JJ Hepburn

CEO @ AI Safety Support
Working (15+ years of experience)


  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours
  • Attended an EAGx conference
  • Attended an EA Global conference
  • Completed the AGI Safety Fundamentals Virtual Program


What do you think we do?

This is a bit of a side note on my last shortform.


There are (at least) three versions of what we or any project/org does. 

  1. What we think we do
  2. What you think we do
  3. What we actually do

Hopefully these three have a lot of over lap. Even 1 and 3 can have a lot of a gap between what you were wanting to deliver and what actually happens.

I occasionally like to ask people that I haven't interacted with before what they think we do at AISS. I like this to be early in the conversation so that it is their raw belief. Though a little too often people actually start answering as if I'd ask what they think we should do.

On Naming Projects

My general rules or thoughts around naming projects is to avoid trying to give them a name that describes what the project is. The problem is mainly that you end up with lock-in and lose control over how your project is perceived. 

People are very good at taking the name of something and using that to build a model of what they think the project is. We have this problem with AI Safety Support and the word "camp" in "AI Safety Camp" has caused confusion too. When talking to people about what we do we have to remove their beliefs in what we do before building up a more accurate picture.

OpenAI has big problems with this in that outsiders have their own model of what the founders were thinking when they came up with the name. They are often criticised for not living up to their name.  

I'd prefer a mostly meaningless name where people have to ask what you do and you get to control the message. People start with a blank slate with no misconceptions that you have to deal with first. You get to build up the picture of what you do your own way. My default example of this is "Uber" which you would have a hard time coming up with your own picture of what they do. I also really like "Redwood Research" they obviously do research but I struggle to come up with an assumption of what that could be.

There are of course plenty of exceptions where a descriptive name is appropriate. This seems to be the default though and it is worth questioning. If you are struggling to come up with a name that you are really happy with and confident it describes your vision then consider a less descriptive name. 


I love anything that helps to reduce administrative load, duplication of work and friction to get started. So pretty excited about this idea and the hiring agency Nonlinear are incubating.

Yes, I'd be happy to spend time talking to this person. Should you have a sign-up form or something?

I would recommend using a custom domain instead of the proy.app subdomain. Even if you just have the custom domain redirect to the pory.app so that you can share the link around and if you change away from Pory then you control the domain and don't have dead links everywhere.

... Yes, I have made this mistake.

An event for everyone is an event for no one.

This is just a small thing so I feel like I'm being annoying mentioning it. "Summer" doesn't mean the same thing for those in the Southern hemisphere, in particular, but also those in the tropics. Months are much more universal.

I'd be keen to see an EAG Virtual as well and would prefer this over hybrid.

A Careers Fair

Not just lots of orgs inviting people to come work for them but lots of workshops. 

I often suggest people at the very least daft an application.

Some people I talk to say that they are intending to apply “later” and when I check back in on them they still tell me “later”. I now suggest people draft that application now even if they plan on finishing and submitting it later. This takes what is otherwise a daunting and mysterious task and makes it much clearer what it is you are so hesitant about.

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