Comment by storges on Review of Fundraising Activities of EAF in 2018 · 2019-06-05T08:48:01.044Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Edited. (Initial draft was made in April and I didn't update afterwards.)

Comment by storges on Ingredients for creating disruptive research teams · 2019-06-04T17:55:49.021Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

This issue is something I am still somewhat confused about. Feynman makes a similar point about the IAS. I also know about a few more anecdotes in line with the "constraints breed creativity" point.

I think the 'constraints breed creativity' applies more to the tools people work with, and other constraints like teaching, administrative tasks, and grant applications mostly waste time.

There might be something to this, but I distinctly recall reading somewhere that having state of the art tools is also crucial for being able to work at the frontier. Without an electron microscope, some research is simply unavailable. (It might also create an incentive to develop an alternative and this is the kind of disruption we're actually looking for.) More powerful computers also seem like a good thing in general. So I'm not sure how to resolve this.

Edit: Also consider the anecdote mentioned by John Maxwell about PARC of course.

Another thing I remember him once mentioning to me is that PARC bought its researchers very expensive, cutting-edge equipment to do research with, on the assumption that Moore's Law would eventually drive down the price of such equipment to the point where it was affordable to the mainstream.

Comment by storges on Ingredients for creating disruptive research teams · 2019-06-04T17:47:09.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

How long do you estimate that you spent looking at each of the case studies?

Good question. I'd say on average about 10 hours; some more, some less.

It seems that most are based on a small number of sources. Did you find that reading additional sources changed your views about a particular research team compared to the first source or two that you read? Do you expect steeply diminishing returns from investing more time into digging further into particular case studies?

In my experience, most of the material went back to one or two authoritative accounts of these teams. So there appeared to be little value beyond finding and reading these. I'm not sure how well this generalizes to other case studies though.

Review of Fundraising Activities of EAF in 2018

2019-06-04T17:34:52.644Z · score: 46 (19 votes)
Comment by storges on Which scientific discovery was most ahead of its time? · 2019-05-17T07:37:35.127Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

This post might be relevant to your question:

On Einstein:

What about great geniuses like Einstein? Doesn’t he disprove the notion of inevitability? The conventional wisdom is that Einstein’s wildly creative ideas about the nature of the universe, first announced to world in 1905, were so out of the ordinary, so far ahead of his time, and so unique that if he had not been born we might not have a his theories of relativity even today, a century later. Einstein was a unique genius no doubt. But as always, others were working on the same problems. Hendrik Lorentz, a theoretical physicists who studied light wave, introduced a mathematical structure of space-time in July 1905, the same year as Einstein. In 1904 the French mathematician Henri Poincare pointed out that observers in different frames will have clocks which will “… mark what on may call the local time. … as demanded by the relativity principle the observer cannot know whether he is at rest or in absolute motion.” And the 1911 winner of the Nobel prize in physics Wilhelm Wien proposed to the Swedish committee that Lorentz and Einstein be jointly awarded a Nobel prize in 1912 for their work on special relativity. He told the committee “…While Lorentz must be considered as the first to have found the mathematical content of the relativity principle, Einstein succeeded in reducing it to a simple principle. One should therefore assess the merits of both investigators as being comparable…” (Neither won that year.) However, according to Walter Isaacson, who wrote a wonderful biography of Einstein’s ideas in “Einstein: His Life and Universe”, “Lorentz and Poincare never were able to make Einstein’s leap even after they read his paper. Lorentz still clung to the existence of the ether and its ‘at rest’ frame of reference. Until his death in 1912, Poincare never fully gave up the concept of the ether or the notion of absolute rest. In other words, Einstein made a conceptual leap that Poincare and Lorenz could not make even after Einstein explained it.” But Isaacson, a celebrator of Einstein’s special genius for the improbable insights of relativity admits that “someone else would have come up with it, but not for at least ten years or more.” So the greatest icon genius of the human race is able to leap ahead of the inevitable maybe 10 years. For the rest of humanity, the inevitable happens on schedule.

Ingredients for creating disruptive research teams

2019-05-16T16:23:41.047Z · score: 96 (34 votes)

Launching the EAF Fund

2018-11-28T17:13:42.285Z · score: 57 (31 votes)
Comment by storges on Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round · 2018-11-21T09:13:26.483Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for your response, Denise! That's a helpful perspective, and we'll take it into account next time.

Comment by storges on Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round · 2018-11-20T10:00:38.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Usually, we gave applicants the benefit of the doubt in such cases, especially early on. Later in the process we discussed strengths and weaknesses, compared candidates directly, and asked ourselves if somebody could turn out to be strongest candidates if we learned more about them. One low score usually was not decisive in these cases.

Comment by storges on Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round · 2018-11-20T09:56:42.562Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I just ran the numbers. These are the GMA correlations with an equally-weighted combination of all other instruments of the first three stages (form, CV, work test(s), two interviews). Note that this make the sample size very small:

  • Research Analyst: 0.19 (N=6)
  • Operations Analyst: 0.79 (N=4)

First two stages only (CV, form, work test(s)):

  • Research Analyst: 0.13 (N=9)
  • Operations Analyst: 0.70 (N=7)

I think the strongest case is their cost-effectiveness in terms of time invested on both sides.

Comment by storges on Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round · 2018-11-20T09:40:56.624Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Reference checks can mimic a longer trial which allow you to learn much more about somebody's behavior and performance in a regular work context. This depends on references being honest and willing to share potential weaknesses of candidates as well. We thought the EA community was very exemplary in this regard.

No reference checks was decisive. I'd imagine this would only be the case for major red flags. Still, they informed our understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses.

We think they're great because they're very cost-effective, and can highlight potential areas of improvement and issues to further investigate in a trial.

Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round

2018-11-19T20:50:23.729Z · score: 90 (48 votes)