Posts

EAGxBoston 2022: Retrospective 2022-07-14T13:09:12.373Z
CEA’s Community Events Programme: Update and Call for Applications 2022-07-13T15:31:12.316Z
Things usually end slowly 2022-06-07T17:00:06.916Z
Save the Date: EAGxMars 2022-04-01T11:44:59.930Z
Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path 2022-03-08T09:28:21.929Z
Apply for CEA event support 2022-02-01T16:24:24.207Z
[Link] Reframing Superintelligence: Comprehensive AI Services as General Intelligence 2019-04-26T11:16:58.457Z

Comments

Comment by OllieBase on CEA's Events Team is Hiring! · 2022-09-22T08:37:48.940Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Kyle, much appreciated! :) 

Comment by OllieBase on Who's hiring? (May-September 2022) · 2022-09-14T15:35:39.507Z · EA · GW

The CEA Events team are hiring for three roles:

The Community Health team is hiring for a Project Manager (Remote, apply by 30 September).

The Online team is hiring for a Product Designer (Remote, apply by 30 September).

Comment by OllieBase on Open EA Global · 2022-09-12T18:04:09.540Z · EA · GW

EAGx events are primarily for people in that region, but not exclusively. We do invite some speakers and contributors from outside the region and some others.


the effects on network topology, and subsequently on the core/periphery dynamic.

Sorry, could you spell these out? I don't know what you mean.

even if you don't try to push events to being regional at all, they naturally are, just because people will choose the event which is more conveniently located closer to them

Yes, that's what I expect too, though we do see lots of people apply for conferences very far away from them.

Sorry, I think "flying everyone from around the world to one location" was a bit of a strawman. I expect they'll mostly look like EAGxPrague did this year, which had a strong continental European swing but wasn't exclusively for continental Europeans.

Comment by OllieBase on My closing talk at EAGxSingapore · 2022-09-12T11:27:18.192Z · EA · GW

Thanks so much for sharing this! 

I wish everyone reading could have been there to see it - you delivered this so excellently, and it was really moving to witness ~everyone put their hands up.

Comment by OllieBase on Much EA value comes from being a Schelling point · 2022-09-10T10:06:40.666Z · EA · GW

I really like this framing. It captures an intuition I've had before about EA discussion spaces that's hard to articulate. Thanks for writing it up!

Comment by OllieBase on Friendship is Optimal: EAGs should be online · 2022-09-09T16:39:57.214Z · EA · GW

I think the virtual aspects of community building have been neglected, and marginal efforts to optimise this can pay manyfold greater dividends. :)


I agree with this! :) 

On Bayes then, this implies that conversation-length first-impressions have very inferior conversion rates to lasting friendships compared to online shared office spaces

I think you’re updating a bit too much on your own experiences here. This seems possible to me, but I also know that many people find virtual interactions more draining (myself included).

Very inferior also doesn’t sound right to me - I regularly talk to people who make close friends at conferences and retreats (again, retreats seem better for the thing you’re describing) and our data suggests this is a regular occurrence.

I don’t have data for the virtual spaces > close friends pipeline, but I would be surprised if it was markedly better. But let's do both!

This is part of my reasoning for why I want EAG(x)s to be specifically optimised as on-ramps for regular meeting-places online

Promoting these things alongside hubs and future events seems good :) Again, I don’t see why we should privilege online spaces to the extent that you’re pushing here, and I disagree that EAGx events should specifically optimised for anything.

The plans for a virtual EA office look really exciting :) I’ve requested comment access to that doc :) 

Comment by OllieBase on Agree/disagree voting (& other new features September 2022) · 2022-09-08T09:03:49.085Z · EA · GW

in the vast majority of cases my regular and agreement votes would go the same way

I think that's fine, and you can just do this :) If a feature isn't useful to you, you don't have to use it.

Comment by OllieBase on 13 background claims about EA · 2022-09-07T10:46:06.128Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this up!

Like ThomasW, this also reads to me like the "Berkeley take on things" (which you do acknowledge, thanks) and if you live in a different EA hub, you'd say different things. Being in Oxford, I'd say many are focused on longtermism, but not necessarily AI safety, per se. 

Claim 2, in particular, feels a little strong to me. If the claim was "Many EA leaders believe that making AI go well is one of our highest priorities, if not the highest priority", I think this would be right.

I also think a true background claim I wish was here is "there are lots of EAs working on lots of different things, and many disagree with each other. Many EAs would disagree with several of my own claims here".

Comment by OllieBase on Friendship is Optimal: EAGs should be online · 2022-09-06T11:29:56.032Z · EA · GW

Hi Emrik,

[I work on the CEA events team]

Thanks for writing this up :) I don’t totally follow your argument here, sorry. I’ll respond below to some specific points, but please let me know if I’m misunderstanding your core argument.

I agree online conferences are valuable for many of the reasons you outlined and that’s why I’m excited about EAGxVirtual (applications launching soon!). I also agree that deeper, long-lasting connections are important and that our events should try to create them (I think retreats are particularly good at this, for example).

However, I disagree with some of the takes here:

Moving almost all real-life EA conferences online

At a high-level, virtual events score lower on “likelihood to recommend” and “number of new connections made” than in-person events. I strongly think they’re still worth doing largely because it’s too costly for many people to attend in-person events.

Furthermore, I don’t quite see how favouring virtual conferences leads you to recommend cancelling in-person ones - you can have more of both!

“The connections EAGs generate are almost exclusively online”

What’s your evidence for this? My sense is that being physically co-located with other EAs is highly valuable, and that many people move to EA hubs for this reason

 Hence why measuring the number of connections sounds severely misguided to me, especially when you have opportunities to optimise more closely for the correlates of peak friendships.

I would guess that number of connections correlates quite closely with new peak friendships (the more people you meet, the more potential close friends you meet), so I don't think it's misguided. 

Comment by OllieBase on Open EA Global · 2022-09-05T10:19:55.356Z · EA · GW

Just to clarify: EAGx conferences earlier this year have been accepting some applicants from outside their region when the applicant's region doesn't have a conference yet.

Oxford and Prague were primarily for the UK and continental Europe respectively, but accepted some people from e.g. Israel because there isn't a conference in Israel (yet...) :)

Comment by OllieBase on Open EA Global · 2022-09-04T08:50:50.818Z · EA · GW

[I run the EAGx conference series]
- I think there are significant benefits to local coordination
- It's very expensive to fly everyone from around the world to one location
- I think attending 1-2 conferences a year is probably the right amount (I'm aiming to eventually have 1 conference per region per year, with lots of overlap with other regions)

EAGxVirtual does kind of solve the problem Scott is bringing up, and I'm very excited about it.

Comment by OllieBase on Have faux-evil EA energy · 2022-08-24T15:23:00.979Z · EA · GW

This was a great short post and I enjoyed it a lot, thanks!

Comment by OllieBase on Most Ivy-smart students aren't at Ivy-tier schools · 2022-08-15T11:50:39.404Z · EA · GW

Lazy, unsolicited feedback: I wanted to read the high-level takeaways from this post without reading more than >30% of the entire thing, but it was hard. Maybe you could consider starting with a TL;DR, rather than caveats? :) 

Comment by OllieBase on Which of Will MacAskill’s many recent podcast episodes would you recommend to other engaged EAs? · 2022-08-15T11:47:24.421Z · EA · GW
  • His conversation with Tyler Cowen skips talking points which are more familiar to EAs, I'm finding that interesting
  • I thought his conversation with Ezra was interesting too - Ezra both has good criticisms but also managed to frame Will's argument's really succinctly (e.g. I loved the title of the podcast "Three sentences that could change the world" or something)
Comment by OllieBase on EA Global Meetings Can Be Short · 2022-08-03T19:29:42.856Z · EA · GW

I agree. I had a few meetings where both parties politely agreed it could be cut short, and I was very grateful every time.

A thing I say to cut meetings short, when I think that would make sense:

I was hoping to [take a break / grab a drink / send some messages] before my next meeting. Was there more you wanted to [ask / say] or do you mind if we cut it a bit short?

Comment by OllieBase on How I Recommend University Groups Approach the Funding Situation · 2022-07-05T15:11:48.346Z · EA · GW

The EA Events Team offers financial support for students to attend conferences because they want to make sure that money doesn’t prohibit anyone from attending a conference. Conferences can be really valuable because they allow students to make personal and professional connections, learn about early career opportunities within the EA community, and get feedback on their career plans. Students also frequently cite conferences as one of their most transformative experiences! 

Speaking on behalf of the CEA Events team, I think this is basically right :)

Two minor points of clarification:

  • It's CEA as an organisation not "EA" or the "EA Events Team"
  • Financial support is available to everyone who needs it, not just students.
Comment by OllieBase on How I Recommend University Groups Approach the Funding Situation · 2022-07-05T15:05:45.982Z · EA · GW

As the real Ollie Base, I agree with this (assuming personal leisure doesn't add non-negligible costs).

Having skimmed Luke's parent comment I also agree and upvoted. Anecdotally, I encounter more people who I wish had applied for travel funding (or more funding) than people who applied for too much. This weakly suggests to me we should worry more about making sure people are aware of our travel grant policy (and that's on us)  than free-riders, though I could imagine the latter being more costly from a PR/community health perspective per instance.

Comment by OllieBase on Save the date: EAGxVirtual 2022 · 2022-06-24T17:14:18.433Z · EA · GW

Really excited this is going ahead!

Comment by OllieBase on [Updated] EA conferences in 2022: save the dates · 2022-06-24T16:20:25.307Z · EA · GW

ICYMI - EAGxVirtual will take place October 21 - 23 :)

Comment by OllieBase on Thoughts on (re)naming EA conferences · 2022-06-15T11:21:22.338Z · EA · GW

[I worked with Kaleem on EAGxBoston and think I'm responsible for (re)naming EAGx]

Thanks for writing this up!

In the past, it seems like the community has typically considered EAGxs to be an event which is smaller in scale, less professionally organized, and aimed at a different audience compared to EAGs (maybe EAGs are for highly engaged and/or experienced members of the community, whereas EAGxs are for those who are newer to EA, like people who had just completed an intro fellowship)

This is still basically how we're thinking about them (though I think they're much more professionally organised now, thanks to larger budgets).  The "x" also denotes independently organised and I think that is a useful distinction to make. I definitely could make this clearer though :)

FWIW, I think EAGxBoston was unusually large and attracted EAs of all stripes because it was the first post-pandemic conference in the US. I think it's possible you're updating too much on that when thinking about how to categorise events and that future EAGx conferences in the US will be more obviously different, though still polished and professionally organised.

That said, this prompted me to think harder about whether EAGx is the right name. I'm sure you'll hear from me once I get time to think about this (it isn't high priority for me).

Comment by OllieBase on Things usually end slowly · 2022-06-13T10:00:01.485Z · EA · GW

This is a good point, thanks!

Comment by OllieBase on Things usually end slowly · 2022-06-13T09:59:24.433Z · EA · GW

That does sound like a better reference class and question, thanks!

Comment by OllieBase on Things usually end slowly · 2022-06-13T09:58:35.376Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Stephen! Yeah, excited to see more data in this space, all over the place.

Comment by OllieBase on Things usually end slowly · 2022-06-13T09:57:29.326Z · EA · GW

Thanks Haydn! I didn't totally follow this since I'm not familiar with some of these terms, but great to hear that some more thorough literature surrounding this!

Comment by OllieBase on Things usually end slowly · 2022-06-13T09:54:56.344Z · EA · GW

Thanks, John! Helpful to see that you think my best guess of why I might be wrong might be right.

Comment by OllieBase on [deleted post] 2022-06-03T08:56:34.607Z

This sounds really cool, and is also excellent for my personal brand by association.

Comment by OllieBase on Introducing EAecon: Community-Building Project · 2022-05-30T09:28:08.546Z · EA · GW

Really excited to see this get off the ground!

Comment by OllieBase on Preparing for EAGxPrague · 2022-05-03T17:58:13.970Z · EA · GW

Great that you're coming! I'm helping organise.

  • The conference app is being set up now and will be launched soon :)
  • I believe the conference will open Friday evening, I'll nudge the organisers to post the schedule somewhere more public.
  • You can chat on the app once it's launched, there's also a Facebook event :)
Comment by OllieBase on Effective altruism’s odd attitude to mental health · 2022-04-30T07:39:19.927Z · EA · GW

I'm not convinced there's actually a deep tension here (perhaps some) but I want to add that I'm really glad that people like Michael and co. care deeply about the mental health of others around the world* and are working hard to improve it. I hope HLI succeeds!

*Not that other commenters don't also care about this, I just want to state the obvious that this is a Good Thing.

Comment by OllieBase on How to socialize at your first EAGx meeting (for us with social anxiety) · 2022-04-11T13:01:02.229Z · EA · GW

I really like a lot of this advice, thanks for posting!

Re: matchmakers, we had some "guides" at EAG London 2021 IIRC. We didn't set this up for Boston but it sounds like a good way to add value so we'll consider this for next time. Thanks for suggesting!

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-04-08T11:25:21.425Z · EA · GW

Thanks Kit, glad to hear :) And yes, I agree!

Comment by OllieBase on What I learnt from attending EAGx Oxford (as someone who's new to EA) · 2022-04-04T14:04:34.179Z · EA · GW

Hi Olivia,

Ollie, one of the organisers here. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this - it's great to hear you had a valuable experience and this is such useful feedback for us :)

I've heard from others that they wished they prepared more. I plan to put out more comms about what to expect and how to get the most out of conferences in the future :)

Comment by OllieBase on Save the Date: EAGxMars · 2022-04-01T16:06:23.144Z · EA · GW

Yes, thanks for the heads up, I'll email nearer the time (2025 maybe)

Comment by OllieBase on Save the Date: EAGxMars · 2022-04-01T15:19:08.754Z · EA · GW

Is that a new type of rocket? I've not heard of it but good luck.

Comment by OllieBase on Save the Date: EAGxMars · 2022-04-01T15:18:29.411Z · EA · GW

I've heard there will be a pre-event meetup to check out the soil! Pleaes check Swapcard nearer the time.

Comment by OllieBase on Save the Date: EAGxMars · 2022-04-01T15:17:51.568Z · EA · GW

Yep, big +1 here. I really appreciate this moonshot effort, truly ambitious.

Comment by OllieBase on Where would we set up the next EA hubs? · 2022-03-16T17:09:48.548Z · EA · GW

Huh, I thought the Bay Area referred to a larger area (e.g. Palo Alto too). Makes sense!

I can confirm that Reading is not the glistening urban sprawl that we dream it to be.

Comment by OllieBase on Where would we set up the next EA hubs? · 2022-03-16T13:50:55.625Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing! Minor point: I'm biased about this (because I live there) but London + Oxford + Cambridge is an area that is about the same size as the Bay Area (I can't find a map-to-map comparison quickly). The communities are mostly separate but with lots of overlap. I expect that's also true (?) of the Bay Area.

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-11T08:41:27.131Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Yes, that update is actually a very succinct way of summarising the post!

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-10T21:16:33.554Z · EA · GW

You could try:

  • Recommending grants to the organisations like the Future Fund? They did this last week, but it looks like it's closed now.
  • Offering people career advice?
  • Doing all of this without permission? What you're describing isn't necessarily a role, I don't think. I think great leaders, researchers, policy analysts etc. can add value to their field by paying attention to what should get funded and who should start new organisations.
  • All of the above seems like a good way to trial this :) Sorry, I'm not sure who else to talk to.

Edit: I accidentally hit send and then had to edit

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-10T21:12:37.117Z · EA · GW

Thanks for posting your comment :) And welcome!

I'm not proposing a full model of how to assess your fit for grantmaking here (I think 80k do that pretty well) but to some of your points:
 

  • I agree that thinking about where you might be making grants and whether you agree with their strategy matters a lot.
  • I definitely think cultural fit is important! 
  • I agree good reasoning skills can make you better at forming theories of change and a bird's eye view. But I'm not focusing here on skills that might make you good at grantmaking, I'm talking about what you should try and do before trying grantmaking. I think it's worth being specific about these things.
  • Networking skills also seem important, I agree :)
  • I agree that having to turn people down for funding can be hard/upsetting.
Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-10T21:05:14.024Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Scanning the first half of that piece, it seems good :)

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-10T21:02:43.696Z · EA · GW

Thanks Arden!

I don't have strong views on the specific path label on the website once you add the caveats you describe, I can see why you'd keep this!

Comment by OllieBase on Grantmaking is more like a skill than a path · 2022-03-08T18:15:31.757Z · EA · GW

Caveat: I'm not a career advisor but can share some quick thoughts!

I do think consulting for companies will provide you with some relevant skills (e.g. forming overall views about complicated things quickly, communicating well). 

However, as I argue, unless you want to make grants to software companies, I'd recommend trying to work in the field you want to make grants in first and, perhaps more importantly, aiming to solve a problem vs. becoming a grantmaker :)

Comment by OllieBase on The best EA Global yet? (And other updates.) · 2022-02-24T11:44:38.649Z · EA · GW

Ollie here from CEA's events team

Tl;DR: we basically agree. We think the number of connections is (one of!) our decent, measurable proxies for Good Things Happening but we could do better and we’re working on that.

Yeah, in the abstract, I'm skeptical of the way you are measuring this, because you are measuring quantity and not quality. You don't just want "more connections", you want more connections that lead somewhere

Yes, we agree. We’re working on ideas that actually capture the “lead somewhere” part. This might be impact-adjusted connections or, more crudely, “critical connections” (connections that actually cause something good to happen).

You can fix the reduced number of senior-senior connections by having separate senior-only events, but that then creates fewer senior-junior connections.

Our (pretty scrappy) data suggests that the proportion of attendees who made "professional connections" was about the same in 2021 as previous conferences (~80%). The question for this was an option to select "I made an important professional connection (e.g. a potential career or hiring opportunity, or maybe a potential funder or collaborator)". This sounds like it captures a lot of what you'd call "senior-junior connections", but includes some senior-senior connections (funder/collaborator).

the promisingness of the average participant was noticeably lower than in previous years, and that this effect made it harder for me specifically to find people that I got something out of talking with

I’m sorry you found the conference a bit less valuable yourself. We’re hoping to build out our events portfolio such that more experienced EAs can continue to get a lot of value out of conferences, even as EAGs grow. Do let me know (here or via ollie@eaglobal.org) if you have ideas for this.

You could ask a random number of participants to actually follow up on their reported connections, and see whether they respond, or you could ask in a few months whether people actually followed up (maybe you are already doing this, though). 

I share your scepticism. We already have plans to do this but this is a helpful nudge to make sure it happens!

It's also not clear to me whether this is an interim update (in which case I'm probably being unnecessarily harsh), or whether this is the extent of your evaluation (in which case I am somewhat worried, the same as I would be if 80,000 hours only measured "number of people we had calls with", rather than "number of importance-adjusted career changes"). 

It’s an interim update, reporting immediate event outcomes, not the extent of our evaluation :)

Thanks for your comment Nuno, we do really appreciate the constructive feedback!

Comment by OllieBase on [Updated] EA conferences in 2022: save the dates · 2022-02-17T12:27:33.571Z · EA · GW

These are, of course, the only events that really matter but you're totally right. We'll change it! Thanks for spotting.

Comment by OllieBase on [Updated] EA conferences in 2022: save the dates · 2022-02-17T11:32:41.492Z · EA · GW

Hi Yonatan,

We've already made one, here. I'll suggest adding this to the post.

Comment by OllieBase on Apply for CEA event support · 2022-02-03T12:15:03.589Z · EA · GW

I think CEA's support group funding for group retreats, just so your group's support is all with the groups team and not spread across CEA. If you're a city / national group supported by CEA, you should contact my colleague Rob Gledhill directly instead :)

Comment by OllieBase on Apply for CEA event support · 2022-02-02T09:46:34.911Z · EA · GW

We're also interested in supporting smaller and more targeted things :) 

Comment by OllieBase on Apply for CEA event support · 2022-02-02T09:46:04.011Z · EA · GW

Sure! A quick caveat: I don’t want people to anchor too much on my examples. Please stay imaginative. We’d really like to end up supporting an event type we didn’t even think of at first.

Some more examples:

  • The first global conference for a new EA-aligned field (e.g. global priorities research, wild animal welfare research)
  • Events to connect people working in an EA-aligned field  (e.g. a conference for biosecurity policy experts in Europe)
  • Retreats for people to launch new projects in a certain space (e.g. a retreat for people working on a specific approach to AI safety)
  • Retreats to identify people early in a certain career path and connect them with opportunities (e.g. the operations forum, our events retreat)

A really cool thing I’d like to see happen is:

  • A subject matter expert proposes an event they’d like to see happen in their field but can’t run themselves (via the form)
  • Someone interested in event organising is from the same place and offers to make that event happen with our support (also via the form).

I hope this helps!