EA Tourism: London, Blackpool and Prague

post by Jsevillamol · 2018-08-07T10:41:06.900Z · score: 39 (18 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comments

Contents

  First week: London
  Second week: Blackpool
  Third week: Prague
None
1 comment

I have spent the last three weeks visiting three hubs of EA projects. This is a blogpost briefly describing my experiences and thoughts during these three weeks.

First week: London

In London I stayed in Newspeak House, a residence and community space inhabited by a rotating roster of fellows from diverse backgrounds who live for a short time (typically months) while trying to influence British politics in sensible directions and connect other groups trying to do similar things. While they do not identify as Effective Altruists, I think there is a huge overlap of goals. Events are happening all the time, so I recommend dropping by to meet some interesting people if you are based on or visiting London.

One of the events I attended in Newspeak house is a foundational meeting of the Ethics in Maths movement. We were a coalition of people with a background in mathematics, some of us EA or EA adjacent, discussing how to orient and empower mathematicians to tackle important global problems. I have been involved in advocacy among mathematicians for a fairly long time, through some fairly ambitious projects like the European Summer Program on Rationality. I would love to see more people discussing how to support and connect mathematicians to important problems in the LW and EA circles.

I also attended a couple of EA London events, where I re encountered some old friends and met some new people. I do appreciate local groups which consistently organize events where visitors from other areas are welcome. If you are in a local group, please consider organizing more of this! And if you are visiting a new area, consider putting yourself in touch with the locals!

Second week: Blackpool

In Blackpool I stayed in the EA Hotel, a wonderful initiative lead by Greg Colbourn. People are welcome to stay in the hotel for free (food included) while they are working on EA projects.

I think it is ideal if you have a concrete idea for a project you can work remotely on and you need space to focus on it. I would however currently advise against going to the hotel if you struggle with motivation issues, as there is little accountability structure in the hotel (just a weekly group check in).

But if you are ready to tackle an important problem, the EA Hotel is a great place to stay in. It is peaceful and there is a fairly high level of trust and complicity among the residents.

While I was staying in the EA Hotel, I chose to work on Open Source Game Theory research on my own, following the researched direction pointed by Scott Garrabrant in Prisoners' Dilemma with Costs to Modelling [LW · GW].

I did not find any interesting results, but it was a good exercise to calibrate how much do I enjoy working on foundational research. I left my partial results and some links to useful resources in the comments of said post [LW · GW] if you want to try yourself.

Third week: Prague

The final stop in my journey was the Human Aligned AI Summer School organized by EA Prague.

During the school I met several interesting people working on AI Alignment, like Daniel Filan from CHAI, Miles Brundage from FHI and Abram Demski from MIRI.

It was a great opportunity to reflect and get information on what to do after I graduate from my Math/CS Bachelor (incidentally, let me know in the comments if you know of interesting opportunities for recently graduated Bachelors!) and build a better map of what people are currently working on.

I am currently very impressed by the organizational capacity of EA Prague, and I am looking forward to see how their other programs turn out. I recommend checking out their programs related to CFAR and the AI Safety Camp.


And thus we are done! These have been three really pleasant weeks, and I am now feeling quite motivated to work on my own projects.

To give a final advice, I will say it again: try EA tourism! Contact with your local LW/EA groups when you travel! It's a fun way of meeting interesting new people.

1 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Stefan De Young (stefan-de-young) · 2018-08-09T19:26:05.227Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My partner and I recently traveled to the Bay area from Canada for a wedding. While we were there we were able to attend the San Francisco and Berkeley Lesswrong meetups and stay with some lovely EAs at the Berkeley REACH. Having an in with locals made the trip a lot more valuable than simply taking in the sights in ways that are easy to imagine and hard to describe.

I heartily second your recommendation to look up the existing community on your travels.