Wiki Contributions


Open Thread: May 2021

I felt the same thing when I discovered (and met) EAs :-). Welcome!

Open Thread: May 2021

I found the EA forum really lively and thriving these last few months. It's really a pleasure hanging out here!  I also feel more at ease to comment/post thanks to the aliveness and welcoming community. Congrats to the CEA team for making an awesome job at developing a great space for EA discussions!

Thoughts on being overqualified for EA positions

Found this a really clear explanation (and I liked the scenario, made it more concrete).

Thoughts on being overqualified for EA positions

Noting that the link you shared also shows that people who are externally hired seem to perform worse than those who are promoted. So if you care about performance more than pay, it may not be that good to switch jobs often? 

Why AI is Harder Than We Think - Melanie Mitchell

Stuart Russell debated Melanie Mitchell in February 2021 in an episode of The Munk Debates, a debate series on major policy issues.

The question was “Be it resolved, the quest for true AI is one of the great existential risks of our time.” Stuart Russell argued for and Melanie Mitchell argued against.

You can listen to the debate here or on any podcast service.

Retention in EA - Part I: Survey Data

I randomly found this research and thought it could be interesting to inform yours: 


Lapses in ethical conduct by those in corporate and public authority worldwide have given business researchers and practitioners alike cause to re-examine the antecedents to personal ethical values. We explore the relationship between ethical values and an individual’s long-term orientation or LTO, defined as the degree to which one plans for and considers the future, as well as values traditions of the past. Our study also examines the role of work ethic and conservative attitudes in the formation of a person’s long-term orientation and consequent ethical beliefs. Empirically testing these hypothesized relationships using data from 292 subjects, we find that long-term perspectives on tradition and planning indeed engender higher levels of ethical values. The results also support work ethic’s role in fostering tradition and planning, as well as conservatism’s positive association with planning. Additionally, we report how tradition and planning mediate the influence of conservatism and work ethic on the formation of ethical values. Limitations of the study and future research directions, as well as implications for business managers and academics, are also discussed."

LessWrong/EA New Year's Ultra Party

Thank you so much for organizing this party! I had a blast. Some of my favorite moments included discussions about "Existential Hope" - our hopes and aspiration both for our personal life and for humanity in 2021, as well as catching-up with multiple individuals in the "private conversation" pods.

Thanks to Ruby, Vaidehi, Oliver as well as the other co-hosts from LessWrong and EA Everywhere! 

What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

I agree. I have read only a few but I am crying as they are very moving and inspiring. This is the combined effect of their beauty and strength with my attachment to this community that shares my values. I will keep reading them in the next few days... 

Progress Open Thread: October // Student Summit 2020

Bravo! This is fantastic and it's also great that you used the opportunity to talk about EA! The future of REG

Has anyone gone into the 'High-Impact PA' path?

Tanya at FHI first took the position of executive assistant to Nick Bostrom. She explained in the 80,000 Hours podcast how very, very valuable this has been for Nick Bostrom's research - and after that, for FHI operations.

I have, in some ways, done some PA work in the past year. I do think that some tasks are really helpful to take on some mental load off a busy researcher, such as helping with scheduling, answering emails, and choosing between different opportunities. Over time, this PA function becomes more and more those of a "project manager", with the delegation of some important projects for the researcher and the organization. I believe that, for some weeks, I have saved about 10 hours of work. I also made possible some high-value projects that wouldn't have been otherwise, measured in above $50K of value.

I think being a PA to someone at the top of their fields (or to someone just doing generally doing extremely high-impact work) is indeed a very high-impact path. It also gives amazing organizational, communication, and analytical skills. If you become a PA, you should probably aim to become a top-notch one ("The Chief of Staff/The Executive Officer"). It's important to note that this is a tough and high-impact job, that is often undervalued compared to what the person brings.

Being a PA (not in the sense of "research assistant", but in the sense of personal assistant) isn't for everyone as it requires specific skills and personality traits: organization skills (being super organized with everything), communication skills (notably being excellent at emails), analytical skills (decide to say yes or no to opportunities), and being a generalist ready to roll up their sleeves on many different topics. It is also a role where you are in the shadow and let the other person shine, though there are also plenty of opportunities to grow a skill you're specifically focused on.

It's not surprising that many organizations are looking for PAs (80K, CSER, etc) as this role is truly an impact multiplier, and it's hard to find people that are really excellent PAs.

I would be very excited if more EAs took on this kind of role! If you're interested, I would strongly recommend doing a few short and longer tests to see if you like the kind of tasks the job entails. As I said, it's really high-impact but it's also a tough job and I expect not that many people would be a great fit. Also, anyone reading this: please contact me by PM if you want to talk more about it.

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