Two Podcast Opportunities


I think there’s a strong case for recording more existing EA content as podcasts. The main reason is that this will help more people engage with more content, because there are times when it’s much easier to listen to versus read the same writing.

I’m glad to see some recent progress. The Nonlinear Library popped up a couple months ago, which uses text-to-speech software to create an automatically updating repository of audio content. The EA Forum Podcast is also great, especially because genuine spoken word still beats TTS.

Two Opportunities

At some point it would be good to discuss the general theme of geting even more really high-quality readouts of EA content into the world. But this post is about two specific opportunities which seem especially impactful and time-sensitive to me.

The first is the series of conversations MIRI recently released. Most of these are dialogues, and I think there’s about 14 hours of content there in total. I expect a lot of people would love to read them, but don’t have the time to sit down and trawl through that much text. So it could be really worthwhile if we could produce some (high-quality) readouts in podcast format. It’ll be important to distinguish between multiple voices here, so ‘table reads’ of multiple people would be best (virtual is fine). An 8020 version could involve recording only the most notable two or three conversations.

The second opportunity is the recent EA Forum creative writing prize. The winners were announced a couple days ago, and they’re really excellent. Between the prizes and the ‘honorable mentions’, there are 15 stories; a small (audio)book’s worth. With some care, e.g. tasteful sound effects, these could be turned into a really nice little package; even for folks outside of EA. Again, I think a diversity of voices would make this better than one reader; and different voices for different characters could be a bonus.

End Products

Where could these end up? One idea would be to put these on existing feeds — probably the Nonlinear Library for the MIRI conversations, and the EA Forum Podcast for the fiction (though maybe both feeds for both series).

But if these end up being high enough quality, I think they could end up as their own podcast feeds, perhaps with a bit of branding and a website (e.g.). I think this format of ‘effectively an audiobook living in a podcast feed’ has been well exemplified by The Life You Can Save and this recording of Rationality: From AI to Zombies.

The creative writing feed could even be extended indefinitely, by adding more entrants from this year’s prize, or by putting out a call for more pieces.

What Next?

If either of these projects are going to happen, we’ll need a few people with time and interest in recording some of these pieces or parts. We’ll also need an audio editor (or perhaps more than one). So if you’re interested in either reading or editing, please let me know! You could leave a comment on this post, or message me directly.

I would be happy to project manage this if there’s sufficient interest. For example, I could help coordinate who reads what, help send out mics, and set up the podcast feeds.

I think it’s very likely that funding would be available for this. Here is Michael Aird in a comment about the creative writing prizes:

I’m willing to personally guarantee (say) at least $500 for a mic (if the person doesn’t have one already and it costs that much) and $20/​hr for up to 5 times as many hours as the cumulative total run time across all the episodes produced, with the guarantee being capped at $1500 total.

I also expect the LTFF might be interested in the MIRI conversations, and the EAIF in the creative writing pieces. One another person has also mentioned they would likely be able to find funding for the MIRI conversations.

I’m throwing this out as a potentially high-impact opportunity, and one which needn’t take up a ton of time. But I’m not wedded to it, so I’d also appreciate critical takes! Thanks.