Dan asked whether he should pursue a career in philosophy of biomedical
engineering. He seemed especially concerned about speeding the development
of a cure for ageing.
I think you could work effectively for the abolishment of ageing along
either of these career paths. In biomedical engineering you may be doing
hands-on work, but in philosophy you could try to influence society,
funding bodies, ethics committees and other groups that affect where the
research money goes. Its not obvious where your impact would be greatest.
Indeed, you could probably help the cause even by, say, running a Russian
prostitution rack - simply getting rich and donating and investing the
money in the right ways should work.
Here is my advice: Think comparative advantage. Ask yourself, what are you
most talented in? Go for that. It will give you the best chance of being
both happy and effective in your life.
Dr. Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy
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