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I'm out of the loop. Did Daniel Kokotajlo lose his equity or not? If the NDA is not being enforced, are there now some disclosures being made?

Thanks for the source.

I've intentionally made it difficult for myself to log into twitter. For the benefit of others who avoid Twitter, here is the text of Kelsey's tweet thread:

I'm getting two reactions to my piece about OpenAI's departure agreements: "that's normal!" (it is not; the other leading AI labs do not have similar policies) and "how is that legal?" It may not hold up in court, but here's how it works:

OpenAI like most tech companies does salaries as a mix of equity and base salary. The equity is in the form of PPUs, 'Profit Participation Units'. You can look at a recent OpenAI offer and an explanation of PPUs here:

Many people at OpenAI get more of their compensation from PPUs than from base salary. PPUs can only be sold at tender offers hosted by the company. When you join OpenAI, you sign onboarding paperwork laying all of this out.

And that onboarding paperwork says you have to sign termination paperwork with a 'general release' within sixty days of departing the company. If you don't do it within 60 days, your units are cancelled. No one I spoke to at OpenAI gave this little line much thought.

And yes this is talking about vested units, because a separate clause clarifies that unvested units just transfer back to the control of OpenAI when an employee undergoes a termination event (which is normal).

There's a common legal definition of a general release, and it's just a waiver of claims against each other. Even someone who read the contract closely might be assuming they will only have to sign such a waiver of claims.

But when you actually quit, the 'general release'? It's a long, hardnosed, legally aggressive contract that includes a confidentiality agreement which covers the release itself, as well as arbitration, nonsolicitation and nondisparagement and broad 'noninterference' agreement.

And if you don't sign within sixty days your units are gone. And it gets worse - because OpenAI can also deny you access to the annual events that are the only way to sell your vested PPUs at their discretion, making ex-employees constantly worried they'll be shut out.

Finally, I want to make it clear that I contacted OpenAI in the course of reporting this story. So did my colleague SigalSamuel They had every opportunity to reach out to the ex-employees they'd pressured into silence and say this was a misunderstanding. I hope they do.

Even acknowledging that the NDA exists is a violation of it.

This sticks out pretty sharply to me.

Was this explained to the employees during the hiring process? What kind of precedent is there for this kind of NDA? 

There are things I would buy if they existed. Is there any better way to signal this to potential sellers, other than tweeting it and hoping they hear? Is there some reason to believe that sellers are already gauging demand so completely that they wouldn't start selling these things even if I could get through to them? 

Would I somehow feel this problem less acutely if I had never been taught Fahrenheit, Celcius, or Kelvin; and instead been told everything in terms of gigabytes per nanojoule? I guess probably not. Inconvenient conversions are not preventing me from figuring out the relations and benchmarks I'm interested in.

It's important to remember, though, that I will be fine if I so choose. After all, if the scary impression was the real thing then it would appear scary to everyone.  


Reading this makes me feel some concern. I think it should be seriously asked: Would you be fine if you hypothetically chose to take a gap year or drop out? Those didn't feel like realistic options for me when I was in high school and college, and I think this ended up making me much less fine than I would have been otherwise. Notably, a high proportion of my close friends in college ended up dropping out or having major academic problems, despite being the smartest and most curious people I could find.

My experiences during and after college seemed to make a lot more sense after hearing about ideas like credential inflation, surplus elites, and the signaling model. It seems plausible that I might have made better decisions if I had been encouraged to contemplate those ideas as a high schooler.

In measuring and communicating about the temperature of objects, humans can clearly and unambiguously benchmark things like daily highs and lows, fevers, snow, space heaters, refrigerators, a cup of tea, and the wind chill factor. We can place thermometers and thereby say which things are hotter than others, and by how much. Daily highs can overlap with fevers, but neither can boil your tea.

But then I challenge myself to estimate how hot a campfire is, and I'm totally stuck.

It feels like there are no human-sensible relationships once you're talking about campfires, self-cleaning ovens, welding torches, incandescent filaments, fighter jet exhaust, solar flares, Venus, Chernobyl reactor #4, the anger of the volcano goddess Pele, fresh fulgurites, or the boiling point of lead. Anything hotter than boiling water has ascended into the magisterium of the Divinely Hot, and nothing more detailed can be said of them by a mortal. If I were omnipotent, omniscient, & invulnerable, then I could put all those things in contact with each other and then watch which way the heat flows. But I am a human, so all I can say is that anything on that list could boil water.

Presumably he understood the value proposition of cryonics and declined it, right?

If everyone in town magically receives the same speedup in their "verbal footwork", is that good for meta-honesty? I would like some kind of story explaining why it wouldn't be neutral.

Point for yes: 
Sure seems like being able to quickly think up an appropriately nonspecific reference class when being questioned about a specific hypothetical does not make it harder for anyone else to do the same.

Point against: 

The code of literal truth only lets people navigate anything like ordinary social reality to the extent that they are very fast on their verbal feet, and can respond to the question "How are you?" by saying "Getting along" instead of "Horribly" or with an awkward silence while they try to think of something technically true.

This particular case seems anti-inductive and prone to the euphemism treadmill. Indeed, one person one time can navigate ordinary social reality by saying "Getting along" instead of giving an awkward silence; but many people doing so many times will find that it tends to work less well over time. If everyone magically becomes faster on their verbal feet, they can all run faster on the treadmill, but this isn't necessarily good for meta-honesty.

Implications: either cognitive enhancement becomes even more of a moral priority, or adhering to meta-honesty becomes a trustworthy signal of being more intelligent than those who don't. Neither outcome seems terrible to me, nor even all that much different from the status quo.

Answer by mike_hawke75

One concrete complaint I have is that I feel a strong incentive toward timeliness, at the cost of timelessness. Commenting on a fresh, new post tends to get engagement. Commenting on something from more than two weeks ago will often get none, which makes effortful comments feel wasted.

I definitely feel like there is A Conversation, or A Discourse, and I'm either participating in it during the same week as everyone else, or I'm just talking to myself.

(Aside: I have a live hypothesis that this is tightly related to The Twitterization of Everything.)

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