80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

80000hours.org/podcast
The world’s most pressing problems & how to use your career to solve them.


#61 - Helen Toner on emerging technology, national security, and China
Jul 17 • 114 min
From 1870 to 1950, the introduction of electricity transformed life in the US and UK, as people gained access to lighting, radio and a wide range of household appliances for the first time. Electricity turned out to be a general purpose technology that…
#60 - Prof Tetlock on why accurate forecasting matters for everything, and how you can do it better
Jun 28 • 131 min
Have you ever been infuriated by a doctor’s unwillingness to give you an honest, probabilistic estimate about what to expect? Or a lawyer who won’t tell you the chances you’ll win your case? Their behaviour is so frustrating because accurately predicting…
#59 - Prof Cass Sunstein on how change happens, and why it’s so often abrupt & unpredictable
Jun 17 • 103 min
It can often feel hopeless to be an activist seeking social change on an obscure issue where most people seem opposed or at best indifferent to you. But according to a new book by Professor Cass Sunstein, they shouldn’t despair. Large social changes are…
#58 - Pushmeet Kohli of DeepMind on designing robust & reliable AI systems and how to succeed in AI
Jun 3 • 90 min
When you’re building a bridge, responsibility for making sure it won’t fall over isn’t handed over to a few ‘bridge not falling down engineers’. Making sure a bridge is safe to use and remains standing in a storm is completely central to the design, and…
Rob Wiblin on human nature, new technology, and living a happy, healthy & ethical life
May 13 • 138 min
This is a cross-post of some interviews Rob did recently on two other podcasts — Mission Daily (from 2m) and The Good Life (from 1h13m). Some of the content will be familiar to regular listeners — but if you’re at all interested in Rob’s personal…
#57 - Tom Kalil on how to do the most good in government
Apr 23 • 170 min
You’re 29 years old, and you’ve just been given a job in the White House. How do you quickly figure out how the US Executive Branch behemoth actually works, so that you can have as much impact as possible - before you quit or get kicked out? That was the…
#56 - Persis Eskander on wild animal welfare and what, if anything, to do about it
Apr 15 • 177 min
Elephants in chains at travelling circuses; pregnant pigs trapped in coffin sized crates at factory farms; deers living in the wild. We should welcome the last as a pleasant break from the horror, right? Maybe, but maybe not. While we tend to have a…
#55 - Lutter & Winter on founding charter cities with outstanding governance to end poverty
Mar 31 • 151 min
Governance matters. Policy change quickly took China from famine to fortune; Singapore from swamps to skyscrapers; and Hong Kong from fishing village to financial centre. Unfortunately, many governments are hard to reform and — to put it mildly — it’s not…
#54 - OpenAI on publication norms, malicious uses of AI, and general-purpose learning algorithms
Mar 19 • 173 min
OpenAI’s Dactyl is an AI system that can manipulate objects with a human-like robot hand. OpenAI Five is an AI system that can defeat humans at the video game Dota 2. The strange thing is they were both developed using the same general-purpose…
#53 - Kelsey Piper on the room for important advocacy within journalism
Feb 26 • 154 min
“Politics. Business. Opinion. Science. Sports. Animal welfare. Existential risk.” Is this a plausible future lineup for major news outlets? Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and given very little editorial direction, Vox’s Future Perfect aspires to be…
Julia Galef and Rob Wiblin on an updated view of the best ways to help humanity
Feb 16 • 56 min
This is a cross-post of an interview Rob did with Julia Galef on her podcast Rationally Speaking. Rob and Julia discuss how the career advice 80,000 Hours gives has changed over the years, and the biggest misconceptions about our views. The topics will be…
#52 - Prof Glen Weyl on uprooting capitalism and democracy for a just society
Feb 7 • 164 min
Pro-market economists love to wax rhapsodic about the capacity of markets to pull together the valuable local information spread across all of society about what people want and how to make it. But when it comes to politics and voting - which also aim to…
#10 Classic Episode - Dr Nick Beckstead on spending billions of dollars preventing human extinction
Feb 2 • 112 min
Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in October 2017. What if you were in a position to give away billions of dollars to improve the world? What would you do with it? This is the problem facing Program Officers at the Open Philanthropy…
#51 - Martin Gurri on the revolt of the public & crisis of authority in the information age
Jan 28 • 151 min
Politics in rich countries seems to be going nuts. What’s the explanation? Rising inequality? The decline of manufacturing jobs? Excessive immigration? Martin Gurri spent decades as a CIA analyst and in his 2014 book The Revolt of The Public and Crisis of…
#8 Classic episode - Lewis Bollard on how to end factory farming in our lifetimes
Jan 16 • 194 min
Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in September 2017. Every year tens of billions of animals are raised in terrible conditions in factory farms before being killed for human consumption. Over the last two years Lewis Bollard – Project…
#9 Classic episode - Christine Peterson on the ’80s futurist movement & its lessons for today
Jan 7 • 79 min
Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in October 2017. Take a trip to Silicon Valley in the 70s and 80s, when going to space sounded like a good way to get around environmental limits, people started cryogenically freezing themselves, and…
#50 - Dr David Denkenberger on how to feed all 8b people through an asteroid/nuclear winter
Dec 27, 2018 • 177 min
If an asteroid impact or nuclear winter blocked the sun for years, our inability to grow food would result in billions dying of starvation, right? According to Dr David Denkenberger, co-author of Feeding Everyone No Matter What: no. If he’s to be…
#49 - Dr Rachel Glennerster on a year’s worth of education for 30c & other development ‘best buys’
Dec 20, 2018 • 95 min
If I told you it’s possible to deliver an extra year of ideal primary-level education for under $1, would you believe me? Hopefully not - the claim is absurd on its face. But it may be true nonetheless. The very best education interventions are…
#6 Classic episode - Dr Toby Ord on why the long-term future matters more than anything else
Dec 14, 2018 • 133 min
Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in September 2017. Of all the people whose well-being we should care about, only a small fraction are alive today. The rest are members of future generations who are yet to exist. Whether they’ll be born…
#15 Classic episode - Prof Tetlock on chimps beating Berkeley undergrads & when to defer to the wise
Dec 7, 2018 • 84 min
Rebroadcast: this episode was originally released in November 2017. 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…
#48 - Brian Christian on better living through the wisdom of computer science
Nov 22, 2018 • 195 min
Please let us know if we’ve helped you: Fill out our annual impact survey Ever felt that you were so busy you spent all your time paralysed trying to figure out where to start, and couldn’t get much done? Computer scientists have a term for this -…
#47 - Catherine Olsson & Daniel Ziegler on the fast path into high-impact ML engineering roles
Nov 2, 2018 • 124 min
After dropping out of a machine learning PhD at Stanford, Daniel Ziegler needed to decide what to do next. He’d always enjoyed building stuff and wanted to shape the development of AI, so he thought a research engineering position at an org dedicated to…
#46 - Prof Hilary Greaves on moral cluelessness & tackling crucial questions in academia
Oct 23, 2018 • 169 min
The barista gives you your coffee and change, and you walk away from the busy line. But you suddenly realise she gave you $1 less than she should have. Do you brush your way past the people now waiting, or just accept this as a dollar you’re never getting…
#45 - Tyler Cowen’s case for maximising econ growth, stabilising civilization & thinking long-term
Oct 17, 2018 • 150 min
I’ve probably spent more time reading Tyler Cowen - Professor of Economics at George Mason University - than any other author. Indeed it’s his incredibly popular blog Marginal Revolution that prompted me to study economics in the first place. Having spent…
#44 - Dr Paul Christiano on how we’ll hand the future off to AI, & solving the alignment problem
Oct 2, 2018 • 231 min
Paul Christiano is one of the smartest people I know. After our first session produced such great material, we decided to do a second recording, resulting in our longest interview so far. While challenging at times I can strongly recommend listening -…
#43 - Daniel Ellsberg on the institutional insanity that maintains nuclear doomsday machines
Sep 25, 2018 • 164 min
In Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film Dr. Strangelove, the American president is informed that the Soviet Union has created a secret deterrence system which will automatically wipe out humanity upon detection of a single nuclear explosion in Russia. With US…
#42 - Dr Amanda Askell on moral empathy, the value of information & the ethics of infinity
Sep 11, 2018 • 166 min
Consider two familiar moments at a family reunion. Our host, Uncle Bill, takes pride in his barbecuing skills. But his niece Becky says that she now refuses to eat meat. A groan goes round the table; the family mostly think of this as an annoying picky…
#41 - David Roodman on incarceration, geomagnetic storms, & becoming a world-class researcher
Aug 28, 2018 • 138 min
With 698 inmates per 100,000 citizens, the U.S. is by far the leader among large wealthy nations in incarceration. But what effect does imprisonment actually have on crime? According to David Roodman, Senior Advisor to the Open Philanthropy Project, the…
#40 - Katja Grace on forecasting future technology & how much we should trust expert predictions
Aug 21, 2018 • 131 min
Experts believe that artificial intelligence will be better than humans at driving trucks by 2027, working in retail by 2031, writing bestselling books by 2049, and working as surgeons by 2053. But how seriously should we take these predictions? Katja…
#39 - Spencer Greenberg on the scientific approach to solving difficult everyday questions
Aug 7, 2018 • 137 min
Will Trump be re-elected? Will North Korea give up their nuclear weapons? Will your friend turn up to dinner? Spencer Greenberg, founder of ClearerThinking.org has a process for working out such real life problems. Let’s work through one here: how likely…
#38 - Prof Ng on anticipating effective altruism decades ago & how to make a much happier world
Jul 25, 2018 • 119 min
Will people who think carefully about how to maximize welfare eventually converge on the same views? The effective altruism community has spent a lot of time over the past 10 years debating how best to increase happiness and reduce suffering, and…
#37 - GiveWell picks top charities by estimating the unknowable. James Snowden on how they do it.
Jul 16, 2018 • 104 min
What’s the value of preventing the death of a 5-year-old child, compared to a 20-year-old, or an 80-year-old? The global health community has generally regarded the value as proportional to the number of health-adjusted life-years the person has remaining…
#36 - Tanya Singh on ending the operations management bottleneck in effective altruism
Jul 11, 2018 • 124 min
Almost nobody is able to do groundbreaking physics research themselves, and by the time his brilliance was appreciated, Einstein was hardly limited by funding. But what if you could find a way to unlock the secrets of the universe like Einstein…
#35 - Tara Mac Aulay on the audacity to fix the world without asking permission
Jun 21, 2018 • 82 min
“You don’t need permission. You don’t need to be allowed to do something that’s not in your job description. If you think that it’s gonna make your company or your organization more successful and more efficient, you can often just go and do it.” How…
Rob Wiblin on the art/science of a high impact career
Jun 7, 2018 • 91 min
Today’s episode is a cross-post of an interview I did with The Jolly Swagmen Podcast which came out this week. I recommend regular listeners skip to 24 minutes in to avoid hearing things they already know. Later in the episode I talk about my contrarian…
#34 - We use the worst voting system that exists. Here’s how Aaron Hamlin is going to fix it.
Jun 1, 2018 • 138 min
In 1991 Edwin Edwards won the Louisiana gubernatorial election. In 2001, he was found guilty of racketeering and received a 10 year invitation to Federal prison. The strange thing about that election? By 1991 Edwards was already notorious for his…
#33 - Dr Anders Sandberg on what if we ended ageing, solar flares & the annual risk of nuclear war
May 29, 2018 • 84 min
Joseph Stalin had a life-extension program dedicated to making himself immortal. What if he had succeeded? According to our last guest, Bryan Caplan, there’s an 80% chance that Stalin would still be ruling Russia today. Today’s guest disagrees. Like…
#32 - Bryan Caplan on whether his Case Against Education holds up, totalitarianism, & open borders
May 22, 2018 • 145 min
Bryan Caplan’s claim in *The Case Against Education* is striking: education doesn’t teach people much, we use little of what we learn, and college is mostly about trying to seem smarter than other people - so the government should slash education funding.…
#31 - Prof Dafoe on defusing the political & economic risks posed by existing AI capabilities
May 18, 2018 • 48 min
The debate around the impacts of artificial intelligence often centres on ‘superintelligence’ - a general intellect that is much smarter than the best humans, in practically every field. But according to Allan Dafoe - Assistant Professor of Political…
#30 - Dr Eva Vivalt on how little social science findings generalize from one study to another
May 15, 2018 • 121 min
If we have a study on the impact of a social program in a particular place and time, how confident can we be that we’ll get a similar result if we study the same program again somewhere else? Dr Eva Vivalt is a lecturer in the Research School of Economics…
#29 - Dr Anders Sandberg on 3 new resolutions for the Fermi paradox & how to colonise the universe
May 8, 2018 • 81 min
Part 2 out now: #33 - Dr Anders Sandberg on what if we ended ageing, solar flares & the annual risk of nuclear war The universe is so vast, yet we don’t see any alien civilizations. If they exist, where are they? Oxford University’s Anders Sandberg has an…
#28 - Dr Cotton-Barratt on why scientists should need insurance, PhD strategy & fast AI progresses
Apr 27, 2018 • 63 min
A researcher is working on creating a new virus – one more dangerous than any that exist naturally. They believe they’re being as careful as possible. After all, if things go wrong, their own life and that of their colleagues will be in danger. But if an…
#27 - Dr Tom Inglesby on careers and policies that reduce global catastrophic biological risks
Apr 17, 2018 • 136 min
How about this for a movie idea: a main character has to prevent a new contagious strain of Ebola spreading around the world. She’s the best of the best. So good in fact, that her work on early detection systems contains the strain at its source. Ten…
#26 - Marie Gibbons on how exactly clean meat is made & what’s needed to get it in every supermarket
Apr 10, 2018 • 104 min
First, decide on the type of animal. Next, pick the cell type. Then take a small, painless biopsy, and put the cells in a solution that makes them feel like they’re still in the body. Once the cells are in this comfortable state, they’ll proliferate. One…
#25 - Prof Robin Hanson on why we have to lie to ourselves about why we do what we do
Mar 28, 2018 • 159 min
On February 2, 1685, England’s King Charles II was struck by a sudden illness. Fortunately his physicians were the best of the best. To reassure the public they kept them abreast of the King’s treatment regimen. King Charles was made to swallow a toxic…
#24 - Stefan Schubert on why it’s a bad idea to break the rules, even if it’s for a good cause
Mar 20, 2018 • 55 min
How honest should we be? How helpful? How friendly? If our society claims to value honesty, for instance, but in reality accepts an awful lot of lying – should we go along with those lax standards? Or, should we attempt to set a new norm for ourselves? Dr…
#23 - How to actually become an AI alignment researcher, according to Dr Jan Leike
Mar 16, 2018 • 45 min
Want to help steer the 21st century’s most transformative technology? First complete an undergrad degree in computer science and mathematics. Prioritize harder courses over easier ones. Publish at least one paper before you apply for a PhD. Find a…
#22 - Dr Leah Utyasheva on the non-profit that figured out how to massively cut suicide rates
Mar 7, 2018 • 68 min
How people kill themselves varies enormously depending on which means are most easily available. In the United States, suicide by firearm stands out. In Hong Kong, where most people live in high rise buildings, jumping from a height is more common. And in…
#21 - Holden Karnofsky on times philanthropy transformed the world & Open Phil’s plan to do the same
Feb 27, 2018 • 155 min
The Green Revolution averted mass famine during the 20th century. The contraceptive pill gave women unprecedented freedom in planning their own lives. Both are widely recognised as scientific breakthroughs that transformed the world. But few know that…
#20 - Bruce Friedrich on inventing outstanding meat substitutes to end speciesism & factory farming
Feb 18, 2018 • 77 min
Before the US Civil War, it was easier for the North to morally oppose slavery. Why? Because unlike the South they weren’t profiting much from its existence. The fight for abolition was partly won because many no longer saw themselves as having a selfish…
#19 - Samantha Pitts-Kiefer on working next to the White House trying to prevent nuclear war
Feb 14, 2018 • 64 min
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…
#18 - Ofir Reich on using data science to end poverty & the spurious action-inaction distinction
Jan 31, 2018 • 78 min
Ofir Reich started out doing math in the military, before spending 8 years in tech startups - but then made a sharp turn to become a data scientist focussed on helping the global poor. At UC Berkeley’s Center for Effective Global Action he helps prevent…
#17 - Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster
Jan 19, 2018 • 112 min
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…
#16 - Dr Hutchinson on global priorities research & shaping the ideas of intellectuals
Dec 22, 2017 • 55 min
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…
#15 - Prof Tetlock on how chimps beat Berkeley undergrads and when it’s wise to defer to the wise
Nov 20, 2017 • 83 min
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. After the Iraq WMDs fiasco, the…
#14 - Sharon Nunez & Jose Valle on going undercover to expose animal abuse
Nov 13, 2017 • 85 min
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…
#13 - Claire Walsh on testing which policies work & how to get governments to listen to the results
Oct 31, 2017 • 52 min
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…
#12 - Dr Cameron works to stop you dying in a pandemic. Here’s what keeps her up at night.
Oct 25, 2017 • 105 min
“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…
#11 - Dr Spencer Greenberg on speeding up social science 10-fold & why plenty of startups cause harm
Oct 17, 2017 • 89 min
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…
#10 - Dr Nick Beckstead on how to spend billions of dollars preventing human extinction
Oct 11, 2017 • 111 min
What if you were in a position to give away billions of dollars to improve the world? What would you do with it? This is the problem facing Program Officers at the Open Philanthropy Project - people like Dr Nick Beckstead. Following a PhD in philosophy,…
#9 - Christine Peterson on how insecure computers could lead to global disaster, and how to fix it
Oct 4, 2017 • 105 min
Take a trip to Silicon Valley in the 70s and 80s, when going to space sounded like a good way to get around environmental limits, people started cryogenically freezing themselves, and nanotechnology looked like it might revolutionise industry – or turn us…
#8 - Lewis Bollard on how to end factory farming in our lifetimes
Sep 27, 2017 • 196 min
Every year tens of billions of animals are raised in terrible conditions in factory farms before being killed for human consumption. Over the last two years Lewis Bollard – Project Officer for Farm Animal Welfare at the Open Philanthropy Project – has…
#7 - Julia Galef on making humanity more rational, what EA does wrong, and why Twitter isn’t all bad
Sep 13, 2017 • 74 min
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…
#6 - Dr Toby Ord on why the long-term future matters more than anything else & what to do about it
Sep 6, 2017 • 132 min
Of all the people whose well-being we should care about, only a small fraction are alive today. The rest are members of future generations who are yet to exist. Whether they’ll be born into a world that is flourishing or disintegrating – and indeed,…
#5 - Alex Gordon-Brown on how to donate millions in your 20s working in quantitative trading
Aug 28, 2017 • 105 min
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…
#4 - Howie Lempel on pandemics that kill hundreds of millions and how to stop them
Aug 23, 2017 • 155 min
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…
#3 - Dr Dario Amodei on OpenAI and how AI will change the world for good and ill
Jul 21, 2017 • 98 min
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…
#2 - Prof David Spiegelhalter on risk, stats and improving understanding of science
Jun 21, 2017 • 33 min
Recorded in 2015 by Robert Wiblin with 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…
#1 - Miles Brundage on the world’s desperate need for AI strategists and policy experts
Jun 5, 2017 • 55 min
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…
[Archive] Maria Gutierrez and Robert Wiblin on doing good through art (May 2016)
Jun 2, 2016 • 23 min
Note that this interview was recorded before we were running a professional podcast. Summary and discussion: https://80000hours.org/2016/06/interview-with-maria-gutierrez-about-doing-good-through-art/
[Archive] Dillon Bowen and Roman Duda, on why to do an economics PhD (Jan 2016)
Feb 3, 2016 • 26 min
Note that this interview was recorded before we were running a professional podcast. Summary and discussion: https://80000hours.org/2016/02/plan-change-story-interview-with-dillon-bowen-leader-of-effective-altruism-at-tufts-university/
[Archive] Ben West and Ben Todd on donating most of your income from entrepreneurship(Dec 2015)
Dec 24, 2015 • 47 min
Note that this interview was recorded before we were running a professional podcast. Summary and discussion here: https://80000hours.org/2015/12/interview-with-ben-who-raised-eight-figures-for-charity-through-tech-entrepreneurship/
[Archive] Matt Clifford and Ben Todd on doing good by being a startup founder(Dec 2015)
Dec 21, 2015 • 43 min
Note that this interview was recorded before we were running a professional podcast. Summary and discussion here: https://80000hours.org/2015/12/podcast-with-founder-of-entrepreneur-first-about-being-a-startup-founder/