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Job board to work on problems like climate change and food insecurity (goodjobs.careers)
202 points by tndl 63 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments


> This board lists publicly advertised vacancies that we think could help those with the right fit have a positive impact. Some of these roles help tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems, while others help people build the career capital they might need to have a big impact later.

> Visit our user guide & FAQ to better understand why we list these roles and to learn about how to make the best use of this board. If you’re new to 80,000 Hours, read our key ideas series for our current take on how to think about careers that have a positive impact.

I wanted to like that site, but it seems to equate real charities and non-profits that address issues that people actually face with nonsense like MIRI.

I would absolutely love a site like 80,000 Hours that wasn't tainted by a weird nerd ideology addressing paranoid fears of a malignant AGI.

If you think that their advice on the other stuff is good, then consider the possibility that they are smart, reasonable people who came to a different conclusion on AGI. And then consider whether their fears may have merit.

> If you think that their advice on the other stuff is good

I don't. To me, they're just a convenient list of tech jobs at non-profits, or at least they were a few years ago.

> then consider the possibility that they are smart, reasonable people who came to a different conclusion on AGI. And then consider whether their fears may have merit.

There are plenty of smart, reasonable people who don't worry themselves sick over Roko's basilisk, and I choose to listen to them instead.

No one but you has the exact same notion of "worthy" as you.

This was the main inspiration! I noticed they don’t update too frequently, and I was mostly interested in engineering specific positions + startups which they have less of overall

Like the idea, but I'm confused how companies like:

* Primer - Reach your leads everywhere

* Andium - Digitizing the Oil & Gas Industry

fit into the "problems like climate change and food insecurity" bucket.

Hi, Andium here. Definitely understand the skepticism about our work with the oil and gas industry and its impact on climate change. The high level is that the world doesn't know whether society has reached peak oil. Even if it has, oil consumption will continue to be a major contributor to planet warming gases (CO2 and CO2 equivalents) for decades to come. While regulation plays catch up and alternative energy usage continues to ramp up over the coming decades (something we support fully), we're working to reduce the carbon footprint of the oil and gas industry today. Our flare monitoring product in particular (https://andium.com/products/andium-flare-tracking) addresses the venting of methane at upstream wells, an issue that is gaining increasing regulatory traction in the US.

- https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/biden-admins-me...

- https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2021/03/26/environmental-advoc...

Appreciate you posting. I would say that the adverse opinions from most people on the board stem from the fact that O&G has been intentionally gaslighting public discourse since the 80s and be helping oil and gas through cost efficiencies you are enabling them to maintain power and continue to pollute.

You might have a benefit to lowering the CI of each barrel minutely but really at the end of the day you are hurting the other industries that are trying to get a footing. That's why you are getting some negative feedback. Either through lack of knowledge of the history of the industry or intentionally painting a climate tech friendly perspective due to the new found interest at large of the general population / investing population.

Well, you couldn't expect any other industry to supply gas lighting.

ba dum ba dum ting! Nice one.

To be honest, your homepage doesn't exactly give the impression you're a "saving the environment" company but rather you seem to be targeting businesses who wants to save costs. Here are some excerpts from your landing page (https://andium.com/):

- "At Andium, we’re saving companies millions of dollars annually, while increasing safety"

- "we offer an ecosystem of automated products and services that provide the next generation of remote monitoring capabilities"

- "Increasing site visibility while reducing onsite time, manual labor, and human error equates to major cost savings, and saving our clients’ time and money is in our DNA"

- "We've spent countless hours developing our technology and created the first-ever thermal imaging solution for safe, cost-effective tank-level management that has saved our clients millions at scale"

If you're truly in the same bucket as "problems like climate change and food insecurity" problems, you probably want to update your core messaging across your website

I think realistically they are in the business of making O&G cheaper to extract through efficiencies that gain some climate merit (but very little). It's more like the limited climate benefit is an add-on to core business.

The challenge in selling to O&G companies is they don't really care about climate initiatives. They do have concerns but its not their bread and butter there fore you have to package your sell in other ways such as cost efficiency.

> I think realistically they are in the business of making O&G cheaper to extract through efficiencies that gain some climate merit (but very little). It's more like the limited climate benefit is an add-on to core business.

Respectfully, this is not the business we are in, but I understand how our current messaging could convey it that way. That being said, there is a strong incentive to build products that both address climate pollution and reduce costs. It's a fine line and one that we think about constantly at the company.

True my apologies for incorrect statement. The business you are in is IOT for O&G. Ensuring that flaring/leaks are monitored. That said that has some beneficial climate impacts but is mostly a worker safety issue and a regulatory infraction problem. A balancing act for sure (good products / reducing costs)!

Very late to this discussion, but O&G absolutely cares about sustainability and climate change ... because there are a ton of activist investors who care about it.

So they have to "put on their Sunday best" or they get shellacked in socially responsible index fund investor calls and press.

To be fair though, if you're targeting a business with marketing (e. g. a website) you probably want to speak to the first-order problems the business is having (e. g. cost savings, safety) not to second-order problems that those outside the business are most concerned with (e. g. climate change, food insecurity), even if your company is _also_ invested in reducing second-order problems.

speaking frankly, you shouldn't advertise your company on a job board for "problems like climate change and food insecurity" if those problems are just problems you wanna fix on the side instead of the main problems you're working on solving.

Thanks for the direct and detailed feedback, much appreciated. We're planning a website revamp post our Series A which closed a few weeks ago - will definitely relay this feedback to our team.

Thanks for the reply!

Honest question, but doesn't enabling the Oil & Gas industries to reach peak effectiveness have the opposite effect?

What I mean by this, O&G right now is highly ineffective and to fit into regulatory limit they need to downscale operations just to have a "reserve". By allowing them, for example, to monitor the Flare and other things, don't you actually allow them to increase the production because now they have the data and means how to squeeze effectively into the limits?

Of course, thanks for your thoughtful question!

The short answer is that nobody knows for sure ... yet. Regulatory bodies, NGOs, and ESG-focused activist and impact investors are actively developing frameworks and methodologies for total life cycle GHG accounting. [1] and [2] are a couple of examples in the US from around the time the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. This area is evolving quickly as momentum has built over the last few years for a global approach to getting to net-zero emissions. We keep a close eye on this and continuously evaluate the latest developments in the context of product development ideation.

[1] from 2016: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-03/documents...

[2] from 2015: https://www.eia.gov/conference/2015/pdf/presentations/skone....

Cool product, I think limiting flaring is one of the more important ESG mandates in the oilfield right now.

Andium looks somewhat similar to Rebellion Photonics (recently sold to Honeywell), although the use case is different. Not sure if you’re familiar with their product.

Your company may not be actively bad, and maybe it's having a slightly positive effect, but it doesn't sound like it belongs in a list of companies trying to solve problems like climate change.

Thanks for offering your perspective on this. Solving climate change is first about getting to net-zero GHG emissions, or as close as possible. There are many companies working to reduce the release of CO2 and CO2 equivalents across different segments of the economy, from ag to construction to transportation. Many are focusing on developing and deploying alternative energies and capture technologies, which are great and needed. Our approach is to reduce the CO2 and equivalent emissions produced by O&G today. This is different from the mainstream viewpoint for sure, but especially in areas like methane venting (see links in my other comments) there is a large opportunity for immediate impact.

That's almost at the other end of the spectrum compared to what this site promises to deliver.

The oil & gas industry likes to gaslight (ha) people into thinking they're fighting climate change, but it's a bizarre doublethink endeavour and they're mainly doing it for goodwill, government grants, and to levy more costs to the eventual consumers while reducing their own costs.

Indeed, and when oil producing assets become increasingly stranded in the markets, the industry will not simply retire them at a loss. They will be sold on to buyers who face less regulatory oversight.

When the oil companies are finally out of the hydrocarbon game, they will have built their platform upon the biggest set of externalised costs in history, and their old assets will still be polluting in new hands.

Thanks for the feedback, I made some updates. Don't know how Primer slipped through...

Oh, they're making the world a better place [0].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRUAJVKlUZQ

Good idea but it would be good to have a description / intro text to the company and how they are contributing to saving the planet. Are the companies approved? For example this one on the landing page, I don't understand how it fits: https://www.sayprimer.com/

The Primer's business model seems to be invasion of privacy as a service. It looks like the job board is just a way to find employees willing to work for less, because they think they do something "useful".

Came to say exactly the same thing. I was confused about how the top few posts fit the theme. You could even have a set of tags like #greencompany or #foodsecurity to identify each company's contribution and how tangible it is.

Also, also came to say exactly the same thing.

My thought process: 1. Oh - neat idea! [ Checks website ] 2. Okay, cool. Early stages, but on the right track. 3. Who the hell are these companies 4. Ugh, I'm not going to click on each one to find out. 5. Let's go comment about this on HN. I bet someone beat me to the punch.

Good call, thanks for the feedback

I had exactly the same reaction about Sayprimer. It completely turned me off. In fact, it would take a description of the company's mission to understand how it is trying to have a positive impact.

The issue with this site is that someone in tech will inflate the ‘goodness’ of tech projects. I looked at a few companies and they’re hardly world changing. If your goal is doing good things you’d be far better off working at FAANG or investment banking and donating a % of your salary to proven effective organisations than bet on ‘digitising oil and gas’.

80,000 hours does this well https://80000hours.org/job-board/

Many of the jobs on the 80,000 hours board actually seem quite evil:

"Research Scientist, AI. Facebook"

"Data Scientist, Technology and Resource Investment Decision-making. US Government, Central Intelligence Agency"

"Deep Learning Researcher, Computer Vision Algorithms. Baidu"

So a few things here.

1. ML at Facebook and Baidu pay well so you could use that money to fund more effective things.

2. By working in these roles you have the ability to change how things are done. Certainly more than you usually could from the outside.

3. There's a big push in the effective altruism group on safe AI/ML. I disagree with this but that's a factor in their weightings.

> 2. By working in these roles you have the ability to change how things are done. Certainly more than you usually could from the outside.

No salaried employee is going to change Facebook's incentives to profit from violating privacy and selling their users' data.

There are other high paying jobs out there, and I'd like to know where this "change from the inside" thing comes from. I've not seen anything that indicates that that's true for Facebook, and have seen a few things that show the opposite[1][2].

Working at a company that does these things is no lesser evil in my book.

1: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/facebook-employ...

2: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/mqw86u/i_am_sophie_zh...

So the argument does take it to the slight extreme but assume you're good enough to eventually be promoted to lead the department; at that point you're going to be able to introduce change. Certainly the change you could introduce would be greater than taking a similar paid job at a different organization. I appreciate this isn't the case for a lot of people but it's a non-zero chance and therefore a factor to consider!

I disagree that this is even a factor to consider, and that we should be rigorous when assigning probabilities to events.

Seriously, what meaningful and controversial change has the rank-and-file (or even the managerial staff) at Facebook managed to accomplish? I'm not really asking for your opinion here as much as I am asking if you have any reports or information on the matter that contradicts the things I've heard or seen or read.

Why are you so certain? Their own employees feel that public pressure is the only way out, evidenced by their employees publicly speaking out or leaking things to the press to effect change. How, in your eyes, does this come anywhere close to a degree of certainty that change from within is possible?

I'm not suggesting software developer #1034643 at Alphabet will be able to influence their AI safety policies, I am suggesting Lead AI Safety Researcher #17 at Alphabet will be able to influence their AI safety policies - possibly not, but there's a strong non-zero chance there. Certainly their chances of influencing AI safety policies at Alphabet, which people argue is important, is far greater than if they were a finance engineer earning the same salary at Jane Street. You could argue that Timnit Gebru was unable to introduce change because she was fired before publishing the paper about Google Brain, but nine congressmen have asked for an investigation and it's hardly over so who knows what'll happen there.

I've read similar evidence about people not being able to do much, but someone (or some committee) is having an impact on research direction somewhere within the company (else they wouldn't have even started that research department to begin with).

> nine congressmen have asked for an investigation

Is that change from within? Is this not proving my point?

> else they wouldn't have even started that research department to begin with

You couldn't think of a single other reason to start a research department? Like, say, to say you're doing research but without regard for the results?

These all feel a bit indirect on how they might have a positive impact.

For a job board like this, I would prefer that the companies themselves are directly working on high impact problems that are a benefit to society and the environment.

Would also be nice to see a quick description of the impact each company is trying to have.

Can't point 1 be used to justify any unethical job that pays a lot? What's the point of having a job board with "ethical" jobs then?

Get the job, and slow walk it, generate good looking but bad analysis.

The idea is good, but some other features are needed, like a description of the role and of the company, showing why they are a good fit for the goodjobs page. It could be interesting as well to be able to apply for the jobs directly from goodjobs instead of being send elsewhere, and why not having a bookmark feature to see where you already applied / what positions or companies you're interested in

How is this differentiated from https://techjobsforgood.com

There's a similar company https://goodgigs.app/ that does this as well, but more built-out (and seemingly more focused on non-technical roles).

Not sure your plans for this page, but could be an interesting conversation with that founder.

Is there any way I can submit a job to this?

Just send me an email (click on feedback on the site)

Looks cool. Where do you source these jobs from? How do you make sure to update these frequently.

It’s very manual for now, I used hn who is hiring posts and companies I found during my last job search that are still hiring. Now the at I see a real interest in this I’ll put some more work towards more sources and frequent updates.

Problems like climate change and food insecurity are not technological problems at this point. They are political problems. The job board you want is the board that organizes people to demand political change.

Yes, but maybe a company or organization is, in fact, looking at political climate change solutions, but needs tech hires for their operations, etc.

As the target audience for a job board like this, the question I am starting with isn't "how can tech solve climate change?", it's "how can I apply my tech skills to a problem like climate change?".

> They are political problems

That's true by definition. As political systems are very sensitive to technology, doing tech work can be a very effective form of activism.

>Problems like climate change and food insecurity are not technological problems at this point. They are political problems

Excellent and simple analysis. I should also add housing (in most parts of the world ) to the list.

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