Thanks for the lead! The post you linked seems perfectly suited to me. I'll also contact Ben Snodin to inquire about what he may be working on around this matter.
"There are numerous ideas, opportunities, methods, that are going un-noticed because of the barriers placed in front of thoughtful dialogue. It is a burden that should rest upon those EAs who are dismissive of deeper conversation, instead of being the "price I have to pay, to prove myself, before anyone will listen", as I was most recently told on this Forum."
Your last paragraph is exactly what I'm worried about when considering engaging EA and exactly why I bring up "signalling" and "posturing" in my own post. I worry about the maturity of the community, and the seriousness EA has about actually getting things done as opposed to being self-congratulatory on their enlightened approach. I think most seasoned professionals don't have the patience for this kind of dynamic. However, I've yet to determine for myself the extent that this dynamic actually exists in the community.
Hi, thank you for starting this conversation! I am an EA outsider, so I hope my anecdata is relevant to the topic. (This is my first post on the forums.) I found my way to this post during an EA rabbit hole after signing up for the "Intro to EA" Virtual Program.
To provide some context, I heard about EA a few years ago from my significant other. I was/am very receptive to EA principles and spent several weeks browsing through various EA resources/material after we first met. However, EA remained in my periphery for around three years until I committed to giving EA a fair shake several weeks ago. This is why I decided to sign up for the VP.
I'm mid-career instead of enrolled in university, so my perspective is not wholly within the scope of the original post. However, I like to think that I have many qualities the EA community would like to attract:
If we agree that EA would prefer to attract rather than "turn off" people with these qualities, then the following introspections regarding my resistance to participating in the movement may be helpful:
I want to explicitly state that I know that not all of these impressions are entirely true. I know that EAs aren't all out-of-touch, pretentious jerks. The 80,000 hours job board has several postings across many cause areas aside from AI safety. The impressions described above are primarily from my perspective before actively trying to vet my concerns. However, I imagine that others who share these impressions don't bother to validate their concerns before dismissing the movement.
So why did I go through the trouble of digging deeper? Well, probably because EA is the closest I've found to a community consistent with my own values, motivations, and interests. Despite my reservations, I really want my concerns to be wrong and for EA to work. More importantly, I've grown to trust the values, motivations, judgement, and competency of my significant other, who is committed to EA's mission. Through him, I've met other EAs who are also great people. Quality people tend to attract other quality people. For this reason, @Theo Hawking's imperative to pause and reflect on a)what EA considers a quality conversion and b)if current EA practices are attracting/repelling quality conversions is a worthy exercise.
On a final note, I suspect the comments about the free books or 10% tithing to charity heard from people to explain their "cult" label of EA are merely convenient justifications and don't address the core of their impression. After all, why would they bother investing effort to pinpoint and articulate the sources of their general negative feeling about the movement if they're already disengaged? I suspect that the "cult" feeling has more to do with the homogeneity and "group think" concerns I described above. To combat these negative impressions, I'd recommend:
I hope my diatribe will be received constructively because I am invested in seeing EA succeed regardless if I consider myself an EA at the moment. Anecdata is not rigorous, so who knows how generalisable my data point is. However, upon reading this thread, I realised that my complicated disposition towards EA is not uncommon and decided to share my viewpoint. Whatever that's worth. :-)