Linda Linsefors

Topic Contributions


The availability bias in job hunting

80k podcast does this (more identify than reward, but still). But I agree that more would be good.

Introducing Canopy Retreats

From your website:

Canopy Retreats aids EA orgs and community members in the planning and running of mid-sized, multi-day retreats.

What size is "mid-sized"?

The Vultures Are Circling
  • In general, being a good organizer isn’t even something that seems to get you much clout in this community, see other post today about this (i haven’t read it yet)


Which post is this?

Issues with centralised grantmaking

I agree that grantmaking is hard! 

There are gaps in the sytem exactly because grantmaking is hard. 

No, this is not about grantmakting skills, or at least not directly. But skills in relation to the task dificulty is very relevant. But nither is it about fairness. Slowing down to worry about fairness with in EA seems dumb.

This is about not spreading harmfull missleading information to applicants, and other potential donors who are concidering if they want to make thier own donation decition or not.

I'm mostly just trying to say that can we please accknolage that the system is not perfect? How do I say this without anyone feeling attact?

Getting rejected hurts. If you tell everyone that EA has heeps of money and that the grantmakers are perfect, then it hurts about 100x more. This is a real cost. EA is loosing members because of this, and almost no-one talks about it. But it would not be so bad, if we could just agree that grantmaking is hard, and therefor grantmakers makes mistakes sometimes.

My current understanding is that the bigest dificulty in grantmaking is the information bandwith. The text in the application is usually not nearly enough information, which is why grantmakers rely on other channels of information. This information is nesserarly biased by their network, mainly it is much easier to get funded if you know the right people. This is all fine! I want grantmakers to use all the information they can, even if this casues unfairness. All successfull networks rely hevily on personal conections, becasue it's just more efficient. Personal trust beats formal systems every day. I just wish we could be honest about what is going on. 

I don't expect rich people to deligate their funding decitions to unknown people outside their network, just for fairness. I don't think that would be a good idea.

But I do want EAs who who happen to have some money to give, and happen to have significantly diffrent networks compared to the super donors, to be aware of this, to be aware of their comparative advantage to donate in their own network, instead of deligating this away to EA Funds.

What is owed is honesty. That is all.

It's not even the case that the grant makers themsevels exagurate their own infalability, at least not explicitly.  But others do, which leads to the same problems.  This makes it harder to answer "who owes what".  Fortunatly I don't care much about blame. I just want to spread more accurate informations becasue I've seen the harm of the missinformation. That's why I decided to argue against your comment. Leaving those claims unchalanged would add to the problems I tried to explain here.


Regarding spelling. I usually try harder. But this topic makes me very angry, so I try minimising the time I spend on writing this. Sorry about that.

Should you do a PhD?

I do not recomend going to France if you don't already know some Frecnch. I got though my PhD ok in English, and leanring enough french to be able to by food and similar is not hard. But I did not have a social life for over 2 years and it was terrible, and eventually I left to finish my PhD from Sweden (my home country).

My plan was to learn french when I got there, and I tried. But I'm also slow at languges, and never got good enough to have a real conversation.

I recomend going to an English speaking country, or go to one of the small western Europe countries, (Nordics, Netherlands, etc) where most peopel speek good English. 

If you decide to go to Grenoble anyway, I can't help you with courses. My PhD program required very few coursers, and I think all the ones I took where for PhD students only. And the only good one whas a one-time course about particle phsics given by a German post-doc, who is probably not there anymore.

I don't know much about masters programs in general. I did a undergraduate and master roled in to one program, which is common in Sweden, so I never had to look for a master. 

I recomend joining this slack and ask in the applying-for-granschool channel.

Here's more AI Safety grand school advise

Issues with centralised grantmaking

Let's say Charles He starts some meta EA service, let's say an AI consultancy, "123 Fake AI". 

Charles's service is actually pretty bad, he obscure methods and everyone suspects Charles to be gatekeeping and crowding out other AI consultancies. This squatting is harmful.

Charles sorts of entrenches, rewards his friends etc. So any normal individual raising issues is shouted down.

Someone has to kibosh this, and a set of unified grant makers could do this.


I don't understand your model of crowding out? How exatly is Charles and his firends shouting everyone down? If everyone supsects 123 Fake AI to be bad, it will not be hard to get funding to set up a compeeting service. 

In a centralised system Charles only have to convince the unified grantmakers that he is better, to stay on top. In a de-centralised system he has to convince everyone. 


As far as I can tell, EA grantmakers and leadership are overly worried about crowding out effects. They don't want to give money to a project if there might be a similar but better funding options later, because they think funding the first will crowd out the later. But my experience from the other side (applying and talking to other applicants) is that the effect is the compleet oposite. If you fund a type of project, others will see that this is the type of project that can be funded, and you'll get more similar applications. 

Issues with centralised grantmaking

The chess analogy don't work. We don't have grant experts in the same way we have chess experts.

Expertice is created by experience coupled with high quality feedback. This type of expertice exists in chess, but not much grantmaking. EA grantmaking is not old enough to have experts. This is extra true in longtermist grantmaking where you don't get true feedback at all, but have to rely on proxies.

I'm not saying that there are no diffence in relevant skills. Beeing genneraly smart and having related knolage is very usefull in areas where no-one is an expert.  But the level of skill you seem to be claming is not belivable. And if they convinced themselves of that level of supeiriority, that's evidence of group think. 


Multiple grantmakers with diffrent heruristics will help deveolop expertice, since this means that we can compare diffrent strategies, and sometimes a grantmaker get to see what happens to projects they rejected that got funding somwhere else.

So grant makers fund and build institutions to create and influence generations of projects. This needs longevity and independence.

I agree, but this don't require that there are only few funders. 


Now we happen to be in a situation where almost all EA money comes from a few rich people. That's just how things are wether I like it or not.  It's their money to distrubute as they want. Trying to argue that the EA bilionares should not have the right to direct their donations as they want, would be pointless or couterproductive.

Also, I do think that these big donors are awsome people and that the world is better for their generosity.  As far as I can see, they are spending their money on very important projects. 

But they are not perfect! (This is not an attack!)

I think it would be very bad for EA to spread the idea that the large EA funders are some how infalable, and that small donors should avoid making their on grant decition.  

Issues with centralised grantmaking

Yes! Exactly!

If you want a system to counter the univerversalist curse, then designen a system with the goal of countering the univeralist curse. Don't relly on an unintended sidefect of a coincidental system design.

Issues with centralised grantmaking

I don't think there is a negative bias against centalised funging in the EA netowrk.

I've discussed funding with quite a few people, and my experience is that EAs like experts and efficiency, which mathces well with centralisd funding, at least in theory. I never heard anyone compare it to USSR and similar before.

Even this post is not against centralsised funding. The autor is just arguing that any system have blindspots, and we should have other systems too.

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