- Occupation: Student, Professional, Retired
- Time commitment: Hours, Part-time
- Duration: Short-term, Medium-term
- Familiarity with EA: Familiar, Very Familiar
The effective altruism community 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 still use a lot of brainpower in many other highly promising 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. Individuals have historically looked into e.g. climate change, child punishment, and developing-world pain relief.
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.
To get started, hone in on one topic where you would be particularly adept by looking at some of the many overviews on broad areas of EA interest. 80,000 Hours' problem profiles are the most accessible place to start. You can find more information about focus areas (with overlap) from the Open Philanthropy Project, the Foundational Research Institute, the Global Challenges Foundation, and the Future of Life Institute. To learn how to make cross-cause comparisons of impact, check out this talk on prioritization research. Finally, publish your work to the EA Forum or, if they approve your piece, via the Foundational Research Institute or an academic institution.