Thanks to Sam Bankman-Fried for comments and for significant influence on these thoughts.
I think donations in the next 2-3 days would be very useful (probably even more useful than door-knocking and phone-banking if one had to pick) for TV ads, but after that the benefits diminish somewhat steeply over the remaining days.
Amazing, thank you Everett! I'd love to hang out together. :)
Thank you for all your encouragement over the past few years for students and newer community members to post on the forum, and for actually making it easier and less scary to do so. I definitely would not have felt anywhere near as comfortable getting started without your encouragement and post editing offers. I've replaced Facebook binging with EA Forum binging since I both enjoyed it so much and found it really valuable for my learning. You will be missed, and incredibly hard to replace. Thank you for all your hard work!
Hi Michael, thanks for writing this up! These are important topics, and I'd love to see more discussion of them. Just want to clarify two potential misconceptions: I don’t think it’s no longer hard to get a direct work job, although I do feel reasonably confident that it isn’t as hard to get funding to do direct work as it was a few years ago (either through employment or grants, though I would probably still stand by this statement if we were only considering employment). Secondly, on this part:
Kuhan mentioned that to it's not easy to get an EA job
Edited for clarity - it might be a US thing, but I'd encourage others to try it out and see how it goes unless there are strong reasons not to.
Regarding the concern of broad distribution of books being low-impact due to low completion rates/readership/engagement, do you have a sense of how impactful reading groups are for books when coupled with broad distribution? They can have a high initial fixed cost and then pretty low marginal costs for repeated run-throughs (e.g. it takes a long time to make discussion sheets for the first time you run the reading group, but afterwards you have them ready, create breakout rooms, and if you don't participate in them this requires minimal effort/time).
80,000 Hours as a (very thorough) resource for individuals trying to do good/maximize their impact with their careers feels like a big accomplishment. I found EA when I googled "Highest impact careers/how to have the biggest impact with your career", and didn't find anything anywhere near as compelling as 80,000 Hours. I think their counterfactual impact is probably quite massive given how insufficient impact-oriented career advice is outside of 80K (and the broader communities/research/thinking/work that have led to 80K being what it is). Most of the... (read more)
Thanks Jake! Stanford EA and I would definitely not be where we are now without your initial mentorship/ motivation, and ongoing guidance and support! I can't thank you enough. :)
Great points, thanks for commenting Ben! Responding to each of the points:
In my experience, running local group events was like an o-ring process. If you're running a talk, you need to get the marketing right, the operations right, and the follow up right. If you miss any of these, you lose most of the value. This means that having an organiser who is really careful about each stage can dramatically increase the impact of the group. So, I'd highlight 'really caring' as one of the key traits to have.
I think I mostly agree with this (and strongly... (read more)
That's very sweet, thank you Jonas! I have been in some conversations about EA essay/idea competitions similar to what you've mentioned, but haven't thought much about it. I think we're also thinking about ideas like hackathons as experimental outreach mechanisms to try out. How do you think something like what you're proposing would compare to the more standard intro EA programming (like intro talks and fellowships)?
Pageviews would also go up a lot if (as suggested in the post) articles from the website were included in intro fellowships/other educational programs. I'll discuss adding these articles/others on the site to our intro syllabi. One potential concern with adding articles from utilitarianism.net is that many (new-to-EA) people (from experience running many fellowships) have negative views towards utilitarianism (e.g. find it off-putting, think people use it to justify selfish/horrible/misguided actions, think it's too demanding (e.g. implications ... (read more)
Thank you Tessa!
To clarify/set realistic expectations, much of the growth happened in our second year (2020-2021 academic year), e.g. all the things mentioned in the intro + summary bullets, the first year mostly involved getting 5-10 highly dedicated core organizers and getting SERI started. I also caveat all the things I had going in my favour (including being in the Bay, being on a CBG, and getting lucky with very dedicated and competent co-organizers).It can be hard to sacrifice career planning/advancement for group organizing purposes, but as I mentioned in my other comment running your group well has lots of career benefits (both from within the EA community, and the skills you develop from becoming a kick-ass organizer :))!
That makes sense, thank you for expanding on the timeline! I also really appreciate your acknowledgment of other factors. My original comment (intentionally) discounted the many other factors that contribute to a group's success, simply because I am confident that my group has a better-than-average mix of factors and so should not be at its current state.
I 100% agree that it's not a binary trade-off and in fact, if someone is potentially interested in community-building as a career, this could be one of the highest-impact things to do. Even if not, I also agree that exclusively maximizing for EA career prospects is not necessarily the best community norm to set!
Thank you for your kind words Miranda! EA group organizing can be quite difficult when others don't see it as potentially highly impactful and the group isn't doing so well - I hope this post can help change how useful EAs (and in particular students) think community building is, and help us do a better job at it so it feels more intuitively impactful and exciting!The support system for organizers who want to put a lot of effort into their group is getting better and better. I'm always happy to have calls (or texts/emails) with organizers, to discuss how t... (read more)
Thank you so much Kathryn! I'm inspired by all the work you do for WANBAM/mentorship in EA (which I'd love to build on moving forward, it's one of my top priorities), and everything else you do! :)
Thanks for the catch, should be fixed!
James Aung + Emma Abele funded by EAIF
Strongly agree, I'll add a bullet point on this to the post :)
Thanks for the comment, just edited the post. :)
I just stumbled across this on my Facebook newsfeed eradicator today and it reminded me of the inspiring quotes thread: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”
~ Anne Frank
Ooh I like the changing profile picture idea, can I add that to the post? (I'll give you credit of course)
Do you mean two or more people are sharing their screen at the same time? How does that work? We share our screens for group meetings, but I've never heard of screen-sharing during co-working sessions. Also, wouldn't people feel like they are being watched (or that they might show something private) if they are screen-sharing while working?
Yea we allow multiple participant screen-sharing on Zoom, which does run the risk of people seeing something private, but at least for me it really helps me not succumb to distractions, so the risk is worth it. You can't... (read more)
Hey Akash! Thanks for your comment, and apologies for my late response!Let me respond to your individual thoughts:
1- I'd love to hear more about your decision to go with a career-focused post rather than a donation-focused post. I see how someone changing their career could have an immense impact (especially if they are able to find something impactful that they're also very good at). However, I'm skeptical about the proportion of people who would seriously consider changing their career paths as a result of this. Maybe my forecast is off, though-- I
Here are some of my thoughts on EA residencies/moving people into the full-time EA recruiting pipeline that I shared with Buck:
The primary bottlenecks preventing people (who are already interested in EA) from doing high-impact EA work full-time from what I’ve seen in no particular order (based on 2 years running Stanford EA and a few conversations with non-student EAs and community group leaders):
1. Full time EA work, and the transition required feels too costly (in terms of time, money, moving, social costs, preserving optionality,... (read more)