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#19 - Samantha Pitts-Kiefer On Being A Washington Lobbyist Against Nuclear War

Rogue elements within a state’s security forces enrich dozens of kilograms of uranium. It’s then assembled into a crude nuclear bomb. The bomb is transported on a civilian aircraft to Washington D.C, and loaded onto a delivery truck. The truck is driven by an American citizen midway between the White House and the Capitol Building. The driver casually steps out of the vehicle, and detonates the weapon. There are more than 80,000 instant deaths. There are also at least 100,000 seriously...


#18 - Ofir Reich on using data science to end poverty & the spurious action-inaction distinction

Ofir Reich started out as a mathematician in the military and spent 8 years in tech startups - but then made a big career shift to become a data scientist focussed on helping the global poor. At UC Berkeley’s Center for Effective Global Action he helps prevent tax evasion by identifying fake companies in India, enable Afghanistan to pay its teachers electronically, and raise yields for Ethiopian farmers by messaging them right when local conditions make it ideal to apply fertiliser. Or at...


#17 - Prof Will MacAskill On Moral Uncertainty, Utilitarianism & How To Avoid Being A Moral Monster

Immanuel Kant is a profoundly influential figure in modern philosophy, and was one of the earliest proponents for universal democracy and international cooperation. He [also thought]( that women have no place in civil society, that it was okay to kill illegitimate children, and that there was a ranking in the moral worth of different races. Throughout history we’ve consistently believed, as common sense, truly...


#16 - Dr Michelle Hutchinson On Shaping The Ideas Of Intellectuals

In the 40s and 50s neoliberalism was a fringe movement within economics. But by the 80s it had become a dominant school of thought in public policy, and achieved major policy changes across the English speaking world. How did this happen? In part because its leaders invested heavily in training academics to study and develop their ideas. Whether you think neoliberalism was good or bad, its history demonstrates the impact building a strong intellectual base within universities can...


#15 - Prof Tetlock On How Chimps Beat Berkeley Undergrads And When It’s Wise To Defer To The Wise

Prof Philip Tetlock is a social science legend. Over forty years he has researched whose predictions we can trust, whose we can’t and why - and developed methods that allow all of us to be better at predicting the future. His insights have received huge attention from the intelligence community and media. Tetlock’s Good Judgement Project found forecasting methods so accurate they beat all-comers in open competition, including thousands of people in the intelligence services with access to...


#14 - Sharon Nuñez & Jose Valle On Going Undercover To Expose Animal Abuse

What if you knew that ducks were being killed with pitchforks? Rabbits dumped alive into containers? Or pigs being strangled with forklifts? Would you be willing to go undercover to expose the crime? That’s a real question that confronts volunteers at Animal Equality (AE). In this episode we speak to Sharon Nunez and Jose Valle, who founded AE in 2006 and then grew it into a multi-million dollar international animal rights organisation. They’ve been chosen as one of the most effective...


#13 - Claire Walsh on testing which policies work & how to get governments to listen to the results

In both rich and poor countries, government policy is often based on no evidence at all and many programs don’t work. This has particularly harsh effects on the global poor - in some countries governments only spend $100 on each citizen a year so they can’t afford to waste a single dollar. Enter MIT’s Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Since 2003 they’ve conduct experiments to figure out what policies actually help recipients, and then try to get them implemented by governments and...


#12 - Dr Cameron Works To Stop You Dying In A Pandemic. Here’s What Keeps Her Up At Night.

“When you're in the middle of a crisis and you have to ask for money, you're already too late.” That’s Dr Beth Cameron, who leads Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Beth should know. She has years of experience preparing for and fighting the diseases of our nightmares, on the White House Ebola Taskforce, in the National Security Council staff, and as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense...


#11 - Spencer Greenberg on speeding up social science 10-fold & why plenty of startups cause harm

Do most meat eaters think it’s wrong to hurt animals? Do Americans think climate change is likely to cause human extinction? What is the best, state-of-the-art therapy for depression? How can we make academics more intellectually honest, so we can actually trust their findings? How can we speed up social science research ten-fold? Do most startups improve the world, or make it worse? If you’re interested in these question, this interview is for you. A scientist, entrepreneur, writer and...


#10 - Dr Nick Beckstead On How To Spend Billions Of Dollars To Prevent Human Extinction

What if you were in a position to give away billions of dollars to make the world better? What would you do with it? This is the problem confronting Program Officers at the Open Philanthropy Project, people like Dr Nick Beckstead. Following a PhD in philosophy, Nick now works to figure out where money can do the most good. He’s been involved in major grants across a range of programmes, including ending factory farming through technological innovation, safeguarding the world from advances...


Christine Peterson on how insecure computers could lead to global disaster, and how to fix it

Take a trip to 70s and 80s Silicon Valley, when going to space sounded like a good way to deal with environmental limits, people started cryogenically freezing themselves, and nanotechnology looked like it might revolutionise industry - or turn us all into grey goo. Full transcript, coaching application form, overview of the conversation, and extra resources to learn more: Christine Peterson lays out the ferment of ideas she encountered in the Bay Area when she was young, and what became...


#8 - Lewis Bollard On How To End Animal Agriculture In Our Lifetimes

Full transcript, coaching application form, overview of the conversation, and extra resources to learn more. Every year tens of billions of animals are raised in terrible conditions in factory farms before being killed for human consumption. Despite the enormous scale of suffering this causes, the issue is largely neglected, with only about $50 million dollars spent each year on tackling the problem. Over the last two years the Open Philanthropy Project has conducted extensive research...


Julia Galef On Making Humanity More Rational, Urban Design And Why Twitter Isn’t All Bad

The scientific revolution in the 16th century was one of the biggest societal shifts in human history, driven by the discovery of new and better methods of figuring out who was right and who was wrong. Julia Galef - a well-known writer and researcher focused on improving human judgment, especially about high stakes questions - believes that if we could again develop new techniques to predict the future, resolve disagreements and make sound decisions together, it could dramatically improve...


#6 - Dr Toby Ord on why the long-term future matters more than anything else & what to do about it

Apply for personalised coaching, see what questions are asked when, and read extra resources to learn more. Of all the people we should be trying to help, how many of them are alive today? Only a small fraction according to University of Oxford philosopher Dr Toby Ord. Most of them are in future generations - and when it comes to whether they’ll be born into a good world, bad world, or never born at all, they are entirely at our mercy. Dr Ord makes the case that aiming for a good...


Alex Gordon-Brown on how to donate millions in your 20s via quantitative trading (August, 2017)

Read extra resources and apply for personalised coaching. Quantitative financial trading is one of the highest paying parts of the world’s highest paying industry. 25 to 30 year olds with outstanding maths skills can earn millions a year in an obscure set of ‘quant trading’ firms, where they program computers with predefined algorithms to allow them to trade very quickly and effectively. This makes it an attractive place to work for people who want to ‘earn to give’, and we know several...


Howie Lempel on why pandemics could kill hundreds of millions and how to stop them (August 2017)

What disaster is most likely to kill more than 10 million human beings in the next 20 years? Terrorism? Famine? An asteroid? Actually it’s probably a pandemic: a deadly new disease that spreads out of control. We’ve recently seen the risks with Ebola and swine flu, but they pale in comparison to the Spanish flu which killed 3% of the world’s population in 1918 to 1920. If a pandemic of that scale happened again today, 200 million would die. In this in-depth interview I speak to Howie...


Dario Amodei On OpenAI And How AI Will Change The World For Good And Ill (July 2017)

Just two years ago OpenAI didn’t exist. It’s now among the most elite groups of machine learning researchers. They’re trying to make an AI that’s smarter than humans and have $1b at their disposal. Even stranger for a Silicon Valley start-up, it’s not a business, but rather a non-profit founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman among others, to ensure the benefits of AI are distributed broadly to all of society. I did a long interview with one of its first machine learning researchers, Dr...


Prof David Spiegelhalter on risk, statistics and improving the public understanding of science

Discussion and transcript: Recorded in 2015 with my colleague Jess Whittlestone at the Centre for Effective Altruism and recovered from the dusty 80,000 Hours archives. David Spiegelhalter is a statistician at the University of Cambridge and something of an academic celebrity in the UK. Part of his role is to improve the public understanding of risk -...


Miles Brundage and Robert Wiblin on AI Strategy and Policy Careers (May 2017)

Robert Wiblin, Director of Research at 80,000 Hours speaks with Miles Brundage, research fellow at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. Miles studies the social implications surrounding the development of new technologies and has a particular interest in artificial general intelligence, that is, an AI system that could do most or all of the tasks humans could do. Miles's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and...


Podcast with artist Maria Gutierrez May 2016

Podcast with artist Maria Gutierrez May 2016 by The 80,000 Hours team


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