High Impact Jobs

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High Impact Jobs

Post by JamesR »


Surprisingly working as a Tech Startup Founder or as a Quantitative Trader could be highly impactful because you can potentially make a ton of money & donate much more heavily to effective charities/research foundations.

https://80000hours.org/career-guide/mos ... -problems/

So it eventually mentions AI risk as one of the pressing problems, a bit surprising perhaps but seems to make sense. So working on AI tech would be another option for potentially impactful work.

This means that Tech Startup Founder in Safely Artificially Intelligent Quantitative Traders, is clearly the most ERI (Extremely Ridiculously Impactful) job ever!

Note: Is it coincidence Jacob went into the quant world? Perhaps not! ;)

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Re: High Impact Jobs

Post by jacob »

Interesting set of articles!

Looking back, I have tended towards "impact" (a)vocations all the way along(*) and especially the first article would be have helpful to make wiser choices in terms of applying my, uh, ... particular talents. *Warning autobiography bias*

(*) Scientific research, oil depletion, ERE(**), sustainability non-profit, trading... with think tanks being on my bucket list.

I think the most important thing to acknowledge is that it's not a good idea to think of work as a job when it comes to impact. These are rockstar (extreme power law applies) "missions" in which most of the impact comes from a few people or from a few pieces of work. (Of course if you work in a soup kitchen, impact is steady and predictable.)

Timing: Impact might come much later (long after you died). This is the case for many authors. Also consider Tesla (the man, not the car company) as someone with high impact with miserable rewards. Option pricing theory is also an example of an idea that had to wait decades before Black and Scholes presented it in a format that was suitable for academic mass distribution.

Credit: Someone else might take credit for your work (see Stigler's Law). It might even be hard to assign. For example, who contributed the most to the discovery of a new supernova? a) Whoever looked through the telescope when it happened? b) whoever built the telescope? c) whoever supplied the lenses? d) whoever paid for it?

Diffusiveness: Ideas might also be so high level that they don't connect directly with the problem. Maxwell's laws of electrodynamics has been estimated to be involved in 25% of the world's GDP, but the utilization happens much much farther out in the chain. Also consider what the impact of your particular idea/thought is in terms of another person's idea/thought. After all, most of the "business" of academia is not to generate new ideas---it is to maintain an atmosphere/culture in which new ideas might be generated.

Importance: What is actually important and how do you measure it? I think a good case can be made for the importance of sanitation aka garbage removal; yet waste management has never been considered an impactful/prestigious/etc. job in any culture at any time? Consider that the world will probably do just fine without AI and a new tech gadget. They might have high impact but are they important? Where does Justin Bieber fit into all this?

(**) You can think of how ERE fits in in terms of all these categories...

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Re: High Impact Jobs

Post by white belt »

Wow so much to unpack in these articles. I’m surprised this thread didn’t generate more interest before but I’m glad I stumbled upon it.

I’ve been thinking about charity and impact over the past few months. I think the jobs I’ve done that were most rewarding have given a me sense of impact, although in hindsight maybe that is more of a way of patting myself on the back rather than making a legitimate difference over the long term. I find that working on innovative projects leads to more of a sense of impact because at least it appears like I am treading on new ground.

I’ve never donated to charity before but I do realize I’m going to run into the quintessential ERE problem of having more money than I know what to do with, so it is something I will probably explore in the future.

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