Jamie Bernardi


Co-founding BlueDot Impact, focusing on AI safety talent pipeline strategy.

Have a background consisting of a brief research stint on pessimistic agents (reinforcement learning), ML engineering & product ownership, and Physics


FWIW, I think this post makes progress and could work in the contexts of some groups. As a concrete example, it would probably work for me as an organiser of one-off courses, and probably for organisers of one-off retreats or internships.

I appreciate the thrust of comments pointing out imperfections in e.g. local group settings, but I just want to be careful that we don't throw out the proposal just because it doesn't work for everyone in all contexts; I think it's better to start with an an imperfect starting point and to iterate on that where it doesn't work in specific contexts, rather than to try to come up with the perfect policy in-theory and get paralysed when we can't achieve that.

Thanks for highlighting this!

Great, thanks for writing this up! I don't work in policy, but it seems to be an extremely pragmatic and helpful guide from an outside-perspective.

A question - is being a US citizen a hard requirement for all of this advice?

If not a hard requirement, what hidden (or explicit) barriers would you expect a non-citizen to face?

I also think that power dynamics are the source of the biggest problems in the work/social overlap, so a flatter power structure might be a good way of avoiding some of the pitfalls and abuses of the work/social overlap.


Do you think that in abstract that professional/social overlap is less of a problem when the power structure is flatter, or that having a flatter power structure is something that EA could actually achieve?

I'm curious because, to deal with potential abuse of power, I would prefer a more explicit power structure (which sounds like an opposite conclusion to your suggestion).

My first assumption is that power structures are an unavoidable fact in any group of people. I assume that trying to enact a flatter power structure might actually cash out as pretending the power structure doesn't exist [this might be where we disagree!].

Pretending that power structures are flat leads to plausibly permissable abuse of the actual underlying power structure. However strictly acknowledging a power structure means one is forced to acknowledge the power dynamic.

So to encourage healthy relationships, I would have called for making power structures explicit, in EA or any group.

Thanks for exploring this issue! I agree that there could be more understanding between AI safety & the wider AI community, and I'm curious to do more thinking about this.

I think each of the 3 claims you make in the body of the text are broadly true. However I don't think they directly back up the claim in the title that "AI safety is not separate from near-term applications".

I think there are some important ways that AI safety is distinct; it goes 1 step further by imagining the capabilities of future systems, and trying to anticipate ways they could go wrong ahead of time. I think there are some research questions it'd be hard to work on if the AI safety field wasn't separate from current-day application research. E.g. agent foundations, inner misalignment and detecting deception.

I think I agree with much of your sentiment still. To illustrate what I mean, I would like it to be true that:

  1. Important AI current-day-application safety issues are worked on by many people, and there is mutual respect between our communities
  2. Work done by near-term application researchers is known about and leverageable by the AGI safety community
  3. Ultimately, there is still a distinct, accessible AGI safety community that works on issues distinct to advanced, general AI systems

I wrote this guide for Cambridge, UK, when Cambridge EA CIC was running a hiring round.

I think a guide for Cambridge based on your template would still be valuable (but I won't do it any time soon). In my guide, I was focused on 1) a broader audience (including 'non-EAs') and 2) moving to Cambridge rather than visiting temporarily.

Someone brought a game called "Confident?" into the Cambridge office. It's basically a competitive gamification of callibration training.

You are rewarded for having the smallest confidence window of all the players, and penalised if your answer is outside of your confidence window.

Super fun!

Thanks for trying this and writing it up :-) I think there might well be some benefits to getting through the programme intensively, like:

+ It takes less time so you can do whatever you want to do next (you mention reading more researchers' agenda)
+ A better bonding experience if you do it in-person, which might only be possible in a 1-week intensive session if you don't all live in the same city

My perceived drawbacks:

- Less digestion & retention of the content (you highlighted this one)
- Less opportunity to mix with other people doing the programme (we hope to spark more of this next time we run the global programme)
- Might be harder to have access to facilitators / more knowledgeable people (you also stated this is important)

Overall, I think continuing the global programme suits people who couldn't take the time to do an intensive version, and intensive version suits people who prefer not to do virtual reading groups.

I am currently pursuing a couple of projects that are intended to appeal to the sensibilities of AI researchers who aren't in the alignment community already. This has already been very useful for informing the communications and messaging I would use for those. I can see myself referring back to this often, when pursuing other field building activities too. Thanks a lot for publishing this!

I made this comment with the assumption that some of these people could have extremely valuable skills to offer to the problems this community cares about. These are students at a top uni in the UK for sciences, and many of whom go on to be significantly  influential in politics and business, much higher than the base rate at other unis or average population.

I agree not every student fits this category, or is someone who will ever be inclined towards EA ideas. However I don't know if we are claiming that being in this category (e.g. being in the top N% at Cambridge) correlates with a more positive baseline-impression of EA community building? Maybe the more conscientious people weren't ringleaders in making the comments, but they will definitely hear them which I think could have social effects.

I agree that EA will not be for everyone, and we should seek good intellectual critiques from those people that disagree on an intellectual basis. But to me the thrust of this post (and the phenomenon I was commenting on) was: there are many people with the ability to solve the worlds biggest problems. It would be a shame to lose their inclination purely due to our CB strategies. If our strategy could be nudged to achieve better impressions at people's first encounter with EA, we could capture more of this talent and direct them to the world's biggest problems. Community building  strategy feels much more malleable than the content of our ideas or common conclusions, which we might indeed want to be more bullish about.

I do accept the optimal approach to community building will still turn some people off, but it's worth thinking about this intentionally. As EA grows, CB culture gets harder to fix (if it's not already too large to change course significantly).

I also didn't clarify this in my original comment. It was my impression that many of them had had already encountered EA, rather than them having picked this up from the messaging of the table. It's been too long to confirm for sure now, and more surveying would help to confirm. This would not be surprising though, as EA has a large presence at Cambridge than most other unis (and not everyone at freshers' fair is a first year, many later-stage students attend to pick up new hobbies or whatever).

Load more