ah, the thing about fragile cooperative equilibria makes sense to me.
I'm not as sure as you that this shift would happen to core EA though. I could also imagine that current EAs will have a very allergic reaction to new, unaligned people coming in and trying to take advantage of EA resources. I imagine something like a counterculture forming where aligned EAs start purposefully setting themselves apart from people who're only in it for a piece of the pie, by putting even more emphasis on high EA alignment. I believe I've already seen small versions of this happening in response to non-altruistic incentives appearing in EA.
The faster the flood of new people and change of incentives happens, the more confident I am in this view. Overall, I'm not extremely confident at all though.
On your last point, if I understand this right this is not the thing you're most worried about though? Like, these people hijacking EA are not the mechanism by which EA may collapse in your view?
It's unclear to me whether you are saying that the potentially huge number of new people in EA will try to take advantage of EA resources for personal gain or that WE, who are currently in EA for altruistic reasons, will do so. The former sounds likely to me, the latter doesn't.
I might be missing crucial context here since I'm not familiar with the Thielosphere and all that, but overall I also don't think a huge number of new, unaligned people will be the downfall of EA. As long as leadership, thought-leaders, and grantmakers in EA stay aligned, it may be harder for them to determine whom to give that grant (or that stamp of approval), but wouldn't that just simply lead to less grants? Which seems bad but not like the end?
Or are you imagining highly intelligent people with impressive resumes who strategically aim to hijack EA resources for their aims and get into important positions in EA?
Thanks for commenting this. Any tips for how to get disordered breathing diagnosed reliably?
pls make one!
If effective altruists' messages are hacked, taken out of context, and publicly revealed, it could substantially and even permanently harm the movement. Consider the example of John Podesta, chair of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Many of his emails, including those that made Clinton and her campaign look bad, were obtained by hackers in a data breach and published in Wikileaks.
How likely is it that someone would target the EA movement by hacking messages and taking them out of context?
I agree with you, being "a highly cool and well networked EA" and "do things which need to be done" are different goals. This post is heavily influenced by my experience as a new community builder and my perception that, in this situation, being "a highly cool and well networked EA" and "do things which need to be done" are pretty similar. If I wasn't so sociable and network-y, I'd probably still be running my EA reading group with ~6 participants, which is nice but not "doing things which need to be done". For technical alignment researchers, this is probably less the case, though still much more than I would've expected.
what are your thoughts on "going one meta-level up" and trying to build the meta space? Specifically creating opportunities like UGAP, the GCP internships, or running organisers' summits to get more and better community builders? I'm unsure but I thought this might be at odds with some of the points you raised, e.g., that we might neglect object-level work and its community-building effect. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
So when I entered university I was probably capable of doing 0.5 hours per day on average.
hahah I feel this
(I'm an organiser at EA Edinburgh and from Germany.)
Yes. Your point about the social culture at German universities seems crucial. The lack of an extensive extracurricular life in and around the university should lead to smaller EA groups (because of people not looking for student groups, less enthusiasm from organisers, lacking knowledge about how to build such groups, ...)
In terms of action plans, I think an important component is getting EA group organisers excited and ambitious. Communication between large, vibrant EA groups and German groups would be good for this. Show them what is possible. And then we probably need upskilling.
Apart from that, German groups probably need the same things as other groups. I think that this is mainly, again, excited organisers, who are willing to put in time. Just in case this is interesting to you, I'm thinking about running a “bootcamp” in the UK for new organisers, fellowship facilitators, etc. to get them excited about organising. (Approaches similar to this seem to have an amazing track record.) Would be happy to chat about this!
Thanks! I need to ask a lot of clarifying questions:
When you say "This is because the type of centralized support CEA might provide and the type of skills/characteristics required of someone working full-time running a university group or a city/national professional network might look very different depending on the ultimate model.", (1) does "This" refer to the fact that you have 2 subteams working with focus locations as opposed to everyone working on all locations? (2) If so, could I reword the explanation the sentence gives to "We need to work on focus locations to figure out the ultimate model before scaling up with that ultimate model"? In even more words, "We want to hire knowing for what model we are hiring, and we want to grow CEA knowing for what model we are growing it as soon as possible."
I really want to know how you mean this!
(3) I interpret your staff capacity being limited as "we need to prioritise" and the prioritisation coming out of that being "prioritise building a model based on focus-locations, then scale later". Correct?
(4) Your staff capacity being limited also suggests the major priority of hiring. I understand CEA is hiring quite fast, but I don't have any idea how fast. Do you think you are prioritising hiring highly enough?
(5) What do you mean by "we think that this focus will enable faster scaling in the long term"? Firstly, again, which "focus" exactly is this referring to? Secondly, isn't "focussing" more intended to improve the quality at the expense of speed of scaling? Intuitively I would say scaling is what enables faster scaling in the long term.
Maybe I can give some context from my side so we can find the crux of this quickly, and we are working in the same direction. I mostly see the lack of a pipeline into full-time CB in non-focus locations in stark contrast to all the extremely high-impact low-hanging fruit in CB and think "This can't be the best we can do". It seems imperative we find a way to funnel talented EAs everywhere into this neglected career path. Hence my insistence on rolling things like the CBGs out in as many locations as possible.
I'm really interested in getting to the bottom of this. I hope I don't come across as intrusive into CEA's decisions without having any background knowledge. My interest is not to criticise CEA, but to solve this problem I see! :)
I'm running two retreats this week whilst working with Swarthmore College EA. Both retreats are along the lines of what you described as a bootcamp
Ah, super exciting! I'll DM you
I agree you could let someone run a social straight off. In general I guess people are more likely to agree to running a social if they are already a fellowship facilitator (fellowship social), and more likely to agree to become a committee member if they are already organising socials. The whole idea of moving people down a funnel etc.
To your skepticism: Thanks for raising the point! It's true that if we had perfect organiser training either locally in the groups or in one big bootcamp, it's unclear the bootcamp would cost less organiser hours. However organisers locally often don't have the time/skills to train new organisers. So the comparison probs isn't decisive. Hope that makes sense!
Thanks for asking! The pitch goes something like this:
Uni groups are constrained by their organisers' time. The typical way of getting a new organiser is to find an excited EA and to slowly give them more and more responsibilities (e.g. intro fellowship facilitator -> run a social -> committee member). This takes time and there's dropout at every stage. The observation is that organisers are usually the most motivated after a retreat/conference/... So we might be able to significantly speed up this process and reduce dropout by having a retreat-ish thing early on. Several group organisers have already recognised this and have sent newer members to these things. There seems to be high value in running something specifically aimed at people in the early stages of organising.
So I propose to run a "bootcamp", where newer organisers, facilitators & similar are skilled up and gain lots of motivation from interacting with others in-person. This seems doubly useful since other organisers seldom have time to skill up new organisers and few new organisers would read into CB resources on their own (especially if they are not yet highly excited about CB).
I'm imagining something like 30 -40 people, 3 nights, with learning and upskilling sessions and ample opportunities to socialise with other participants.
Some ideas for sessions: how to 1-1s, facilitation training, mental health, pitches for EA short and long, people management & project delegation, Personal productivity, Effective planning, Movement building strategy and strategic prioritization for groups, creating positive epistemic norms, "Agenticness" (as explained in my post), how to trade money for time
Some more thoughts:
- We will still need a good amount of highly engaged EAs present to set good norms and get the advantages of information dissemination. Maybe like a fourth to fifth
- We will need programming options for different stages participants are at (e.g. not everyone will need full-on group strategy)
- Unfortunately it probably can't be an international thing, since it might be hard to make people at an early stage travel internationally
- If this is successful, that would increase the chance that CEA would take over running bootcamps in the future
I am very interested in any thoughts or potential collaborators! Luise.firstname.lastname@example.org if someone wants to contact me.
Agreed! In the meantime, it's definitely worth it contacting a prior organiser of an organisers' retreat for guidance. Henry Sleight ran this one, and Jessica McCurdy ran the one in Boston.
CEA has asked EAIF to assess applications from groups that are not eligible for CBG funding. CEA chose to do this rather than hire more staff, as we believe there will be benefits from us running a more focused programme.
We expect to include more universities in this list as we build up capacity for our university program. However, we think there are benefits to piloting our university support program with a smaller number of groups.
This seems to be saying there was the option of hiring more staff and rolling out the CBG programme and support to more groups, but CEA chose not to. What benefits could possibly come from that? Sounds like lost impact?
My understanding is that CEA is limited by the time of their employees. Because hiring rounds and all the support rolled out to focus groups as listed above take time
Have you considered applying for funding from the EA Infrastructure fund? They're keen to support community building as far as I know :)
Thanks, your perspective on this is really helpful! Especially the points you made about consciousness research not being very neglected. On the other hand, AI research can also not really be described as neglected anymore. Maybe the intersection of both is the way to go - as you said, C might be crucial to AGI.
I'm not sure why your answer is so full of repetition, but I will definitely check those orgs out, thanks!
I did not know about the meta-problem of consciousness before. I will have to think about this, thank you!