All of nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon's Comments + Replies

I want to be replaced

Why not also strive to be the better replacement?

Community Builders Spend Too Much Time Community Building

Cool idea. Are you working on this in a dedicated way? If this is useful, you could try it at a retreat or take 3-12 months to promote its use I bet, and see how it fleshes out.

2Harrison Durland4d
It's funny you should ask, I just finished a post on a related project: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/9RCFq976d9YXBbZyq/research-reality-graphing-to-support-ai-policy-and-more [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/9RCFq976d9YXBbZyq/research-reality-graphing-to-support-ai-policy-and-more] Although that is about a different project, many of the same points apply: I just haven't gotten a sufficient demand/interest signal to feel justified (let alone motivated) to work on the project.
Community Builders Spend Too Much Time Community Building

This seems like one of those things that might be best for the movement but not best for the individual.

A uni organizer who recruits 5 excellent future performers might have just had the most impactful portion of their whole career. But the general marketing skills they got might be less useful to them personally. Becoming an expert in X object level issue would probably be more rewarding and open more doors over the course of their career than being a generalist in marketing, and have lower earning potential than learning consulting, programming, or some research skills.

I feel more uncertain about this if they’re actually doing project management and people management.

Community Builders Spend Too Much Time Community Building

I don’t think (3) is that bad. New members are not always better than shooting experienced members into good projects.

I wonder if 2- 3 year cohort models of fellows would be better in established campuses.

EA Dedicates

I really like this post. That said, I don’t think this is true: “dedicates don’t have bullshit jobs.” We might have different definitions of bullshit though.

Dedicates don’t take jobs without doing an impact analysis, agreed.

However, dedicates may choose to sacrifice the chance to work 10 hour days on interesting problems, to take strategic jobs in non-EA orgs or government agencies that involve a lot of day-to-day bullshit. They do this in the hopes that they might have a shot at impact when the time is right. I think it’s good that they’re willing to do this and wouldn’t want their sacrifice mistaken for being a non-dedicate.

nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon's Shortform

I agree that for a lot of people, this won’t be a problem. A lot of EA roles are professionalizing, so people can switch over to traditional careers if they want. (As in, community building is enough like management, event planning, or outreach roles at a lot of traditional orgs that the skills may transfer).

One piece of good advice for most people:

  • Issue-specific expertise and professional networks don’t transfer well. I’d advise that a good backup plan should include spending time networking with EA-adjacent, and non-EA orgs.

That issue seems inconveni... (read more)

Aaron_Scher's Shortform

I think conceptualizing job hunts like this for very competitive positions is often accurate and healthy fwiw

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

“Help” sounds paternalistic or presumptuous to progressives.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

I’ve said “helping other beings” before. It sounds a bit odd to some people but is more accurate.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

Are you hoping to appeal to people who don’t think very analytically, or just to explain clearly that this is a very analytical community and it might not be as accessible or useful or fun for them if they are not also very analytical?

I actually think that some of the offputting words might help prevent bycatch.

How does a For-Profit Business Become Involved?

I’d check with Giving What We Can or One for the World, to see if you can take the giving pledge as a company.

Agrippa's Shortform

I, for one, am really glad you raised this.

It seems plausible that some people caught the “AI is cool” bug along with the “EA is cool and nice and well-resourced” bug, and want to work on whatever they can that is AI-related. A justification like “I’ll go work on safety eventually” could be sincere or not.

Charity norms can swing much too far.

I’d be glad to see more 80k and forum talk about AI careers that point to the concerns here.

And I’d be glad to endorse more people doing what Richard mentioned — telling capabilities people that he thinks their work could be harmful while still being respectful.

nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon's Shortform

Are we too cocky with EA funding or EA jobs; should EAs prepare for economic instability?

EA feels flush with cash, jobs, and new projects. But we have mostly “grown up” as a movement after the Great Recession of 2008 and may not be prepared for economic instability.

Many EAs come from very economically and professionally stable families. Our donor base may be insulated from economic shocks but not all orgs or individuals will be in equally secure positions.

I think lower- to -middle performers or newer EAs may overestimate stability and be overly optimistic about their stability and opportunities for future funding.

If that’s true, what should we be doing differently?

3Jay Bailey1mo
I've definitely thought about this. EA is a relatively young movement. Its momentum is massive at the moment, but even so, creating a career out of something like EA community building is far from certain, even for people who can reasonably easily secure funding for a few months or years. I think that a good thing to do would be to ask "What would happen if EA ceased to exist in ten years?" when making career plans. If the answer is "Well, I would have been better off had I sought traditional career capital, but I think I'll land on my feet anyway" that's a fine answer - it would be unreasonable to expect that devoting years of your life to a niche movement has zero costs. If the answer is "I'd be completely screwed, I have no useful skills outside of this ecosystem and would still need to work for a living", I would be more concerned and suggest people alter plans accordingly. That said, I think for many or most EA's, this will not be the case. Many EA cause areas require highly valuable skills such as software engineering, research ability, or operations/management skills that can be useful in the private or public sector outside of effective altruism. I also feel like this mainly applies to very early-career individuals. For instance, I have a few years of SWE experience and want to move into AI safety. If EA disbanded in ten years...well, I'd still want to work on the problem, but what if we solved the alignment problem or proved it actually wasn't a major cause area somehow? And then EA said "Okay, thanks for all your hard work, but we don't really need AI alignment experts any more". I would be okay - I could go back to SWE work. I'd be worse off than if I spent ten years working for strong non-EA tech companies, but I would hardly be destitute. It's not that hard to have a backup plan in place, but we should encourage people to have one. This may also help with mental health - leaving a line of retreat from EA should it be too overwhelming for some people

You can usually relatively straightforwardly divide your monetary resources into a part that you spend on donations and a part that you spend for personal purposes.

By contrast, you don't usually spend some of your time at work for self-interested purposes and some for altruistic purposes. (That is in principle possible, but uncommon among effective altruists.) Instead you only have one job (which may serve your self-interested and altruistic motives to varying degrees). Therefore, I think that analogies with donations are often a stretch and sometimes misleading (depending on how they're used).

Michael Nielsen's "Notes on effective altruism"

Throwaway account to give a vague personal anecdote. I agree this has gotten better for some, but I think this is still a problem (a) that new people have to work out for themselves, going through the stages on their own, perhaps faster than happened 5 years ago; (b) that hits people differently if they are “converted” to EA but not as successful in their pursuit of impact. These people are left in a precarious psychological position.

I experienced both. I think of myself as “EA bycatch.” By the time I went through the phases of thinking through all of thi... (read more)

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

I agree with you. Yet I bristle when people who I don’t know well start putting forth arguments to me about what is good/bad for me, especially in a context where I wasn’t expecting it.

I’m much more accustomed to people thinking that moral relativism is polite, at least at first.

Moral relativism can be annoying, but putting forth strong moral positions at eg a fresher’s fair does feel like something that missionaries do.

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

Appreciate your comments, Aaron.

You say: But I am confident that leaders' true desire is "find people who have great epistemics [and are somewhat aligned]", not "find people who are extremely aligned [and have okay epistemics]".

I think that’s true for a lot of hires. But does that hold equally true when you think of hiring community builders specifically?

In my experience (5 ish people), leaders’ epistemic criteria seem less stringent for community building. Familiarity with EA, friendliness, and productivity seemed more salient.

6Aaron Gertler1mo
This is a tricky question to answer, and there's some validity to your perspective here. I was speaking too broadly when I said there were "rare exceptions" when epistemics weren't the top consideration. Imagine three people applying to jobs: * Alice: 3/5 friendliness, 3/5 productivity, 5/5 epistemics * Bob: 5/5 friendliness, 3/5 productivity, 3/5 epistemics * Carol: 3/5 friendliness, 5/5 productivity, 3/5 epistemics I could imagine Bob beating Alice for a "build a new group" role (though I think many CB people would prefer Alice), because friendliness is so crucial. I could imagine Carol beating Alice for an ops role. But if I were applying to a wide range of positions in EA and had to pick one trait to max out on my character sheet, I'd choose "epistemics" if my goal were to stand out in a bunch of different interview processes and end up with at least one job. One complicating factor is that there are only a few plausible candidates (sometimes only one) for a given group leadership position. Maybe the people most likely to actually want those roles are the ones who are really sociable and gung-ho about EA, while the people who aren't as sociable (but have great epistemics) go into other positions. This state of affairs allows for "EA leaders love epistemics" and "group leaders stand out for other traits" at the same time. Finally, you mentioned "familiarity" as a separate trait from epistemics, but I see them as conceptually similar when it comes to thinking about group leaders. Common questions I see about group leaders include "could this person explain these topics in a nuanced way?" and "could this person successfully lead a deep, thoughtful discussion on these topics?" These and other similar questions involve familiarity, but also the ability to look at something from multiple angles, engage seriously with questions (rather than just reciting a canned answer), and do other "good epistemics" things.
Bad Omens in Current Community Building

I agree with you, and I think this somewhat supports the OPs concern.

Are most uni groups capable of producing or critiquing empirical work about their group, or about EA or about their cause areas of choice? Are they incentivized to do so at all?

Sometimes yes, but mostly no.

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

Strong +1. This feels much more like the correct use of student groups to me.

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

Re: “there have been cases of really great organizers springing up after just an intro fellowship.”

I definitely believe this can happen and am glad you allow for that. What makes someone seem really great — epistemics, alignment/buy-in, skill in a relevant area of study, __?

Bad Omens in Current Community Building

I agree and think this is an argument for investing in cause specific groups rather than generalized community building.

"Big tent" effective altruism is very important (particularly right now)

Would you have this same reaction if you saw Luke and Max or GWWC/CEA as equals and peers? Maybe so! It seems like you think this as the head of CEA talking down to the OP. Max and Luke seem to know each other though; I read Max’s comment as a quick flag between equals that there’s a disagreement here, but writing it on the forum instead of an email means the rest of us get to participate a bit more in the conversation too.

5MaxDalton1mo
FWIW, I do think that I reacted to this a bit differently because it's Luke (who I've worked with, and who I view as a peer). I think I would have been more positive/had lower standards for a random community member.
Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

I am worried about alienation but I feel alienated where I currently am too so a new scene might not be much different.

1nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon2mo
I am worried about alienation but I feel alienated where I currently am too so a new scene might not be much different.
Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

No, this is a fair point. I’m well off compared to many people (high savings), but I don’t have a high salary. I’m considering cheap places to live.

1nananana.nananana.heyhey.anon2mo
It does seem reversible though, and might be worth a shot.
Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

This isn’t my experience in the US anymore! Most major cities have an EA meetup or it feels inevitable to me that they soon will. EA is still small overall, but increasingly ubiquitous. It’s a credit to the success of movement growth. It’s also a bit overwhelming for me. See comment below; even Tulsa is likely to have an EA group soon!

Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

This is true. I appreciate you taking a minute to make a supportive comment!

I got downvoted but I’m not hating on the community at all.

Even more than my previous IRL communities, EAs are consistently kind, interesting, share my values, and offer events that I think are likely to do some actual good. I am drawn to the real life EA community like moth to flame whenever there is one available. But it’s also not sustainable for me to be so involved in EA. That’s not the community’s fault. It’s a quirk of my own psychology.

I’d like to live somewhere sunny where IRL EA hangouts is not an option so I’m incentivized to make other connections.

7Rachel 2mo
The incentive to make other connections is already there: you can tell it would make you happier. It's a question of coming up with a good plan and then executing it. Some possible ways to make connections in your city: * No EA events for the next six months. If you'll miss your EA friends, tell them you're interested in making friends outside the EA community, and that you'd like to hang out but you'd rather go to a bar or for a hike or something than to an EA meetup, and that they're welcome to invite anyone who would enjoy whatever the activity is. * Start doing activities which are good for making connections: start playing football or another social sport; do some volunteering for something local; maybe get involved in politics, amateur dramatics, stand-up comedy, country dancing, etc. You don't have to stick to any of these things long term if you don't want to, but they're good ways to meet people in your city - and then you can make friends with them, and make friends with their friends and so on. * Host a few dinner parties - this is fun, and will get you invited to dinner parties, house parties etc. When people have had a lovely evening, they like to reciprocate. * If you're currently working from home and going into the office is an option, do that, try to build connection with your colleagues. If you're working remotely, consider going to a co-working space or coffee-shop. If you're a student, talk more to people on your course, join some clubs at your university. If you're not currently working or studying - look for opportunities to start doing one of those things. These are all quite generic suggestions: I don't know enough about your situation to give more targeted advice. My instinct is that something else is causing you to feel alienated, and the presence of the EA community is not as significant a factor as you think it is. You should talk to a few people you're close to about what's going

If you like the location you're currently in, it seems pretty worth it to try to hang out with other people in your current community first. Join a sports team or games club or something. If you're worried about incentives, then ask a friend for accountability. Say you'll pay them $20 if you don't actually go to the event and ask them to follow up on it.

I'm a bit worried you're underestimating how difficult it would be to move to an entirely different continent on your own. Life as an expat can be expensive and alienating.

I think ~99.9% of cities don't have in-person EA hangouts.
Maybe you can just find the best cities for you and only later filter out the few ones with an EA group?

You can also check https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/community for places to avoid