80000 hours is the estimated amount of time you will spend at work over your entire lifetime.
Specifically, 80,000 Hours is a project of the Centre for Effective Altruism, a U.K. registered the charity. 80,000 Hours is also affiliated with the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.
The 80,000 Hours website is designed to help young people find careers that can “make a difference” in the world. To that end, the website ranks global problems and comes up with career options that can help solve some of those problems.
The organization also provides career counseling and support for people planning their careers.
What are Some of the Global Problems That Need Fixing?
80,000 Hours uses academic research and various sources of data to come up with the biggest global problems that need addressing. Due to their attempts to be objective in coming up with these lists, their list of “biggest” problems may leave people scratching their heads a bit.
The Biggest Problem You Didn’t Know Existed? Artificial Intelligence
For example, the number one problem is “Risks from artificial intelligence,” which may seem odd to people who are concerned about world hunger or the threat of nuclear war.
However, part of the scoring is not about how bad the threat is, but how much is being done to mitigate that threat. In this case, not enough is apparently being done already to work on recognizing and ameliorating the problems with artificial intelligence.
Some of the other big problems include:
- Promoting effective altruism
- Global priorities research
- Improving institutional decision-making
- Factory farming
- Nuclear security
- Developing world health
- Climate change
- Land use reform
- Smoking in the developing world
80,000 Hours has been criticized for some of its approaches to determining what is important and how to make a difference. This includes the organization’s previous emphasis on earning a lot of money. And then donating that money to specific charities chosen over so-called “objective” measures.
You may look at this list and think it makes no sense, or, at best, doesn’t have any sort of personal inspiration or meaning to you. “Global priorities research, big deal,” you may think.
Or, perhaps you really are excited about being a gatekeeper for artificial intelligence.
Either way, that list can get you thinking: What does it mean to make a difference?
Can You Make a Difference in Your Own Career?
The idea of using your career to make a difference is, of course, an appealing one. The question is, is it a realistic goal?
If you are young and reading this, you have your whole career ahead of you. You can take heart in that whatever you decide now isn’t a life sentence. You can and probably will change your career over the course of your lifespan.
If you are older, you can still make a change. Remember, Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken didn’t get to be well-known for his famous chicken recipe until he was in his 80s!
Here are three different ways you can make a difference in your career:
1. You Can Help People Directly with Your Work
Joining a “helping profession” is an obvious way to help people with your work. This includes being a nurse, or a therapist, or a social worker. However, you can also help people if you are a receptionist, or a customer care specialist, or anyone who deals with the public. Even a cashier at a grocery store has an opportunity to make a difference by being nice and cheery to the people being served, brightening people’s days.
2. You Can Make a Difference at Your Company
You may be a really great office manager who makes your company more efficient and profitable. While your company may not be saving the world directly, people do need things like lightbulbs and clothing.
You helping the business run smoothly affects everyone at the company, making them happier and more successful. And also ultimately less stressed when they go home. This can create a positive ripple effect.
3. You Can Earn Money That You Can Later Donate
You could decide to pursue a high-paying career such as law, and then take your “ill-gotten gains” and donate to the charities of your choice. Or you might even just become a real estate flipper or day trader, where your “work” is more about moving money around. But your actual passion is taking that money and investing it in helping people.
80000 Hours is a Lot of Life
80,000 hours is a lot of time that you will be spending at work. There are many ways to make that work fulfilling and productive. Even if you just have the attitude of making a small contribution, you can make the world a better place. Even as a janitor.