In previous episodes of my life:

Jaime suspended his PhD. He started working with Open Philanthropy on modelling the development of transformative Artificial Intelligence. His independent research group picked up some steam. But whatever happened to the errand researcher afterwards?


In short: lots. After leaving my PhD, what followed was one of the most hectic and exciting stages of my career so far.

Let’s start with the highlights:

  • Together with the rest of my research group we have launched our own research organisation: Epoch. We are working on anticipating the future of Artificial Intelligence. 

    Back when I was interning at the Future of Humanity Institute, I resolved that one of my career goals would be to coordinate a research group. This has now happened five years earlier than I expected, which makes me slightly nervous about biting off more than I can chew. 

    Still, I think it made sense to take this step. Our work so far has been well received, I got encouraging feedback on my leadership style and our founding team is awesome.


  • I’ve been participating in the FTX Bahamas EA Fellowship program. This has been an amazing opportunity to mingle and cowork with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. The paradisiac background hasn’t been too shabby either. [EDITED TO ADD: in a shocking turn of events, FTX turned out to be likely committing fraud, and I condemn the behaviour of their leadership]

My research hasn’t stopped:

  • I am still working on macroeconomic modelling of AI Takeoffs with Open Philanthropy. Working with my manager, Tom Davidson, has been amazingly stimulating and instructive. On the downside, I feel like I severely underestimated how long the project would take. And in hindsight, I think I should have committed to work on it full time in order to do it justice. We have advanced quite a lot though, and with the support of Epoch the project is going more smoothly now.
  • The Epoch team wrote Compute Trends Across Three Eras of Machine Learning. We studied how state-of-the-art Machine Learning models are becoming more compute-intensive over time.

    This paper has been very successful, and it’s been featured in the WCCI 2022 conference, Our World in Data and The Economist


Alongside these successes, there were also some failures:

  • I got offered to write another article about potatoes. I wrote a few drafts and sent them, but I never got around to editing them properly after feedback. In hindsight, it would have been more responsible to reject the offer. 
  • Metaculus granted me access to some research tools and their private data. And I… failed to do anything with it. I plan to look into this at some point, though realistically this will have to wait until I sort out my higher priority research.
  • I have failed at my goal of arranging cryonics. Halfway through contracting insurance, I tried arranging a different payment scheme via an investment account. This turned out to not be possible, at least with my provider of choice Alcor. I sluggishly tried to get the process for contracting insurance restarted but I keep being very inconsistent at working on it. I am going to try to solve the medical approval letter I need by the end of the month, but I am going to be realistic and remind myself that it is okay if it takes longer. Thank you to insurance services Unusual Risks for your heroic patience dealing with a difficult client.


Some more fun stuff:

  • I have been hiring for Riesgos Catastróficos Globales, and I helped arrange a grant for our new director so they can develop an executive plan for the organisation. This will happen in December.
  • I organised and ran an internship program for Riesgos Catastróficos Globales with the help of Cristina Schmidt Ibañez. I am very excited about creating other opportunities for Spanish speakers to get involved in the EA community.
  • I finished my (first) fantasy novel! I have hired an editor to give me some feedback. It is by no means a masterpiece, but I am proud of myself for finishing it.
  • I made a cute handbook explaining how I make the art for my ML art company. Sales have been single digits, and now that DALLE-2 is out I expect I will not be selling anymore. But hey, this was about me learning how to set up a business, and I think it’s been a great success on that account.


What the future holds:

  • At Epoch, the priority is finishing the current hiring round. We are looking for awesome researchers and team leads to join our multicultural and exciting team. You can still apply!
  • For the next six months I will be spending time in various Spanish-speaking countries and helping with community building. First Spain, then Colombia, then Mexico, culminating in the soon-to-be-announced EAGx Latin America in Ciudad de Mexico. I’m really looking forward to it!

I'd like to thank Mel Brennan for her help editing this article





More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

You're so productive! I'd love to read a blog post talking about how you manage multiple projects, structure your day, and organize your work.

+1 -  I think I've seen multiple organisational updates that have achieved less than you Jaime!

Thank you for your kind words!

Some quick notes on productivity:

  • I am in a very fortunate position to be able to pursue projects that I find very motivating. I often find myself working on what I find most interesting and pursuing obsessions.
  • At Epoch we have a dedicated slack channel for daily commitments. I found this useful to prioritize what to work on and get annoying tasks done.
  • I am finding coaching with Katie Glass useful to reflect on what I coud improve. Examples include being more careful with accepting random requests for help, blocking off time for focused work when people cannot book a meeting with me, and interweaving walks with problem solving.
  • I collaborate early and often with people. For effective collaboration, is important to 1) have a lead person leading the project and seeing it done and 2) making it clear what everyone is supposed to contribute to the project.
  • My usual day looks like: start working at 10:00, write a list of daily goals, work on these goals until lunchtime, take short break, then work until 17:00. 
  • The two most useful ways to motivate me to work productively in a project are 1) a weekly meetings to discuss advances and priorities, 2) having an idea of the concrete goal I am aiming for (a paper, a website, a conference, etc) and 3) having a clear idea of what the next step is.

army of one.

What's the main benefit of these posts do you think? Accountability, transparency to your community given funding, inspo, braggadocio?

I write these mostly for self-reflection and fun!

Then I post them for praise, being a role model and promoting my projects (which has led to some cool opportunities).

Unclear which of these is the main benefit :3

I love following this, Jaime. Best of luck in your new adventures! 

Thank you Michael!

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities