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comment by Alexander Davies · 2022-04-07T15:09:51.180Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the Harvard AI Safety Team shout-out! I do think in person reading is great, because it (1) creates a super low barrier to showing up, and (2) feels good/productive to be in a room with everyone silently reading. Two points on this:

  1. We usually read for much more than 30 minutes. Our meetings are 2 hours (5:30-7:30), and often over half is silently reading (usually alternating with discussion/lecture).
  2. Many people (myself included) prefer reading physical paper (shame!). I usually print out the readings (and I've given out binders). I think there are some people who learn better reading on paper, but wouldn't be bothered to actually print things out.
Replies from: ClaireZabel, Harrison D, Joshua Clymer
comment by ClaireZabel · 2022-04-07T18:40:08.426Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is a cool idea! It feels so much easier to me to get myself started reading a challenging text if there's a specified time and place with other people doing the same, especially if I know we can discuss right after. 

comment by Harrison Durland (Harrison D) · 2022-04-07T22:15:36.129Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I do think it may be important to make sure new people know what to expect in the beginning, since the silent reading seems like it could be a bit weird if someone isn't expecting it. Also, I think that if it's really just silent reading, people who have read the thing in advance should be aware so that they don't just show up and have to wait on everyone else, and that it should be acceptable if they don't show up until 30 minutes in/after the silent reading finishes.

Replies from: Alexander Davies
comment by Alexander Davies · 2022-04-08T02:02:18.496Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Worth noting that (1) the AST is for people already planning to go into alignment after graduating (and isn't an intro program), and (2) I usually have backups prepared in case people have already read the thing (I don't think showing up 30 minutes in would be great!).

comment by Joshc (Joshua Clymer) · 2022-04-07T15:31:52.570Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Got it! I edited the point about in-person reading so that it provides a more accurate portrayal of what you all are doing.

comment by Nikola · 2022-04-07T14:48:57.892Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Great post, Joshua! I mostly second all of these points.

I'd add another hot take:

Both the return of fellowships and retreats mostly tracks one variable, and that is time participants spend in small (eg. one-on-one) interactions with highly engaged EAs. Retreats are good mostly because they're a very efficient way to have a lot of this interaction in a small period of time.  More in this here [EA · GW].

comment by Harrison Durland (Harrison D) · 2022-04-07T13:15:48.235Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Especially regarding points like "retreats > fellowships" and "consider going straight for AI risk before EA/longtermism": I'd be interested to see some kind of virtual event where community organizers and some other participants lay out some of their  views community building strategies/etc. in a collaborative space (e.g., a Kialo argument map, an epistemic map [EA · GW], or a plain ol' Google Doc), identify where people disagree and which disagreements are most consequential (and maybe also which disagreements seem most tractable),  and then share supporting/contrasting arguments and clarifying comments/questions. (Not sure what this event could be called; a "claimathon," perhaps?)

Personally, I think Kialo's multi-thesis discussion could be a great platform for something like this, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone has other suggestions.

(Assuming something like this doesn't already exist and I am just not aware of it)

Replies from: Joshua Clymer
comment by Joshc (Joshua Clymer) · 2022-04-07T15:37:54.075Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This could be helpful. Maybe posting questions on the EA forum and allowing the debate to happen in the comments could be a good format for this.

Replies from: Harrison D
comment by Harrison Durland (Harrison D) · 2022-04-07T22:12:15.676Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The problem with using forums/comment chains is that the debate can become difficult to navigate and contribute to, due to the linear presentation of nested and parallel arguments. 2-dimensional/tree formats like Kialo seem to handle the problem much more efficiently, in my experience.