The Singularity Institute is hiring an executive assistant near Berkeley

post by Louie · 2012-01-22T07:47:30.432Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 26 comments

The Singularity Institute is hiring an executive assistant for Executive Director Luke Muehlhauser.

Right now his limiter (besides the need for some sleep and recreation) is not (1) cognitive exhaustion after a certain number of hours or (2) akrasia, but instead (3) needing to spend lots of time doing things that don't need to be him: e.g. hunting down the best product for X and buying it, shopping for food, finding names and email addresses for the top 30 researchers in field X, finding motorcycle classes and a motorcycle so he can stop paying so much for cabs when he doesn't have time for public transport, scheduling meetings with dozens of donors and collaborators, finding a good location for activity X, preparing an itinerary and buying plane tickets, and hundreds of other small things. (Some of these are 'life' things, some of these are SI things, but hours are hours.) Luke may also ask his executive assistant to handle certain tasks for other SI staffers.



Job requirements:

Bonus points if you...

How to apply:
Send an email to with the subject line "Executive Assistant Position". Include your cover letter as plain text in the email body, and attach your résumé in PDF format.



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-22T08:49:04.735Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

finding motorcycle classes and a motorcycle so he can stop paying so much for cabs when he doesn't have time for public transport

Motorcycles are incredibly dangerous. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts 2009, pages 23 and 29: for passenger car occupants, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has steadily declined from ~2.5 in the mid-1970s to below 1.0, while for motorcyclists it has gone up and down (I don't know why) but never below 20, which is roughly where it was at in 2009.

Replies from: David_Gerard, lukeprog, Louie
comment by David_Gerard · 2012-01-22T09:53:42.248Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

+1. They're not called "donorcycles" for no reason.

Edited to add: I do realise this is because from the motorcyclist's perspective, the average car driver is a dangerous moron. That doesn't change the stats.

Replies from: lessdazed
comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-22T18:18:33.501Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Motorcycles aren't dangerous. Cars are dangerous.

Particularly for people riding motorcycles.

Replies from: David_Gerard, None
comment by David_Gerard · 2012-01-22T19:03:22.814Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes indeed. But I don't think Luke's planned motorbiking environment is free of stupid cage drivers.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T18:22:17.870Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Self-driving cars would solve this too.

comment by lukeprog · 2012-01-22T16:36:30.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe a Smart Car, then. But motorcycles are cheaper, have much cheaper insurance, and don't depreciate in value. And I live on a non-profit salary.

Replies from: None, David_Gerard
comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-22T19:45:35.449Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you considered a bicycle? I only have a bike and I use it to get around everywhere in the city (not your city). Bikes actually work a lot better than you might expect if you have not tried it.

Replies from: Kevin
comment by Kevin · 2012-01-23T01:59:38.587Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Bikes aren't allowed on the Bay Bridge. They're very effective around here for local travel (for point to point travel in San Francisco or getting around Berkeley/Oakland bikes go at about the same speed as non-BART public transit) but the Bay Area is sprawling and I (and lukeprog) have to transit the whole Bay Area somewhat regularly.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-01-22T19:21:44.860Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Smart Cars are not as deadly as motorbikes, but way deadlier than most cars. They don't have crumple zones, relying on the crumple zone of the other car. (That's the manufacturer's actual justification.) So good thing trees have crumple zones, hey.

(I don't know their stats off the top of my head; I'm going by having glanced at a crash test report. Crash test reports are great things to read. VicRoads in Victoria had them in the waiting area for licence renewal. I'm so glad I don't need a car in London.)

In general: whoever's in the smaller car, comes off a whole lot worse. Driving something the size of a tank is good for you. (Unless it's an SUV, their higher centre of gravity means they roll more.)

I dunno. What are the accident stats like on your planned route?

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2012-01-26T02:46:58.880Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In general: whoever's in the smaller car, comes off a whole lot worse. Driving something the size of a tank is good for you.

And bad for everybody else. Total utility is probably negative because the process where people drive larger and larger cars in order to be safer (at the expense of others) leaves everyone roughly equally safe, but driving more expensive, more fuel-hungry, less-manoeuvrable cars.

Whether this is reason not to buy a larger car depends on one's level of altruism, of course.

Replies from: arundelo
comment by arundelo · 2012-01-26T05:53:15.553Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"A Nice Morning Drive" is a (very) short story that takes place in a future where this process has been taken to an extreme. (It was the inspiration for Rush's song "Red Barchetta".)

comment by Louie · 2012-01-22T12:22:52.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for doing the research on this. It actually makes me feel a lot better knowing how low these base rates are.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-22T13:52:59.751Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Let me try again.

In 2009, each licensed driver drove an average of 14,000 miles.

For cars, the fatality rate per 100M VMT was 0.87 (the exact number is on page 22 of my original link). 14,000 miles/year * 0.87 deaths/100,000,000 miles = .0001218 deaths/year = 0.1218 millideaths/year. Inversely, 1 in 8210 people will die each year. Now, my math is hiding subtle assumptions - Traffic Safety Facts 2009 gives the fatality rate for passenger car occupants per vehicle miles traveled. This is affected by how many people occupy a given car! Their definition of motorcyclist also includes people other than the driver. So, these numbers are not exact - but note the direction of bias. It is obvious that cars carry more people on average than motorcycles - therefore, looking at the fatality rate for cars makes them seem more dangerous than they are to a solo driver. Yet the car fatality rate is already an order of magnitude less than for motorcycles. Properly handling this would only strengthen what I'm saying.

For motorcycles (page 28, original link), the same calculation gives 14,000 miles/year * 21.45 deaths/100,000,000 miles = 0.003003 deaths/year = 3.003 millideaths/year. Inversely, 1 in 333 people will die each year. As I mentioned, this is over 20 times riskier (24.7 times!).

Imagine how dangerous cars are. Imagine all of the people who die in car accidents each year. They're pretty dangerous! But they're getting safer, and people judge that their utility outweighs the risks involved. Now, is a risk that's almost 25 times greater worth it?

Now, why aren't our dumpsters clogged with the rotting bodies of motorcyclists? That's because there are far fewer of them than car drivers/occupants, and they travel fewer miles. This simply reduces the exposure to the risk of motorcycles - if a motorcyclist drives less than 14,000 miles per year and experiences less than 3 millideaths per year as a result, it is the reduced distance that is conferring a protective effect, not the motorcycle. Driving whatever distance is chosen in a car instead would reduce the risk of death by 25 times.

Finally, for an absolute comparison, to crime. As you may have heard, South Africa is kind of dangerous! Currently, their homicide rate is 31.9 per 100,000. That's 0.319 millideaths per year - riskier than being a car occupant in America, but less risky than being a motorcyclist, holding vehicle miles traveled constant as explained immediately above.

Replies from: steven0461, gwern
comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-22T18:33:33.241Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The relevant quantity is expected time or money savings from riding a motorcycle (relative to Luke's current policy of taking taxis, or his alternative policy of getting a car) minus expected cost of fatalities, not fatality rate per mile, motorcycle fatalities divided by car fatalities, or motorcycle fatalities divided by South African murders. If driving a car comes with higher fixed costs than driving a motorcycle (that you have to pay regardless of miles traveled), then even if the fatality risk from a motorcycle makes a car the obvious better choice for someone traveling 14000 miles, a motorcycle could nonetheless be better for someone traveling 1400 miles. And if the alternative to riding a motorcycle were to travel 14000 miles a year by taxi, it might well be worth taking the 1 in 333 risk of death to avoid that kind of cost.

Replies from: Kevin
comment by Kevin · 2012-01-23T01:55:49.283Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. In California, motorcyclists are allowed to lane split. This means you can cut to the front of the line at traffic lights and skip the worst traffic on the Bay Bridge. On a 45-60 minute trip from Berkeley to SF during rush hour, a motorcyclist can do it in 30 or 35 minutes.

comment by gwern · 2012-01-22T15:56:05.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had this argument with AngryParsley (who also drives a motorcycle); he claimed, IIRC, that the motorcycle figures are inflated by drunk driving, and that for people who didn't drink and were safety-conscious, the figures were much less pessimistic.

Replies from: Costanza, Kevin
comment by Costanza · 2012-01-22T17:14:41.688Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sure the motorcycle figures are skewed by a lot of things. Compared to the average automobile driver, motorcycle riders disproportionately tend to be young males (like Luke), and probably young males who really, really want to show off by tempting death (maybe not so much like Luke). My impression is that the Bay Area in Northern California, partly because of high population density and a lack of parking, has a lot of people who choose to ride motorcycles for relatively practical reasons, and who also log far fewer miles than the average automobile driver.

With that said, there are added costs to motorcycle use. If you're going to ride responsibly, you really have to wear the full safety gear each and every time. That's not always convenient. You can't carry very much, even compared to what you can fit in a subcompact car. It rains sometimes. In my experience, motorcycles seem to need a lot of maintenance compared to the more reliable inexpensive cars. On the plus side, gasoline expenses are tiny. And a utilitarian should be happy that that your added risk of injury in the event of a crash is offset by the fact that the low mass of a motorcycle compared to a car means that you're less likely to hurt someone else. And should a rationalist care if riding a motorcycle is cool?

With that said, I'd suggest that being seen riding a motorcycle tends to make you a less convincing advocate for cryonics.

ETA: I note that one of the job requirements for the executive assistant position is "own a car."

Replies from: TheOtherDave, Kevin, John_Maxwell_IV
comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-22T18:38:07.782Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

should a rationalist care if riding a motorcycle is cool?

Absolutely, if doing cool things increases their chances of achieving their goals.

Replies from: Costanza
comment by Costanza · 2012-01-22T19:43:57.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not disagree!

But I wonder how much of the cool factor of motorcycling is dependent on the conspicuous display of risking death. I'm a former motorcycle rider myself, by the way. I sure as hell thought I was cool at the time, although in retrospect, I'm not so sure my acquaintances were so swept away as me.

In earlier ages, acceptance of the inevitability of death was the mark of a rationalist -- real, absolute death, with no afterlife. Clear-eyed acceptance of a bitter truth. These days, however, Eliezer has strongly associated SIAI with the assurance that death is no longer inevitable.

Luke is now one of the public representatives of SIAI. His revealed preferences are at least interesting to those of us on the outside.

Replies from: Kevin
comment by Kevin · 2012-01-23T01:57:03.088Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's definitely some aspect of that, though you can get 625cc scooters which are quite powerful, yet conspicuously less cool than a 250cc Honda Rebel.

comment by Kevin · 2012-01-23T02:01:48.571Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yup. It's an important point that a motorcycle is a more reasonable decision in the Bay Area (particularly San Francisco) than much of the rest of the USA, for much the same reason that motorcycles/scooters are strictly dominant over cars for everyday use in much of Asia.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-23T02:08:12.422Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I hear the expense of having to buy new tires frequently outweighs the gas savings.

comment by Kevin · 2012-01-23T02:02:49.960Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, in San Francisco, if you look at death maps of motorcyclists, highway onramps are the most dangerous aspect of being a motorcylist. I expect awareness of that and extra caution on and around onramps goes a long way.

comment by brilee · 2012-01-24T02:58:21.218Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyone who fits this bill is a person who is capable of making at least 100K a year. What makes you think you can hire this person at 3K a month?

Replies from: bbarth
comment by bbarth · 2012-01-24T04:26:59.907Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As one of the folks who made this argument in the other job thread, I'm going to disagree with you. Paying an assistant $36k/yr seems low to me for the Bay Area, but $100k/yr is probably out of line. These all seem like assistanty things that draw more modest salaries. puts the average for administrative assistants in SF at $43k/yr, so given that it's non-profit, it's certainly in range. Do SIAI jobs come with health insurance?

comment by Curiouskid · 2012-02-19T21:15:56.144Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm surprised nobody mentioned car sharing. SF is one of the only places that's actually doing it.