Rationality Boot Camp

by Jasen2 min read22nd Mar 2011202 comments



It’s been over a year since the Singularity Institute launched our ongoing Visiting Fellows Program and we’ve learned a lot in the process of running it.  This summer we’re going to try something different.  We’re going to run Rationality Boot Camp.

We are going to try to take ten weeks and fill them with activities meant to teach mental skills - if there's reading to be done, we'll tell you to get it done in advance.  We aren't just aiming to teach skills like betting at the right odds or learning how to take into account others' information, we're going to practice techniques like mindfulness meditation and Rejection Therapy (making requests that you know will be rejected), in order to teach focus, non-attachment, social courage and all the other things that are also needed to produce formidable rationalists.  Participants will learn how to draw (so that they can learn how to pay attention to previously unnoticed details, and see that they can do things that previously seemed like mysterious superpowers).  We will play games, and switch games every few days, to get used to novelty and practice learning.

We're going to run A/B tests on you, and track the results to find out which training activities work best, and begin the tradition of evidence-based rationality training.

In short, we're going to start constructing the kind of program that universities would run if they actually wanted to teach you how to think.

And then at the end, some of us are going to go to Burning Man for training in desert survival and living in an emotionally positive community.

When I call the program Rationality Boot Camp, I mean this quite literally.  Six days per week, participants will rise, meditate, prepare and eat food, attend lectures, participate in group and individual activities and exercise together.  

Everyone who applies needs to have read at least some of the Sequences, and may be assigned particular posts as makeup material - in which case you will need to read them before you arrive and you may be turned away otherwise.  Apart from that, we'll look for a mix of people who've demonstrated high productivity and who already seem like good epistemic rationalists.  The program will begin in the first week of June and continue through mid-August.  We will cover room, board and airfare.  We're going to try to take this up to the next level of awesome.  It's our first time trying something this ambitious and there will be speedbumps - and if that sounds very scary, consider applying next year when we'll know more for certain about how to teach people courage and the art of overcoming setbacks.  But if you're the sort of person who wants to be part of this program today, instead of putting it off into the indefinite future of maybe-never - or if you know that's the sort of person you want to be, and you're willing to put in the effort to reach up to that - then send in an application


Attention:  Anyone still interested in attending the course must get their application in by midnight on Friday the 8th of April.  I would like to make the final decision about who to accept by mid April and need to finish interviewing applicants before then.        

I expect to accept between 10 and 15 people this summer.

I expect to make all decisions about acceptance before the end of April and will try to do so sooner.  I will start scheduling skype interviews in a few days and will not wait until an arbitrary date before accepting people.  Apply as soon as possible to maximize your chance of being considered for this summer!
Don't worry if you're not chosen this time.  This program is an experiment, and if all goes well we will be holding holding several (even better!) programs like it each year.  If we never hold it again, you probably didn't miss much.