Posts

Effective Developers: The CV Blind Spot 2021-12-04T12:30:21.732Z
Effective Developers: 1 Month Update 2021-11-25T14:52:58.679Z
What Small Weird Thing Do You Fund? 2021-11-25T11:15:07.532Z
What Are Your Software Needs? 2021-11-20T13:29:14.412Z
Give Me Career Advice 2021-11-09T21:52:25.616Z
I’m Offering Free Coaching for Software Developers in the EA community 2021-10-25T04:33:33.902Z

Comments

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Please post reflections on EA Global: London ($500 bounty) · 2021-12-04T18:48:29.297Z · EA · GW

TL;DR: EAG affected how I see EA and my activity in it.

I'll write a drafty version here based on your questions:

How you prepared for EA Global: London 2021

Mainly: I wrote a post inviting people to talk to me about a very specific topic (software careers).

I also wrote a swapcard profile inviting specific conversations, mainly about side projects of mine, inviting people to either comment on them or use the services that I'm offering in each project. I also thought of this as checking product-market-fit: Do people actually want what I think they want?

What you did and found most valuable during the conference

  1. I had 8 conversations with potential mentees.
  2. I had a meeting with some "high ranking" EAs, and following at least one of those conversations (which I won't elaborate on without permission), it clicked for me that "the people running EA are only humans" and that "I can do it too". I don't expect what I wrote here to resonate with anyone, we've all read it before, and that's exactly the point: There was something about actually seeing it, actually hearing it, that I don't think I could by reading an article.
  3. I met a friend who I only know from video calls. I discovered he's really tall.

How you followed up with people

I sent everyone relevant my calendly+Telegram. 

How all of this went for you

  1. Keeping conversations open is working well.
  2. The first mentoring conversations were valuable because I was really worried about culture gaps, and face-to-face is high-bandwidth. Note I am comparing them here to starting with video calls
  3. The focus on "I must post this before EAG" forced me to get the post out already, which "got me out of my shell".
  4. That was my first post, and since then I've been reasonably active here in the forum
  5. Which has also led to people talking to me about EA and Software, which is.. exactly what I want!!
    1. I really want to get to know people in the global community, but I also think that posting something like "I'd be happy to talk about anything!" would have been too generic and wouldn't work. (It would also be less fun for me than talking about what I'm most interested in)
    2. This might lead to something more concrete (like working with people on software projects), though - who knows
  6. Some of the conversations were really fun. For example, with one founder, we walked around and did user testing with people in the conference. (Did two people ask you about a travel related startup? Those were us!). This also would not have happened through video.

Whether you wish you had done anything differently

After 2 days of the conference, with only one more day to go, I understood I am focusing almost entirely on "helping others" with almost zero "helping myself". Until then, I told myself that this WAS helping me: It was helping me discover if some of my side projects had a future.

At the evening of the second day I told myself "I am just intimidated by the 'important' people here", this is a known psychological failure mode of mine, and it's better to just reach out anyway and let them filter me if they want to. So I sent out many messages to 'important' people that I wanted to talk to, especially to get career advice for myself. Almost none of them wanted to talk to me (that's ok!), but one did, and that talk made a big difference (see point 2 at "What you did and found most valuable during the conference").

I wish I have reached out earlier.

 

Adding: I also wish I had more quality time with people from my local community, but we were all SO EXAUSTED. Wow, nobody talks about how exhausting it is to have a whole day of 1-on-1s 

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Effective Developers: 1 Month Update · 2021-12-04T12:45:29.037Z · EA · GW

Obvious advice is under rated, thank you for sharing this

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Effective Developers: 1 Month Update · 2021-12-04T12:42:39.040Z · EA · GW

+1 to this question.

Do you mean "hard" in a specific website?

Or perhaps you could make up an example question that is has a similar difficulty to whatever you ask?

Another example: I really like how Anthropic said "If you think you could write a substantial pull request for a major machine learning library, then major AI safety labs want to interview you today"

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Announcing EffectiveCrypto.org, powered by EA Funds · 2021-12-02T10:34:17.084Z · EA · GW

Oh no! I just named my project "Effective Developers"

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on The Explanatory Obstacle of EA · 2021-11-30T12:59:10.140Z · EA · GW

Thanks!

Just saying, from my point of view, that it's useful to also hear specific ways in which people misunderstand EA. Every time you give an example of that kind, like "what do people in the movement do?", I feel like my brain is updating and will pay attention to this failure mode next time I have such a conversation.

I'm differentiating (1) "concrete examples of misunderstandings" from (2) sentences like "20% of understanding" or "explaining critical nuances of EA": The latter isn't actionable for me personally. (Though I understand why you said it and I'm excited for this improvement that you're able to get, and I'm happy that someone like you is focusing on this project).

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on The Explanatory Obstacle of EA · 2021-11-29T08:58:16.488Z · EA · GW

Hey, would you share more raw information from the user interviews, if you have it? Even from memory?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on AI Safety Needs Great Engineers · 2021-11-27T19:51:41.927Z · EA · GW

Thank you

 

P.S

I asked a few friends about this and one of them decided to apply himself, so anyway I think this is turning out well. :)

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Small Weird Thing Do You Fund? · 2021-11-27T19:47:23.145Z · EA · GW
  1. Inspiring
  2. May I ask where this leaves you? For example, are you going to try similar things in the future?
Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on EA Online Learning Buddy Platform · 2021-11-27T19:41:46.955Z · EA · GW

how little people use (or are comfortable using) slack/discord

Even if they use slack/discord very little: They use a new [a new platform that doesn't exist yet and nobody ever used and everyone knows that nobody used] even less. No?

Facebook is the best alternative to make it easier for the people to find and start gaining members

I agree, and again, this is an advantage that a new platform will never have. (right?)

corresponding pages [...] pages idea

Do you mean "Facebook Group" (where you wrote "page")? If not - then I didn't understand, could you explain in other words?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Should I go straight into EA community-building after graduation or do software engineering first? · 2021-11-26T15:17:51.951Z · EA · GW

Another opinion: I think direct AI research kind of <exaggeration> can't be measured in money </exaggeration>.

Those people are missing, and AFAIK the AI safety orgs really want to hire people that are also aligned in their values, which is hard to find, and offering a high salary isn't enough to find more of those people.

Please note that even if you 100% agree with me, I do not (!) think this a good enough reason on its own to make a decision. Questions like personal fit which I asked above are also really important, and I don't think I know enough about you to actually recommend something specific yet

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Should I go straight into EA community-building after graduation or do software engineering first? · 2021-11-26T15:12:30.011Z · EA · GW

FYI, it's not impossible to take naps at some tech companies. This is me around 2014 working in an American corporation, I'd take a nap every second day more or less. I think the situation since then has become even more relaxed (no pun intended) : In my last job, I also took naps, and the bean bag was supplied directly by the Operations department.

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Should I go straight into EA community-building after graduation or do software engineering first? · 2021-11-26T15:08:38.422Z · EA · GW
  1. Would you tell us more about where you think you'd have better personal fit / what you'd wake up enthusiastic to do?
  2. Maybe there's some creative solution where the other student communities still come up even if you don't run them? (Perhaps you could delegate this and only mentor the community leaders, or something like that?)
Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Effective Developers: 1 Month Update · 2021-11-26T00:22:12.724Z · EA · GW

Thank you very much, this is very useful for me, specifically that you also added the culture/social norms which there's no way I'd guess myself

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What advice would you give to an EA org that's hiring? · 2021-11-25T17:13:20.922Z · EA · GW

If you're hiring software developers, then this

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Despite billions of extra funding, small donors can still have a significant impact · 2021-11-25T11:43:39.063Z · EA · GW

Maybe we should collect the angel donation ideas somewhere?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on A Red-Team Against the Impact of Small Donations · 2021-11-25T11:42:41.138Z · EA · GW

Maybe we should collect the high-variance angel philanthropy ideas somewhere?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Small Weird Thing Do You Fund? · 2021-11-25T11:32:28.654Z · EA · GW

[This opinion is mine and doesn't represent EA]

 

I fund an Israeli Facebook Blogger who improves the level of conversation about economics and politics. [Hebrew link]

 

What problem does this address?

  • As a toy example: Some rich person passes a law forcing every citizen to send the rich person $1 every year. No citizen alone has enough of an incentive to change this law (it's only $1), but they would totally be happy to coordinate somehow.
  • As a realistic example: There are minimum-price regulations, coupled with high import taxes that prevent competition from other countries, resulting in high (government regulated) prices for everyone (including poor people), which create profits for very specific factory owners.
  • But wait, it's worse: It's not only that people don't fight this problem, they don't understand it. They think these regulations are a good thing, giving "job security" for the factories. [Which is also true, but a small part of the picture]
  • This is a bigger pattern: Politicians offer things and [almost] nobody talks about "how much does it cost" or "what are the second order effects".  This blogger writes about those costs and second order effects, and I think this is changing how many people look at politicians (at least around economic policy, trying to affect other things as well), and politicians respond to public opinion.
  • Lately, a crowd funded lobby group [Hebrew link] has sprung up to coordinate the opposition to these laws. I donate there too.
  • As a bonus, I think this person promotes high quality discussions online. He says when he believes he's wrong. He comments to people arguing with him often looking for a crux, and at least not just yelling. This is not trivial today, especially in politics (!) and even if some of his object level opinions turn out to be wrong, his meta level somewhat reminds me of Scott Alexander (who I donate to as well).

 

How expensive is this? Well, he's a student, so not so expensive

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Which EA forum posts would you most like narrated? · 2021-11-23T23:28:42.914Z · EA · GW

Things that can't be done well by The Nonlinear Library but interest me a lot:
https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/7im8at9PmhbT4JHsW/ngo-and-yudkowsky-on-alignment-difficulty

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rho5vtxSaEdXxLu3o/yudkowsky-and-christiano-discuss-takeoff-speeds

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-23T23:15:12.806Z · EA · GW

(Strong upvote!) (Feel free to split up your reply into separate comments if you want)

EA Colabs

 I'm part of the team there and I have a lot of thoughts around it, perhaps commenting here wouldn't be the best place

"having people sell products where all proceeds go to charity" / "the profits end up to Effective Charities" 

How is this different from earning to give? (Or founders' pledge)

Improving Infrastructure around Cost Effectiveness Analysis

Hearing things like this is why I posted this in the first place!! :D :D 

Could you tell me much more? Who has these needs? What do they look like?

Would you like collaborators? (And if so, do you have some bar for their skill?

Improving Infrastructure around epistemics and forecasting

Same thing! Do you know of needs here? 

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on AI Safety Needs Great Engineers · 2021-11-23T17:34:18.532Z · EA · GW

Hey, I think I'm a good software developer, but I have roundable-to-zero knowledge in ML.

Can you help me estimate how far I am from the bar of being useful to such a project? [Update: I'm consulting with friends about this]

It would also be useful for me to understand the requirements well since lately I talk to other engineers who are sometimes interested in working on AI Safety if they can

Thanks!

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Despite billions of extra funding, small donors can still have a significant impact · 2021-11-23T17:15:26.428Z · EA · GW

You said:

The cost-effectiveness of this [small $100] grant should be basically the same as the final $1,000 that Open Philanthropy donated.

The counter argument that comes to mind (I have no idea if it's true) :

If Open Philanthropy donate to a longtermist cause, won't Open Phil donate all the money that this org needs (before it hits significant diminishing returns)? Is there still room for more funding? 

I don't know

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What is most confusing to you about AI stuff? · 2021-11-23T16:41:11.408Z · EA · GW

I think that as a software developer I can't really help with this problem, but I'm not sure and would I'd like input from people in the field

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What is most confusing to you about AI stuff? · 2021-11-23T16:39:11.746Z · EA · GW

I'd like help vetting this role.

Here's my attempt

(Is this on-topic enough?)

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work · 2021-11-23T13:16:06.391Z · EA · GW

But also, I tried, and I think 0 such needs surfaced

That's what the experimental method is for, so that we don't have to resolve things just by arguing

:)

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work · 2021-11-23T13:13:42.572Z · EA · GW

I agree I won't get everything

 

Still, I don't think Google is a good example. It is full of developers who have a culture of automating things and even free time every week to do side projects. This is really extreme.

 

A better example would be some organization that has 0 developers. If you ask someone in such an organization if there's anything they want to automate, or some repetitive task they're doing a lot, or an idea for an app (which is probably terrible but will indicate an underlying need) - things come up

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on BERI is hiring an ML Software Engineer · 2021-11-22T22:37:27.902Z · EA · GW

Hey, this sounds like something that I (or someone I might know) could do.

But I'm unable to evaluate how useful this would be for AI Safety. I can make an uninformed guess at best.

Is there some open conversation about this somewhere, with other AI safety people, that I could look at and maybe even ask questions?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work · 2021-11-22T19:59:25.325Z · EA · GW

EA Software Consultancy: In case you don't know these posts:

 

Part 1

In part 1, I argue that tech work at EA orgs has three predictable problems:[1]

  • It’s bad for developing technical skills
  • It's inefficiently allocated
  • It’s difficult to assess hires

Part 2

In this part I argue that each problem could be mitigated or even fixed by consolidating the workers into a single agency. I focus here on the benefits common to any form of agency

Part 3

This post explicitly compares the low-bono option with various others on two axes: on entity type (ie individual or agency) and on different funding models.

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work · 2021-11-22T19:53:11.596Z · EA · GW
  1. Developers who'd like to do EA work: Not only full time
  2. I'm talking about discovering needs here. I'm not talking at all about how the needs would be solved

Working at an EA org to discover needs: This seems much slower than asking people who work there, no? (I am not trying to guess the needs myself)

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-22T10:05:48.464Z · EA · GW

EA Tech Initiatives

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yzmg02j8PnvjlV_KX3Vf_u9TNdAS63N-9xy2txmTg-A/edit#gid=957019158

H/t Jaime Raldua Veuthey

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Even More Ambitious Altruistic Tech Efforts · 2021-11-20T19:59:22.169Z · EA · GW

+1

I'd add MindEase to your list

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T19:56:03.018Z · EA · GW

Answering for myself: This post is supposed to optimize for collecting new information, not for filtering/sorting/handling the information. At least that was my intent

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T19:53:43.990Z · EA · GW

I agree, this is only an attempt to surface a subset of needs that (I'm guessing) don't currently have a good way to surface.

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Give Me Career Advice · 2021-11-20T19:47:33.424Z · EA · GW

This sounds very interesting. I'm moving in that direction slowly

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Ecosystems vs Projects in EA Movement Building · 2021-11-20T19:44:46.282Z · EA · GW

Software Development / Technology:

This is somewhat starting here

(Nothing official, feel free to do something else instead. I'm only writing this in case someone else, like me, searches for "software" here)

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T14:55:02.821Z · EA · GW

I don't think I understood: 

  1. This is already a question post (thanks to Nathan for suggesting it)
  2. Do you want to pick what to work on based on upvotes? I don't think I'd do it that way (or maybe I didn't understand you?)
Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T14:50:08.415Z · EA · GW

Sounds like Lunchclub, do you know it?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on [Unofficial PR FAQ] Posting more jobs to the forum (but they are hidden by default) · 2021-11-20T14:38:05.207Z · EA · GW

If this is intended to make it more easy or inviting to post jobs (?) then I don't know if this is actually a problem, but I also suspect something like this enough for me to try something [as you've undoubtably seen :) ].

If it is indeed a problem, I think giving people karma to encourage them to post more jobs/pain-points/whatever is an easy call

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on [Unofficial PR FAQ] Posting more jobs to the forum (but they are hidden by default) · 2021-11-20T14:37:46.565Z · EA · GW

Hey, as someone who's considering where to work, I'd be happy if:

  1. I'd have lots of visible options, in an accessible filterable way
  2. There would be an option to publicly discuss (or even vet) the jobs
  3. In the 80000 hours job board, there isn't a good filter for remote work that can be done from any location (this was relevant to friends of mine)
    1. But otherwise I don't think it would help me if someone would repost jobs from there
  4. Getting a "stream" of jobs (such as a Twitter bot) probably wouldn't be useful since I don't expect to stay in this situation for long
Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T13:47:53.571Z · EA · GW

I'll comment [very much for the sake of making conversation] that I agree they should know about each other if somehow they don't, but also that there are advantages in keeping them as competitors

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on What Are Your Software Needs? · 2021-11-20T13:44:56.013Z · EA · GW

I linked to his post Ambitious Altruistic Software Engineering Efforts: Opportunities and Benefits as inspiration :)

I edited my post to make that more clear

Comment by hibukki on [deleted post] 2021-11-20T13:29:35.454Z

Turned into a question:

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ivaCDwBkQrkXcyeJi/what-are-your-software-needs

Comment by hibukki on [deleted post] 2021-11-20T13:27:14.008Z

I moved the post to be a draft

Comment by hibukki on [deleted post] 2021-11-20T13:22:44.574Z

Ah, my bad, didn't notice that option. Quick help: Should I delete this post and open a question? Something else?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Opportunity Costs of Technical Talent: Intuition and (Simple) Implications · 2021-11-19T16:08:58.363Z · EA · GW
  1. If you're a software developer reading this and you think you aren't taking advantage of this situation, consider talking to me. I know all sorts of common problems and potential solutions for this which I think are worth talking about
  2. From an employer's point of view, I'd consider take advantage of this situation by finding employees who haven't changed jobs for a long time.
  3. "I've so far seen multiple incredibly promising effective altruists leave effective altruist nonprofits because the money outside of them was just too good": 
    1. I'm surprised by this and I'd be happy to hear more. I would predict this doesn't happen so much.
    2. Also, I'd be happy to get more clarity about the need for software developers in EA right now (since I'm asked about this a lot and only have a vague sense of the situation)
  4. I love how you write :) It inspires me to try to present my ideas like this too
Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Free 1:1 Learning Coaching! · 2021-11-19T15:48:54.280Z · EA · GW

Ah! Sounds like I just didn't understand it well. +1!

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on EA Online Learning Buddy Platform · 2021-11-19T15:44:19.300Z · EA · GW

Facebook: as far as I know you cannot have in a group different pages for different topics.

Perhaps have one group for one topic as an MVP?

Slack [and discord]: in the 10+ EA slack groups I am in, most of them people go to introduce themselves and never come back

Do you think this is a problem with the features in Slack/Discord?

a small MVP would be I think fairly easy to implement.

This is not my intuition, especially since the features of Facebook/Slack/Discord don't seem to be enough. Maybe I'm not in sync with what you imagine as an MVP?

But if the platform development seems to be a constraint sure an existing platform shall be considered

My prior for this kind of project is that the bottle neck is something between "critical mass of people" and "some idea [product market fit?] on what to do together (such as meet-once-a-week or whatever)", and not the technology. In other words, it's not like this project will succeed-or-fail based on having an extra click to find a document, or having a slightly better filtering mechanism.

But this is only a prior, I expect it will either really resonate as true or that I'm missing something

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on 2-week summer course in "economic theory and global prioritization": LMK if interested! · 2021-11-19T13:58:14.215Z · EA · GW

I'd probably watch/listen to recordings if they'd exist, and I'd ask questions (mainly making sure I understood), if I could.

If you'd consider doing this, the main thing that would help me is paying attention to the audio quality (probably having a microphone connected to you. I'd be happy to order you one, if that would help).

My ECON background is pop "econ 101" / efficient-market stuff, and my understanding of macro is really really limited

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Database of orgs relevant to longtermist/x-risk work · 2021-11-19T13:04:50.783Z · EA · GW

Two lists I'm considering making:

  1. Software developers who are interested in doing paid EA work (According to 80000 hours, it seems to be hard to hire software developers for EA orgs even though lots of software developers seem to exist in our community. Seems confusing. This would be a cheap first try at solving it)
  2. Pain points that could potentially be solved by software - from EA orgs (see #6 here. The post is about looking for places to invest in software. I think the correct place to approach this would be to start from actual needs. But there's no place for orgs to surface such needs beyond posting a job)

Any thoughts?

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Ambitious Altruistic Software Engineering Efforts: Opportunities and Benefits · 2021-11-19T12:54:54.769Z · EA · GW

5. "Organized datasets": High five to MichaelA for making lots of these

Comment by Yonatan Cale (hibukki) on Free 1:1 Learning Coaching! · 2021-11-19T01:19:01.489Z · EA · GW

My personal feedback from the post: I think "learning" is more generic than what you're doing. If I remember correctly, you're specifically going for "learning how to memorize facts [using Anki]". I'd intuitively write the more specific version