eca

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Concrete Biosecurity Projects (some of which could be big)

thanks for the kind words! I agree that we didn't have much good stuff for ppl to do 4 yrs ago when i started in bio but don't feel like my model matches yours regarding why.

But I'm also wanting to confirm I've understood what you are looking for before I ramble.

How much would you agree with this description of what I could imagine filling in from what you said re 'why it took so long':

"well I looked at this list of projects, and it didn't seem all that non-obvious to me, and so the default explanation of 'it just took a long time to work out these projects' doesn't seem to answer the question"

(TBC, I think this would be a very reasonable read of the piece, and I'm not interpreting your question to be critical tho also obviously fine if it is hahah)

Concrete Biosecurity Projects (some of which could be big)

meta note- its super cool to see all this activity! but the volume is makin me a bit stressed and i probably won't be trying to respond to lots even if i do one sporadically. does not mean i am ignoring you!

What are your favourite ways to buy time?

Well I hope it works out for ya! Thanks haha

In case you are looking for content and have interests similar to me I like the following for audio:

  • Institute for Advanced Study lectures (random fun science)
  • Yannic Kilcher (ML paper summaries)
  • Wendover Productions/ Kurzgesagt (random probably not as useful but interesting science and econ funfacts)
  • LiveOverflow (Security)

And i find that searching for random academics names is more likely to turn up lectures/ convos than podcasts

I’ll pay you a $1,000 bounty for coming up with a good bounty (x-risk related)

Are you looking for shovel ready bounties (eg write them up and you are good to go) or things which might need development time (eg figuring out exactly what to reward, working out the strategy of why the bounty might be good etc)?

Can EA leverage an Elon-vs-world-hunger news cycle?

FWIW this seems like a reasonable idea to me and I would be pretty sad if no one at e.g. Givewell had even considered it.

What are your favourite ways to buy time?
Answer by ecaNov 02, 202163
  • Order groceries online! Maybe this is obvious but I have the impression not as many ppl do this as they should. Saves me at least 1 hr (usually closer to 2) for < $20
  • Pay for a bunch of disk space. I find it generates a lot of overhead to have files in different places. For me, the solution has been a high performance workstation plus remote desktop forwarding to my laptop when I travel so I can always have the same disk and workspace
  • Buy more paid apps/ premium upgrades/ digital subscriptions. I haven’t done the math on this so might not be as good as I think, but I have the impression that time spent watching adverts ads up and that in general apps are underpriced/ people have irrational behavior around eg not buying the $5 app they would have been excited for if free. A big one for me is Premium Youtube which lets you listen to videos with the screen off and gives me access to all youtube lectures as if they were podcasts (there are a surprising number of high quality informational videos that can be listened to!)
  • Related to above: make slack time more useful by listening to stuff. Mix of podcast, audiobooks, youtube and text to speech of articles. I use a mix of Pocket, Speechify and Voicedream for the latter. I invested in noise-cancelling earbuds and (separately) found some pretty cheap earbuds you can wear in the shower
  • extra battery packs and unlimited data plan to allow for work time in more places. For same reason, laptop with long battery life. I couldnt find anything better than the newest macbook pro M1.
  • pay for flights at times which work better and reduce time in transit. Your comfort/ restedness affects productivity. Also plane wifi.
  • give yourself a budget for productivity experiments that feel speculative. Many of the above were discovered by spending that budget, a lot of other things failed but its worth it for the wins
  • stop worrying about late fees (within reason). Most of the time the fees for things like late registration at a uni are small relative to not needing to occupy your brain with those sorts of deadlines
  • pay for excercise/ hobbies that increase your wellbeing + energy. For me this is climbing
  • buy extra of things you lose frequently. This is an embarrassing one but I cannot for the life of me keep track of sleep masks, for example. I have like >6 pairs now lol, but there is usually one when I need it. If you are scatterbrained like me, this is worth it for cheap things.
  • corollary of above: don’t waste time looking for cheap things you’ve lost, just buy another.

I think I have a few more I’m forgetting but I will stop there for now.

eca's Shortform

Quest: see the inside of an active bunker

Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

(Sorry, when I said your story for impact was "plausible", in my head I was comparing it to my own idea for why this would be good, and I meant that it was plausibly better than my story. I actually buy your pitch as written, seems like a solidly good thing; apologies)

Listen to more EA content with The Nonlinear Library

What a cool project! I listen to the vast majority of my reading these days and am perpetually out of good things to read.

The linked audio is reasonably high quality, and more importantly, it doesn't have some of the formatting artifacts that other TTS programs have. Well done.

Your story for why this is a potentially high impact project is plausible to me, especially given how much you've automated. I have independently been thinking about building something similar, but with a very different story for why it could be worth my time to do it. That means this could be a different story for why your thing was good :), which I thought I'd share

My story was that the top-performing people in a given cause area are large fraction of the valuable work, if you buy power law type arguments. By definition, their time is a lot more valuable than average. But it is also more valuable for them to be better informed, because the changes they make to their decisions by being better informed are leveraged by their high work output or its consequences.

If you buy this story, I think you wind up focusing on figuring out how to cater what is audio-fied to what would be useful to the most productive people in EA. So like, what do top AI safety researchers wish they had time to listen to. I'd bet that this is actually a very different set of things than Forum/ LW posts.

When I started to do my thing, I suspected that a lot of the researchers who are doing the best work would benefit from being able to hear more academic papers, from arxiv for example. But IMO the key problem is that these don't get read well because of formatting issues. I think this is a solvable problem, and have a few leads, but it was too annoying for me to do as a side project. DM me if you're interested in chatting about that

Side point: this view of why this is high impact also speaks to letting the top people in question choose what they listen to, which looks more like an app that does TTS on demand than a podcast feed. This happens to avoid copyright issues, if the existence of other TTS apps is any indication.

You might be able to hack together an equivalent solution (on both copyright and customization) without needing to develop your own app by having a simple website that lets people log in and makes them a private RSS feed (compatible with most podcast players I think, though not confident in any of this). Then if they input a link on the website its compiled and added to their RSS feed for use in the player. If you had an api for calling your TTS script (and had solved these formatting issues) I or someone else could probably hack something like this website together pretty fast

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