EA

I recognize that I come from a very privileged position, and I am working to figure out how I can most effectively leverage this position to help the world. Much of this thinking is informed by the principles of Effective Altruism (EA). One way to parse these principles is to think about what marginalized groups I may be in a position to help. Among these are:

  1. People far away from me. As someone living in the US with an advanced degree, I have many more resources than I need. Because of this I have pledged to donate 10% of my income to organizations that can most effectively improve the lives of others. As described in Doing Good Better by Will MacAskill, by donating to people in other countries there is a 100x multiplier compared to donating to people within the US. Certainly, it would be good to help all people, but given the choice to help 100 people in Kenya or 1 person in New Jersey, I choose to take the former.

  2. Non-human animals. I have changed my eating habits to a (mostly) vegan diet. I believe that all animals, including cows, pigs, and chicken should be viewed with the same respect that many people in the US view dogs. It would be completely unacceptable to raise dogs in the conditions of factory farms, so I try my best to boycott products coming from factory farms. (More explicitly I cook vegan for myself, but follow the “Paris Exemption” at restaurants, not fretting about a vegetarian options when no vegan options are available.)

  3. People in the future. Climate change is a clear example of the effects of people in the past making choices based in their own best interests that have extremely negative externalities on future people. If sufficiently forward-thinking people were involved in the government and leading major industries at the turn of the industrial revolution, it seems plausible that we could have made significantly more progress mitigating climate change without significant loss (e.g. by incentivizing the development of greener energy sources or electric cars). I think there are other important problems that are currently developing that could use more sufficiently-forward thinking people. Some examples include risks from nuclear war, pandemics (especially engineered pandemics), and transformative artificial intelligence.

These three groups are the ones that I think I can currently utilize my resources (donations, purchasing/dietary habits, and working hours respectively) to help. However, I know this is not the sum total of people in the world that deserve more than they have. I am always looking for new and better ways to help the world, and I would love to hear how else I can use my resources to do the most good!