TLDR: We're thrilled to announce that we are now welcoming full-time tenants to our newly transformed office space for AI Safety researchers in search of an inspiring workspace. You can take a glimpse at the photos below to get a sneak peek. We're extending a warm invitation, with priority, to citizens of nations such as Russia and China, who can enjoy visa-free work privileges in Serbia while maintaining proximity to Europe. Our monthly office rent is an astonishingly affordable 150€, about half the standard cost in Belgrade. For those needing financial support, we have subsidies available. Register interest here or seek answers to any questions that stir your curiosity - our inbox is open, and we eagerly await your inquiries. Looking ahead, we aspire to provide housing for these researchers. If you're a potential donor who shares our vision, please contact us. Together, we can enhance the impact of AI Safety research. Your support could be the catalyst for a remarkable journey.
You may want to come if:
- You are an AI Safety Researcher/EA researcher looking for a base of operations for a short-medium-long term
- You are keen to be in Europe but not in the EU
- You are looking for a vibrant but affordable city with plenty of things to do and Eastern European but Westernized culture.
EA Serbia and AI Safety Serbia groups are small but growing (>30 people in EA Serbia, ~3 people looking to get into AIS research as a career, and ~3 to get into AIS policy). Due to Serbia’s favorable Visa policy towards Russia and China, many foreigners already live here. With lower living costs than many other international hub cities, a vibrant scene, and a favourable time zone and climate, Belgrade has a growing foreign community.
As we have seen projects such as CEEALAR as important and impressive, we wish to replicate them in Serbia, where they can better serve people who may struggle to get UK visas. We also believe that having the capacity to quickly scale cheap housing for people coming from different countries is a good thing.
We also believe that we should start small, prototype, and then move larger. We have an NGO-friendly office space that has good vibes and costs only ~550 Euros per month for office space that has three rooms and can fit 8-15 people (depending on how snug they decide to be) with a coffee shop downstairs where another 20 people can spend their time co-working, as the office and the downstairs coffee shop are under the same ownership. This is certainly less luxurious than many other EA/AI co-working places (more photos below, deep-work room not on photos), but we have a high degree of customizability allowed to us, which we can use to make an even better office space. If we grow enough, we can also move to a bigger venue, as our needs grow. Certainly, if we knew that more use could be found in an office in Belgrade, getting something somewhat further from the city center, which includes living and office spaces, would be better, but we do not wish to explore that until we have proof of concept and need.
Operations details (a.k.a. how it works):
The office is currently rented until the end of December 2023, so we can keep the favorable price instead of finding a different place. The office space has some desks and chairs, but we are looking to acquire full funding and have people voice their needs before acquiring more furniture. The office is usually open during working hours of the coffee shop (10 AM to Midnight, except on weekends when it is 4 PM to Midnight) as they share an entrance, but exceptionally, we can accommodate special requests if someone works better at strange working hours.
Office space is given to those who are working on projects related to AI Safety as a priority, but EA/Rationality research is also welcome whenever we have spare capacity (which is currently the case).
A Serbian visa is not required for many and is relatively easy to get for most others. If you need a visa to come to Serbia, reach out and we will see how we can help.
We have a reliable real estate agent who can get good deals on housing in Belgrade for those who need housing assistance until we get funded and rent a co-living space as well.
For those looking to eat consistently through us, we can arrange affordable cooked meals delivered to the office or your housing (at your expense) - vegetarian or not. If we have enough interest, we can also get the chef to prepare vegan food.
Would you like to contribute?
Dušan D. Nešić is currently managing the project with a few more people on the operational level. Our current bottleneck is funding - we have acquired an earn-to-giver interested in paying half of our bare-bones budget but are looking for a second funder. Having funding means we can settle in the space for longer and provide more stipends to researchers who need them.
As we grow, we would like to engage more curious volunteers for the day-to-day project running - let us know if you would be interested.