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.
- I published Principled extremizing of aggregated forecasts, in which I propose a new forecast aggregation method based on a paper by Eric Neyman. The method performs quite well on Metaculus public data, and people at Metaculus have been experimenting with some variations.
- Pablo Villalobos and I wrote a review of The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from a Historical Experiment for the Forethought Foundation. Turns out potatoes really are key for the development of the world outside the Americas.
- Jonathan Lindblum and I wrote A Bayesian Model of Records. We explored the problem of forecasting how we should expect the fastest times in several athletic events to evolve over time. The framework is very general, and I am hopeful that it will help us solve other problems like forecasting records in speedrunning.
- Ege Erdil and I wrote A time-invariant version of Laplace’s rule. We showed an inconsistency in the application of Laplace’s rule of succession, and recommended forecasters to adopt a new version. This is a continuation of my work on heuristics for forecasting.
- I have participated in a number of Epoch papers and blogposts, including Machine Learning Model Sizes and the Parameter Gap, What’s the backward-forward FLOP ratio for Neural Networks?, Projecting compute trends in Machine Learning and Estimating Training Compute of Deep Learning Models.
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 won fourth prize in the Future of Life AI Worldbuilding contest. It was definitely more for fun than something serious. I enjoyed using GPT-3 to co-write the stories! You can read my entry here.
- I conducted and judged an essay contest about Global Catastrophic Risks for Spanish Speakers.
- 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
Good job Jaime!
Thank you Miguel!
I love following this, Jaime. Best of luck in your new adventures!
Thank you Michael!
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:
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