at the intersection of effective altruism and... yes, academia.
Opportunities to work on some of the world's most pressing problems
The 80,000 Hours Job Board features more than 600 positions. We can’t fit them all in the newsletter, so check out the others on their website!
If you’re interested in policy or global development, you may also want to check Tom Wein’s list of social purpose job boards.
If you want to find out about new positions as they arise (or post a position yourself), check out the EA Job Postings group on Facebook.
Jobs at the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA)
CEA, which runs this newsletter, is hiring! Three of our open roles close soon — two on the events team, and one on the operations team.
We especially want to highlight the operations role: an entry-level position meant for recent college graduates and others without much experience. If you'd like to develop your skills and learn about many aspects of nonprofit work, this is an exceptional opportunity. Please apply by 1 July.
Applications due soon
Community Co-Director, Effective Altruism NYC (New York City) (27 June)
Farm Animal Welfare Program Assistant, Open Philanthropy (6 July)
Operations Associate, Rethink Priorities (Remote in US) (11 July)
Research Assistant, AI Futures and Responsibility // Research Associate, Major Transitions in the Evolution of Cognition, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (Cambridge, UK) (30 June)
Research Associate, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense, Institute for Defense Analyses (Washington, DC metro area) (30 June)
Research Fellow, AI Safety, Test, Evaluation, Verification, and Validation, Georgetown University, Center for Security and Emerging Technology (Washington, DC metro area) (1 July)
Senior Project Manager, Sovereign Europe, Bertelsmann Foundation (Bielefeld, Germany) (1 July)
, One for the World (Remote in US)
Full Stack Engineer
// Partnerships Manager
, Momentum (San Francisco Bay Area or remote)
Junior Data Scientist
// Giving Green Research Associate or Consultant
, IDinsight (Various locations)
Project Manager, Defense Budget for the 21st Century
, Federation of American Scientists, Day One Project (Washington, DC metro area)
Security Cooperation Analyst
, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) (Washington, DC metro area)
, GiveWell (San Francisco Bay Area or remote)
, The Good Food Institute (Various locations)
, Open Philanthropy (San Francisco Bay Area or remote)
, Ought (San Francisco Bay Area or remote)
Books, events, community projects, and more!
You can now apply to EA Funds at any time (EAIF, LTFF)
The Long-Term Future Fund (LTFF) and EA Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) are looking for grant applications.
Two major changes make it easier to get a project funded than ever:
Funds can go toward scholarships, entrepreneurial projects, teaching buy-outs, and many other things. Grants of many sizes are available, from $1,000 to $500,000 or more.
- You can now apply for a grant at any time. The funds aim to evaluate most applications within 21 days, and can potentially evaluate much faster if an application is time-sensitive.
- You can now suggest other projects and ideas you’d like to see funded. The funds are looking for suggestions, both for current, ongoing projects and for ideas that someone could be funded to implement.
For more details, and to learn more about what the funds are looking for, see their announcement post.
WANBAM offers mentorship for high-impact careers
WANBAM connects experienced mentors with women, non-binary people, and trans people of any gender who are looking to pursue careers related to effective altruism. Mentorship includes six months of one-on-one meetings and introduction to the global WANBAM community.
To express your interest in membership, complete this application. If you have any questions, contact WANBAM via email.
The EA Hub Directory: Consider making a profile
The EA Hub has a directory of hundreds of EA community members from around the world. You can use it to find and contact people who live near you, share your interests, and so on.
If you’d like people to be able to find you, consider making a profile!
The U.S. Policy Careers Speaker Series
This summer, the Stanford Existential Risks Initiative (SERI) is working with the EA community in Washington, DC to organize a virtual speaker series on careers in U.S. policy.
If you want to learn about getting involved in policy work, or what it’s like to have a job in this field, this is a good chance to get advice and ask questions. (The talks will not be recorded.)
You can see more information here, and register to attend here.
$100 million in prizes for carbon removal technology
XPRIZE has launched their latest competition. The Musk Foundation wants to reward the development of technologies that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or the ocean, and lock it away where it won’t contribute to climate change.
Teams can register by 1 October for the student competition ($25), or by 1 December for the main competition ($250).
The Conference on Animal Rights in Europe
Registration is open for the CARE conference, a virtual event meant to build connections between animal advocates in Europe. The event will be held from 20-22 August; early-bird tickets are available until 15 July.
You can see updates from a wide range of organizations on the EA Forum.
Ideas that have shaped the way we think about doing good
Sometimes, people who discover effective altruism start to worry about how "effective" they are — not just in their donations, but in many aspects of life (career, hobbies, relationships...). This can lead to questions like:
In response to concerns like these, Julia Wise wrote this month's classic: "You can have more than one goal, and that's fine".
- "Should I work as many hours as possible so I can donate more?"
- "Should I support my friend's fundraiser, even if I don't think it will have much impact?"
In the essay, she notes that the "tool" of cost-effectiveness can be useful in some parts of life — but not all of them at once. The way you make decisions will depend on what goals you're pursuing:
"I have lots of goals. I have a goal of improving the world. I have a goal of enjoying time with my children. I have a goal of being a good spouse. I have a goal of feeling connected in my friendships and community. Those are all fine goals, but they’re not the same."
It can be tough to balance concern for others with a respect for your own goals and boundaries; this essay is among our favorite perspectives on finding that balance.
We hope you found this edition useful!
If you’ve taken action because of the Newsletter and haven’t taken our impact survey, please do — it helps us improve future editions.
(Actions we'd love to hear about include donating to charity, applying to a job, or joining a community group.)
Finally, if you have feedback for us, positive or negative, let us know!
– The Effective Altruism Newsletter Team