Chris Lakin

On choosing a career path

Effective Altruism

I’m quite involved in the Effective Altruism (EA) community, a group of people interested in the question, “Given limited resources and opportunity costs, what actions (e.g.: careers, donations) will do the most ‘good’?” I don’t agree with every idea in this community, but the people are often fascinating, and the concentration of interesting, curious people is unmatched.

Besides the community, EA also gives a framework of principles for doing good and finding meaningful work. I want to do work that matters.

My path

I expect to be most productive doing STEM work—either directly, or somewhat abstracted. I am trying to find my place without being “just another engineer”. Maybe something not-quite-direct-engineering is more valuable?

At first glance, some areas that look appealing include brain computer interfaces, graphene research, and a theory of everything in physics. Right now I am technically doing brain computer interface research. However, I also find that with BCI research I might just want to work at Neuralink (which is much less appealing now that Max Hodak left). Which also makes me wonder whether I want to work on interesting projects, or work with interesting people—who just so happen to work on interesting projects. This I am unsure.


If you have ideas for or contributions to my philosophy here, please reach out. Also, if this led you to rethink your path, let me know! I’m interested.



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Posted 2020 July, last updated 2021 May 6.

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