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Introducing our new 1-on-1 booking system

EA Globals (EAGs) are weekend-long conferences that feature a variety of talks, panels, workshops, and networking opportunities related to effective altruism. 

Unlike other academic conferences, EAGs place a unique emphasis on 1-on-1 networking. Attendees are encouraged to connect via our event app, Swapcard, and book meetings to discuss potential projects, career goals, opportunities, and whatever else might be useful in a professional development context. Attendees often cite 1-on-1s among their most valuable experiences at the event. 

This year, the EAG team is hoping to test out new ideas. For example, we recently ran EA Global: Bay Area 2024, our first EAG specifically focussed on global catastrophic risks. 

In an attempt to generate novel experiments, the team decided to employ some first-principles reasoning to one of our key event components (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Thinking about 1-on-1s from first principles

After attendees arrive at their 1-on-1, notice the chain of events becomes uncertain — our team (currently) has very little power to ensure each individual 1-on-1 is valuable. One could argue this is part of the nature of existence (i.e. some things are out of our control); however, our team worried this conclusion was suspiciously convenient. What might we be missing?

To address this uncertainty, we are now assigning 1-on-1s based on a complex, astrological algorithm which uses robust celestial compatibility indicators.

We feel confident in this change because: 

  • 1-on-1s are more likely to be a positive experience if both parties are cosmically guaranteed to get along. 
  • Your star sign determines much of your expected life trajectory, including your career. It follows that those with compatible star signs will have synergistic ideas and career paths; thus, early coordination is important and valuable. 

A concrete example 

Aanya is an Aries. Thus, she is partial to challenging the status quo. For example, through entrepreneurial ventures in alternative proteins or perhaps advocacy in the AI governance space. 

Taylor is a Libra. They value collaboration and harmony. Thus, they are suited to roles involving peacekeeping or managing international relations, perhaps also in a governance capacity. 

In a 1-on-1 meeting, we expect an Aries to bring bold ideas, which will then be tempered and balanced by the Libra’s relational and strategic focus. According to the cosmos, this creates a perfect blend of bold action, which is also sustainable and feasible. 

In other words, the 1-on-1 is astrologically guaranteed to be valuable. Our algorithm proceeds to schedule a meeting on Swapcard at the optimal time, based on planet movement and relevant cosmic orientations. 

Under this system, we estimate a minimum likelihood of 60% that every meeting will result in at least one of: the creation of a new organisation, clarity on the worm wars, a communications strategy for EA, or a solution to the alignment problem (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Possible outcomes for 1-on-1 meetings (note: we expect this to hold for any reasonable definition of “valuable”)

Frequently asked questions 

  1. Can I book 1-on-1s outside of the meetings that are assigned to me?
    1. Yes, you can still use your own free will to book 1-on-1s with attendees. However, Swapcard will auto-cancel a meeting if compatibility is too low. Please be mindful throughout the event as the team is trying to cultivate a trusting relationship with the cosmos. 
  2. What if I have a 1-on-1 that isn’t valuable? Can I provide you with feedback?
    1. This won’t happen. 
  3. Will you be applying this new strategy to content? 
    1. By 2025, we hope to implement a system by which star compatibility between speakers and attendees is accounted for when attendees attempt to reserve a spot at a talk, workshop, or office hour. 
  4. Will this apply to speed meetings?
    1. Yes, everyone will have a name tag with their astrological information — volunteers will be trained and vigilant. If you’re asked to stop a speed meeting, please do so immediately. 
  5. Did you run this idea by anyone?
    1. Our team is excited about the idea in its current form; however, we would like to stress our commitment to iterating and improving based on feedback from advisors. Currently, we’re working out star sign compatibility between our team and potential stakeholders. This will help us understand who to reach out to and how strongly to weigh their feedback (e.g. Scorpios can be quite negative). 
  6. Did the CEA executive team approve this?
    1. We’ve asked for their birth charts and are waiting to hear back. In the meantime, we intend to move forward so as not to lose impact. 
  7. Did you consult the community health team?
    1. See answer to question 6.

As we navigate the constellations of collaboration and alignment, we're excited to see how these cosmic connections will unfold at EA Global. Remember, whether you're a fiery Aries or a grounded Capricorn, the stars are aligning to ensure that your 1-on-1s at EAG will be nothing short of stellar. 

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:53 AM

So glad somebody is finally fixing Swapcard!

It's been a long haul, but we've finally convinced their CEO (a Pisces), that redeveloping their core architecture to support star-sign matching would be a good business decision.

As a representative of Naming What We Can, I feel that after this change Swapcard would be better served by the name Tarotcard.

y'all really are experts :')

Can't wait for the Numerology and Chinese Zodiac updates in the following years for ever more auspicious meetings! Perhaps the conference halls could have different positions of Feng-Shui to facilitate different topics?

The implementation of Feng-Shui for venue spaces was considered to be out of budget; though this is something we will be keeping in mind for future conferences. We are still evaluating Numerology for effectiveness, though preliminary results suggest that the recursive reduction sum of your birth-date may be predictive of compatibility with others e.g. 11/11/1999 DD/MM/YYYY = 5+9+9+9 = 32 (3+2) = 5. Numbers closer to you (imagine 1–9 in a circle) may be more likely to be compatible.

If the authors of this post haven't indicated what their star signs are, how do I know if I believe what they say?

While our star signs may be relevant for optimizing 1-1 matches (sorry, we're not compatible), we don't have evidence to suggest there's any influence of star signs on the ability to evaluate the use of star signs to optimize 1-1 matches. We therefore recommend against using the lack of knowledge of our star signs as a reason to not believe our claims.

Are we using the old 12 signs astrological chart, or the updated one with Ophiuchus 13th astrological sign?

For now, the standard 12 signs is the easiest to implement. However, we will follow up with an Ophiuchus update in due course!

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