Chris Leong

Organiser @ AI Safety Australia and NZ
2590Sydney NSW, AustraliaJoined Nov 2015



Currently doing the Stanford Existential Risk Summer Fellowship in Field-Building and local AI safety Movement Building in Australia and NZ.


If I had to steelman it, perhaps groups constantly have to fight against the natural entropy of spending more and more on outreach and less and less on object-level work. And perhaps it is a train that once you start is hard to stop: if the movement builders are optimising for growth, then the new people they train will optimise for it as well and then there becomes an entrenched class of movement-builders whose livelihood depends on the spending continuing to remain and whose career prospects will be better if it further grows.

I'm very excited to see this launch. As someone who is running an EA-aligned organisation myself, I honestly think that assistance with writing a budget could be one of the most impactful ways of helping people get a project off the ground and I would love to see someone start an additional project focusing specifically on this.

Very excited to see experimentation here! I would love for there to be a way for the best sub-forum content to bubble up (assuming the author was happy with it).

It's socially weird being around uni students

Sure, sometimes I've felt strange hanging around people much younger than me, but the proposed solution is to recruit less students, then the cure is worse than the disease.

In my experience, the EA brand and EA ideas are sufficiently appealing to a fairly broad range of older people

And some older people will end up joining the EA movement, but if we have other "brands", such as High Impact Professionals [1], we may be able to ensure that a decent number of people who "bounce off" end up joining  another brand instead via referal.

It's way harder to commit to a social movement

Sounds suspiciously like they want a different kind of program more targeted at them =P. And if a program is going to be run, it should aim to develop its own brand.

  1. ^

    Personally, I would suggest that they de-emphasise the association with EA. I think a note of the bottom of the page "Part of the EA network" would be enough.

If it's just three days - and it's not like you'd want to work for a project outside of those hours - I'd suggest booking calls with as many EA's as possible who want advice getting started with software engineering.

It's an interesting perspective, but I strongly disagree with it for a number of reasons.

Firstly, for most projects, you only need a few senior managers and you can fill the rest of the roles with talented junior folk. The advantage of this approach is that more junior folk are much easier to recruit. So I think we need additional recruitment pipelines to bring in more senior people with specific skills that we need, but I'm in favour of going hard on college recruiting because I'm not expecting pipelines targeting more senior people to bring in anywhere near the numbers.

Secondly, I don't actually think it's a bad thing for EA to be seen as a youth movement and if it was, certainly not enough to want to bring less young and talented people into the movement.  For a start, "capture the youth market and grow your influence as they climb the career ladder" is an old classic strategy for movements to become massively influential. And it's a even better strategy for EA than most movements because EA has access to a massive pool of money that allows us to accelerate people's career and personal growth 

If you're in the middle of successfully pulling it off the last thing you want to do is nix it due to vague concerns about perceptions. And even if you tried, you probably wouldn't have much impact on EA being seen as a youth movement anyway, since uni students are so much easier to bring in, yet alone really bring in that many older more senior people.

Thirdly, the problem of "being a youth movement" will solve itself over time as people age. Sure the average age might have decreased in EA recently due to a massive focus on college recruiting, but you haven't provided any reason to doubt that it'll be anything more than a short-term phenomenon.

Fourthly, if we want to draw in more experienced people,  it'd be much easier to just spin up another brand, rather than try to rebrand something that already has particular connotations. And then maybe you actually manage to capture both markets. To be clear, by brand I don't just mean a different splash of paint, but something more substantial, really constructing a new program that satisifies the needs and desires of this older crowd. And sure, you could try to shift EA activities so that they sort of satisfy the younger crowd and sort of satisfy the older crowd, but quoting JJ Hepburn "An event for everyone is an event for no-one".

Or I could also finish with another old classic, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush".

Eternal September is a slightly different hypothesis that those listed. It's that if new people come into the community then there is an erosion of norms that make the community distinctive.

I guess I see us as obligated to try to treat each other as well as we can, but I don't see us as being obligated to take full responsibility for everybody else's psychological state, as that is an impossible burden. This is, of course, a shame, because it's always sad when someone suffers. It would be nice if we could help everyone, all the time, but sometimes there are real costs to adopting a certain policy. But, just to be clear, we should respect people's naming preferences insofar as is reasonable/practical.

I don't know, that policy doesn't seem very workable when a previous name is very well known and their current name is nowhere near as well known. I'm going to disagree and claim it's okay to list someone's current name and their previous name so long as there is a good reason behind it. There is definitely a certain segment of the population where the social rules are unambiguous, but it's far from uncontroversial.

I'm both excited to see this launch - and skeptical of whether there's any plausible model by which space governance becomes truly important before AGI arrives.

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