Do they exist? Sure, I'm exaggerating a little bit. On my current job hunt I try to pay special attention to safety/alignment-related positions, but it seems that a vast majority of them would require me to relocate to either the Bay Area (or the US in general), or London, and I'm just not very eager to do that.

New Answer
Ask Related Question
New Comment

4 Answers sorted by

80,000 Hours' job board lets you filter by city. As of the time of writing, roles in their AI Safety & Policy tag are 61/112 San Francisco, 16/112 London, 35/112 other (including remote).

There is also a filter there for remote/global work.

At the Center on Long-Term Risk we're open to remote work. Currently we're only  hiring for summer research fellows and the application page states (as with other previous positions, iirc)

Location: We prefer summer research fellows to work from our London offices, but will also consider applications from people who are unable to relocate.

Last year we had one fully remote fellow.

I was talking with Adam Gleave from FAR AI a couple months back. They are based in the Bay Area, but at least at the time they were also friendly to remote work. (Haven't checked back more recently so it's possible that has changed.)

Message me if you want a 100% remote position related to a video game. I need a 3D artist, a programmer (or chatbot copy-paster lol) and a social media person.

10 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:47 AM

Some people have very good reasons for not wanting to move (family that needs them, tied to partners who are tied to local work, etc), and not saying you're not one of them but still....

...we're talking about the single most consequential events in the history of human civilization (or Earth life, or perhaps the universe since its inception), but you won't get more involved in making them go well because it'd require living somewhere else? 

I'm writing this not just for you, but for all the many people who want to help with Alignment/x-risk but seem pretty capped in how much they're willing to give up for that (not claiming that I couldn't give more), but I get a missing mood from many people about it.


If the alignment problem is the most important problem in history, shouldn't alignment-focused endeavors be more willing to hire contributors who can't/won't relocate?

It's not like remote work isn't the easiest to implement that it's ever been in all of history.

Of course there needs to be some filtering out of candidates to ensure resources are devoted to the most promising individuals. But I really don't think that willingness to move correlates strongly enough with competence at solving alignment to warrant treating it like a dealbreaker.

I was also looking to do alignment-focused work remotely, and then, while failing to find any appropriate[1] opportunities, had a bit of a wake-up call which led to me changing my mind.

From the "inside", there are some pretty compelling considerations for avoiding remote work.

"Context is that which is scarce" - the less "shovel-ready" the work is, the more important it is to have very high bandwidth communication.  I liked remote work at my last job because I was working at a tech company where we had quarterly planning cycles and projects were structured in a way such that everyone working remotely barely made a difference, most of the time.  (There were a couple projects near the end where it was clearly a significant drag on our ability to make forward progress, due to the increasing number of stakeholders, and the difficulty of coordinating everything).

LessWrong is a three-person[2] team, and if we spent basically all of our time developing features the way mature tech companies do, we could probably also be remote with maybe only a 30-40% performance penalty.  But in fact a good chunk of our effort goes into attempting to backchain from "solve the alignment problem/end the acute risk period" into "what should we actually be doing".  This often does involve working on LessWrong, but not 100% of the time.  As an example, we're currently in the middle of a two-week "alignment sprint", where we're spending most of our timing diving into object-level research.  To say that this style of work[3] benefits from co-location would be understating things.

Now, I do think that LessWrong is on the far end of the spectrum here, but I think this is substantially true for most alignment orgs, given that they tend to be smaller and working in a domain that's both extremely high context and also fairly pre-paradigmatic.  In general, coordination and management capacity are severely constrained, and remote work is at its best when you need less coordination effort to achieve good outcomes.

  1. ^

    Ones where I had some reasonable model of their theory of change, and where I expected I would be happy with day-to-day work itself.

  2. ^

    Sort of.  It's complicated.

  3. ^

    Including the ability to pivot on relatively short notice.

I lived in the Bay Area for a long time, and I was very unhappy there due to the social scene, high cost of living, difficulty getting around, and the homeless problem. I have every reason to believe that London would be just about as bad.

If we're going to die, I'm not going to spend the last years of my life being miserable. Not worth it.

I'm sympathetic to not wanting to live out remaining years being miserable, and think doing so would indeed be a mistake. I also acknowledge that living a good life in the Bay can be harder than than other places, but I also don't think impossible. I do think the challenges can be surmounted with effort and agency, and even then you might be worse off than other places, but still, the stakes are high.

[deleted: needlessly negative]

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

I'm very sorry to hear you got treated that way – that seems like a very legitimate reason for not wanting to live somewhere.

[+][comment deleted]2mo10

Fwiw I live in London and have been to the Bay Area and I think that London is better across all 4 dimensions you mentioned. 

  • Social scene: Don't know what exactly you are looking for but London is large and diverse.
  • High cost of living: London is pretty expensive too but cheaper.
  • Difficulty getting around: London has pretty good public transportation.
  • Homeless problem: I think I see homeless people 10x less compared to when I was in the Bay.

The need to get more organized about this - e.g. via a job noticeboard for remote work on alignment - was mentioned just one month ago

New to LessWrong?