Director @ Cavendish Labs
135Cavendish, VT, USAJoined Sep 2022andrew.gr


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Is there any way I can remove the "community posts" section from my front page? I used to have the "community" tag blocked completely, so now I'm seeing a lot more community posts than I'd like.

It's in Cavendish! A long-term goal is to beat them in Nobel prizes..

The first time I heard about effective altruism was when someone told me "you should check out your local EA community--it's where the cool people hang out". Indeed this turned out to be the case; I had met thoughtful, curious people, and gotten quite interested in the ideas of effective altruism.

When I moved a year later to a different city in a different country, I spent a few weeks lamenting the difficulty of meeting people, until I realized I could go have thoughtful and interesting conversations with wonderful people at the local EA community. In a way, it feels not unlike to churches in towns in the United States--you can move from one state to another, and yet the next Sunday you'll find a tight-knit community of people who approximately share a large subset of your values. And while in some denominations of Christianity, there's a large global hierarchical structure, as far as I am aware, there's no global fund for starting new churches (I may be totally wrong, I don't actually know much about this. Though I have heard of church planting, but even there, the new church "must eventually have a separate life of its own and be able to function without its parent body").

One of the major reasons people I've met valued the global EA community was due to the coordination problems of otherwise getting a lot of people to start some new initiative. That is, say you're trying to start an organization centred around giving RL agents numinous experiences. The median number of people who think this is the most worthwhile thing to work on, in each local EA community, is exactly zero, but through the connections formed by the global community (through EAG and forums) it's a lot easier to find people interested in starting rLANE, which would never have been possible on the local scale.

Fundamentally, at my level of involvement with the EA community, I'm not sure I've witnessed the failure modes that have been taken as the antecedent for this whole post. Small, local communities haven't felt elitist in the same way that nobody calls the local swing dance club elitist, despite it being very obvious whether you're an experienced swing dancer or not. The global community has been very good at solving coordination problems to tackle specific challenges, and I haven't witnessed any downsides personally (but once again, I've never been accepted to an EAG or anything, and I've never lived in any of the "big" EA cities). If decentralization is the correct direction to go down, I think the "who's interested in helping me work on <x>?" is one of the most valuable things to make sure has a strong foundation of interconnectedness between different communities in different places.