Introducing Leverage Research

by lukeprog1 min read9th Jan 201234 comments


Organization Updates

Geoff Anders asked me to post this introduction to Leverage Research. Several friends of the Singularity Institute are now with Leverage Research, and we have overlapping goals.


Hello Less Wrong! I'm Geoff Anders, founder of Leverage Research. Many Less Wrong readers are already familiar with Leverage. But many are not, and because of our ties to the Less Wrong community and our deep interest in rationality, I thought it would be good to formally introduce ourselves.

I founded Leverage at the beginning of 2011. At that time we had six members. Now we have a team of more than twenty. Over half of our people come from the Less Wrong / Singularity Institute community. One of our members is Jasen Murray, the leader of the Singularity Institute's recent Rationality Boot Camp. Another is Justin Shovelain, a two-year Visiting Fellow at SIAI and the former leader of their intelligence amplification research. A third is Adam Widmer, a former co-organizer of the New York Less Wrong group.

Our goal at Leverage is to make the world a much better place, using the most effective means we can. So far, our conclusion has been that the most effective way to change the world is by means of high-value projects, projects that will have extremely positive effects if they succeed and that have at least a fair probability of success.

One of our projects is existential risk reduction. We have conducted a study of the efficacy of methods for persuading people to take the risks of artificial general intelligence (AGI) seriously. We have begun a detailed analysis of AGI catastrophe scenarios. We are working with risk analysts inside and outside of academia. Ultimately, we intend to achieve a comprehensive understanding of AGI and other global risks, develop response plans, and then enact those plans.

A second project is intelligence amplification. We have reviewed the existing research and analyzed current approaches. We then created an initial list of research priorities, ranking techniques by likelihood of success, likely size of effect, safety, cost and so on. We plan to start testing novel techniques soon.

These are just two of our projects. We have several others, including the development of rationality training program, the construction and testing of theories of the human mind and an investigation of the laws of idea propagation.

Changing the world is a complex task. Thus we have a plan that guides our efforts. We know that to succeed, we need to become better than we are. So we take training and self-improvement very seriously. Finally, we know that to succeed, we need more talented people. If you want to significantly improve the world, are serious about self-improvement and believe that changing the world means we need to work together, contact us. We're looking for people who are interested in our current projects or who have ideas of their own.

We've been around for just over a year. In that time we've gotten many of our projects underway. We doubled once in our first six months and again in our second six months. And we have just set up our first physical location, in New York City.

If you want to learn more, visit our website. If you want to get involved, want to send a word of encouragement, or if you have suggestions for how we can improve, write to us.

With hope for the future,

Geoff Anders, on behalf of the Leverage Team