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Several free CFAR summer programs on rationality and AI safety

18 Post author: AnnaSalamon 14 April 2016 02:35AM
CFAR will be running several free summer programs this summer which are currently taking applications.  Please apply if you’re interested, and forward the programs also to anyone else who may be a good fit!

EuroSPARC — July 19-27, 2016

Free applied rationality program for mathematically talented high school students (ages 16-19), located in Oxford, UK.  Intended for students from any country — we have funding to assist with flights from e.g. South America or Australia or China.  Apply here.

(SPARC itself is also running this summer, and remains awesome, but applications are now closed; it'll run again in 2017, though!)


Workshop on AI Safety Strategy — May 29-June 5 (plus the May 18-23 CFAR workshop if needed)

8 days*; 12 participants; located in the SF Bay Area (some travel assistance available). WAISS is aimed at (technical or non-technical) folks who want to better understand AI risk and how they can personally impact it. The workshop will include: (1) forecasting skills, and skills for modeling the AI strategic landscape; (2) further applied rationality skills, building from the standard CFAR workshop; and (3) space in which to brainstorm diverse pathways via which an individual might aim to impact AI risk with their career.


MIRI Summer Fellows Program — June 19-July 4

16 days; 20 participants; SF Bay Area; aimed at folks with strong math backgrounds who are interested in technical AI safety research.  MSFP is an intensive workshop that includes both applied rationality content, and practice doing technical research toward AI safety; it is co-run with MIRI technical researchers.  (Funded by MIRI.) Apply here.


CFAR for ML Researchers (CMLR) -- Aug 30-Sept 4

5 days; 45 participants; SF Bay Area; free, including flights.
CMLR will be an adapted version of our standard 4-day CFAR workshop, aimed at researchers in the field of machine learning or artificial intelligence. This includes graduate & undergraduate students, postdocs, faculty, and researchers from industry. The workshop will include a 5th "bonus day" for discussion of long-term AI impacts. (Funded by a grant from FLI.) Apply here.

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We are also still running our by now well-honed paid workshops, which remain awesome -- and which let you into our increasingly awesome alumni community :) Our next mainline CFAR workshop is May 18-22, 2016 in the Bay Area. We'll have a CFAR alumni reunion this August 19-22 (or dates very very close to those; venue still being pinned down); so this May's workshop is your last chance if you want to be able to come to the 2016 alumni reunion... Sign up here.


How do these AI safety programs fit into CFAR’s mission?

CFAR was created with the mission of “helping to train people who can impact the world’s most important problems, whatever those turn out to be”.

Many of us currently believe that AI safety is among the world’s most important problems, and so we’ll be trying our hand at training people who can help with that (via many of the programs above, and other future programs). It is also much easier to evaluate CFAR’s toolkit if we can see what happens when it is applied to a specific important-seeming problem.

At the same time, we recognize that there is a (possibly quite large) gap between our current beliefs about AI safety and the fact of the matter about what sorts of AI risks humanity is facing and how best to deal with them. Our hope, in running programs on AI safety, is that there will be a community of people thinking about the topic who will develop a better understanding of it than any of us (or anyone else) currently has. Thus, the focus of our programs is to teach general skills for inquiry, and create a space for people to apply them to the topic of AI safety.

We hope you’ll apply to any program you’re interested in, especially if you think you may disagree with some common/vocal viewpoints on some of these topics; conversations need diverse seeds to get to truth.

Comments (13)

Comment author: rpmcruz 10 April 2016 11:41:16AM *  1 point [-]

It was unfortunate that the CFAR for ML Researchers workshop collides with the European LW yearly meetup. I am a ML researcher, and I would love to go to San Francisco, but I don't want to miss the European meetup either. :)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 10 April 2016 07:02:45PM 1 point [-]

Alas, yes; I found that unfortunate as well, since I, too, had wanted to attend both!

Comment author: rpmcruz 14 April 2016 10:58:05PM *  0 points [-]

By the way, when do we get acceptance/rejection notifications? (And do we? :))

I have applied to the Fellows program. But I would need to know the answer to my application, in order to buy not terribly expensive flights, and to book holidays for that period. It's really useful for those of us who live in the other side of the planet to know. :) (I am not complaining, I appreciate the enormous work you guys are putting out there, including this free workshop, but it would be cool to know something about the application process. It is fine if I was rejected (well, I will be sad :)), but please let us know.)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 16 April 2016 06:04:31AM 0 points [-]

Working through these slowly; should be up to date by 4/24.

Comment author: rpmcruz 16 April 2016 09:07:50AM 0 points [-]

Sorry for being so impatient. :)

ps: I have received an email, and will submit the information during the weekend!

Comment author: negamuhia 11 April 2016 02:33:39PM 0 points [-]

I signed up for a CFAR workshop, and got a scholarship, but couldn't travel for financial reasons. Is there a way to get travel assistance for either WAISS or the MIRI Fellowship program? I'll just apply for both.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 11 April 2016 06:51:28PM 2 points [-]

WAISS, MSFP, CfML, and (for high-school-aged folk) EuroSPARC all have some ability to apply for travel assistance.

Comment author: LessWrong 11 April 2016 07:12:30PM 4 points [-]

What are your thoughts about virtual courses? I can see something like PDFs being freely available to download and an IRC channel for communication between students/teachers.

Makes it harder to go to a bar and grab some beers but it saves you the whole financial trouble and various other troubles.

Comment author: Viliam 15 April 2016 07:34:59PM 1 point [-]

Or creating a free online lesson at Udemy where everyone could do the lessons at their own speed.

Comment author: malcolmocean 21 April 2016 02:19:14PM *  1 point [-]

These sorts of media are pretty good for learning simple course content but quite hard for teaching habits of thought. It's kind of like how it's hard to learn breakdancing from a textbook: the textbook doesn't know how to breakdance, and you can't watch it breakdance.

In order to really get the new habits, you need to practice them with good feedback (and ideally, watch them in action) and it's hard to do this through virtual courses. Not entirely impossible, just very hard! The sequences, for instance, have changed peoples' mental habits.

The other challenge is that this sort of approach gives way slower feedback to the instructors who are trying to iterate rapidly on their explanations. I expect that as CFAR begins converging on "this is a really effective way to teach skill X" we'll start seeing more of their content posted online. But it might be several years before that seems more worthwhile than the workshops, given their benefits in social ties and in increased information value regarding how to teach things.

Comment author: prvak 23 May 2016 08:35:25AM 1 point [-]

I'm still waiting for the result of my interview for the Summer Fellows program. Is there still a backlog of candidates you're working through, or should I assume I didn't make it?

Comment author: prvak 24 May 2016 07:37:47AM 0 points [-]

No need to reply. Just found out I didn't make the cut.

Comment author: sanket 31 August 2016 10:35:30AM 0 points [-]

I signed up for a CFAR workshop