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Y-Combinator wants to fund Mechanistic Interpretability startups

"Understanding model behavior is very challenging, but we believe that in contexts where trust is paramount it is essential for an AI model to be interpretable. Its responses need to be explainable.

For society to reap the full benefits of AI, more work needs to be done on explainable AI. We are interested in funding people building new interpretable models or tools to explain the output of existing models."

Link (Scroll to 12)

What they look for in startup founders

It's often easier to get responses from the most senior people in a field.

1. Most people are too intimidated to get in touch with them
2. They're senior for a reason - they tend to be way more productive and opportunity seeking
3. They have VAs, secretaries, and other people to bring serious requests to their attention.

I work in global mental health, and am looking for charities to refer clients to me. The two best-connected people in my field (according to GPT-4) are Dr Vikram Patel and Dr Shekhar Saxena. I sent out ~50 identical cold emails to people I thought could connect me to relevant charities / hospitals etc. Vikram and Saxena were the only two people to reply! 

I've also seen this argued by Tim Ferris and other highly productive people, but it resonated so poorly with my prior beliefs that I didn't update sufficiently. The implications here are huge - it could be way easier to gain access to influential people than the average EA perceives, and influence is power-law distributed! 

I've strongly had this experience. I have written 5 NYT bestsellers a cold email, and 3 replied. I get good rates with C-levels and I get the poorest rates at lower levels. 

But it strongly does depend on your story or organisation in my experience. Your org has a strong story so it warrants a reply. But I did a lot of marketing and some PR for dime in a dozen companies and if you lack a strong story, you can expect reply rates of senior people to be close to zero. 

Yes, though use this power wisely. I think it's good to imagine how much you'd pay to talk to said person and scale my effort as the number gets bigger. 

If I waste this person's time, they may become less willing to be open and hence I'll have damaged the commons. 

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