All of Robert_Praas's Comments + Replies

Tradeoffs in Community Building

PISE follows the tiered approach (which is the default for any student organization in the Netherlands). There, the board is involved with strategy and day-to-day operations, active members are part of one of the organizing committees that focus on careers/socials/marketing or some other topic, and passive members just join events. 

However, I can definitely relate to the inclusive vs exclusive  issue. When we first had low barriers to entry, some people became active members without reading up too much about EA. Later in the year, conversations w... (read more)

My feeling on this is that there is a distinction between how many people could become interested and how many people we have capacity for right now. The number of people who have the potential to become engaged, have a deep understanding of the ideas along with how they relate to existing conclusions and feel comfortable pushing back on any conclusions that they find less persuasive in a transparent way is much larger than the number of people we can actually engage deeply like this. I feel like a low barrier of entry is great when your existing membership is almost all really engaged people with really nuanced views. A newcomer can come in, and with the right mindset, the group can quickly cross inferential gaps with them as they arise because everyone agrees on the fundamental principles (even if there might be disagreement on final cause prioritisation etc). Once a group is 50% newcomers though, it becomes extremely difficult to cross those inferential gaps because conversations are constantly getting side-tracked from the concepts and ideas that are relatively robust that are foundational to so many of the conclusions (even though there is still plenty to debate once you're past the foundational premises). I feel like the barrier of entry should shift depending on the current composition. When there are less newcomers, I think that it's good to have a low barrier of entry and put a tonne of effort into including pretty much anyone who is curious who buys into the idea that helping others is a worthwhile use of their efforts and that maybe a scientific method-y kind of way of approaching this could be good too. Once a group is more newcomers than people who have a deep understanding of the existing ideas and concepts, then I think crossing inferential gaps is too hard for it to be productive to try and be inclusive to even more newcomers. I think then prioritising whoever is reading the most and finding it the most natural or whoever already understands the i
Stockholm Student Hackathon: Lessons for next time

I encountered both types of participants (the ones that showed up because they had 'not much better to do' and the ones that are not used to committing). My impression was that most participants were ambitious and that they liked a challenge. The effect of the length of the event on potential participants with varying levels of ambition can be a bit ambiguous here. With a longer event it is also more likely that potential participants have other things planned during part of the event. My gut feeling says that making the commitment bigger than a day for an introduction hackathon (without coding) makes it less likely for people show up. 

Stockholm Student Hackathon: Lessons for next time

Great questions! From the 10 hours only 5-6 were spent hacking, which felt as short. Some participants mentioned in the feedback form they would have loved to see a 2-day event, whereas others mentioned that they thought the length to be great. When we marketed the event there were students mentioning they preferred to spend the weekend not doing much or that they thought of themselves as not being ambitious enough. I think this amount of time balanced well the quality of the event, the entry barrier for participants (time commitment), the costs of venue a... (read more)

2Ada-Maaria Hyvärinen1mo
thanks for the info! I didn't really get the part on ambitiousness, how is that connected to the amount of time participants want to spend on the event? (I can interpret this in either "they wouldn't do anything else anyway so they could as well be here the whole weekend" or "they don't want to commit to anything for longer than 1 day since they are not used to committing to things".)
Making Community Building a more attractive career path

Thank you for writing this up! Some thoughts:

  • The biggest differences between the impact of CBs might also depend on :
    • the area they are in and the potential of their member base (Bay Area vs regular city group vs small city group)
    • How quickly CBs learn what worked for other CBs (I would double down on peer support)
  • Community builder roles might not be perceived to be as prestigious as other roles as they might not get as many applications as other roles. The national/city/university context might lead to local citizens being more interested/qualified.
1Vilhelm Skoglund4mo
Thanks for the comment! I agree the area is probably the most important factor for potential impact of a group. Thus, it seems especially important that you have capable CBs in those areas. (Though I am not sure it is most important to have really good people in e.g. The Bay as there already is a community in the Bay and it seems easier to do comunity building there. And also less low hanging fruit.) It seems imoprtant with quick knowledge transfer, but I don't think it replaces the need of having people in the role longer. I don't think it will help us getting to the next level. Also, I do not think peer support is enough. And rather than "doubling down" on something we are already doing good I think additional resources should be aimed and other forms of support. I don't really understand you comment: * Community builder roles might not be perceived to be as prestigious as other roles as they might not get as many applications as other roles. It seems to me more that community builder roles don't enough applications, because they are not percieved as prestigous? I agree the national/city/university context might lead to local citizens being more interested/qualified!
Why every EA group organizer should read The Culture Code

We think so! Those concepts are a bit blurred within PISE, because the organizing team is so big, and most highly committed people in the broader community are at least in some way involved in organizing. Nevertheless, influencing the broader community is a challenge we will keep working on.

AMA: Future of Life Institute's EU Team

Great that you are doing this! 

Here are some questions: 

What do you consider to be the biggest bottlenecks in the EU AI policy space? How do you think that might change in the coming 5-10 years? 

Do you consider the argument that the EU is not an AI superpower to be important for whether the EU can play a major role in governance? (As discussed here)

8Risto Uuk6mo
Thank you for the questions. I think that the biggest bottleneck right now is that very few people work on the issues we are interested in (listed here [] ). We are trying to contribute to this by hiring a new person, but the problems are vast and there's a lot more room for additional people. Another issue is lack of policy research that would consider the longer-term implications but would at the same time be very practical. We are happy that in addition to the Future of Life Institute, a few other organizations such as Centre for the Governance of AI, Centre for Long-Term Resilience, and some other ones are contributing more here or starting to do so. I'm not sure about the next 5-10 years, so I'll leave it to someone else who might have some tentative answers.