"ultimately I made offers to two candidates both of which I had had strong gut feelings about very early, which was rewarding but also highly frustrating." - I hope this comment doesn't come across as incredibly mean, but, are you getting that from notes made at the time? When I find myself thinking "this is what I thought we'd do all along", I start to suspect I've conveniently rewritten my memories of what I thought. Do you have a sense of how many candidates you had similar strong positive gut feelings about?
Thank you for a very helpful comment!
When I applied to Google I did a phone interview and a full day of in-person interviews, plus a 1-hour conference call about how to do well in the second round. Lots of people devote significant time brushing up their coding interview skills as well; I only didn't because things like Project Euler had brushed up those skills for me.
Of course, the one who writes the post about it is likely to be the outlier rather than the median.
If you can't afford it, doesn't that suggest that earning to give might not be such a bad choice after all?
Could you comment specifically on the Wayback Machine exclusion? Thanks!
Nitpick: "England" here probably wants to be something like "the south-east of England". There's not a lot you could do from Newcastle that you couldn't do from Stockholm; you need to be within travel distance of Oxford, Cambridge, or London.
You have a philosopher's instinct to reach for the most extreme example, but in general I recommend against that.
There's a pretty simple counterfactual: don't take or promote the pledge.
I went to a MIRI workshop on decision theory last year. I came away with an understanding of a lot of points of how MIRI approaches these things that I'd have a very hard time writing up. In particular, at the end of the workshop I promised to write up the "Pi-maximising agent" idea and how it plays into MIRI's thinking. I can describe this at a party fairly easily, but I get completely lost trying to turn it into a writeup. I don't remember other things quite as well (eg "playing chicken with the Universe") but they have the same feel. An awful lot of what MIRI knows seems to me folklore like this.
I think being too nice is a failure mode worth worrying about, and your points are well taken. On the other hand, it seems plausible to me that it does a more effective job of convincing the reader that Gleb is bad news precisely by demonstrating that this is the picture you get when all reasonable charity is extended.
I strongly suspect that the group photo is of very high value in getting people to go, making them feel good about having gone, and making others feel good about the conference. However, it sounds like trying to optimize to shave a few minutes off would be pretty high value.