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Introduction to part 2

In part 1 I argued that there are three predictably recurring problems with EA tech work: it being bad for developing technical skills, inefficient, and difficult to hire effectively for. In this part I argue that each problem could be mitigated or even fixed by consolidating the workers into a single agency. I focus here on the benefits common to any form of agency - in the next part I’ll look at some of the unique advantages of an agency which itself was a donor-funded EA org.

Stepping through the issues in part 1:

Agencies would make the tech work better for coders

Multiple coders

At any given time in the last few years, there have been perhaps 5-10 software developers working full time in EA nonprofits. Most...

Thanks for the writeup! One comment is that there are a few downsides of agencies which are worth exploring. Some of those are:

  • Less embedded in the org = typically less likely to suggest projects/software solutions to business problems than an in-house dev would be
  • Slightly less reliable for situations where high priority work can come up. An in house dev is always available to jump on an issue. That may well not be the case with an agency. E.g: Your website crashes in the middle of a busy weekend. Your agency project finished months ago. You now need to ge
... (read more)

(I have no association with the EA Forum team or CEA, and this idea comes with no official mandate. I'm open to suggestions of totally different ways of doing this.)

Update: Aaron here. This has our official mandate now, and I'm subscribed to the post so that I'll be notified of every comment. Please suggest tags!

2021 update: Michael here again. The EA's tag system is now paired with the EA Wiki, and so proposals on this post are now for "entries", which can mean tags, EA Wiki articles, or (most often) pages that serve both roles.

The EA Forum now has tags, and users can now make tags themselves. I think this is really cool, and I've now made a bunch of tags. 

But I find it hard to decide...

4Pablo5hWhat do you think about the policy change [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/policy-change] entry? One option is to rename it to just policy and use it as the "mega-tag" you propose.

That's a good idea.

2Pablo5hI agree that the concept of an open society as you characterize it has a clear connection to EA. My sense is that the term is commonly used to describe something more specific, closely linked to the ideas of Karl Popper and the foundations of George Soros (Popper's "disciple"), in which case the argument for adding a Wiki entry would weaken. Is my sense correct? I quickly checked the Wikipedia article, which broadly confirmed my impression, but I haven't done any other research.

[Also posted on LW.]

I’ve been working on a report (see blog) assessing possible trajectories for GWP out to 2100. A lot of my early work focussed on analysing a paper of my colleague David Roodman. Roodman fits a growth model to long-run GWP; the model predicts a 50% probability that annual GWP growth is >= 30% by 2043.

I was thinking about whether to trust this model’s GWP forecasts, compared with the standard extrapolations that predict GWP growth of ~3% per year or less.[1] I was also thinking about how the model might relate to AI timelines.

This post briefly describes some of my key takeaways, as they don’t figure prominently in the report. I explain them briefly and directly, rather than focussing on nuance or caveats.[2] I expect...

I have a lot of thoughts but not a lot of time, so apologies if this is a bit scatterbrained. 

I've read your blog, Roodman's blog from last year and a lot of Roodman's report. I see this line of thinking in the following way: 

Some EAs/rationalists/AI alignment groups believe that AI could be transformative because AI itself is unlike anything that has come before (I mostly share this view). Your and Roodman's line of inquiry is to do a check on this view from an "outside view" perspective, using long term economic growth to make sure that there i... (read more)

Epistemic status: This post leans heavily on my personal experience and is not well-researched. I’m not a doctor, nor have I studied medicine. I do consider myself pretty good at Googling things though. Also, a real doctor did look over and at least tacitly approve of this post. I’m not doing much in the way of literature review, validating claims, etc so take everything with a teaspoon of salt. There are also more side effects and bad interactions than I’m able to mention. Do your own research before you try any interventions I suggest! Also, if you find something definitely wrong in the post let me know in the comments and I’ll try to correct it.

Over the past two years or so I’ve been on a long...

Thanks for sharing, indeed it is very useful information

Moorhouse, Fin & Luca Righetti (2021) Institutions for the long run: taking future generations seriously in government, Cambridge Journal of Law, Politics, and Art, vol. 1, pp. 430–437.

We will be answering questions about a new fellowship program run by Open Philanthropy, the Technology Policy Fellowship. We will begin answering questions in the comments section here on August 6th, and will continue monitoring the post for a few days after that.

What is the OP Technology Policy Fellowship?

This is a US policy fellowship program focused on high-priority emerging technologies, especially AI and biotechnology. Selected applicants will receive policy-focused training and mentorship and be supported in matching with a host organization for a full-time, fully-funded fellowship based in the Washington, DC area. Potential host organizations include executive branch offices, Congressional offices, and think tank programs.

Applications for the program are due by September 15th. Fellowship placements are expected to begin in early or mid-2022 and to last 6...

1Miranda_Zhang20h*edit 3: After reading more on Epistemic Communities, I think I'm back where I started. *edit 4: I am questioning, now, whether I need a framework of how experts influence policymaking at all ... Maybe I should conceptualize my actors more broadly but narrow the topic to, say, the use of evidence in narratives? I really appreciate your response, Ian! I think it makes sense that the more convoluted status of the first debate would make it a more valuable question to investigate. My hesitation was not worded accessibly or clearly - it was too grounded in the specific frameworks I'm struggling to apply - so let me reword: it doesn't seem accurate to claim that there was one expert consensus (i.e. primarily pro-/anti-waiver).Given that, I am not sure a) how to break down the category of 'expert' - although you provide one suggestion, which is helpful - and b) how strongly I can justify focusing on experts, given that there isn't a clear divide between "what experts think" and "what non-experts think." Non-TL;DR: My main concern with investigating the debate around the TRIPS waiver is that there doesn't seem to be a clear expert consensus. I'm not even sure there's a clear EA-aligned consensus, although the few EAs I saw speak on this (e.g. Rob Wiblin) seemed to favor donating over waiving IP (which seems like a common argument from Europe). Given that, I question 1. the validity of investigating 'expert narratives' because 'experts' didn't really agree there 1. However, I don't know if it would be in/valid (per the theories I want to draw from, e.g. Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) or Epistemic Communities), so that would be one of my next steps. 1. This particular description worries me: "Advocacy coalitions are all those defined by political actors who share certain ideas and who coordinate among themselves in a functional way to suggest specific issues to the government and influence in the

Suggestion: use an expert lens, but make the division you're looking at [experts connected to/with influence in the Biden administration] vs. ["outside" experts].

Rationale: The Biden administration thinks of and presents itself to the public as technocratic and guided by science, but as with any administration politics and access play a role as well. As you noted, the Biden administration did a clear about-face on this despite a lack of a clear consensus from experts in the public sphere. So why did that happen, and what role did expert influence play in d... (read more)

Since July of last year I’ve been working as a contractor at 80,000 Hours. I’ve loved the work, but I just got an exciting opportunity to work on a new project full time, so I'm now looking to replace myself.

Over time I’ve picked up a few other small tasks in addition to copy editing. I’d really like to make sure that the team continues to get support in “editing+” (as I’ll call it for convenience)—so if you think you or someone you know might be a good fit, please read on.

Who?

The person who’s right for this role will have:

  • 1+ years of experience writing and editing in a professional setting
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Familiarity with Slack and Google Drive
  • Familiarity with Markdown and Wordpress, or willingness to learn these
  • Excellent written
...

I'm writing this more to regulate my emotional state than anything--when I started writing I felt like I was clinging to an overturned inflatable raft in storm-tossed seas of panic.

I

Does anyone else do this thing where one generates an Ugh Field about a friend or community that one likes, because one knows that they've wronged some other party by not responding to them with any punctuality, and now it's been so long that there's no justifiable reason to not have responded yet--not even being kidnapped by Somalian pirates--, which makes one even more prone to flinching away from responding, to the point where one's mind--in its wanderings--merely touching on the idea of logging on to a website might lead to one being unproductive for hours as one...

I also think dealing with depression is the most important step in my life. I made this list of things that help me personally. Maybe you find something in there useful :-)

1Madhav Malhotra4hWhat if you made a daily checklist? :-) I like to make a checklist when I wake up every day. After a week or two, it just becomes habit! And an alarm would fit into that perfectly :D
2Lumpyproletariat8hThank you for linking me to Kelsey Piper--I haven't read Chris Olah's essay yet, but I'm sure I'd've thanked you for linking him too had I only. I'm going to give Focusmate a go; I've been meaning to set it up but procrastinated doing so long enough to generate an ugh field about that. Thank you for that, too.