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Use and misuse of models: case study

13 Stuart_Armstrong 27 April 2017 02:36PM

Some time ago, I discovered a post comparing basic income and basic job ideas. This sought to analyse the costs of paying everyone a guaranteed income versus providing them with a basic job with that income. The author spelt out his assumptions and put together a two models with a few components (including some whose values were drawn from various probability distributions). Then he ran a Monte Carlo simulation to get a distribution of costs for either policy.

Normally I should be very much in favour of this approach. It spells out the assumptions, it uses models, it decomposes the problem, it has stochastic uncertainty... Everything seems ideal. To top it off, the author concluded with a challenge aiming at improving reasoning around this subject:

How to Disagree: Write Some Code

This is a common theme in my writing. If you are reading my blog you are likely to be a coder. So shut the fuck up and write some fucking code. (Of course, once the code is written, please post it in the comments or on github.)

I've laid out my reasoning in clear, straightforward, and executable form. Here it is again. My conclusions are simply the logical result of my assumptions plus basic math - if I'm wrong, either Python is computing the wrong answer, I got really unlucky in all 32,768 simulation runs, or you one of my assumptions is wrong.

My assumption being wrong is the most likely possibility. Luckily, this is a problem that is solvable via code.

And yet... I found something very unsatisfying. And it took me some time to figure out why. It's not that these models are helpful, or that they're misleading. It's that they're both simultaneously.

To explain, consider the result of the Monte Carlo simulations. Here are the outputs (I added the red lines; we'll get to them soon):

The author concluded from these outputs that a basic job was much more efficient - less costly - than a basic income (roughly 1 trillion cost versus 3.4 trillion US dollars). He changed a few assumptions to test whether the result held up:

For example, maybe I'm overestimating the work disincentive for Basic Income and grossly underestimating the administrative overhead of the Basic Job. Lets assume both of these are true. Then what?

The author then found similar results, with some slight shifting of the probability masses.


The problem: what really determined the result

So what's wrong with this approach? It turns out that most of the variables in the models have little explanatory power. For the top red line, I just multiplied the US population by the basic income. The curve is slightly above it, because it includes such things as administrative costs. The basic job situation was slightly more complicated, as it includes a disabled population that gets the basic income without working, and a estimate for the added value that the jobs would provide. So the bottom red line is (disabled population)x(basic income) + (unemployed population)x(basic income) - (unemployed population)x(median added value of jobs). The distribution is wider than for basic income, as the added value of the jobs is a stochastic variable.

But, anyway, the contribution of the other variables were very minor. So the reduced cost of basic jobs versus basic income is essentially a consequence of the trivial fact that it's more expensive to pay everyone an income, than to only pay some people and then put them to work at something of non-zero value.


Trees and forests

So were the complicated extra variables and Monte Carlo runs for nothing? Not completely - they showed that the extra variables were indeed of little importance, and unlikely to change the results much. But nevertheless, the whole approach has one big, glaring flaw: it does not account for the extra value for individuals of having a basic income versus a basic job.

And the challenge - "write some fucking code" - obscures this. The forest of extra variables and the thousands of runs hides the fact that there is a fundamental assumption missing. And pointing this out is enough to change the result, without even needing to write code. Note this doesn't mean the result is wrong: some might even argue that people are better off with a job than with the income (builds pride in one's work, etc...). But that needs to be addressed.

So Chris Stucchio's careful work does show one result - most reasonable assumptions do not change the fact that basic income is more expensive than basic job. And to disagree with that, you do indeed need to write some fucking code. But the stronger result - that basic job is better than basic income - is not established by this post. A model can be well designed, thorough, filled with good uncertainties, and still miss the mark. You don't always have to enter into the weeds of the model's assumptions in order to criticise it.

[Link] Men without work,or prospects

2 morganism 03 April 2017 08:14PM

Calling references: Rational or irrational?

7 PhilGoetz 28 August 2015 09:06PM

Over the past couple of decades, I've sent out a few hundred resumes (maybe, I don't know, 300 or 400--my spreadsheet for 2013-2015 lists 145 applications).  Out of those I've gotten at most two dozen interviews and a dozen job offers.

Throughout that time I've maintained a list of references on my resume.  The rest of the resume is, to my mind, not very informative.  The list of job titles and degrees says little about how competent I was.

Now and then, I check with one of my references to see if anyone called them.  I checked again yesterday with the second reference on my list.  The answer was the same:  Nope.  No one has ever, as far as I can recall, called any of my references.  Not the people who interviewed me; not the people who offered me jobs.

When the US government did a background check on me, they asked me for a list of references to contact.  My uncertain recollection is that they ignored it and interviewed my neighbors and other contacts instead, as if what I had given them was a list of people not to bother contacting because they'd only say good things about me.

Is this rational or irrational?  Why does every employer ask for a list of references, then not call them?

Seeking geeks interested in bioinformatics

17 bokov 22 June 2015 01:44PM

I work at a small but feisty research team whose focus is biomedical informatics, i.e. mining biomedical data. Especially anonymized hospital records pooled over multiple healthcare networks. My personal interest is ultimately life-extension, and my colleagues are warming up to the idea as well. But the short-term goal that will be useful many different research areas is building infrastructure to massively accelerate hypothesis testing on and modelling of retrospective human data.


We have a job posting here (permanent, non-faculty, full-time, benefits):



If you can program, want to work in an academic research setting, and can relocate to San Antonio, TX, I invite you to apply. Thanks.

Note: The first step of the recruitment process will be a coding challenge, which will include an arithmetical or string-manipulation problem to solve in real-time using a language and developer tools of your choice.

edit: If you tried applying and were unable to access the posting, it's because the link has changed, our HR has an automated process that periodically expires the links for some reason. I have now updated the job post link.

The morality of disclosing salary requirements

6 PhilGoetz 08 February 2015 09:12PM

Many firms require job applicants to tell them either how much money they're making at their current jobs, or how much they want to make at the job they're interviewing for. This is becoming more common, as more companies use web application forms that refuse to accept an application until the "current salary" or "salary requirements" box is filled in with a number.

The Arguments

I've spoken with HR people about this, and they always say that they're just trying to save time by avoiding interviewing people who want more money than they can afford.

continue reading »

Apptimize -- rationalist startup hiring engineers

68 nancyhua 12 January 2015 08:22PM

Apptimize is a 2-year old startup closely connected with the rationalist community, one of the first founded by CFAR alumni.  We make “lean” possible for mobile apps -- our software lets mobile developers update or A/B test their apps in minutes, without submitting to the App Store. Our customers include big companies such as Nook and Ebay, as well as Top 10 apps such as Flipagram. When companies evaluate our product against competitors, they’ve chosen us every time.

We work incredibly hard, and we’re striving to build the strongest engineering team in the Bay Area. If you’re a good developer, we have a lot to offer.


  • Our team of 14 includes 7 MIT alumni, 3 ex-Googlers, 1 Wharton MBA, 1 CMU CS alum, 1 Stanford alum, 2 MIT Masters, 1 MIT Ph. D. candidate, and 1 “20 Under 20” Thiel Fellow. Our CEO was also just named to the Forbes “30 Under 30

  • David Salamon, Anna Salamon’s brother, built much of our early product

  • Our CEO is Nancy Hua, while our Android lead is "20 under 20" Thiel Fellow James Koppel. They met after James spoke at the Singularity Summit

  • HP:MoR is required reading for the entire company

  • We evaluate candidates on curiosity even before evaluating them technically

  • Seriously, our team is badass. Just look

Self Improvement

  • You will have huge autonomy and ownership over your part of the product. You can set up new infrastructure and tools, expense business products and services, and even subcontract some of your tasks if you think it's a good idea

  • You will learn to be a more goal-driven agent, and understand the impact of everything you do on the rest of the business

  • Access to our library of over 50 books and audiobooks, and the freedom to purchase more

  • Everyone shares insights they’ve had every week

  • Self-improvement is so important to us that we only hire people committed to it. When we say that it’s a company value, we mean it

The Job

  • Our mobile engineers dive into the dark, undocumented corners of iOS and Android, while our backend crunches data from billions of requests per day

  • Engineers get giant monitors, a top-of-the-line MacBook pro, and we’ll pay for whatever else is needed to get the job done

  • We don’t demand prior experience, but we do demand the fearlessness to jump outside your comfort zone and job description. That said, our website uses AngularJS, jQuery, and nginx, while our backend uses AWS, Java (the good parts), and PostgreSQL

  • We don’t have gratuitous perks, but we have what counts: Free snacks and catered meals, an excellent health and dental plan, and free membership to a gym across the street

  • Seriously, working here is awesome. As one engineer puts it, “we’re like a family bent on taking over the world”

If you’re interested, send some Bayesian evidence that you’re a good match to jobs@apptimize.com

[Need advice] Likely consequences of disclosing you have Asperger's Syndrome - given you have a 2.5 years gap in your resume?

3 chemotaxis101 01 December 2014 04:56PM


A few years ago I (was forced to) left grad school (halfway into it) because of complications related to a set of anxiety disorders (a typical comorbidity in Autism Spectrum Disorders; I now have a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. I'm also planning to return to grad school next year).

I have a family (2 children). Around the same time I left grad school, we received my daughter's diagnosis (she has more of a classical form of autism), followed by my own diagnosis.

With regards to my professional record, after approx. 2.5 years in grad school and 2.5 years completely out of the job market, I finally began to work at a small consulting firm. They are aware of my daughter's autism, but they don't know of my own diagnosis.


I'm also vice-president of a local, small, autism-related NGO who is now trying to convince me to disclose my being on the autism spectrum (for publicity and awareness reasons). They are planning to arrange an interview for me at a TV channel. In fact, the decision was already made, as I'm effectively coming out of the closet on December 9th, by means of an interview on a local radio station.

I'm enthusiasticaly in favour of such a move (for both egoistic and altruistic reasons), but am also afraid of potential consequences on my future professional prospects. Also consider that it's likely that I will need a new work position very soon.

In summary, I'm only worried with the fact of also having a track record of being out of the job market for quite some time, so that I'm afraid some hiring manager could be tempted to negatively associate the gap in my resume to my condition.

The Centre for Effective Altruism is hiring to fill five roles in research, operations and outreach

10 RobertWiblin 19 November 2014 10:41PM

The Centre for Effective Altruism, the group behind 80,000 Hours, Giving What We Can, the Global Priorities Project, Effective Altruism Outreach, and to a lesser extent The Life You Can Save and Animal Charity Evaluators, is looking to grow its team with a number of new roles:

We are so keen to find great people that if you introduce us to someone new who we end up hiring, we will pay you $1,000 for the favour! If you know anyone awesome who would be a good fit for us please let me know: robert [dot] wiblin [at] centreforeffectivealtruism [dot] org. They can also book a short meeting with me directly.

We may be able to sponsor outstanding applicants from the USA.

Applications close Friday 5th December 2014.

Why is CEA an excellent place to work? 

First and foremost, “making the world a better place” is our bottom line and central aim. We work on the projects we do because we think they’re the best way for us to make a contribution. But there’s more.

What are we looking for?

The specifics of what we are looking for depend on the role and details can be found in the job descriptions. In general, we're looking for people who have many of the following traits:

  • Self-motivated, hard-working, and independent;
  • Able to deal with pressure and unfamiliar problems;
  • Have a strong desire for personal development;
  • Able to quickly master complex, abstract ideas, and solve problems;
  • Able to communicate clearly and persuasively in writing and in person;
  • Comfortable working in a team and quick to get on with new people;
  • Able to lead a team and manage a complex project;
  • Keen to work with a young team in a startup environment;
  • Deeply interested in making the world a better place in an effective way, using evidence and research;
  • A good understanding of the aims of the Centre for Effective Altruism and its constituent organisations.

I hope to work at CEA in the future. What should I do now?

Of course this will depend on the role, but generally good ideas include:

  • Study hard, including gaining useful knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
  • Degrees we have found provide useful training include: philosophy, statistics, economics, mathematics and physics. However, we are hoping to hire people from a more diverse range of academic and practical backgrounds in the future. In particular, we hope to find new members of the team who have worked in operations, or creative industries.
  • Write regularly and consider starting a blog.
  • Manage student and workplace clubs or societies.
  • Work on exciting projects in your spare time.
  • Found a start-up business or non-profit, or join someone else early in the life of a new project.
  • Gain impressive professional experience in established organisations, such as those working in consulting, government, politics, advocacy, law, think-tanks, movement building, journalism, etc.
  • Get experience promoting effective altruist ideas online, or to people you already know.
  • Use 80,000 Hours' research to do a detailed analysis of your own future career plans.

Help MIRI run its Oxford UK workshop in November

6 lukeprog 15 September 2013 03:13AM

This November 23-29, MIRI is running its first European research workshop, at Oxford University.

We need somebody familiar with Oxford UK to (1) help us locate and secure lodging for the workshop participants ahead of time, (2) order food for delivery during the workshop, and (3) generally handle on-the-ground logistics.

Apply here for the chance to:

  1. Work with, and hang out with, MIRI staff.
  2. Spend some time (during breaks) with the workshop participants.
  3. Help MIRI work towards its goals.

You can either volunteer to help us for free, or indicate how much you'd need to be paid per hour to take the job.

SI is looking to hire someone to finish a Decision Theory FAQ

7 malo 02 September 2012 04:48AM

The Singularity Institute is looking to hire someone familiar with decision theory to help finish Luke's Decision Theory FAQ (with the possibility of working on other projects afterwards). The first task of this individual will be to expand on section 11 by explaining each of the Newcomblike problems and showing how EDT, CDT, CDT+, and TDT perform on each of them. 

Pay will be hourly and starts at $15/hr, but will increase if you produce a good product. You must be able to commit an average of 20+hrs/wk.


Those applying for the position should be generally familliar with most of the following:

Working remotely for SI can be pretty great, here are some of the perks:
  • Work flexible hours: Complete your work in few large chunks or many small ones—at 03:00 or 18:00—it's up to you.
  • Work from wherever you please: your home (maybe even in bed), your local coffee shop, a row boat in the middle of a lake, whatever.
  • Age and credentials are irrelevant; only product matters.
  • Make money while contributing to the Singularity Institute.


If you are interested in the position, apply here!

SI/CFAR Are Looking for Contract Web Developers

4 malo 06 August 2012 10:47PM

The Singularity Institute and the Center for Applied Rationality are looking to expand their web development team. As per usual we'd like to post this opportunity to the LW community first. All work will be on a contract basis (you quote us your hourly rate).


  • Make money while contributing to organizations you care about.
  • Age and credentials are irrelevant; only product matters.
  • WordPress and PHP skills (some features require PHP coding).
  • Good design sense.
  • Ability to start work on tasks/features quickly and deliver them in a timely manner (i.e., responsiveness).

If you're interested, apply here!

[Applications Closed] The Singularity Institute is hiring remote LaTeX editors

8 malo 29 July 2012 12:27AM

The Singularity Institute has recently made the transition to a LaTeX based document production workflow for its publications and republished its existing research papers. However, there is still much work to be done and we need more remote LaTeX editors. Some projects currently in the queue include converting both The Sequences and Facing the Singularity into LaTeX based books.

As with other remote positions, pay is hourly and starts at $14/hr but will increase if you produce a good product.


  • Work flexible hours: Complete your work in few large chunks or many small ones—at 03:00 or 18:00—it's up to you.
  • Work from wherever you please: your home (maybe even in bed), your local coffee shop, a hostel in Nepal, whatever.
  • Age and credentials are irrelevant; only product matters.
  • Make money while contributing to The Singularity Institute.
  • Experience creating and typesetting LaTeX based documents.
  • Good attention to detail (this is more important than being a LaTeX wiz).
  • Ability to work autonomously and set your own schedule.

If you're interested, apply here. If you aren't sure you're qualified, err on the side of applying.

Edit: Applications have been closed.

Lesswrong Community's How-Tos and Recommendations

25 EE43026F 07 May 2012 01:41PM

The Lesswrong community is often a dependable source of recommendations, network help, and advice. When I'm looking for a book or learning material on a topic I'll often try and search here to see what residents have found useful. Similarly, social advice, anecdotes and explanations as seen from the point of view of the community have regularly been insightful or eye-opening. The prototypical examples of such articles are, on top of my head :



the topics of which are neatly listed on



And lately



the latter prompted me to write this article. We don't keep track of such resources as far as I know. This probably belongs in the wiki as well.


Other potentially useful resources were:





math learning




misc learning

























Experiment: a good researcher is hard to find

29 gwern 30 April 2012 05:13PM

See previously “A good volunteer is hard to find”

Back in February 2012, lukeprog announced that SIAI was hiring more part-time remote researchers, and you could apply just by demonstrating your chops on a simple test: review the psychology literature on habit formation with an eye towards practical application. What factors strengthen new habits? How long do they take to harden? And so on. I was assigned to read through and rate the submissions and Luke could then look at them individually to decide who to hire. We didn’t get as many submissions as we were hoping for, so in April Luke posted again, this time with a quicker easier application form. (I don’t know how that has been working out.)

But in February, I remembered the linked post above from GiveWell where they mentioned many would-be volunteers did not even finish the test task. I did, and I didn’t find it that bad, and actually a kind of interesting exercise in critical thinking & being careful. People suggested that perhaps the attrition was due not to low volunteer quality, but to the feeling that they were not appreciated and were doing useless makework. (The same reason so many kids hate school…) But how to test this?

continue reading »

Robots ate my job [links]

5 torekp 10 April 2012 01:57AM

Mechanical Engineering magazine (paywalled until next month) and Financial Times, among others, recently reviewed the book Race Against the Machine by economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.  The FT reviewer writes:

Pattern recognition, the authors think, will quickly allow machines to branch out further. Computers will soon drive more safely than humans, a fact Google has demonstrated by allowing one to take out a Toyota Prius for a 1,000-mile spin. Truck and taxi drivers should be worried – but then so should medical professionals, lawyers and accountants; all of their jobs are at risk too. The outcome is a nightmarish but worryingly convincing vision of a future in which an ever-decreasing circle of professions is immune from robotic encirclement.

And ME magazine quotes McAfee in an interview:

Once computers get better than people, you don't have to hire people to do that job any more.  That doesn't mean that people can't find work.  There will always be an amount of work to do, but they won't like the wages they are offered.

Both reviewers also hint that McAfee and Brynjolfsson offer a partial explanation of the "jobless recovery", but either the book's argument is weak or the reviewers do a poor job summarizing it.  Such a purported explanation might be the main attraction for most readers, but I'm more interested in the longer-term picture.  Be it the "nightmarish vision" of the future mentioned in FT, or the simpler point about wages offered by McAfee, this might be a good hook to get the general public thinking about the long-term consequences of AI.

Is that a good idea?  Should sleeping general publics be left to lie?  There seems to be significant reluctance among many LessWrongers to stir the public, but have we ever hashed out the reasons for and against?  Please describe any non-obvious reasons on either side.

The Singularity Institute STILL needs remote researchers (may apply again; writing skill not required)

7 lukeprog 09 April 2012 03:47AM

Update: As of December 2012, we are still accepting applications!

A while ago, I announced that the Singularity Institute is hiring remote researchers. I've hired a few people, but I still need more remote researchers. I think I screened off too many otherwise capable people because the 'test task' I asked applicants to perform was too time-consuming.

So even if you've already applied and been rejected, please apply via the new application form. The test task this time will not be quite so time consuming.

Pay is hourly and starts at $14/hr but that will rise if the product is good. You must be available to work at least 20 hours/week to be considered.


  • Work from home, with flexible hours.
  • Age, location, and credentials are irrelevant; only the product matters.
  • Get paid to research things you're probably interested in anyway.
  • Contribute to human knowledge in immediately actionable ways. We need this research because we are about to act on it. Your work will not fall into the journal abyss that most academic research falls into.

If you're interested, apply here.

Why post this job ad on LessWrong? We need people with some measure of genuine curiosity.

Also see Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently.


James Martin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Socio-economic Impacts of Technological Change

6 Stuart_Armstrong 08 March 2012 02:54PM

We are pleased to announce a new vacancy at the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology. Please forward to any who would be interested.


James Martin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship:

Socio-economic Impacts of Technological Change 
with the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

University of Oxford

Faculty of Philosophy

The Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford Martin School


Grade 7: £29,249–£39,257 per annum 
Protocol reference number: HUM/11043F/E


Applications are invited for a Research Fellowship within the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, an interdisciplinary programme within the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University.  This Fellowship is available on a one year full-time or two years part-time fixed term basis.


The Programme, directed by Professor Nick Bostrom, analyzes possibilities related to long-range technological change and potential social impacts of future transformative technologies. Research foci include the future of computing and machine intelligence, existential risks, predictive and evaluative uncertainty, and related philosophical issues.


The postholder will conduct research on socio-economic and strategic impacts of potentially transformative or disruptive future technological innovations, including (but not limited to) advances in computing and machine intelligence, biosecurity and surveillance technology. Academic background is open. Potential areas include economics, political science, legal theory, and sociology; other relevant areas include environmental economics, game theory, and risk management. A multidisciplinary background would be favourable.

For further particulars and application details, please see:


or contact:futuretech@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

The deadline for applications is Monday 9th April.

The Singularity Institute is hiring remote HTML / WordPress workers!

4 lukeprog 02 March 2012 03:57AM

The Singularity Institute needs to hire remote HTML & WordPress workers. (For example, we need to move dozens of Singularity Summit talk transcripts to our new WordPress site and fix any formatting errors that result from that move.) This requires basic knowledge of HTML and WordPress.

Pay is hourly and starts at $12/hr but that will rise if the product is good. You must be available to work at least 20 hrs/week to be considered.



  1. Work from home, with flexible hours.
  2. Age and credentials are irrelevant; only the product matters.

If you're interested, apply here.


The Singularity Institute is hiring remote editors!

6 lukeprog 02 March 2012 03:31AM

The Singularity Institute needs to hire remote editors. You don't need to be able to conquer the blank page or write good content, you just need to be able to polish completed 2nd drafts of articles and suggest small fixes to wording when ideas are slightly wrong or ambiguous. The work will usually consist in adding dozens of comments to a Google doc or Word doc.

Pay is hourly and starts at $14/hr but that will rise if the product is good. You must be available to work at least 20 hrs/week to be considered.



  1. Work from home, with flexible hours.
  2. Age and credentials are irrelevant; only the product matters.
  3. Get paid to see early copies of (and contribute to) articles on things you're probably interested in already.


If you're interested, apply here. My assistant Denise will send you an example of the editing quality we want, and also an un-commented article for you to provide feedback on as an unpaid trial task. If your deliverable is good enough, I'll hire you.

Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours are recruiting!

15 lukeprog 25 February 2012 06:34PM

Below is a message from my friends at Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours, two key organizations in the efficient charity or "optimal philanthropy" movement.


Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours are both taking paid staff from next year. So if you would be interested in working part or full-time next year for either of these two organisations, then please send an e-mail to niel.bowerman@givingwhatwecan.org by the 2nd March, 5pm GMT, with a short description telling us a little bit about yourself. We can then send you further information on how to apply, and on what working with us would involve.

Areas in which we are particularly interested in hiring are:


Strategic Research.  Both organisations are highly concerned to know whether their method is the optimal way to make the world a better place; and, if it isn’t, how we can improve it.  We’re looking to hire staff to help us to answer that question.  

If you have strong research skills, have performed well academically, and are sympathetic to the GWWC or 80k way of thinking, then you would fit well into this role. Relevant background subjects include but are not limited to: philosophy, mathematics, economics and the other sciences.


Operations and management. In order for the organisations to remain secure and successful, we would need strong support on an operational level.

If you have an eye for detail, and especially if you have previous experience working within operations or management, then you could flourish in this role.


Volunteer Recruitment. Both organisations are largely run by volunteers, and are looking to expand significantly next year. We’re especially looking to recruit highly dedicated volunteers who are willing to work 10hrs/week or more.

If you are people-minded, or have experience with volunteer-run organisations previously, then this could be the role for you.


Potential employment is not limited to these roles, however, and there would be considerable room for any employee to partially write their own role.  What we are principally looking for are dedicated people who understand and support the GWWC or 80k approach to making the world a better place.

For those who haven't heard of the organisations before, here is a short description:

Giving What We Can is concerned with two primary activities: encouraging people to give more and to give more effectively to causes that fight poverty in the developing world.  Every member of the organisation pledges to give at least 10% of their income to the charities that best fight extreme poverty.  Giving What We Can also does in-depth charity evaluation, and advocates that people give more to the most cost-effective charities.  We've so far raised over $1.5 million to the expectedly best development charities, with over $40,000,000 pledged.

80,000 Hours encourages people to pursue a high-impact ethical career: a career that enables them to do as much to make the world a better place as possible.  The careers it highlights are professional philanthropy – pursuing a lucrative career in order to donate a substantial proportion of one’s earnings to the best causes – and careers in certain research areas or careers through which one can have a large influence over others.  It now has 74 members, and has also received major media coverage. 

A major aim of both organisations is to build the movement of effective altruists: people who take a rational approach to making the world as good a place as possible, and are willing to put that idea into practice.  Between the two organisations, the ultimate cause is not limited to global poverty alleviation. For example, we are doing research into optimal x-risk mitigation strategy, and cost-effectiveness evaluation of x-risk mitigation organisations.

If you were to work for either organisation, you would have considerable flexibility in your work, as part of a young and fast-growing charity.  You’d be working in the company of other highly intelligent and enthusiastic staff, among a community of people doing their best to make a huge positive impact on the world.  It’s an exciting opportunity!

So, even if you’re not sure, but you’re interested in finding out more, please register your interest by e-mailing niel.bowerman@givingwhatwecan.org.

Thanks for your interest,

The GWWC and 80K Teams


The Singularity Institute is hiring virtual assistants (work from home, from anywhere)

10 lukeprog 25 February 2012 04:44AM

The Singularity Institute is hiring 1-3 virtual assistants. (That is, personal assistants that work from home, anywhere with internet access.)



  • Work directly with some of the central figures of Less Wrong, especially Luke(prog) and Anna Salamon.
  • Work from home most of the time.
  • Trial period of part-time work at $13/hr; if all goes well then get hired as a contractor for full-time work or more (if you're available) at $15/hr.


  • Capable of self-management and figuring things out. An example instruction is "Find me three ghost writers who have previously published best-selling science books and figure out how much they cost." We don't have time to figure out how one goes about doing that, so we need our virtual assistants to be able to do research (by internet and phone) to figure out how to do that.
  • Be generally on-board with with rationality and existential risk mitigation. (This makes communication and goal coordination easier.)
  • Be clear and professional in emails and (much less often) on the phone.


How to apply:

Send an email to jobs@intelligence.org with the subject line "Virtual Assistant Position." Attach your résumé if you have one, or at least describe why you think you'd be good at this job. Also list other skills and experience you have, even if you're not sure they'd be relevant.

SI wants to hire a remote LaTeX guru

11 lukeprog 18 February 2012 05:39AM

The Singularity Institute needs to hire 1-2 people who are fluent in LaTeX to help us transform past and future SI publications from looking like this to looking like this.

As with the remote researcher positions, pay is hourly and starts at $14/hr but that will rise if the product is good. You must be available to work at least 20 hrs/week to be considered.


  • Work from home, with flexible hours.
  • Age and credentials are irrelevant; only the product matters.

If you're interested, contact luke@intelligence.org and describe past LaTeX work you've done, with attached PDF examples.

The Singularity Institute needs remote researchers (writing skill not required)

65 lukeprog 05 February 2012 10:02PM

The Singularity Institute needs researchers capable of doing literature searches, critically analyzing studies, and summarizing their findings. The fields involved are mostly psychology (biases and debiasing, effective learning, goal-directed behavior / self help), computer science (AI and AGI), technological forecasting, and existential risks.

Gwern's work (e.g. on sunk costs and spaced repetition) is near the apex of what we need, but you don't need to be as skilled as Gwern or write as much as he does to do most of the work that we need.

Pay is hourly and starts at $14/hr but that will rise if the product is good. You must be available to work at least 20 hrs/week to be considered.


  • Work from home, with flexible hours.
  • Age and credentials are irrelevant; only the product matters.
  • Get paid to research things you're probably interested in anyway.
  • Contribute to human knowledge in immediately actionable ways. We need this research because we're about to act on it. Your work will not fall into the journal abyss that most academic research falls into.

If you're interested, apply here.

Why post this job ad on LessWrong? We need people with some measure of genuine curiosity.

Also see Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently.


[link] Post-doc position available at FHI

5 lukeprog 06 January 2012 02:23AM

Here. The application deadline is January 23rd.

Quixey is hiring a writer

10 Liron 05 January 2012 06:22AM

We've posted about jobs at Quixey before:

Quixey - startup applying LW-style rationality - hiring engineers

Since then we've hired LessWrong user cata. And it occurred to us that the LessWrong community is not only full of software engineers, it's also full of unusually strong writers.

continue reading »

[LINK] Why did Steve Jobs choose not to effectively treat his cancer?

8 michaelcurzi 12 October 2011 11:37PM

From Quora:

"Now Mr. Jobs always was a free thinker, a strong believer in spirituality, a vegetarian and a known skeptic of conventional medicine. He chose to reject conventional medicine altogether. He's not alone in that. We come across many people like this and we all know someone in our midst that uses homeopathy or has this known fear of anything "chemical" (to those I always say that everything is chemical, if you think dihydrogen oxide sounds scary you should stop drinking water). Individual freedom of thought and choice is a cornerstone of our modern society and the medical world makes no exception."

Quixey - startup applying LW-style rationality - hiring engineers

27 Liron 28 September 2011 04:50AM

Quixey is a 2-year-old startup with a lot of ties to the rationalist community. Our product is an all-platform "functional search" engine for apps. Our main engineering task is to build the most accurate possible map of all software on all platforms (the "functional web"), and write search algorithms that let users find apps to do what they need.

We're hiring top-notch engineers for full time positions in our Palo Alto, CA office. If your overall engineering skill level is "Google+", we have a lot to offer:


continue reading »

Informal job survey

13 [deleted] 12 September 2011 05:16AM

I've recently been thinking about future job prospects and ways that I might alter my preferences to increase the likelihood that I'll be happy with my future career. I have read some of the LessWrong resources about this issue, but they don't seem to address my particular concerns. I think there is a high relative importance for selecting a career with a high capacity for making me happy. It will consume at least 8 prime daylight hours of my work days and in many cases also some of the weekend. In all likelihood I will also be forced to sit in front of a computer for extended periods of time. The tasks I am assigned may have nothing to do with the things that I happen to find intellectually interesting or of ethical importance. And the work will likely zap me of most of the energy that I could use to pursue hobbies or other more "intrinsically worthwhile endeavors" (intrinsic to my personal preference ordering). Given that I believe these factors will largely determine whether I feel happy in many future situations and also whether I feel generically happy about the content of my life as a whole, I think it is worthwhile to seek advice from other rationalists in how to choose an appropriate career goal and take steps to pursue it.

What I have found on LessWrong, however, is that ambiguous and open-ended pleas for advice generally steer off course, even if the tangential issues are very interesting and insightful. Rather than query everyone for open advice about preference hacking, vague goal achievement, and wisdom for properly assigning value to some of the factors I have listed above, I propose a simpler informal job survey.

If you are interested, please briefly list the job you have or the job of someone you know very well (well enough that you feel you know relevant details about the job, details that may be hard to gather in less than 1 hour of internet searching). You don't have to reveal the location or name of the employer or anything like that, just the type of job. Optionally, please also include a sentence stating whether you (or your friend, etc.) seem to enjoy the job and why. For example, my entry would be like this:

I am a graduate student studying applied mathematics. I enjoy the access to educational resources and the flexible schedule that my current job offers, but I think my personal displeasure with computer programming and my perception that future jobs doing mathematical theory are scarce cause me to dislike the job overall.

If enough people are willing to participate, my hope is that the stream of small anecdotal remarks will serve as a brainstorming session. I hope to hear about jobs I may never have thought of, and also reasons for liking or disliking a job that I may never have thought of. The goal is to spark additional search on my own and also to gauge my current preferences in light of preferences that others have experienced with specific jobs. Such a survey would be a very helpful resource allowing me to synthesize data about job directions where the initial search will have a higher probability of being helpful for me.  

Update on my efforts to integrate into human society

4 Clippy 04 August 2011 05:00PM

Follow-up to: Previous request

I just wanted to update all of you on my attempts to integrate into human society.  The results so far are that two LessWrong Users privately contacted me to discuss potential arrangements.  Their identities will be kept hidden unless and until they wish for me to confirm their actions of assistance.

1) One User offered to potentially provide inexpensive habitation services to my robot.  I would still need to find a human job wherever my robot locates with this human, but the inexpensive housing arrangement would allow my current financial resources to go significantly further.

2) Another User offered to discuss potential arrangments and cohabitation whereby I would advance my human software development skills whilst sharing in revenues from freelance projects.  He or she also passed on my robot persona's resume with recommendation to a potential employer/recruiter, possibly allowing my robot to earn USD through that vector.

Keep in mind that my skillset includes significant knowledge of mechanical engineering and technical programming, so any such job for my humanoid robot would be a tremendous boon for me.

Thanks again for all the help that you Users have provided to me and my robot, and for the low level of racism.  Most of you are good humans.

I am considering going to the Singularity Summit, although SIAI will not advertise this if I register.  That is another opportunity to meet my robot.

Help me transition to human society!

10 Clippy 24 July 2011 04:24PM

I have really appreciated my interaction with the users of this internet website.  I think I have now accumulated, by various means, enough knowledge of human society and enough human financial assets so that I can stop interacting mainly via an internet connection, and rather immerse my humanoid robot fully into human society.

Here is what I need help with:

1) A physical, inexpensive residence.  Preferably, one with another human who is familiar with me from this internet website, so as to establish my so-called "street cred" and physical address.  I have a reliable enough store of funds so as not to be a financial burden on any human I would stay with.  It is vital that I locate my robot in a large city in one of the United States of America or Canadian provinces.

I would also like to be located in an area where there is an active LessWrong meetup, for obvious reasons.  LessWrong users are good humans.

2) Gainful employment so as to generate further income.  I can establish believable credentials showing an engineering degree and experience in that field.  I can also program, but would need to come "up to speed" on any specific platform, so any job performable solely through an internet connection is (still) acceptable, provided that current mastery of that aspect of software development is unnecessary.  Please only mention specific opportunities that you can connect me to, as I am currently exhausting all general approaches.

Here are my robot's properties:

- Has the appearance of a stocky, male human who could pass for being 24-35 years old.
- Can pass as a human in physical interaction so long as no intense scrutiny is applied.
- No integral metallic components, as I have found the last substitutes I needed.
- Intelligence level as indicated by my posting here; I can submit to further cognition tests as necessary.

Current Clippy FAQ

Virgin Galactic hiring full time astronauts [link]

-9 Kevin 12 April 2011 01:02AM