I'm a research fellow at Open Philanthropy. Prior to that I was a senior research manager at Rethink Priorities. And prior to that I earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin.
Thanks for your question. It's a bit difficult to answer in the abstract. If your ideas hang together in a nice way, it makes sense to house them in a single entry. If the ideas are quite distinct and unrelated, it makes more sense to house them in separate entries. Another consideration is length. Per the contest guidelines, we're advising entrants to shoot for a submission length around 5000 words (though there are no formal word limits). All else equal, I'd prefer three 5000 word entries to one 15,000 word entry, and I'd prefer one 5000 word entry to ten 500 word entries.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your comment. I am also concerned about groupthink within homogenous communities. I hope this contest is one small push against groupthink at Open Phil. By default, I do, unfortunately, expect most of the submissions to come from people who share the same basic worldview as Open Phil staff. And for submissions that come from people with radically different worldviews, there is the danger that we fail to recognize an excellent point because we are less familiar with the stylistic and epistemic conventions within which it is embedded.
For these sorts of reasons, we did explicitly consider including non-Open Phil judges for the contest. Ultimately, we decided that didn’t make sense for this use case. We are, after all, hoping that submissions update our thinking, and it’s harder for an outside judge to represent our point of view.
But this contest is not the only way we are stress-testing our thinking. For example, I’m involved in another project in which we are engaging directly with smart people who disagree with us about AI risk. We hope that as a result of that adversarial collaboration, we can generate a consensus of cruxes so that we have a better handle on how new developments ought to change our credences. I hope to be able to share more details on that project over the summer.
If you want to chat more about groupthink concerns, shoot me a DM. I believe it’s a somewhat underappreciated worry within EA.
Thanks for your questions. We're interested in a wide range of considerations. It's debatable whether human-originating civilization failing to make good use of its "cosmic endowment" constitutes an existential catastrophe. If you want to focus on more recognizable catastrophes (such as extinction, unrecoverable civilizational collapse, or dystopia) that would be fine.
In a similar vein, if you think there is an important scenario in which humanity suffers an existential catastrophe by collectively losing control over an ecosystem of AGIs, that would also be an acceptable topic.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thanks for your questions!
We plan to officially launch the contest sometime in Q1 2023, so end of March at the latest.
I asked our in-house counsel about the eligibility of essays submitted to other competitions/publications, and he said it depends on whether by submitting elsewhere you've forfeited your ability to grant Open Phil a license to use the essay. His full quote below:
Essays submitted to other competitions or for publication are eligible for submission, so long as the entrant is able to grant Open Phil a license to use the essay. Since we plan to use these essays to inform our future research and grantmaking, we need a license to be able to use the IP. Our contest rules will state that by submitting an entry, each entrant grants a license to Open Phil to use the entry to further our mission. If you had previously submitted an essay to another contest or for publication, you should check the terms and conditions of that contest/publication to confirm they do not now have exclusive rights to the work or in any way prohibit you from granting a license to someone else to use it.
Hi Paul, thanks for your question. I don't have an intrinsic preference. We encourage public posting of the entries because we believe that this type of investigation is potentially valuable beyond the narrow halls of Open Philanthropy. If your target audience (aside from the contest panelists) is primarily researchers, then it makes sense to format your entry according to the norms of the research community. If you are aiming for a broader target audience, then it may make sense to structure your entry more informally.
When we grade the entries, we will be focused on the content. The style and reference won't (I hope) make much of a difference.