All of James Lin's Comments + Replies

On Elitism in EA

Thanks for your comment Linch! We appreciate the feedback.

To clarify, competence and fit are ultimately the most important considerations for a position at the end of the day. We don't think you should prevent talented young people from non-elite backgrounds from taking on senior-level positions. Our claim is closer to: 1) if you create a prestigious website/application/program then you would get better candidates, and 2) experience at an elite institution is one factor among many that is fairly predictive for average competence/specialization. I'm now mor... (read more)

Thanks for the clarifications! Sorry my wording was confusing!

I'm not too sure I understand what you mean by b), but to reiterate our point: we think that it's basically pointless (and probably detrimental!) to be elitist for entry level positions, given the selection pressures.

I'm not sure, but I think I disagree here. I think often you have less signals of demonstrated competency, success, and track record for most people who apply for entry-level positions. So for, e.g., a summer research or journalism internship, it makes sense to (relatively) upweight... (read more)

On Elitism in EA

Thanks for taking the time to write this response! We really appreciate the feedback.

A couple of points:

  1. On the first and second point, I agree that we could have been much more rigorous about the specifics of "what we mean by elitism." We mostly mean elite institutions and organizations, which we used interchangeably with elite environments (e.g. having worked at SpaceX, or having studied at MIT).
    Sometimes (maybe even often?), the best in the field won't be from an 'elite' institution (e.g. Ramanujan). I agree that elite institutions =/= best talent.
... (read more)
You should join an EA organization with too many employees

I think this is an interesting consideration!

I'm still curious about the opportunity cost for those people's time, though.  On first pass, it seems likely that if you feel overqualified for a position, it probably tracks something important and you should look into alternative ways of maximizing your impact. But it's good to keep in mind that even if you feel overqualified, there are legitimate reasons to still choose that position besides looking for a job.

What examples are there of (science) fiction predicting something strange/bad, which then happened?

This website is great for all things science fiction. Here's a list of technologies that were predicted (there are hundreds!): 

2Isaac King3mo
This appears to be a list of all science fiction technology, even if it doesn't exist in real life. For example I see "antigravity" on this list.
Participate in the Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition

This sounds super exciting! Despite working in biosecurity field-building, for some reason running paper-writing competitions never occurred to me, but I think this seems like a promising direction to point biosecurity-keen students towards.

You mentioned that writing the paper took 40-60 hours, but what about the time commitment for reading papers / talking with experts?

Hi James! Good question. That estimate was for our entire process of producing the paper, including any relevant research. We wrote on a topic that somewhat overlapped with areas we already knew a bit about, so I can imagine there'd be extra hours if you write on something you're less familiar with. Also, I generally expect that the time investment might vary a lot between groups, so I wouldn't put too much weight on my rough estimate. Cheers!
I want Future Perfect, but for science publications

This is a really cool initiative! I think we need more organizations like ProPublica, and at the same time we should tap into existing publications and persuade them that EA ideas are good.