This Sunday at 12pm (PT), we're running another session of "lightning talks" by curated LessWrong authors (see here for previous weeks' transcripts).

  • For the first hour, we will have a series of lightning talks each lasting about 5 minutes followed by discussion. The talks will be short and focus on presenting one core idea well, rather than rushing through a lot of content.
  • From 1PM to 2PM, we'll have a hangout in breakout rooms. If you are not interested in the talks, feel free to just show up for this part (or the other way around).
  • We want to give top LessWrong writers an interesting space to discuss their ideas, and have more fruitful collaboration between users. Think of it like a cross between an academic colloquium and some friends chatting by a whiteboard.

If you're a curated author and interested in giving a 5-min talk at a future event, which will then be transcribed and edited, sign up here.


  • Eric Rogstad: The AI Does Not Care about Your Atoms Either
  • Daniel Kokotajlo: Why GWP is a bad metric for thinking about timelines and takeoff speeds


When? Sunday September 20, 12:00PM (PT)


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8 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:18 AM

Title of my talk... Hmm, should I talk about my favorite AI timelines model? Or should I talk about an idea for how to get more EA orgs to productively make more junior hires? Or should I talk about sailing ships as loosely analogous to AGI? Or should I talk about why I think GWP is a terrible metric for thinking about timelines or takeoff speeds?

I'm open to suggestions/votes!

EDIT: OK, thanks for the votes, I think by popular demand I'll do the GWP one. Don't get your hopes up too high for this; it's not a proof or anything, just some considerations.

I'd like to know your thoughts on how to better do junior hires, regardless of whether you give a talk on it or not.

OK. Well, I have basically no experience managing people, so it's just some armchair theorizing, but: Seems to me that hiring them to do distillation-ish work is more promising than hiring them to do novel research. 

1. Managing someone else doing original research takes some fraction of the time it would take to do the research yourself; managing someone else distilling your research takes some fraction of the time it would take to do the distillation yourself. However I feel that the second fraction is smaller, because you already are up to speed on your own research, no inferential gaps need to be crossed, no new stuff learned, etc. Concretely when I imagine managing someone's original research, it feels like a lot of work: I have to learn everything they are learning so I can evaluate it. By contrast when I imagine managing someone's distillation of my own work, it feels rather pleasant: A few lunchtime chats for them to ask clarificatory questions, then I quickly read their draft and give comments, and it doesn't take much effort because I'm already an expert on the topic and already interested in it.
2. Having someone else distill your research also has the bonus effect of providing an external replication attempt for your ideas. It's a chance for them to be critiqued by someone else, for example. 
3. Also someone else might be an inherently better judge of what parts of your research need explaining, and how, than you are, since you've been thinking about it so much and in your own way.
4. I suspect that distilling the research of more senior researchers is a better way for a junior hire to get up to speed than doing their own research.
5. Arguably distillations/explanations/etc. are undervalued in general and on the margin more people should do them. (Because they seem low-status, perhaps--but if we recognize that problem we can partially overcome it, and anyhow it's less of a problem for junior hires. One example of how to partially overcome it: "We are hiring you to write a textbook-like document distilling all the research our institute has done so far on topic X. This document will go on the website and be shown to potential donors; eventually we may incorporate it into an actual textbook.")

The sailing ships one sounds fun. GWP as terrible metric also sounds interesting. The others also seem good, but those two seem marginally better. 

I vote for GWP or your favorite timelines model

Wondering if these weekly talks should be listed in the Community Events section?

Yeah, we have an open PR that adds online events to the Community section and the navigation menu on the left. Currently all events need a physical location, which is obviously pretty dumb during a global pandemic where most events are online, but it obviously made sense in the pre-pandemic world, so we've been encouraging a number of online meetup organizers to post them as normal posts instead. 

(this PR is already live on production)

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