Tristan Williams

@ EA at UVA
Seeking work
26Charlottesville, VA, USAJoined Sep 2022



While I'm currently working as a Community Based Counselor and Tea Slinger, I would generally describe myself as a modern day renaissance man, having slaughtered pigs on my family farm and become a vegan, having done HVAC work and academic research, having been a member of both the Republican and Democratic clubs at my university. I've sought to experience much in life, and on the horizon I wish to deepen my experiences within EA, currently having gone from a fellow to a facilitator to a prospective employee looking for work in the space while simultaneously doing personal cause prioritization work. Ill include below a list of some of my deep interests, and would be happy to connect over any of these areas, specifically as they may intersect with EA.

Philosophy, Psychology, Music (have deep interests in all genres but especially electronic and indie), Politics (especially American), Drugs (mostly psychs), Gaming (mostly League these days), Cooking (have been a head chef),  Photography, Meditation (specifically mindfulness).

How others can help me

I'm in the process right now of decided which cause area to focus my future work on (nuclear, mental health, EA community building, politics, animal welfare, AI, and criminal justice reform) so any compelling reasons to go (or not to go) into any of these would be really helpful at this point.

How I can help others

While I can't really offer any expertise in EA related things, I have deep knowledge in Philosophy, Psychology and Meditation, and can potentially help with questions generally related to these disciplines. I would say the best thing I can offer is a strong desire to dive deeper into EA, preferably with others who are also interested. 


Super late to this, but still (probably) worth adding a few thoughts I think, as they don't seem to be present in the below. 

  • I was surprised at just how diverse the people I met were in their journeys with EA. I met one person who had learned about EA just earlier that month and hadn't engaged beyond reading a few articles, while also sitting down to talk to people experienced and incredibly active in the space like Michael Aird.  While this created some problems (some of the talks seemed geared towards a much less familiar audience) it also was wonderful for helping encourage against siloing EA based on experience.
  • I would say that the biggest, most important message I took away from my conversations is that one shouldn't put as much pressure as a lot of young EA members do on getting it right from their first job. I heard from many people further along in their career that their first job was often unrelated and not an imperative part of finding their way to their later effective career, generally reminding me that like other important aspects of lives, figuring these things out takes time.
  • I changed a bit in terms of cause prioritization, as I had downranked the loose category of "Mental Health", but met two coaches who brought some novel arguments to light, like the idea that being a therapist specifically for EAs could be a particularly effective pathway forward if one feels they have a good personal fit for therapy (which I think I might), which made me relatively uprank mental health as a potential career pathway again. I'd like to dig further into this (i.e. do existing paradigms & evidence indicate that having a therapist more similar to the patient in thoughts and convictions would be incredibly helpful in improving the patients welfare?) and hope to potentially eventually make a shortform.
  • By far my best moments came in office hours after talks and 1-on-1s, so I would highly recommend prioritizing those over talks, based on my experience and what seemed like an experience many others shared. (props specifically to those who organized the Mental Health Meetup, I thought that had a fantastic format and should be replicated in the future).

All in all, it was a really cool experience,  and I was really grateful for EA for putting this on, and creating the space to try to bring us more together. Just got into EAGx Berkely and am excited to see how an in person is relative to the virtual format, will possibly update this post with thoughts on that afterwards.

Strong upvote here. I really like how you calmly assessed each of these in a way that feels very honest and has a all-cards-on-the-table feel to it. Some may still have reservations towards your comments given that you seem to at least somewhat fit into this picture of EA leadership, but this feels largely indicative of a general anger at the circumstances turned inwards towards EA that feels rather unhealthy. I certainly appreciate the OP as this does seem like a moment ripe for asking important questions that need answers, but don't forget that those in leadership are humans who make mistakes too, and are generally people who seem really committed to trying to do what everyone in EA is: make the world a better place.

Totally specific to me and my mind, but I've found that I often end up not interacting with the digest because there is too much information there that I'd like to look into to add to my currently full plate. Sometimes I'll just open all the tabs and bookmark, but recently I've just been letting them sit. In many ways this is a success case that just doesn't fit with my ~very~ full set of tabs, but maybe it could make sense to make it smaller?

Just updated mine. Far less professional, so I'd be interested to hear if this comes across as also helpful and worth it or if it is so different as to be not that helpful.

Two random thoughts. 

THOUGHT ONE: I think this introductory sequence could be cleaned up by combining some of these posts. This post was a great elaboration on this topic for me and is well written, but I think also could have been better included  in a larger single post amalgamating some of the information in this sequence (i.e. this might be better placed within the Forum User Manual). I think this sequence could be easily edited into a 3 post series that would be a bit conceptually clearer and less redundant. This could look like:

Introduction ("Table of Contents" "New? Start here!" "Guide to norms on the forum" and "You Should Write a Forum Bio" as these seemed aimed at the same audience and would seem ideally engaged with at similar times)

User Manual ("Forum User Manual" "Follow and Filter Topics" "Linkposting is an act of community service" "Forum Digest" and "EA Forum Suggestion Thread" as these are all concerned with orienting users to the technical experience and options of the forum)

Guide to Writing ("You Should Write on the EA Forum" "You Don't Have to Respond to Every Comment" and "A Forum Post Can Be Short" as these are all concerned with helping someone ready to write and engage in that way complete this task)

I think the User Manual one may be broad enough that you could split it into two separate posts, but it seems connected enough to combine it into one for me. But I think this could be useful in the sense of helping people already familiar clarify what to skip over (I wasted a good 5 minutes going through stuff from the Introduction section that I should have just skipped entirely). I also think this is largely borne out of my inclination to organize things and have fewer documents with organized headers than multiple documents, so if you have different intuitions (i.e. making a separate post may be beneficial to re raise awareness on a topic as seems to have been a goal with the "Forum Digest" post) you may not wish to do this.

THOUGHT TWO: I assume a descent amount of thought has gone into the downranking of community stuff, so I'm inclined to think I may just be missing further information here, but this move doesn't really make sense to me, let me explain why. When I went through the introductory program, I certainly read some posts from the forum, but when I did, I rarely stuck around to explore, instead just reading and closing out as I would any linked article. By the time I came to interact with the Front Page, I was already fairly involved with EA, and think I honestly might have been more attracted to engaging with it more had I seen more posts of the EA Community Building sort of variety. This could just be me, and it could be that a lot of people do come to the frontpage before familiarity, but I just wanted to voice that I seemed to have the opposite experience of this assumption.

Thanks for the posts though! I thought this one was particularly clear and technically helpful, and am now heading on to chew through the rest of the series.

Figuring out the intersection of EA and music is such a brilliant thought that I had yet to have, but yet getting to connect two worlds I am so deeply involved with seems quite interesting to me, and I love that you gave this a go. Want to open it up to be collaborative so I can try to place songs that evoke a similar feeling for me? If not, nw, I can begin crafting my own. 

But also, I noticed that there are multiple connections to visual media throughout (Day One - Interstellar, The Night We Met - 13 Reasons Why, Ashitaka and San - Princess Mononoke, etc.) and given I think I resonate with the connected thoughts to these other works, was wondering if maybe it would be good to make a sort of "Compassionate Longtermist Emotion Building" list of movies and shows? I can easily see this list including Interstellar and Mononoke (I have qualms with 13 Reasons, but fully feel the beauty of the song) and feel like I have at least a couple more strong additions to go from there (beyond the obvious Don't Look Up). Would love to hear your thoughts on this!