Jens Brandt

26 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)Seeking workMunich, Germany


  • Completed the AGI Safety Fundamentals Virtual Program
  • Attended an EAGx conference
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Completed the Introductory EA Virtual Program


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Language is a mess of exaptations build upon ever more exaptations until you find a reference to something physical at the bottom of it all. Consider what "the mouth the river" means if you believe you live in a world where everything is/has a spirit. Definition discussions are useful for communication, but adjusting definitions to make progress is deeply necessary, because new ideas need to build upon old foundations and going for some sort of new word creates more confusion than it is worth.

I'm not sure that your ideas regarding the romance and professional relationships separation would work in practice.

  1. As EA is international, I'm worried about European Vs American cultural norms. Attitudes concerning sexuality vary greatly and it is not clear that enforcing the more conservative US norms is optimal. Looking at military regulations concerning this there are huge differences in how organizations from those different cultural spheres handle this. In the US Military relationships are heavily restricted, in the German Federal Army for example, only relationships between directly superior commanding officers and enlisted soldiers are considered problematic. In theory those should result in transfering the enlist into another unit, but not in disciplinary measures. The reality is even more lax.

  2. If there is a norm against it, what is the base rate of sexual happenings in those organisations where it is considered unprofessional? Speaking from my experiences in the military, it is high. While the skewed gender ratio might be a factor (it's unlikely to be a strong one as the behaviour is also common in units heavy on females), the rule is that sexual relationships pretty much always happen if people are single. As militaries tend to pride themselves on their professionalism and discipline and select for more conservative people, I'm fairly certain that what I'm observing is actually less than what I would observe in a civilian organisation. I'd speculate that most of those norms against romance in the workplace just exist for their signaling value. After all, even in the US 11% of couples get to know each other at work. (This is down from 19% in the nineties.)

  3. If this is true, the main value of such norms would be signaling. Signaling on itself can be valuable, but we should not pretend to be doing anything but signaling with those measures.

  4. My model of what stronger norms against such things do is this: they slightly reduce the approach attempts, they push most of those interactions into the shadows, they incentive using power to obscure such relationships and approach attempts, and they make talking and managing the issue harder as noone is officially doing it. This is without getting into the issue of EA also being a community, which means that other categories of how people meet their partners also contribute.

  5. My suggestions:

  • stronger norms on consent and rejecting advances This would pair well with the existing openness on this subject. It is especially not acceptable to let someone suffer professional costs for rejecting advances.

  • increase transparency in decisions regarding money and opportunities This seems like a good idea in general and it is quite frankly puzzling why the current processes are so intransparent. Maybe it should be standard practice to lay open the personal relationships between those people involved in such decisions. However, I'm not sure if this is legally sound or easy.

  • excluding systematic violators of thise rules by ostracism It was said in the discussion on this subject that most sexual assaults cases (90%)are perpetrated by repeat offenders. I think it is reasonable to think that other inappropriate behaviour could cluster on certain individuals as well. An actual mechanism for something like this should be divised by people with legal backgrounds, as I'm fairly certain something like this could easily run into defamation laws.

Interesting post; it gave me a few new ideas about this process. I'm using a different template. Check it out if you're interested:

This was a really interesting read. I think a lot of this is plausible and it is similar to my own expectations in many ways. Thank you for writing this.

That said, I think your vision is too conservative. AI the field that will change the world massively this century where transformative changes are already certain. But there are other candidates as well. Space development, self replicating macro and nano machines, human enhancement and new physics are options I consider likely in descending order. The interactions between those fields are the truly scary thing. You acknowledge that your predictions are very likely to be false, but I think the biggest error people make when trying to predict the future is that they look at only a single dimension and ignore the interactions. For example, a power seeking AI could reasonably prioritise gambling on an interstellar land grab in the forties.

Another point where I disagree with you is that AI's will cause more damage with spreadsheets, medical procedures and legal procedures. The human standard is already pretty dismal here, but we are wired to trust people in those positions. I think that while it is certain that AI will fail in some cases, it is far from certain that it will perform worse than the human baseline.

I like your suggestions about the dating site, however, what you describe sounds a lot more like a matchmaking service. Those do already exist but are usually quite expensive. As I understand it, usually they sign on clients for a hefty fee, analyze them, and proceed to introduce them to other clients they think would be a great match. Then the two date and see if it works. 

I don't know what kind of methods they use, but I guess using ML and psychology might be able to reduce the costs of such a project significantly.