aL

Arete Program Co-Lead @ Harvard EA
Pursuing an undergraduate degree
62Joined Mar 2022

Bio

Participation
6

Harvard College group organizer, co-lead for the Arete Fellowship (introductory EA fellowship). Studying statistics and linguistics. Interested in pandemic preparedness. Pre-MD PhD.

awqx.github.io

Comments
6

(disclaimer: I'm someone who's been in EA for ~3 years that digs for EA material for the general public, not someone with tons of lived experience in EA). 

For palatability, there are still cases where early EA ideas such as charity evaluation didn't take well. Public perception didn't seem to ever be straightforward praise (contrast w/ an org like Partners in Health) and confusion seemed to be pretty abundant (e.g., common criticisms of "EA" where just toward earning to give). Paraphrasing MacFarquhar in Strangers Drowning, optimization and "cold-blooded" charity seem to draw suspicion, and it's not straightforward to say that EA has become less publicly palatable.

This table seems to more fit a broad categorization of two clusters in EA that are becoming more distinct rather than a time trend. As a college group organizer, the increased sorting of people more focused on empirical evidence + direct intervention and people more focused on theoretical projections + inference used to worry me more, though now I think it's probably better for group dynamics, organization, and overall impact. It hasn't fragmented the EA campus community (yet) and is more for specialization - there's still sharing of tools, pedagogy, and other helpful resources. (This diffusion may not be reflected in EA careers/EA orgs). It's still possible these two vague factions fully split, possibly leaving one side with the lion's share of funding and influence, but I don't see either fully disappearing.

elaboration on the first point - my initial arg is pretty weak. the more pressing concern is that i think names can sometimes be read as a casual endorsement, continuation of a legacy, or a reward for sponsorship (neither of which makes sense for us).

names attract more side-eyeing. Lowell house is constantly under fire because Abbott Lawrence Lowell was racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic; Indigenous Peoples' Day has been adopted as a rejection of Columbus; etc. i don't want to deal w problems because Petrov was a USSR soldier. William James was also a progenitor of all modern psych and a Harvard prof, which doesn't really parallel well w/ using Parfit in the name for us. Safer route is to not use names, when equally good non-proper nouns exist. 

i'm more concerned w/ "georgian house" as a general term; it seems odd because it's like calling a building "art deco house".

yeah, if there are secondary filter words, seems fine. though harvard houses have the advantage of notoriety

quick non-exhaustive duckduckgoing (less google optimization)

  • "prospect harvard" -> https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prospect/ and https://psll.bwh.harvard.edu/prospect/ 
  • "prospect harvard square" -> no strong signal. SEO friendly. 
  • "prospect cambridge" ->  cambridge dictionary and prospect st stuff. 
  • "prospect office" -> location dependent w/ collisions in NYC but not many in Boston (tho some dental offices)
  • "prospect office cambridge" -> dental group, other misc stuff. SEO friendly. 

but probably closer to the question of "does it matter" is to do the same searches w/ lightcone

  • "lightcone" -> wiki for light cone, other stuff
  • "lightcone offices" OR organization OR company -> https://lightcone.org/en, https://lightcone.com/, etc. but it does show up! (including this because they seem like likely guesses at a second word)
  • "lightcone ea" -> other lightcone groups first, though it does get mentioned (not linked) on first page
  • "lightcone berkeley" -> 3rd option
  • "lightcone longtermism" -> ding ding ding
  • "lightcone infrastructure" -> ding ding ding

and i think lightcone is a great name!  so we'll probably have problems w/  SEO but also if it's not something that could draw in newbies ("will macaskill", "ea" (oof, still can't beat Electronic Arts), or "precipice book") we probably shouldn't axe a decent name because of that.

[Name] + [Center/House] might give the impression that the building is dedicated to the study of [Name]'s work. 

+1 to crossing as a second word in the name.

Aperture is maybe too close to Aperture Science from Portal? could be ironic ("we do what we must, because we can") 

rip Curious George store, but Georgian is an architectural adjective already so it probably wouldn't be prioritized in a search for"Georgian house". Similarly, a lot of good names collide with Cambridge street names (Beacon, Prospect, Athens, etc.) so the search term "[Name] office cambridge" wouldn't be so nice for us.

Answer by aLAug 08, 20224
  • -itas words (that aren't as loaded as Utilitas), including
    • Gravitas
    • Vitalitas: vitality
    • Claritas: means brightness (the English derivative is clarity)
  • Astronomy terms
    • Perihelion
    • Apogee
    • Astrolabe
  • Mythology (add "House" or some other word to the end of these)
    • Daedalus: warned Icarus to not fly too close to the Sun
    • Cassandra: the cursed prophet (oof)
  • Other nouns
    • Spire: looks sorta like a sorted heavy-tailed distribution. Also sounds like "aspire"
    • Cliffside: see above; also Precipice
    • Beacon or Lighthouse: guiding buildings. Also good because the office is near the top of the building.
  • Some fun ones
    • Thinkcubator
    • The Margin at Harvard Square
    • Cambridge EA
    • Turing Testing Center

I think Excellent Sheep by Deresiewicz mentions that very selective institutions are looking for "pointy circles" - e.g., better than average in most things with one particularly standout trait. It's been a while since I read it, so I think it might be looking over again with a critical eye toward the stats. 

Also, well-roundedness, at least from word-of-mouth from someone involved in medical school admissions at a top 25 medical school, is used to proxy "effortlessness" rather than passion, i.e., someone who can handle much more work than average without burning out. From peers that look at their college admissions folder, there tends to be selection for filling a certain niche on campus (e.g., this person will probably lead a cultural club, this one is likely to join this niche club, etc.).  So in some ways, it actively selects against students who primarily want to pursue high impact careers.