Amber Dawn

3192 karmaJoined Sep 2019


I'm a freelance writer and editor for the EA community. I can help you edit drafts and write up your unwritten ideas. If you'd like to work with me, book a short calendly meeting or email me at Website with more info:


Topic Contributions

I do think the focus on 1:1s is a bit over-intense. Obviously they can be really helpful or interesting with the right people, but it feels a bit like (some) EAs were like 'moderate amounts of this thing is obviously good - maybe EXTREME amounts would be EVEN BETTER'. More dakka is definitely an appropriate attitude sometimes, but sometimes it's better to have a balance of mutually-enhancing different things (in this case, a balance of 1:1s, unstructured hanging-out-with-strangers, talks, catching up with friends, and rest, perhaps?)

Incidentally, I really enjoyed being a Logistics volunteer at EAGx Cambridge, because it gave me a break from all the intense people-ing, and I brought more energy to the interactions I did have. 

It's also kinda funny that the organisers put all this effort into producing talks, and then kinda dissuade people from going to them! (even though some of them are really good).

I'm really enjoying this sequence so far, thanks for writing it!

Yeah, I think you're right that this might be a general 'conferences' phenomenon (mostly), rather than an EA-specific one.

Answer by Amber DawnMay 18, 202353

I guess first of all, I'd say the concept of 'career capital' is complicated: it's less that people have 'high' or 'low' capital, it's more like, the work you've done gives you career capital for other similar work? So people who have worked for many years - which admittedly isn't everyone! - probably have career capital in some arena. I used to think that I didn't have any career capital of the sort that would be useful for "EA-like jobs", but that turned out to be untrue, and I've heard other stories like this: there are lots of ways to do impactful work. This isn't to deny that some things look more 'impressive' to more people on a CV. 

Second, a core idea of EA is that if you live in a richer country, you can have a big impact through donations to effective charities, even if your salary (and the proportion you donate) is relatively modest. Again, this doesn't apply to everyone, but if the "average joe" lives in a richer country and makes a decent salary, I'd propose that they just donate. 

Another action you could suggest to pretty much everyone is to advocate for EA ideas. Perhaps they aren't in a position to run a health charity or solve alignment, but maybe someone they know is. Older people can be particularly influential here, as they might be in mentorship roles to younger people and can expose them to ideas they might not have heard otherwise. 

I think this is a great idea, I'd download this app. I don't have the technical skills to make it, but if there was a copywriting element, I could help with that.

I also had the thought a while ago that I could try out a policy of donating an equal amount to charity when I made a purchase that felt 'extravagant' (in addition to giving 10%-ish). This would both disincentivize extravagance (extravagance would cost twice as much!) but also make me feel less guilty when I did do it (because the guilt stems from a place of 'that money could help the needy instead', whereas if the extravagance is instead directly tied to a donation to the needy, that's less true).

I've seen people do a thing where, if they're using karma to collect votes, for example, they include a second comment to downvote, so their net karma remains the same. You could also use the agree-votes on a comment to collect votes (rather than the post karma itself).

Cool! I've never heard of this, and it does indeed sound like a good process.

I'm sorry you've had this experience :( 

I know of some other people who've taken bad mental health damage from internalizing pessimistic beliefs about AI risk, as well.

I'm not sure what to do about this, because it seems bad to recommend 'try to not form pessimistic opinions about AI for the sake of your mental health, or remain very detached from them if you do form them', but being fully in touch with the doom also seems really bad.  

Answer by Amber DawnApr 24, 202341

I also think about this, so thank you for raising the question! 

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