On reading Anna's above answer (which seems true to me, and also satisfies a lot of the curiosity I was experiencing, in a good way), I noted a feeling of something like "reading this, the median LWer will conclude that my contribution was primarily just ops-y and logistical, and the main thing that was at threat when I left was that the machine surrounding the intellectual work would get rusty."

It seems worth noting that my model of CFAR (subject to disagreement from actual CFAR) is viewing that stuff as a domain of study, in and of itself—how groups cooperate and function, what makes up things like legibility and integrity, what sorts of worldview clashes are behind e.g. people who think it's valuable to be on time and people who think punctuality is no big deal, etc.

But this is not necessarily something super salient in the median LWer's model of CFAR, and so I imagine the median LWer thinking that Anna's comment means my contributions weren't intellectual or philosophical or relevant to ongoing rationality development, even though I think Anna-and-CFAR did indeed view me as contributing there, too (and thus the above is also saying something like "it turned out Duncan's disappearance didn't scuttle those threads of investigation").

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

by AnnaSalamon 1 min read19th Dec 2019329 comments


CFAR recently launched its 2019 fundraiser, and to coincide with that, we wanted to give folks a chance to ask us about our mission, plans, and strategy. Ask any questions you like; we’ll respond to as many as we can from 10am PST on 12/20 until 10am PST the following day (12/21).

Topics that may be interesting include (but are not limited to):

  • Why we think there should be a CFAR;
  • Whether we should change our name to be less general;
  • How running mainline CFAR workshops does/doesn't relate to running "AI Risk for Computer Scientist" type workshops. Why we both do a lot of recruiting/education for AI alignment research and wouldn't be happy doing only that.
  • How our curriculum has evolved. How it relates to and differs from the Less Wrong Sequences. Where we hope to go with our curriculum over the next year, and why.

Several CFAR staff members will be answering questions, including: me, Tim Telleen-Lawton, Adam Scholl, and probably various others who work at CFAR. However, we will try to answer with our own individual views (because individual speech is often more interesting than institutional speech, and certainly easier to do in a non-bureaucratic way on the fly), and we may give more than one answer to questions where our individual viewpoints differ from one another's!

(You might also want to check out our 2019 Progress Report and Future Plans. And we'll have some other posts out across the remainder of the fundraiser, from now til Jan 10.)

[Edit: We're out of time, and we've allocated most of the reply-energy we have for now, but some of us are likely to continue slowly dribbling out answers from now til Jan 2 or so (maybe especially to replies, but also to some of the q's that we didn't get to yet). Thanks to everyone who participated; I really appreciate it.]