My Interview with Alex Berger

Early in my blogging career, my favorite growth metric was “number of addresses in my subscriber list”.

For most people, directly influencing Open Philanthropy program officers is simply the highest leverage activity available. I don’t mean just that it’s socially impactful, I mean that this is an organization with hundreds of millions of dollars annually in highly discretionary philanthropic money.

For comparison: they spend about 10x less annually then the Gates Foundation, but have nearly 100x fewer employees. More importantly, in contrast to most large foundations’ “grant making by committee”, Open Phil provides program officers with a high degree of personal autonomy.

I’m excited to share a recent interview with Alex Berger, the recently announced co-CEO of Open Philanthropy. A couple of my personal highlights:

Applied Divinity Studies: Open Philanthropy has a reputation for having an incredibly high bar for hiring… 80,000 hours once called you the “world’s most intellectual foundation”…

What should an ordinary non-genius do with their life?

Alex: …I’ll say that I do feel like there’s too much of a meme sometimes in effective altruism spaces that the only good jobs are “officially” EA jobs. I really don’t agree with that. I don’t think that’s right…

The EA community is pretty explicit about maximizing and optimizing and doing the absolute most possible good, which pushes people in quantitative directions where they’re making interpersonal comparisons that are probably not healthy. I really don’t like the implication that there are only a few ways to do good.

And later

Before we got married, my now-wife knew she wanted to have kids, and if I didn’t want to have kids, we would not end up together, so I had fairly strong motivated reasons to get to yes on wanting kids… so it’s not the most EA action in the world, but to me having and raising kids seems like an awesome, and very normal, altruistic thing to do.

A huge thanks to Alex for the very interesting conversation.

You can read the full interview here.