Posts about the EA community and projects that focus on the EA community

Quick takes

It sounds like the Future of Humanity Institute may be permanently shut down. (Speculation) Background: FHI went on a hiring freeze/pause back in 2021 with the majority of staff leaving (many left with the spin-off of the Centre for the Governance of AI) and moved to other EA organizations. Since then there has been no public communication regarding its future return, until now...  The Director, Nick Bostrom, updated the bio section on his website with the following commentary [bolding mine]:  This language suggests that FHI has officially closed. Can anyone at Trajan/Oxford confirm?  Also curious if there is any project in place to conduct a post mortem on the impact FHI has had on the many different fields and movements? I think it's important to ensure that FHI is remembered as a significant nexus point for many influential ideas and people who may impact the long term.  In other news, Bostrom's new book "Deep Utopia" is available for pre-order (coming March 27th). 
I made a vegan vitamin supplement spreadsheet! It has vitamin ranges for many multivitamins available on amazon along with price/day estimations informed by this Vegan Vitamin Primer.  Inspired by reading this VOX article on Nutrition (and knowing that I should be taking vegan vitamin supplements for a while now): Just fyi, but the vitamin values in this spreadsheet ARE NOT informed by my own independent deep dive into all the potential vitamins I should be getting or the research behind it. I'm mostly relying on the expertise of this VOX promoted Ginny Kisch Messina, a vegan Registered Dietician with a Masters of Public Health. 
I'm going to be leaving 80,000 Hours and joining Charity Entrepreneurship's incubator programme this summer! The summer 2023 incubator round is focused on biosecurity and scalable global health charities and I'm really excited to see what's the best fit for me and hopefully launch a new charity. The ideas that the research team have written up look really exciting and I'm trepidatious about the challenge of being a founder but psyched for getting started. Watch this space! <3 I've been at 80,000 Hours for the last 3 years. I'm very proud of the 800+ advising calls I did and feel very privileged I got to talk to so many people and try and help them along their careers! I've learned so much during my time at 80k. And the team at 80k has been wonderful to work with - so thoughtful, committed to working out what is the right thing to do, kind, and fun - I'll for sure be sad to leave them. There are a few main reasons why I'm leaving now: 1. New career challenge - I want to try out something that stretches my skills beyond what I've done before. I think I could be a good fit for being a founder and running something big and complicated and valuable that wouldn't exist without me - I'd like to give it a try sooner rather than later. 2. Post-EA crises stepping away from EA community building a bit - Events over the last few months in EA made me re-evaluate how valuable I think the EA community and EA community building are as well as re-evaluate my personal relationship with EA. I haven't gone to the last few EAGs and switched my work away from doing advising calls for the last few months, while processing all this. I have been somewhat sad that there hasn't been more discussion and changes by now though I have been glad to see more EA leaders share things more recently (e.g. this from Ben Todd). I do still believe there are some really important ideas that EA prioritises but I'm more circumspect about some of the things I think we're not doing as well as we could (
I ran a successful protest at OpenAI yesterday. Before the night was over, Mikhail Samin, who attended the protest, sent me a document to review that accused me of what sounds like a bait and switch and deceptive practices because I made an error in my original press release (which got copied as a description on other materials) and apparently didn't address it to his satisfaction because I didn't change the theme of the event more radically or cancel it. My error: I made the stupidest kind of mistake when writing the press release weeks before the event. The event was planned as a generic OpenAI protest a ~month and half ahead of time. Then the story about the mysteriously revised usage policy and subsequent Pentagon contract arose and we decided to make rolling it back the "small ask" of this protest, which is usually a news peg and goes in media outreach materials like the press release. (The "big ask" is always "Pause AI" and that's all that most onlookers will ever know about the messaging.) I quoted the OpenAI charter early on when drafting it, and then, in a kind of word mistake that is unfortunately common for me, started using the word “charter” for both the actual charter document and the usage policy document. It was unfortunately a semantic mistake, so proofreaders didn’t catch it. I also subsequently did this verbally in several places. I even kind of convinced myself from hearing my own mistaken language that OpenAI had violated a much more serious boundary– their actual guiding document– than they had. Making this kind of mistake is unfortunately a characteristic sort of error for me and making it in this kind of situation is one of my worst fears. How I handled it: I was horrified when I discovered the mistake because it conveyed a significantly different meaning than the true story, and, were it intentional, could have slandered OpenAI. I spent hours trying to track down every place I had said it and people who may have repeated it so it could be
My overall impression is that the CEA community health team (CHT from now on) are well intentioned but sometimes understaffed and other times downright incompetent. It's hard to me to be impartial here, and I understand that their failures are more salient to me than their successes. Yet I endorse the need for change, at the very least including 1) removing people from the CHT that serve as a advisors to any EA funds or have other conflict of interest positions, 2) hiring HR and mental health specialists with credentials, 3) publicly clarifying their role and mandate.  My impression is that the most valuable function that the CHT provides is as support of community building teams across the world, from advising community builders to preventing problematic community builders from receiving support. If this is the case, I think it would be best to rebrand the CHT as a CEA HR department, and for CEA to properly hire the community builders who are now supported as grantees, which one could argue is an employee misclassification. I would not be comfortable discussing these issues openly out of concern for the people affected, but here are some horror stories: 1. A CHT staff pressured a community builder to put through with and include a community member with whom they weren't comfortable interacting. 2. A CHT staff pressured a community builder to not press charges against a community member who they felt harassed by. 3. After a restraining order was set by the police in place in this last case, the CHT refused to liaison with the EA Global team to deny access to the person restrained, even knowing that the affected community builder would be attending the event. 4. My overall sense is that CHT is not very mindful of the needs of community builders in other contexts. Two very promising professionals I've mentored have dissociated from EA, and rejected a grant, in large part because of how they were treated by the CHT. 5. My impression is that the CHT staff underm
People often propose HR departments as antidotes to some of the harm that's done by inappropriate working practices in EA. The usual response is that small organisations often have quite informal HR arrangements even outside of EA, which does seem kinda true. Another response is that it sometimes seems like people have an overly rosy picture of HR departments. If your corporate culture sucks then your HR department will defend and uphold your sucky corporate culture. Abusive employers will use their HR departments as an instrument of their abuse. Perhaps the idea is to bring more mainstream HR practices or expertise into EA employers, rather than merely going through the motions of creating the department. But I think mainstream HR comes primarily from the private sector and is primarily about protecting the employer, often against the employee. They often cast themselves in a role of being there to help you, but a common piece of folk wisdom is "HR is not your friend". I think frankly that a lot of mainstream HR culture is at worst dishonest and manipulative, and I'd be really sad to see us uncritically importing more of that.
Wish Swapcard was better?  Swapcard, the networking and scheduling app for EA Global and EAGx events, has published their product roadmap — where anyone can vote on features they want to see! Two features currently in the "Researching (Vote)" stage have been requested by our attendees since the beginning of us using Swapcard for our events: 1) Reschedule a meeting 2) External Calendar Synchronization If these sound like features you want, I encourage you to take a moment to vote for them! Every vote counts. Swapcard product roadmap
PSA: Apropos of nothing, did you known you can hide the community section? (You can get rid of it entirely in your settings as well.)
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