EA Tourism: London, Blackpool and Prague

byJsevillamol6mo7th Aug 20181 comment


I have spent the last three weeks visiting three hubs of EA projects. This is a blogpost briefly describing my experiences and thoughts during these three weeks.

First week: London

In London I stayed in Newspeak House, a residence and community space inhabited by a rotating roster of fellows from diverse backgrounds who live for a short time (typically months) while trying to influence British politics in sensible directions and connect other groups trying to do similar things. While they do not identify as Effective Altruists, I think there is a huge overlap of goals. Events are happening all the time, so I recommend dropping by to meet some interesting people if you are based on or visiting London.

One of the events I attended in Newspeak house is a foundational meeting of the Ethics in Maths movement. We were a coalition of people with a background in mathematics, some of us EA or EA adjacent, discussing how to orient and empower mathematicians to tackle important global problems. I have been involved in advocacy among mathematicians for a fairly long time, through some fairly ambitious projects like the European Summer Program on Rationality. I would love to see more people discussing how to support and connect mathematicians to important problems in the LW and EA circles.

I also attended a couple of EA London events, where I re encountered some old friends and met some new people. I do appreciate local groups which consistently organize events where visitors from other areas are welcome. If you are in a local group, please consider organizing more of this! And if you are visiting a new area, consider putting yourself in touch with the locals!

Second week: Blackpool

In Blackpool I stayed in the EA Hotel, a wonderful initiative lead by Greg Colbourn. People are welcome to stay in the hotel for free (food included) while they are working on EA projects.

I think it is ideal if you have a concrete idea for a project you can work remotely on and you need space to focus on it. I would however currently advise against going to the hotel if you struggle with motivation issues, as there is little accountability structure in the hotel (just a weekly group check in).

But if you are ready to tackle an important problem, the EA Hotel is a great place to stay in. It is peaceful and there is a fairly high level of trust and complicity among the residents.

While I was staying in the EA Hotel, I chose to work on Open Source Game Theory research on my own, following the researched direction pointed by Scott Garrabrant in Prisoners' Dilemma with Costs to Modelling.

I did not find any interesting results, but it was a good exercise to calibrate how much do I enjoy working on foundational research. I left my partial results and some links to useful resources in the comments of said post if you want to try yourself.

Third week: Prague

The final stop in my journey was the Human Aligned AI Summer School organized by EA Prague.

During the school I met several interesting people working on AI Alignment, like Daniel Filan from CHAI, Miles Brundage from FHI and Abram Demski from MIRI.

It was a great opportunity to reflect and get information on what to do after I graduate from my Math/CS Bachelor (incidentally, let me know in the comments if you know of interesting opportunities for recently graduated Bachelors!) and build a better map of what people are currently working on.

I am currently very impressed by the organizational capacity of EA Prague, and I am looking forward to see how their other programs turn out. I recommend checking out their programs related to CFAR and the AI Safety Camp.

And thus we are done! These have been three really pleasant weeks, and I am now feeling quite motivated to work on my own projects.

To give a final advice, I will say it again: try EA tourism! Contact with your local LW/EA groups when you travel! It's a fun way of meeting interesting new people.