Utilitarian careers?

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Ruairi
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Ruairi » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:52 pm

I quite like that path, but mainly because I think it'll be good for the insects. I don't think it'll do more for utilitarianism than many other things you could work on. But you may as well do good things while promoting utilitarianism, to kill two birds with one stone.
:D! what kinda things do you mean?

to be totally honest while i find neuroscience more interesting than politics and politics more interesting than banking, i didnt have (much) interest in any of them before i realised the possible utilitarian consequences, so whatever you think the most utilitarian thing for me to do is please just say it! it probably wont make me any more happy or less happy than the current things im considering plus id be more happy cause id be stopping more suffering and making more happiness :D

Elwoods phd students are government funded, (i think)
Ruairi wrote: then again if im just a banker and not the actual scientist doing the research would i not really be in a position to educate people on the topic? does it matter? could i just pay people to do it?
It might take some searching, but I bet you could eventually find at least one person who's not now studying the topic but who would do so if given a grant. S/he might not have the same degree of passion that you do, though.
yea but the kind of thing im thinking of is someone who will do the research, make the discovery, and then publicise it, a lot.

hmm but theres no reason we couldnt pay someone to do the research and then a utilitarain can publicise it right? going back to peter singer hes not a biologist or anything (right?)

thanks!!:D!

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Arepo
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Arepo » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:28 am

Ruairi wrote:to be totally honest while i find neuroscience more interesting than politics and politics more interesting than banking, i didnt have (much) interest in any of them before i realised the possible utilitarian consequences, so whatever you think the most utilitarian thing for me to do is please just say it! it probably wont make me any more happy or less happy than the current things im considering plus id be more happy cause id be stopping more suffering and making more happiness :D
I would suggest getting in touch with Carl Shulman about this - he's the official 80K careers guy (see this post for both eg and contact).
"These were my only good shoes."
"You ought to have put on an old pair, if you wished to go a-diving," said Professor Graham, who had not studied moral philosophy in vain.

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Ruairi
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Ruairi » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:37 pm

cool thanks, ive already been talking to richard batty of 80k, although that was mostly about money making careers, has carl shulman spent a lot of time looking into this stuff? why do you suggest him?

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Arepo
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Arepo » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:43 pm

I think he and Richard are working together actually. I spoke to both of them, and found the conversations complemented each other.
"These were my only good shoes."
"You ought to have put on an old pair, if you wished to go a-diving," said Professor Graham, who had not studied moral philosophy in vain.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by utilitymonster » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:35 pm

Yes, Carl has spent loads of time looking into these things and I think he has advised loads of people (perhaps as many as 100?) people on these issues.

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:10 am

Ruairi wrote:
I quite like that path, but mainly because I think it'll be good for the insects. I don't think it'll do more for utilitarianism than many other things you could work on. But you may as well do good things while promoting utilitarianism, to kill two birds with one stone.
:D! what kinda things do you mean?
Oh, say, writing popular articles and giving lectures. Think, for example, of Dave Pearce's hundreds of websites and thousands of Facebook followers. You could potentially earn money for a few years in order to support yourself while doing that. (This may not be far from my own future plans.)

I don't mean to imply that I think this course is necessarily optimal. I'm not sure what is. The insects might benefit more from your being a professor.

Ruairi wrote: hmm but theres no reason we couldnt pay someone to do the research and then a utilitarain can publicise it right? going back to peter singer hes not a biologist or anything (right?)
Exactly. Outsiders might also have more licence to make strong public statements about the research, statements that would be risky for a science professor who needs to maintain the academic respect of his colleagues.

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:28 am

P.S., This is becoming quite a long thread. :) I think 5 pages is a record for Felicifia.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:07 am

Alan Dawrst wrote: Oh, say, writing popular articles and giving lectures.
And it needn't be these traditional academic venues. It could instead take the form of Facebook campaigns, viral YouTube videos, or Vegan-Outreach-style leaflets.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by WeAreNow » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:06 pm

Alan Dawrst wrote:P.S., This is becoming quite a long thread. :) I think 5 pages is a record for Felicifia.
This thread has gotten some amazing replies! I've even got some of my friends at school reading this ;)

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Ruairi
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Ruairi » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:34 pm

thanks alan!:D!

@Wearenow: i was just going to ask if you were still on the forums as from your posts you seemed to be asking the same questions as me! what are you thinking about doing if you dont mind me asking?

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Ruairi
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Ruairi » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:22 pm

Anyone know how to assess your expected income in different careers based on smarts/interest/any other important factors? Particularly I'm looking at academia, law and finance (oh and maybe being a (rescue helicopter:D) pilot if the wages are high).

There’s lots of stuff online but I don’t know what’s reliable (the stuff on payscale often only seems to have around 50 people as its sample).

Also that’s just the career average, I really don't know how to assess if I’m smart enough (although maybe one can look just compare the average for all careers? doesn't seem very good), but I thought of one possible way;

As regards breaking into i banking what I hear/read is that the economics and finance course in university college Dublin (UCD) is the most useful course for getting into i banking. Last year the minimum "points" (grades) needed to get onto the course was 480, statistics online tell me this puts everyone on the course in the top 12.5% and up of the country academically.

I got in touch (do people who arn't Irish use this saying? just means contacted) with a few people at UCD regarding how many of the econ. and finance graduates break into banking each year, the people I contacted didn't have any statistics on how many graduates break into i banking from the course but they assured me graduates do break in. The clearest answer I got was that "probably more than one graduate would break in but less than 5" (the way he said it makes me want to say much less than 5). There are 20 places on the course each year.

They were always talking about banks in London (that they're graduates got into) it seemed. I dunno if this is less attractive or anything but seemed important to mention.

So I was thinking if i divide 12.5 by 10 (if we say maybe the top two graduates from each year get into i banking) then maybe one would need to be around the top 1.25% academically?

But this is just breaking in, it’s "up or out" so perhaps you'd need to be smarter again to make considerable amounts of money? Then again there's money to be made if you are "out" too.

Also I doubt many (or maybe any, but really I don’t know) of the graduates on the course got the grades to be in the top 1.25% of the country academically, but that doesn’t mean they arn't, quite likely that they just didn’t bother because of the extra study they would have to do.

I hear exams systems in other countries are different (and better) but here it's largely a big memory test, questions are repeated again and again, in English you are supposed to study 6 poets but often people will study less because there is a pattern to which ones come up on the exam paper. So if someone didn’t need the grades they were capable of for the course they wanted I think its very likely they might just study less hard.

As regards academia I think science was actually 480 points as well last year, then after your second year you decide what science to do your degree in, you will only get into the more sought after sciences (neuroscience being one of them) if you are doing well academically, and then after that it seems likely to have a shot at academia one needs to get a good degree, probably a first?? So at the moment I'm trying to find out what percentage of graduates get firsts and then do the same thing as above. But of course, as above, this doesn’t account for career progression or anything.

Any ideas how to do all this better please???

Finally if I want to I can try and get an internship in trinity college with a neuroscience academic sometime this summer, don't really know exactly what this entails but basically I'd get to shadow them and learn about stuff. But if I'm not gonna do neuroscience it seems like a waste of time, I might need to apply soon though, any thoughts on if I should go for it?

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:24 am

Ruairi wrote: There’s lots of stuff online but I don’t know what’s reliable (the stuff on payscale often only seems to have around 50 people as its sample).
I know what you mean about not knowing what numbers to trust. It's not the sample size that's the problem (50 is way more than enough to get a reasonable estimate); the problem is that you don't know the demographic information behind the people in that average (e.g., their percentile academically within the general population, their work ethic, hours worked, drive to make money, etc.). Carl mentioned some other problems with the raw salary averages, many of which you just explained as well.

What to do? You can try to get estimates from several different angles and see how well they hold together.
  1. Use Payscale and the like, but don't put very much stock in them.
  2. I've found GlassDoor.com to be pretty good. At least, it's quite accurate for software-engineering salaries in the US. I don't know how well it handles Wall Street bonuses that represent much of the income of bankers and hedge-fund managers.
  3. Search for job ads and see what kinds of salaries and bonuses are offered.
  4. Get books targeted toward working in that career. For example, Vault has a series (and my college career-services department used to pay for student access to all of them for free). There are lots of other good one-off books about how to get into law, finance, software, etc. and what it's like to work there. Often these will have salary surveys or at least will quote a few offhand numbers about what you can expect.
  5. Write to people who work in these industries and ask them for ballpark figures. This is easiest if you're in college and have access to an alumni database, but until then, you can ask around among friends, including the 80K Hours folks. Often, just one or two salary point-estimates by someone who you know is at about the same ability level as yourself is better than all the data points in the world from a collection where you don't know who exactly is in the average. (It sounds like you've been asking around a lot already, which is great.)
It's great if you can get a few point estimates of pay at different levels of experience, so that you can do your own line-fitting of "income vs. years worked." I used to have an Excel spreadsheet where I would do present-value computations for various starting salaries, salary-growth-rate assumptions, and discount rates. Tables like these for actuaries are really great if you can find them, but it's rare to get such clean data.

As far as education suggestions, here's one idea. Unless you want to do medical school or you're 100% certain you don't want to make money but instead want to go into cognitive-science research, you could study computer science and/or statistics, with some business/finance and maybe a few math/physics/engineering courses thrown in. (Okay, maybe I'm biased because that's what I did, but I didn't do it for no reason. :)) This will keep your options open for pretty much anything: software and quantitative finance obviously, but also regular finance, consulting, business, law (which doesn't require specific undergrad preparation), and essentially anything else. I've heard several business/finance recruiters say they'll always take someone with a math-oriented background, because those people are clear thinkers and can do anything. A lot of it is just for signaling, but that's how the system works.

Make sure to reserve time to study more about the options, attend college career fairs/visits, do industry internships, talk with upper-level classmates and recent graduates about their plans, etc.

If you don't like statistics/CS/math, there might be other options. In general, most of the hard sciences have the property of being a "master key" for careers, although I think it's more true the more quantitative the field is. Also keep in mind that some computer-science jobs can be pretty non-quantitative as far as using math specifically, although I think CS uses similar brain regions as math overall.
Ruairi wrote: I got in touch (do people who arn't Irish use this saying?
Yes. :)
Ruairi wrote: and then after that it seems likely to have a shot at academia one needs to get a good degree, probably a first?? So at the moment I'm trying to find out what percentage of graduates get firsts and then do the same thing as above.
Yeah, you need a good degree and a PhD for academic jobs, but I don't know much about the Irish system, unfortunately. :?
Ruairi wrote: Finally if I want to I can try and get an internship in trinity college with a neuroscience academic sometime this summer, don't really know exactly what this entails but basically I'd get to shadow them and learn about stuff. But if I'm not gonna do neuroscience it seems like a waste of time, I might need to apply soon though, any thoughts on if I should go for it?
I think it sounds like a good idea to try because (a) neuroscience is a significant possibility at this point, and it would be useful to get early knowledge about how strongly to pursue it and (b) getting a high-powered money-making internship isn't as crucial now as it will be in your later years of college when you're getting ready to look for jobs after graduation. Many times employers just hire people who did a college internship, rather than looking for fresh graduates who didn't work for them before.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by redcarded » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:40 pm

I'm going to stir the boat for fun.
I can think of one job that is high profile. They have a massive media profile often on TV, often directly stating their message to the youth and all generations. If you took this career path you could espouse utilitarianism through your job. They have the potential to make scad loads of money, which they also often donate. They have fun doing their job. People take a great amount of pleasure from their job. In fact often thousands gather at one place just to watch and listen to them doing their job because it is fun. I can think of two of them that have worked to raise millions to help people in Africa, third world debt relief, increased aid contribution by first world countires, AIDs education amongst some of their better known causes. Think about it, you can be a public face of promoting utilitarianism and reducing suffering! Academia rarely shapes the public debate, lawyers unless they become politicians aren't on TV, and neither of these speak directly to young people. Neither of them have jobs that make the broader public happy to see them...

PS: Just for smiles

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by WeAreNow » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:37 pm

Wow! I feel honored to have started such a long thread with such awesome replies :) I'm about to start a new thread, however. Since this one has so many different topics.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by RyanCarey » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:50 pm

Redcarded... Is the job a pastor? a television presenter? A comedian?
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:02 am

Rock star, e.g., Bono? Yes, but the trouble is that thousands of people want to be rock stars. Probably better odds making lots of money in a startup. Still, I won't dismiss the possibility without seeing an expected-value calculation, assuming you have some good initial demographic traits (being attractive, being able to sing, performing well in front of crowds, etc.).

Since you said your comment was just for smiles, here you go: :D :) :P :lol:

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by redcarded » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:05 pm

Damn computer swallowed my response....
Rock star is correct! I tried to convince Arepo once, but he chickened out. However the reason it is not the first utilitarian choice isn't because lots of other people try, millions try and make a fortune in business but that hasn't stopped anyone lately. Likewise because of the requirements. to be a lawyer or doctor or politician has a list of requirements. Every high paying or prestigious job does, it is just that those for rock star or musical talent and charisma. The reasons are more likely to be:

Risk. Music industry is based on finding the next big new thing, this makes it inherently unpredictable. While having talent will certainly get you a fair way in music, there are a heap of larger business factors often outside of the artists control that may mean success or failure. This is the bane of anything creative. It is the equivalent of banking your life on lotto tickets. The utility pay off, as Bob Geldhof and Bob have shown, can be massive. On a scale far beyond anything that an average academic or doctor could achieve by themselves. However, it is not the way most people plan their lives. Although I applaud those that try.

Duration. Unless you can become the musical utilitarian Madonna you'll be lucky to have a decade long stint at the top of the musical and media world. This mean that you have only a short window in which to make a lifetimes worth of rock star income. The hare may be fast, but the turtle will win the race.
:)

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by RyanCarey » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:08 pm

Haha!

Redcarded, I'm not sure how we're defining risk, but the statistician in me wants our readers to know that becoming a rockstar is not just risky in the sense of a great degree of volatility between potential outcomes, but also that the chance of success is extremely slim. And it's the latter that seems to me to be the deciding factor. Utilitarians do not try to become rockstars because although the impact of rockstars is 1000x the impact of non-rockstars, the chance of becoming one is 1/10,000, or something along those lines. :)
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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Brian Tomasik » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:19 am

redcarded wrote: Risk. Music industry is based on finding the next big new thing, this makes it inherently unpredictable.
While startups are hugely risky too, I think you mean that succeeding in music is more a game of roulette than of poker, whereas startups are the opposite? I don't know how true that is. Certainly there are some pretty strict minimal criteria to even be in the running for being a rock star, but maybe beyond that, there's no simple measure that reliably predicts top success.
redcarded wrote: Duration. Unless you can become the musical utilitarian Madonna you'll be lucky to have a decade long stint at the top of the musical and media world. This mean that you have only a short window in which to make a lifetimes worth of rock star income. The hare may be fast, but the turtle will win the race.
:)
Well, I think the most successful rock stars still beat the majority of bankers in terms of lifetime income, even if they only work a few years. Plus, the possibility for huge media and popular influence has to be at least as big as the value of their income itself.

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Re: Utilitarian careers?

Post by Arepo » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:36 pm

redcarded wrote: Rock star is correct! I tried to convince Arepo once, but he chickened out.
Don't remember that. Maybe I perceived it differently :P

An obvious extra factor (for me specifically and in general) would be lack of talent. I'm close to being tone-deaf, and certainly tone-mute...
"These were my only good shoes."
"You ought to have put on an old pair, if you wished to go a-diving," said Professor Graham, who had not studied moral philosophy in vain.

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