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If after Arete, someone without background in AI decides that AI safety is the most important issue, then something likely has gone wrong

I would like to second the objection to this. I feel as most intros to AI Safety, such as AGISF, are detached enough from technical AI details such that one could do the course without the need for past AI background

(This isn't an objection to the epistemics related to picking up something non-mainstream cause area quickly, but rather about the need to have an AI background to do so)

Thank you for writing this -  as a current undergraduate myself, this has been a very uncomfortable dynamic that I've been struggling with as I debate whether or not I want to pursue a standard CS internship, or take a chance at getting into a program related to AI-Safety.  Personally, for us CS majors at my school, there is a lot of pressure to get a CS internship before winter break (these are usually higher quality); unfortunately, from what I've seen, most AI-Safety-related programs or internships don't open their applications until the spring.

I would love to do research or engineering for anything in the AI-Safety space,  but when I evaluate my chances of getting into said AI-Safety programs, I grow wary and debate just settling for a standard CS internship :/

I do understand why these kinds of programs might need to start applications later; but, as you said, it would be tremendously beneficial to have some programs run their application processes earlier, if possible.