I'll answer this one here.

My comment in June was in response to Normal_Anomaly's comment:

Count me as another person who would switch some of my charitable contribution from VillageReach to SIAI if I had more information on this subject [what research will be done with donated funds].

I replied:

the most exciting developments in this space in years (to my knowledge) are happening right now, but it will take a while for things to happen and be announced.

To my memory, I had two things in mind:

  • The Strategic Plan I was then developing, which does a better job of communicating what SIAI will do with donated funds than ever before. This was indeed board-ratified and published.
  • A greater push from SIAI to publish its research.

The second one takes longer but is in progress. We do have several chapters forthcoming in The Singularity Hypothesis volume from Springer, as well as other papers in the works. We have also been actively trying to hire more researchers. I was the first such hire, and have 1-4 papers/chapters on the way, but am now Executive Director. We tried to hire a few other researchers, but they did not work out. Recruiting researchers to work on these problems has been difficult for both SIAI and FHI, but we continue to try.

Mostly, we need (1) more funds, and (2) smart people who not only say they think AI risk is the most important problem in the world, but who are willing to make large life changes as if those words reflect their actual anticipations. (Of course I don't mean that the rational thing to do if you're a smart researcher who cares about AI risk is to come work for Singularity Institute, but that should be true for some smart researchers.)

[people] who are willing to make large life changes

What sort of life changes?

Q&A with new Executive Director of Singularity Institute

by lukeprog 1 min read7th Nov 2011182 comments


Today I was appointed the new Executive Director of Singularity Institute.

Because I care about transparency, one of my first projects as an intern was to begin work on the organization's first Strategic Plan. I researched how to write a strategic plan, tracked down the strategic plans of similar organizations, and met with each staff member, progressively iterating the document until it was something everyone could get behind.

I quickly learned why there isn't more of this kind of thing: transparency is a lot of work! 100+ hours of work later, plus dozens of hours from others, and the strategic plan was finally finished and ratified by the board. It doesn't accomplish much by itself, but it's one important stepping stone in building an organization that is more productive, more trusted, and more likely to help solve the world's biggest problems.

I spent two months as a researcher, and was then appointed Executive Director.

In further pursuit of transparency, I'd like to answer (on video) submitted questions from the Less Wrong community just as Eliezer did two years ago.


The Rules

1) One question per comment (to allow voting to carry more information about people's preferences).

2) Try to be as clear and concise as possible. If your question can't be condensed into one paragraph, you should probably ask in a separate post. Make sure you have an actual question somewhere in there (you can bold it to make it easier to scan).

3) I will generally answer the top-voted questions, but will skip some of them. I will tend to select questions about Singularity Institute as an organization, not about the technical details of some bit of research. You can read some of the details of the Friendly AI research program in my interview with Michael Anissimov.

4) If you reference certain things that are online in your question, provide a link.

5) This thread will be open to questions and votes for 7 days, at which time I will decide which questions to begin recording video responses for.


I might respond to certain questions within the comments thread and not on video; for example, when there is a one-word answer.