Useful Things Volunteers Can Do Right Now

post by lukeprog · 2011-09-24T23:33:14.743Z · score: 18 (19 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 26 comments

Per Kaj's suggestion, I'm posting my list of useful things volunteers can do right now. Without help, most of these things won't occur, because I need to be spending my time writing papers, promoting the Singularity Summit, collaborating with other researchers, improving Singularity Institute's transparency, etc.

Previously, I tried to have volunteers contact me so that I could assign people tasks, but that has become too time consuming (as Eliezer predicted), largely because (in my experience) the odds that a volunteer will actually perform a task given that they've agreed to perform it are very low.

So, I'll post my list here and hope that a few people self-organize to get some of them done. It's worth a shot! My sincere thanks to anyone completes any task on this list.

If you live in Berkeley and want to work directly with me on tasks, even better. I have a bottomless need for in-person personal assistants who want to do things that decrease existential risk, and you'll get to see the inner workings of an org currently making a run at being the world's leading independent transhumanist organization.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-09-24T23:51:48.491Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Find a free tool that backs up all your Google Docs, and is available for Mac, Linux, or PC.

Method #1: Use the Google Docs built-in export function. Go to your list of documents, click the check box next to "Actions" in order to select all, then click Actions -> Download. This brings up a menu that allows you to select the file formats for the documents. There is a size limit: "You can export up to 2 GB at a time."

Method #2: Use the Google Docs Download GreaseMonkey script, which produces a page with export links for each of your documents. The DownThemAll! add-on can be used to grab all of the links at once. (Note that this method requires Mozilla Firefox.)

Method #3: Use GDocBackup, a utility which "runs on Windows (tested on XP, Vista and 7), Linux (tested on Ubuntu 8.10 and OpenSuse 11.1) and Mac (tested on OS X 10.5.6)." After making a backup for the first time, this program can download only modified documents for subsequent backups.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-09-25T00:14:02.709Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

GDocBackup: I followed the Mac howto using Mono and the GUI. It works! Thanks!

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-09-25T00:27:06.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're welcome!

comment by lukeprog · 2012-07-21T20:08:15.794Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

07/21/2012 update:

  • Google Docs' built-in export function fails. It doesn't give an error, but it only exports 20-50 documents on each try.
  • The Google Docs Download GreaseMonkey script works, but DownThemAll pauses for 30-90 seconds between each document download, and thus would take days to download all my documents.
  • GDocBackup used to work but now it doesn't.

My current working solution is to use Firefox + GDD + FlashGot + iGetter. When downloading stops working on the iGetter queue, I need to click 'Pause All', wait 10 seconds, then click 'Start Auto.'

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2012-07-21T20:33:02.010Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think these failures of previous solutions are due to Google Docs being upgraded to/supplanted by Google Drive. Google Drive apparently has a built-in desktop sync feature, making exporting unnecessary. (Disclaimer: I haven't tried this yet myself.)

There is a company called Backupify which offers a tool that integrates with Google Drive to do an additional backup (rather than just syncing), but their app is listed with a cost of $3/month.

comment by lukeprog · 2012-07-21T20:58:31.050Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


I also tried the desktop sync feature, but it doesn't actually store local copies of the files in an accessible format. It just means that you can load it up in your browser in 'offline mode' on the particular computer on which you have the Google sync software installed.

Backupify seems like it should work.

comment by lukeprog · 2012-10-07T00:28:31.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Correction: Backupify only works if you use Google Apps. It doesn't work for personal Gmail accounts.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2011-09-25T01:17:59.148Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you need scriptability, the GoogleCL command-line tool may be handy, or the underlying gdata-python-client library.

comment by cadac · 2011-09-25T11:19:41.267Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am willing to translate the FAQ to German, but I'm not sure I can do it on my own, especially concerning the technical terms. Someone competent would have to independently translate the document or at least proofread my translation. Who wants to help?

comment by Tripitaka · 2011-09-26T22:36:39.143Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am willing to at least proofread or even collaborate sometimes on hard passages. Multiple indepent translations do not seem timeeffective at all.

Edit:@lukeprog, the only other language the singularity-FAQ is available in links to a downloadable word-document- why not have a regular HTML-site?

comment by cadac · 2011-09-28T14:56:33.512Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay! I'll contact you when I've finished the first draft.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-10-01T07:35:21.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Excellent. Glad you two are doing this!

comment by lukeprog · 2011-10-06T04:41:56.645Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Yes, this is also something a volunteer could do!

comment by wedrifid · 2011-09-25T04:47:35.160Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have about 8 fashion photos each from 3 minicampers, which need to be shown in random order to 5 straight females (in meatspace) who will judge which they prefer. I have the exact experimental design and the photos. Please email me [lukeprog at gmail] if you'd like to do this; it's perfect for somebody social.

It's possibly even more perfect for someone who isn't social. Because they get benefits from doing the work for you as well as helping you out. And I say doing useful things for partially selfish reasons is virtuous!

comment by marchdown · 2011-11-13T23:53:21.917Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've stumbled on this post accidentally, and I tend to read LW almost every day, going through sequences and skimming new discussions. This seems important, shouldn't it be displayed more prominently somewhere?

comment by Pablo_Stafforini · 2011-10-07T09:17:28.667Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i would be happy to translate the Singularity FAQ into Spanish. i am a professional translator and have some experience translating writings from the transhumanist community, e.g., David Pearce's.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-10-06T04:55:58.894Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

BTW, using a good translation service like Translia, it would cost about $1200 to translate the Singularity FAQ at good quality. So another way to contribute would be to donate $1200 and earmark it for Singularity FAQ translation.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2011-10-01T10:07:29.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are results from bisexual women any good, or do they have to be straight?

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-09-24T23:57:18.602Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

("Kindle Singles" is missing the second L)

comment by lukeprog · 2011-09-25T00:27:15.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh wait. Amazon says they can't have been published elsewhere, and they must be over 5,000 words. Nevermind. I removed that item from this list.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-09-24T23:57:41.782Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fixed thx.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-09-26T22:29:30.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Come up with ways to illustrate the idea of an intelligence explosion or friendly ai with a static graphic or a very short animation; create those graphics or animations if possible.

Can you narrow this down and explain more the specific purpose and what exactly needs to be communicated/how the mind of the target needs to be modified, and in what context?

comment by lukeprog · 2011-10-06T04:39:45.478Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could be used in PowerPoint presentations, on websites, on flyers, etc. An intelligence explosion graphic would need to successfully communicate the idea of recursive self-improvement. The goal would be to communicate the idea, and to make it seem slightly plausible to whoever sees it.

A friendly ai graphic would need to show a non-android-looking machine superintelligence crafting a world that humans want, and make this look desirable and cool.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-10-06T17:26:18.482Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This doesn't really sound possible to do with just visuals, the concepts are not themselves visual and there are no clear agreed upon symbolism for some of them, so you'd have to explain the metaphor you use anyway.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-09-25T00:02:45.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Making Kindle Singles seems outsourcable, perhaps using something like since the output is so concrete and verifiable.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2011-09-24T23:58:16.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kindle Singes