Tag Archives: project

The most important questions and problems

What are the most important questions to answer? What are the most important problems to solve? Various people and organizations in the effective altruist community have over the years compiled lists of such questions and problems. This post provides links and brief descriptions of all the lists I’m currently aware of. (Note that many of these lists focus on specific causes, such as artificial intelligence, or on specific disciplines, such as moral philosophy.)

Update: This post was originally written in 2017. Michael Aird has more recently compiled a very comprehensive list of open research questions, which largely supersedes the present list (though Aird’s directory excludes some entries included here).

Further update: 80,000 hours has now released an impressive list of research questions that could have a big social impact, organised by discipline.

80,000 Hours

A ranking of the top 10 most pressing global problems, rated by scale, neglectedness, and tractability.

80,000 Hours

A more extensive list of problem areas outside those listed above.

AI Impacts

A list of tractable and important AI-relevant projects. See also their list of key questions of interest and their list of possible empirical investigations.

Center for Reducing Suffering

A list of research directions relevant for reducing suffering.

Center on Long-Term Risk

A comprehensive ranking of open research questions, rated by importance.

Future of Life Institute

A survey of research questions for robust and beneficial AI.

Global Priorities Institute

A detailed list of important problems.

Open Philanthropy

A list of technical and philosophical questions that could influence Open Philanthropy’s grantmaking strategy.

Nick Beckstead

A list of valuable research questions, with a focus on the long term. See also Nick’s presentation on ‘Jobs I wish EAs would do‘.

Ajeya Cotra

A list of questions for further investigation on forecasting transformative artificial intelligence.

Wei Dai

A list of problems in AI Alignment that philosophers could potentially contribute to.

Robin Hanson

A list of 40 or so “big” questions. See also his list of important and neglected problems.

Jamie Harris

A list of possible crucial considerations for artificial sentience.

Holden Karnofsky

A list of important, actionable research questions given that the present century could be the most pivotal in history.

Will MacAskill

A list of the most important unresolved problems in moral philosophy.

Luke Muehlhauser

A comprehensive list of potential studies that could, if carried out, illuminate our strategic situation with regard to superintelligence. See also this early post.

Richard Ngo

A list of questions whose answers would be useful for technical AGI safety research, but which will probably require expertise outside AI to answer.

Jess Riedel

A list of topics in physics that should be funded on the margin right now by someone trying to maximize positive impact for society.

Anders Sandberg

A short list of the best problems to work on, intended as a supplement to 80,000 Hours’ ranking. See also Anders’s final answer in this interview, which mentions the research questions that he believes are most relevant to space colonization.

Chrome extensions I like

See also: Android apps I use

These are the Chrome extensions I currently use. My favorite ones are boldfaced.

  • Application Launcher for Drive. Open Drive files directly from your browser in compatible applications installed on your computer.
  • Bitly. URL shortener.
  • BuiltWith Technology Profiler. Find out what the website you are visiting is built with.
  • Bypass Paywalls. See paywalled content from all the major media outlets (e.g. Financial Times, The Economist, etc.) as well as other sites.
  • Browserpass. Browser extension for pass, the standard Unix password manager.
  • CLUT: Cycle Last Used Tab. Toggle between your current and last used tab with a keyboard shortcut. I use this extension hundreds of times per day.
  • Contact Out. Find a person’s email, as long as they have a LinkedIn account.
  • Dark Reader. Dark mode for every website. My personal settings are here.
  • Don’t add custom search engines. Prevent Chrome from auto-adding custom search engines.
  • Get RSS Feed URL. Adds one-click subscription to Chrome’s toolbar.
  • Ghost Text. In combination with Atomic Chrome, this extension lets me enter text (e.g. writing a comment or editing a Wikipedia article) directly from Emacs.
  • Google Docs Offline.
  • Grammarly. Spell checker and more.
  • I still don’t care about cookies. Do you like clicking a consent button every damned time you visit a new website? Then why are you not using this extension? [Mostly relevant for EU residents.]
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Translate. Provides keyboard shortcuts on the Google Translate page.
  • My IMDb. Highlights the movies you’ve already seen (voted for) when searching IMDb or displaying actor/director pages.
  • Print Friendly & PDF. Improves the print version of a web page by removing ads and fixing broken layout.
  • Return YouTube dislike. For inexplicable reasons, although YouTube still lets users dislike videos, it no longer displays the number of video dislikes. This extension restores the dislike count.
  • ReviewMeta.com Review Analyzer. Adjusts Amazon’s ratings to exclude fake reviews.
  • Shut up. “If you’ve ever gone to a website and read its comments section, you’ll have seen that it’s just a vitriolic, idiotic wasteland. Why subject yourself to that?”
  • Tag Assistant. Helps troubleshoot installation of various Google tags including Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and more.
  • uBlacklist. Blocks specific sites from appearing in Google search results. My list of blocked sites is here.
  • uBlock Origin. A fast, potent, and lean ad-blocker. I shared some customizations here.
  • Unhook. Hides YouTube related videos, comments, shorts tab, suggestions wall, homepage recommendations, trending, and other distractions. I set it to replace the home feed with my subscriptions.
  • Vimium. Provides keyboard shortcuts for navigation and control in the spirit of Vim. My settings are here.
  • Wayback Machine. Reduce annoying 404 pages by automatically checking for an archived copy in the Wayback Machine.

With thanks to Tom Ash, Ryan Carey, Sam Deere, Peter McIntyre, Claudia Shi, James Ting-Edwards and Matthew van der Merwe for valuable suggestions.