Regarding the ‘plausible research agendas’ that should be pursued, I generally agree, while noting that even deciding on plausibility isn’t necessarily uncontroversial. Currently, I suppose it is grantmakers that decide this plausibility, which seems alright.
Also, given the large amounts of money available for conducting plausible alignment research, it seems less valuable to steer or think about the relative value of different research agendas, as it is less decision relevant when almost everything will be funded anyway. Though in the future if community-building is very successful and we 10x alignment researchers, prioritisation within alignment would become a lot more important I imagine.
Thanks for reading the post Oscar! Going to reply to both of your comments here! I haven’t thought a lot about when one should start “steering” in their career, but I think starting with an approach focussed on rowing makes a lot of sense.Addressing the idea that steering is less important if we can just fund all possible research agendas, I don’t think this necessarily holds. It seems that we are talent-constrained at least to an extent, and so every researcher focussed on a hopeless / implausible research agenda is one that isn’t working on a plausible research agenda. Thus, even with lots of funding, steering is still important.
Yes, good point, I now think I was wrong about how important the amount of funding is for steering.