Michael Aird on how to do Impact-Driven Research

August 31, 2022

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In this episode, we talked to Michael Aird.

Michael is a senior research manager at Rethink Priorities, where he co-leads the Artificial Intelligence Governance and Strategy team alongside Amanda El-Dakhakhni. Before that he conducted nuclear risk research for Rethink Priorities and longtermist macrostrategy research for Convergence Analysis, the Center on Long-Term Risk, and the Future of Humanity Institute, which is where we know each other from. And before that he was a teacher and a stand up comedian.

Doyne Farmer

We discuss:

  • Whether you should stay in academia if you want to do impactful research
  • How to start looking for roles at impact-driven research organisations
  • What simple changes can improve how you write about your research
  • The uses of 'reductionism' and quantitative thinking
  • The concept of ‘reasoning transparency’
  • Michael’s experience investigating nuclear security


See also:


Expressions of interest forms for longtermist research

Relevant: Michael’s list of pros and cons for working at Rethink Priorities.

Applying for research jobs and funding

All authored by Michael.

Organisations mentioned in the episode

Research skills and concepts

General writing skills

Not mentioned my Michael but still maybe useful —

Nuclear risk

AI governance

Other research topic ideas



Coming soon!

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