I helped re-start the UBC EA club in 2022. I’m interested in global health and development and animal welfare.
Another idea I had is that talking to young attendees about what to look for in a an employer might be a good idea, but maybe this is already done/or it has been considered and vetoed but I don’t know!
I have no idea because I have never gone to a conference. I would expect that at most professional conferences the senior attendees who are offering careers (maybe universities or hospitals offering research positions) would have a minimum level of professionalism in the employment opportunity they are offering the junior attendees, but I genuinely have no idea how these things work! My concern really stems from meeting a lot of highly capable, excited, intelligent, young people at my university group, and wanting to make sure that they are protected! I hope that comes across in my question. I appreciate Catherine’s response though, and I do think this is harder to do in practice than I considered.
Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining.
Thanks for the reply! I guess I thought that since the CEA already does vet people before they can attend EAG, that maybe this wouldn’t be that hard to do in practise. But I see that most people disagree with me and I appreciate your reply!
Since Alice met Emerson at an EAG, I’d like to hear what the CEA’s response to this is? I am curious how this sort of thing could be prevented in the future. Perhaps if someone who works for or owns a company meets someone they want to recruit from an EAG, there should be some protections for the young person attending the EAG (for ex- the company supplies the CEA with data about who they recruited, how much they plan to pay them, etc). I think young people attending an EAG would assume that the more senior people attending, who may be potential employers, would have been vetted and are acting in good faith. But if that isn’t the case (which clearly wasn’t here), then there is a serious problem. This is really concerning to me being someone who is currently in university, who knows young people who are eager to or who have attended EAGs, and could fall prey to people like this.
Thanks for taking the time to write this. I had an almost identical experience at my university. I helped re-start the club, with every intention to lead the club, but I am no longer associated with it because of the lack of willingness from others to engage with AI safety criticisms or to challenge their own beliefs regarding AI safety/Existential risk.
I also felt that those in our group who prioritized AI safety had an advantage as far as getting recognition from more senior members of the city group, ability to form connections with other EAs in the club, and to get funding from EA orgs. I was quite certain I could get funding from the CEA too, as long as I lied and said I prioritized AI safety/Existential risk, but I wasn’t willing to do that. I also felt the money given to other organizers in the club was not necessary and did not have any
positive outcomes other than for that individual.
I am now basically fully estranged from the club (which sucks, because I actually enjoyed the company of everyone) because I do not feel like my values, and the values I originally became interested in EA for (such as epistemic humility) exist in the space I was in.
I did manage to have a few conversations with people in the club about AI safety that were somewhat productive, and I am grateful for those people (one senior EA community member who works in AI safety in particular). But despite this, our club basically felt like an AI safety club. Almost every student involved (at least the consistent ones, and the president) were AI safety focused. In addition, they were mainly interested in starting AI safety reading groups and most conversations led to AI safety (other than a philosophy group that my partner and I started, but eventually stopped running).
I like the donation dashboard too, and the sign-up process was quick and easy! Really nice work here! I shared it with my local EA university group.
I like this idea because it is simple and makes donations less daunting especially for a student like myself since there is a $10 cap. I’ll be signing up :)
Thanks for sharing the thought process behind this! It actually took me a really long time to know why it went blue too, but when I figured it out I found it a really useful way to quickly check for new comments in conversations I was following.
I like this idea. At our university clubs day tabling event, we gave quite a few books away and not a single person who took a book ended up coming to one of our meetings. I think lending would probably be a better practise since, as you say, it is an invitation to talk more about what the person thought of the book.
I prefer the old font but that isn’t a big deal imo. One thing I really dislike is how when there are new comments on posts I have read, it doesn’t highlight the little number with a blue box anymore, it just boldens the number. I’m curious what the thought process there was because it just makes it more difficult to notice when there are new comments.
I just want to say I really appreciated you providing this first-hand experience, and for discussing what others in the EA community feel about Will’s leadership from what you have witnessed in the Bay area. I was just talking to someone about this the other day, and I was really unsure about how people in EA actually felt about Will, since, as you said, he rarely comments on the forum and doesn’t seem very engaged with people in the community from what I can see.
I agree with sharing names publicly. I think this practise will hopefully make it less likely that others will engage in abusive behaviour out of fear of having their reputation damaged. If this major figure is within EA, can you share the name here? I don’t know your twitter or facebook so I’m not sure who it is you are referring to.
I think so, specifically related to this point from the OP (but would be interested to hear if people don’t really think there’s any COI in either of these cases):
Consider a case of someone whose job it is to direct funding for a foundation sleeping with one of the people who runs an organization they might recommend funding. And let’s further imagine that the grantmaker and grantee both have a sophisticated understanding of power dynamics, great communication, solid introspection, strong self-confidence, and the best of intentions. Even then, this has corrosive effects on the community
See this comment and this comment (below- use rot13) from this post.
Gurer ner ehzbhef gung Flqarl Iba Nek (bar bs Ngynf’ pb-sbhaqref) vf qngvat/qngrq Pynver Mnory’f (gur tenag vairfgvtngbe sbe Ngynf nf yvfgrq ba gur cntr sbe gur svefg Ngynf tenag yvfgrq ba Bcra Cuvynaguebcl’f jrofvgr) uhfonaq, Ohpx Fuyrtrevf. Vf guvf gehr? Jul jnf gur tenag vairfgvtngbe sbe Ngynf Sryybjfuvc gur pb-sbhaqre’f oblsevraq’f jvsr? Abgr gung nyy guerr ner xabja gb or cbylnzbebhf va Onl Nern pbzzhavgvrf.
I like this :)
In my opinion, we’ve already found a “third option” which works: the empathy to seek mutual understanding, the philosophical sophistication to critique fashionable ideas, and the willingness to share our perspective even when it seems unpopular.
I’m not “pretending to not know what woke means”, I genuinely think it would be constructive for you to define what it is you mean by using it, and by explaining why you think it is a threat to EA. Some things I think you could mean:-People who talk a lot about “positionality”-People who look at white men distrustfully and assume they have bad intentions-People who talk about diversity and inclusion and virtue signal about said things-People who are part of the “culture wars” in the United States The problem is that, I genuinely do not know how you define it, and how you think this applies to EA or is some sort of threat to EA. Another problem is that you seem to assume you can identify whether or not someone is “woke” without actually defining what that means or really knowing the person. I don’t think that’s fair. I also think you are doing what I notice people on twitter do, which is look at really superficial things like how someone talks or presents themselves online, and think you can categorize them as “woke” or “not-woke”. It’s just very polarizing. I actually think you and I agree on a lot more than you would assume but because I disagree with you using “woke” language you assume I am “pro-woke”.
I don’t get notifications for your posts, I saw it when I read the comments on this post and disagreed with it because I personally dislike the use of the word “woke” and see it as divisive in itself. It would be helpful for me if you could define what you mean by woke and explain what it means to EA. I know it is a common term used in the US and in twitter conversations about American politics, but I would prefer to not see US political discourse language in EA unless it’s really illuminating any real issues or threats. You seem
to be making a lot of general claims like “Movements and organizations often find it difficult to protect themselves from woke takeover, because they don’t understand what’s happening, they don’t have good counter-arguments, they’re too guilt-prone and easily shamed, and they’re too conflict-averse. ”, but it’s not clear to me what you’re referring to.
Hey Sonia, I have been trying to see things from your perspective as well. I think it’s great you’re feeling empathetic for women who might feel differently than you in those situations. I think there’s probably still a lot of ways you can get joy having edgy conversations without contributing to this culture within EA itself. I kinda appreciate Will’s take on this here. I struggle between feeling like “policing” people’s relationships and whatnot is probably bad, while also knowing that not being firm the way I am about professional/personal boundaries likely contributes to a culture where people are taken advantage of. In an ideal world, we could have both your preferences (and the preferences of many others) and a healthy culture, but I don’t actually know if that’s possible.
I’m curious if the people who disagree voted my story could explain why? What is it that you disagree with?
I think the onus needs to be placed on the people who are abusing their power. There are ways to do this. If the community acknowledges that this isn’t ok, there can be a shift in the broader culture. People need to be aware these power dynamics exist and speak out against people who abuse them and I don’t mean the person on the receiving end of the abuse of power, but their colleagues. Some concrete steps I can think of moving forward would be: a) Workplace training on power dynamics and professional boundaries. b) An external source where complaints can be made where the people receiving the complaints do not have connections to the EA community such as personal friendships/collegial relationships. I’m not sure if this answers your question at all, but I am enjoying this discussion and appreciate the way you are approaching our conversation. Thanks!