Peter

Community Builder and EARadio Podcast
Working (0-5 years experience)
442Florida, USAJoined Aug 2021

Bio

Participation
3

Interested in AI safety talent search and fiction. I do community building, study AI governance, and run the EARad.io podcast - you're welcome to come talk about your projects.

  1. If you know any EAs in MENSA or similar groups, I'd love to chat. 
  2. I am working on an EA Fiction video series. Let's talk ideas and impact mechanisms. 

How others can help me

Connect me with peers, partners (artists, cowriters, animators), and funds for AI Safety research, longtermist fiction, community building, or AI governance strategy. 

How I can help others

  1. Connect you to potential peers, partners, and funding you might not know exist. 
  2. Tell you about my thoughts on political campaigns and/or stories. 
  3. Host your content or invite you to talk about your projects on the EARadio podcast. 

Comments
111

Topic Contributions
1

Actually, they are the same type of error. EA prides itself on using evidence and reason rather than taking the assessments of others at face value. So the idea that others did not sufficiently rely on experts who could obtain better evidence and reasoning to vet FTX is less compelling to me as an after-the-fact explanation to justify EA as a whole not doing so. I think probably just no one really thought much about the possibility and looking for this kind of social proof helps us feel less bad. 

Yeah, I do sometimes wonder if perhaps there's a reason we find it difficult to resolve this kind of inquiry. 

Yes, I think they're generally pretty wary of saying much exactly since it's sort of beyond conceptual comprehension. Something probably beyond our ideas of existence and nonexistence. 

Glad to hear that! You're welcome :)

On Flynn Campaign: I don't know if it's "a catastrophe" but I think it is maybe an example of overconfidence and naivete. As someone who has worked on campaigns and follows politics, I thought the campaign had a pretty low chance of success because of the fundamentals (and asked about it at the time) and that other races would have been better to donate to (either state house races to build the bench or congressional candidates with better odds like Maxwell Frost, a local activist who ran for the open seat previously held by Val Demings, listed pandemic prevention as a priority, and won. Then again, Maxwell raised a ton of money, more than all the other candidates combined, so maybe he didn't need those funds as much as other candidates). Salinas was a popular, progressive, woman of color with local party support who already represented much of the district at the state level and helped draw the new one. So, it seemed pretty unlikely to me that she would lose to someone who had not lived in the state for years, did not have strong local connections, and had never run a campaign before, even with a massive money advantage. And from what I understand, the people in the district were oversaturated with ads to the point of many being annoyed. So I think of this as probably being an example where EAs would have benefitted from relying on more outside experts for which races to pick and how to run a campaign. There were a lot of congressional retirements this year, and there were probably better seats to try to win. Of course, nothing is going to guarantee a win though.

On FTX: And it seems like if anyone had thought to ask to look at FTX's balance sheets, things might have been different? At least, considering what a mess those balance sheets are (or whatever records make sense, I'm not a financial expert)? If FTX refused or if they shared something that didn't make sense, maybe that would have been a warning sign. So that seems like another example of where more outside expertise could have maybe been beneficial and saved a lot of headaches. Individually, maybe no one has an incentive to vet FTX even if they get a grant from them. But if we care about the EA ecosystem as a whole, and hundreds of millions suddenly start pouring in from a new source, maybe someone with the relevant financial and accounting expertise should at least request to look at the balance sheets of the new megafunder, especially when it comes from an industry full of crashes and scams. I'm not sure if this would have changed things but the fact that it doesn't seem to have happened means there are probably many other things that we are missing. Things that people with relevant expertise are more likely to see. And I know people have said "well look all these other VCs missed it, they never looked into it" but EA sort of prides itself on NOT just doing what everyone else does but using reason and evidence to be more effective. We could have had a process for investigating any new megafunder a bit more thoroughly, perhaps with the help of outside experts. Not just donating to the same charities or picking the same career paths or volunteering for the same organizations just because other people do but being effective. So why would we think this is a good reason for failing to attempt better due diligence with respect to movement finances? We can't change the past, but surely we can change some things going forward.

I think the main obstacle is tractability: there doesn't seem to be any known methodology that could be applied to resolve this question in a definitive way. And it's not clear how we could even attempt to find such a method. Whereas projects related to areas such as preventing pandemics and making sure AI isn't misused or poorly designed seem 1) incredibly important, 2) tractable - it looks like we're making some progress and have and can find directions to make further progress (better PPE, pathogen screening, new vaccines, interpretability, agent foundations, chip regulation) and neglected right now and will matter for the next few decades at least unless the world changes dramatically. 

Also, it could be possible that there are "heaven" worlds and "hell" worlds that last an extremely long time, but not forever. Buddhist traditions are one group that tend to emphasize that all worldly places and experiences are impermanent, even extremely pleasant and unpleasant ones. 

"The kingdom of heaven is within you" comes to mind. I've always thought that was a very important verse. I imagine it may be talking about some kind of distinct and significant transformation that other religions might refer to by other names, such as awakening or enlightenment, that makes us durably and noticeably more peaceful and loving/kind toward others. 

These experiences are often described in a way that indicates the subjective experience of having a distinct, separate self diminishes or even disappears. It may not even make sense to think of heaven using our concepts of a 'place,' let alone one where what we perceive as a separate self would exist in. 

Thank you - I had forgotten about that post and it was really helpful. 

I've definitely seen well-meaning people mess up interactions without realizing it in my area (non-EA related). This seems like a really important point and your experience seems very relevant given all the recent talk about boards and governance. Would love to hear more of your thoughts either here or privately. 

Seems interesting, I'll def check it out sometime 

Jokes  aside, this is a cool idea. I wonder if reading it yourself and varying the footage, or even adapting the concepts into something  would help it be more attractive to watch. Though of course these would all increase the time investment cost. I can't say it's my jam but I'd be curious to see how these do on TikTok though since they seem to be a sort of prevalent genre/content style. 

Yeah I think college students will often think "Fellowship" is religious because that's likely the only context they have seen the word used in, even though it's often used for all kinds of non-religious opportunities. 

I'm not sure how important this is - I soon realized lots of fellowships at my school were not religious and that it had a broader meaning. 

I guess people could try different things out and see how they work. Maybe something simple like EA reading group. Or focus on a topic name: people would probably be less likely to confuse something like "public health/pandemic prevention/AI Ethics fellowship" as something religious. 

I have thought a few times that maybe a safer route to AGI would be to learn as much as we can about the most moral and trustworthy humans we can find and try to build on that foundation/architecture. I'm not sure how that would work with existing convenient methods of machine learning. 

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