(Cross-posted to LessWrong)
For quite a while, I had two major misconceptions about careers and volunteering in AGI safety. And I know others have them, too:
- Only people with a background in computer science or math can help with AGI safety.
- Only people smarter than I can help with AGI safety.
This is false, and here’s why.
If we want to win the race against AI capabilities research, we indeed need as many geniuses with a background in computer science or adjacent fields as we can get. But these people would have a hard time doing their work without others who set up the organizations they work at, who build the funding ecosystem, who run the retreats where they meet like-minded people, who design their websites, who wipe their office floors. In addition, they would profit from having people who do their taxes, can advise them on visa issues, help them with health problems, give them productivity coaching, and so on and so on. Over the last years, AGI safety has grown into a large ecosystem of individuals and organizations. This ecosystem depends on far more than only those who do the research.
Here is a list of skill bottlenecks I’ve found in conversations with other AI safety field builders:
- Operations people
- Discussion group facilitators (e.g. for AGISF)
- Event organizers (e.g. for AI Safety Camp, conferences)
- Lawyers (e.g. for helping to set up organizations, and advising on the tax implications of novel systems we’re designing like Impact Markets)
- Founders (An alignment project incubator is in the making. Until it is ready to go public, you might want to fill out 80k’s census of everyone who could ever see themselves doing longtermist work)
- Communicators (written and verbal)
- Everything HR-related
- Mobility/Visa support
- Salary-related things: Calculating living cost, taxes, health insurance, …
- Software engineers (to build projects like Stampy, Idea Marketplace, Impact Markets, etc.)
- Particularly valuable are people who can get a broad overview of the current AGI alignment ecosystem and kickstart projects which can absorb people in a scalable manner.
…and you, too, can find your niche, even if you don’t bring any of these particular skill sets. For inspiration, here is a list of less standard career paths which turned out valuable for the ecosystem:
- YouTubers (Rob Miles)
- Architects (Tereza Flidrova)
- Cooking and cleaning staff (e.g. at CEEALAR)
- Graphic designers (for logos and websites)
If you want to help and are not sure how: Feel free to use the comments below this post for career discussions. And make sure to reach out to 80,000 hours and AI Safety Support for free career coaching!