Chris Kerr

Day job: Cybersecurity

From England, now living in Estonia.


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Topic Contributions


EA Tours of Service

Many intergovernmental organizations have a similar recruitment model with limited term contracts for most staff members. (My experience is with EMBL but I don't think the practice is limited to research-focused organizations.) The explicit aim is that staff members will join (possibly on secondment from national governments), bring their existing knowledge and share it with other staff from other countries, and then return to their home country bringing new experience to improve things there too.

The packages of benefits and perquisites offered by these organizations include some that EA organizations should consider duplicating if they want to encourage "tour of service" style employment.

  • Relocation assistance not only before starting the job but also after the end of the contract period.
  • Travel subsidies to encourage continuing links with the home country (and with the seconding organization, if applicable).
  • Dependents allowance, to compensate for the fact that e.g. if one spouse relocates to a foreign country for work then this lowers the earning potential of the other spouse.
Effective [Re]location

A platform that collates and displays data about localities from around the country (and world) in an easily digestible, comparable manner. High-level and granular data that could be provided may include wi-fi quality, acceptance of minority groups, frequency of crime, voting history and tax rate. provides a lot of this information. AFAIK it's funded by a company that sells relocation assistance to tech companies wanting to recruit internationally.

How Do You Get People to Really Show Up to Local Group Meetups?

A necessary (but not sufficient) condition is that the people who want to attend meetups can find out when and where they are happening. You might think this is obvious, but my local group requires a login in order to view its "public calendar".

Privacy as a Blind Spot: Are There Long Term Harms in Using Facebook, Google, Slack etc.?

One useful resource for gathering such evidence is the EA Polls Facebook group.

I strongly doubt that a poll hosted on Facebook will provide unbiased evidence on those questions.

Would it be convenient / effective to have an EA-aligned "investigations agency"?

In addition, it could be particularly convenient to identify malevolent aspiring leaders and show their true colors while they are in the "political cradle" - before they become famous and powerful enough to deflect public criticism.

I agree that this would be useful. However, any organisation which sets out to do this will become an attractive target for anyone who currently holds power and wants to disrupt challengers by claiming that they are malevolent.

In addition, given the state of libel laws in many countries, having a single well-funded organisation making public claims of malevolence is going to end with a huge fraction of those funds being spent on lawyers.

Information security: Become a hacker, not a consultant

My experience as a recipient of security consultants' advice matches what you are saying. The sole result has been paperwork. Admittedly, some of this paperwork has actually been helpful (IT workers are not always very good at writing documentation.) but I still don't think it was worth the opportunity cost.

How impactful is free and open source software development?

Thanks for writing this! Writing a post on FOSS as an EA intervention has been on my to-do list ever since I noticed about six months ago that nobody had written one yet.

One additional benefit of FOSS that you appear to have missed is that, by offering a competitive alternative to proprietary software (and importantly, an alternative which can never be bought out in a corporate takeover), FOSS helps prevent the vendors selling proprietary software from exploiting their users quite as much as they otherwise would.

I definitely started using FOSS to save money while I was still at school and university, but now I would pay thousands to avoid the pervasive anti-features in all the (now often free-as-in-beer) proprietary ecosystems.