I recognize that I come from a very privileged position, and I am working to figure out how I can leverage this position to have a positive impact on the world. To me, this involves setting aside some of my resources to be dedicated to whatever opportunities currently seem like the highest impact ones. Figuring out “what are the highest impact opportunities available to me” is a very complex question! One interested heuristic to work towards finding better solutions seems to be identifying groups that are less common recipients for charity that are afflicted by problems that are especially important to their existence and responsive to more resources. These groups can be further narrowed down by ones that require resources I’m well-positioned to offer. Some of my current guesses on what groups fit into these categories 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.

  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.

  3. People in the future. Climate change is an example of the effects of people in the past making choices based in their own best interests that have negative externalities on people in the future. It seems plausible that foresight about the potential impacts of climate change could have lead to more responsible practices mitigating the impacts of CO2 and pollution prior to this impact coming to fruition. I think there are other important problems that are currently developing that could use more forsight to prevent their negative consequences from coming to fruition. 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!