This is the job description that I've written for myself in order to clarify what I'm supposed to be doing.
I'm posting it here in order to get feedback on my understanding of the job. Also, if you're thinking of becoming an independent researcher, you might find it useful to know what it takes.
Job Title: Independent AI alignment researcher
Location: anywhere (in my case: Kagoshima, Japan)
Reports To: nobody (in a sense: funders, mentors, givers of feedback)
Position Status: not applicable
- Define AI alignment research projects. Includes finding questions, gauging their significance and devising ways to answer them.
- Execute research projects by reading, thinking and experimenting.
- Write and publish results in the form of blog entries, contributions to discussions and conferences (conference paper, presentation, poster), journal articles, public datasets, software.
- Solicit feedback and use it to improve processes and results.
- Find potential junior (in the sense of (slightly) less experienced in the field) researchers and help them grow.
- Help other researchers with their work.
- Make sure that the money doesn't run out.
- Any other activities required by funders or givers of feedback.
- Strong desire to do good for the world by contributing to AI alignment.
- Undergrad degree or equivalent skill level in computer science, maths or machine learning. Includes having researched, written and presented a scientific paper or thesis.
- Ability to define, plan and complete novel projects with little supervision.
- Ability to collaborate remotely.
- Ability to speak and write clearly.
- Ability to identify and close gaps in knowledge or skills.
- Ability to write job or funding applications.
- Ability to figure out things that are usually taken care of for employees: taxes, insurance, payments, bookkeeping, budgeting.
- Ability to deal with uncertainty and financial stress.