Calum

Recruiter @ GiveWell
98 karmaJoined Apr 2023Working (0-5 years)

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I'm a recruiter and ops generalist at GiveWell. Previously, I taught high school math at a charter school in Tennessee. I learned about EA in 2015 when I accidentally stumbled on Scott Alexander's blog.

Any writing on this account is personal (not GiveWell opinion) unless clearly stated otherwise.

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Answer by CalumNov 24, 20232
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Your idea about short-form educational content seems to fit squarely into the "EA community building" field, and I think that's really important for the EA community right now after FTX and the recent OpenAI drama.

As a relatively non-technical person, I've often found EA educational material quite opaque and difficult to grapple with (or just too lengthy for me; I can't possibly find the time to listen to multi-hour podcasts). It sounds like you want to create exactly the sort of material that might be easier for me and other non-technical folks to engage with.

I think you should go for it! If the project succeeds, great. If it doesn't succeed, you'll learn something that will make a better subsequent project, and you'll have nudged yourself to become a more agentic person. My only piece of advice is to make sure you have a theory of change before embarking on the project — who will your educational content reach? How will they react to it? Why will this be good?

Regarding "Sprout EAs": In the world of law school admissions, it's common to see the term "KJD" to refer to someone who is applying to law school directly after college—in other words these people have continued their formal education in an unbroken line from Kindergarten to Juris Doctor --> KJD.

Maybe you could use a similar term instead of "Sprout EAs," like "KEA". I'm aware that it's not a significant improvement, just throwing it out there!

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Bruno, it was really great to meet you at EAG!! Thank you for the work you're doing in Brazil :D 

To extend your comment about lower standards for EA criticism, I thought the remainder of Venkatasubramanian's quote was quite interesting:

"...Terminator, blah blah blah,’” Venkatasubramanian said. “I think it’s important to ask, what is the basis for these claims? What is the likelihood of these claims coming to pass? And how certain are we about all this?

The EA community has spilled heaps of words on every single one of these issues, but the article nevertheless portrays the EA community as if it is pushing frivolous, ill-considered ideas instead of supporting the Real, Serious concerns held by Thoughtful and Reasonable people.

It's interesting to consider why the portrayal is so off-base, because a few minutes of Googling and reading EA content could have disabused the reporter of the notion that EA has an unserious, careless bent toward long-term AI risk.

On the other hand, if you Google "effective altruism AI," the first result is this Wired article with a very negative take on EA and AI. There are a few top-level results from 80K and EA.org, but most of the first-page results are articles that basically say, "So there's this weird group of people who care a lot about AI...", with varying but mostly negative levels of sympathy.

I guess it could be the case that the reporter or the outlet or both have a level of antipathy for EA that precludes due diligence. Or they could be attempting a basic due diligence but are mainly reading sources that have a very negative take on EA.

Either way, EA's public image (specifically regarding AI) is not ideal. Your suggestion about making a greater effort to visibly signal cooperativeness might be a really good one!

Hi!

I'm Calum Richards from the Washington D.C. area. I've been an EA lurker since 2015, and I was originally introduced to the community through Scott Alexander's blog, Slate Star Codex (now Astral Codex Ten on Substack).

I taught high school math for a few years after college, and I'm now recruiting at GiveWell!

I'm happy to connect with anyone — best way to reach me is through DMs here, and you can also find me on LinkedIn.