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June 14, 2017

Effective altruism has become relatively well-versed in a few domains — global health interventions, factory farm reform, a general understanding of the risks of advanced AI — but could use a lot of brainpower on many other high-promise areas. Since each EA organization has needed to narrow its focus to specialize at its function, many would-be priorities are neglected relative to their plausible scale and tractability. We need people who are willing to go off the beaten path to investigate areas that typically lie outside the remits of existing organizations, and let the rest of us know if there are things we should pivot to prioritize.

For instance, you could read to get up to frontier of knowledge about tobacco advocacy, or to learn about some emerging technology that you think might be important but that most EAs aren't paying attention to. This line of work is particularly well suited to current or would-be specialists in a particular EA-neglected domain and who know enough about EA "mainstream" topics to draw impact comparisons. For example, people have historically looked into climate change and child punishment, then published their findings to the Effective Altruism Forum; you could also publish through the Foundational Research Institute or via an academic institution.

To get started, check out some of the many overviews on the broad areas of interest, and hone in on one topic where you would be particularly adept. You can check out the focus areas (with overlap) of the Open Philanthropy Project, 80,000 Hours, the Foundational Research Institute, the Global Challenges Foundation, and the Future of Life Institute.

Time commitment: hours, part-time

Duration: short-term, medium-term

Familiarity with EA: familiar, regular

Occupation: student, professional, retiree, group