Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: tanagrabeast 03 July 2015 05:55:41AM 8 points [-]

This is probably my dream job... the job I would do for free if I had the means. But any idea of the salary range? Could someone with a family (and a spouse's teacher salary) possibly hope to live close enough to Berkeley to be effective?

Comment author: alexvermeer 03 July 2015 05:06:56PM *  10 points [-]

Then you should definitely apply!

The salary range is "competitive" given the job and the bay area. It depends a lot of past experience and job performance. You should be able to afford to live in Berkeley, especially if you're a dual-income family.

To echo what ciphergoth said, if you're the right candidate, we would definitely make it work.

MIRI needs an Office Manager (aka Force Multiplier)

16 alexvermeer 03 July 2015 01:10AM

(Cross-posted from MIRI's blog.)

MIRI's looking for a full-time office manager to support our growing team. It’s a big job that requires organization, initiative, technical chops, and superlative communication skills. You’ll develop, improve, and manage the processes and systems that make us a super-effective organization. You’ll obsess over our processes (faster! easier!) and our systems (simplify! simplify!). Essentially, it’s your job to ensure that everyone at MIRI, including you, is able to focus on their work and Get Sh*t Done.

That’s a super-brief intro to what you’ll be working on. But first, you need to know if you’ll even like working here.

A Bit About Us

We’re a research nonprofit working on the critically important problem of superintelligence alignment: how to bring smarter-than-human artificial intelligence into alignment with human values.1 Superintelligence alignment is a burgeoning field, and arguably the most important and under-funded research problem in the world. Experts largely agree that AI is likely to exceed human levels of capability on most cognitive tasks in this century—but it’s not clear when, and we aren’t doing a very good job of preparing for the possibility. Given how disruptive smarter-than-human AI would be, we need to start thinking now about AI’s global impact. Over the past year, a number of leaders in science and industry have voiced their support for prioritizing this endeavor:

People are starting to discuss these issues in a more serious way, and MIRI is well-positioned to be a thought leader in this important space. As interest in AI safety grows, we’re growing too—we’ve gone from a single full-time researcher in 2013 to what will likely be a half-dozen research fellows by the end of 2015, and intend to continue growing in 2016.

All of which is to say: we really need an office manager who will support our efforts to hack away at the problem of superintelligence alignment!

If our overall mission seems important to you, and you love running well-oiled machines, you’ll probably fit right in. If that’s the case, we can’t wait to hear from you.

What it’s like to work at MIRI

We try really hard to make working at MIRI an amazing experience. We have a team full of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Flexible Hours

We do not have strict office hours. Simply ensure you’re here enough to be available to the team when needed, and to fulfill all of your duties and responsibilities.

Modern Work Spaces

Many of us have adjustable standing desks with multiple large external monitors. We consider workspace ergonomics important, and try to rig up work stations to be as comfortable as possible.

Living in the Bay Area

We’re located in downtown Berkeley, California. Berkeley’s monthly average temperature ranges from 60°F in the winter to 75°F in the summer. From our office you’re:

  • A 10-second walk to the roof of our building, from which you can view the Berkeley Hills, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco.
  • A 30-second walk to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which can get you around the Bay Area.
  • A 3-minute walk to UC Berkeley Campus.
  • A 5-minute walk to dozens of restaurants (including ones in Berkeley’s well-known Gourmet Ghetto).
  • A 30-minute BART ride to downtown San Francisco.
  • A 30-minute drive to the beautiful west coast.
  • A 3-hour drive to Yosemite National Park.

Vacation Policy

Our vacation policy is that we don’t have a vacation policy. That is, take the vacations you need to be a happy, healthy, productive human. There are checks in place to ensure this policy isn’t abused, but we haven’t actually run into any problems since initiating the policy.

We consider our work important, and we care about whether it gets done well, not about how many total hours you log each week. We’d much rather you take a day off than extend work tasks just to fill that extra day.

Regular Team Dinners and Hangouts

We get the whole team together every few months, order a bunch of food, and have a great time.

Top-Notch Benefits

We provide top-notch health and dental benefits. We care about our team’s health, and we want you to be able to get health care with as little effort and annoyance as possible.

Agile Methodologies

Our ops team follows standard Agile best practices, meeting regularly to plan, as a team, the tasks and priorities over the coming weeks. If the thought of being part of an effective, well-functioning operation gets you really excited, that’s a promising sign!

Other Tidbits

  • Moving to the Bay Area? We’ll cover up to $3,500 in travel expenses.
  • Use public transit to get to work? You get a transit pass with a large monthly allowance.
  • All the snacks and drinks you could want at the office.
  • You’ll get a smartphone and full plan.
  • This is a salaried position. (That is, your job is not to sit at a desk for 40 hours a week. Your job is to get your important work done, even if this occasionally means working on a weekend or after hours.)

It can also be surprisingly motivating to realize that your day job is helping people explore the frontiers of human understanding, mitigate global catastrophic risk, etc., etc. At MIRI, we try to tackle the very largest problems facing humanity, and that can be a pretty satisfying feeling.

If this sounds like your ideal work environment, read on! It’s time to talk about your role.

What an office manager does and why it matters

Our ops team and researchers (and collection of remote contractors) are swamped making progress on the huge task we’ve taken on as an organization.

That’s where you come in. An office manager is the oil that keeps the engine running. They’re indispensable. Office managers are force multipliers: a good one doesn’t merely improve their own effectiveness—they make the entire organization better.

We need you to build, oversee, and improve all the “behind-the-scenes” things that ensure MIRI runs smoothly and effortlessly. You will devote your full attention to looking at the big picture and the small details and making sense of it all. You’ll turn all of that into actionable information and tools that make the whole team better. That’s the job.

Sometimes this looks like researching and testing out new and exciting services. Other times this looks like stocking the fridge with drinks, sorting through piles of mail, lugging bags of groceries, or spending time on the phone on hold with our internet provider. But don’t think that the more tedious tasks are low-value. If the hard tasks don’t get done, none of MIRI’s work is possible. Moreover, you’re actively encouraged to find creative ways to make the boring stuff more efficient—making an awesome spreadsheet, writing a script, training a contractor to take on the task—so that you can spend more time on what you find most exciting.

We’re small, but we’re growing, and this is an opportunity for you to grow too. There’s room for advancement at MIRI (if that interests you), based on your interests and performance.

Sample Tasks

You’ll have a wide variety of responsibilities, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Orienting and training new staff.
  • Onboarding and offboarding staff and contractors.
  • Managing employee benefits and services, like transit passes and health care.
  • Payroll management; handling staff questions.
  • Championing our internal policies and procedures wiki—keeping everything up to date, keeping everything accessible, and keeping staff aware of relevant information.
  • Managing various services and accounts (ex. internet, phone, insurance).
  • Championing our work space, with the goal of making the MIRI office a fantastic place to work.
  • Running onsite logistics for introductory workshops.
  • Processing all incoming mail packages.
  • Researching and implementing better systems and procedures.

Your “value-add” is by taking responsibility for making all of these things happen. Having a competent individual in charge of this diverse set of tasks at MIRI is extremely valuable!

A Day in the Life

A typical day in the life of MIRI’s office manager may look something like this:

  • Come in.
  • Process email inbox.
  • Process any incoming mail, scanning/shredding/dealing-with as needed.
  • Stock the fridge, review any low-stocked items, and place an order online for whatever’s missing.
  • Onboard a new contractor.
  • Spend some time thinking of a faster/easier way to onboard contractors. Implement any hacks you come up with.
  • Follow up with Employee X about their benefits question.
  • Outsource some small tasks to TaskRabbit or Upwork. Follow up with previously outsourced tasks.
  • Notice that you’ve spent a few hours per week the last few weeks doing xyz. Spend some time figuring out whether you can eliminate the task completely, automate it in some way, outsource it to a service, or otherwise simplify the process.
  • Review the latest post drafts on the wiki. Polish drafts as needed and move them to the appropriate location.
  • Process email.
  • Go home.

You’re the one we’re looking for if:

  • You are authorized to work in the US. (Prospects for obtaining an employment-based visa for this type of position are slim; sorry!)
  • You can solve problems for yourself in new domains; you find that you don’t generally need to be told what to do.
  • You love organizing information. (There’s a lot of it, and it needs to be super-accessible.)
  • Your life is organized and structured.
  • You enjoy trying things you haven’t done before. (How else will you learn which things work?)
  • You’re way more excited at the thought of being the jack-of-all-trades than at the thought of being the specialist.
  • You are good with people—good at talking about things that are going great, as well as things that aren’t.
  • People thank you when you deliver difficult news. You’re that good.
  • You can notice all the subtle and wondrous ways processes can be automated, simplified, streamlined… while still keeping the fridge stocked in the meantime.
  • You know your way around a computer really well.
  • Really, really well.
  • You enjoy eliminating unnecessary work, automating automatable work, outsourcing outsourcable work, and executing on everything else.
  • You want to do what it takes to help all other MIRI employees focus on their jobs.
  • You’re the sort of person who sees the world, organizations, and teams as systems that can be observed, understood, and optimized.
  • You think Sam is the real hero in Lord of the Rings.
  • You have the strong ability to take real responsibility for an issue or task, and ensure it gets done. (This doesn’t mean it has to get done by you; but it has to get done somehow.)
  • You celebrate excellence and relentlessly pursue improvement.
  • You lead by example.

Bonus Points:

  • Your technical chops are really strong. (Dabbled in scripting? HTML/CSS? Automator?)
  • Involvement in the Effective Altruism space.
  • Involvement in the broader AI-risk space.
  • Previous experience as an office manager.

Experience & Education Requirements

  • Let us know about anything that’s evidence that you’ll fit the bill.

How to Apply

by July 31, 2015!

P.S. Share the love! If you know someone who might be a perfect fit, we’d really appreciate it if you pass this along!


  1. More details on our About page. 
Comment author: quinox 15 March 2015 10:52:47AM 10 points [-]

I can't mail that address, I get a failure message from Google:

We're writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (errata) may not exist, or you may not have permission to post messages to the group.

I'll post my feedback here:

Hello,

I got the book "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" via intelligence.org/e-junkie for my Kindle (5th gen, not the paperwhite/touch/fire). So far I've read a dozen pages, but since it will take me a while to get to the end of the book I'll give some feedback right away:

  • The book looks great! Some other ebooks I have don't use page-breaks at the end of a chapter, don't have a Table of Content, have inconsistent font types/sizes etc. The PDF version is very pretty as well.

  • The filename "Rationality.mobi" (AI-Zombie) is the same as "rationality.mobi" (HPMOR)

  • A bunch of inter-book links such as "The Twelve Virtues of Rationality"/"Predictably Wrong"/"Fake Beliefs"/"Noticing Confusion" (all from Biases: An introduction) don't work: On my Kindle I have the option to "Follow link", but when I choose it the page refreshes and I'm still at the same spot.

    Inspecting the .mobi source with Calibre e-book reader I see:

    < a href="XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX" >Noticing Confusion< /a>

    The links from the TOCs and some other chapters do work properly.

  • Due to the lack of quotation marks and the nonuse of italics I didn't realize the part "As a consequence, it might be necessary" was a quote (Biases: An introduction). The extra margin left and right do indicate something special, but with the experience of so many bad ebooks my brain assumed it was just a broken indentation level.

  • The difference between a link going to the web and one going to a location within the book aren't obvious: one is only a slighter darker grey than the other. In Calibri the links are a nice green/blue, but my kindle doesn't have colours.

Cheers,

Comment author: alexvermeer 16 March 2015 04:11:09PM 3 points [-]

The book looks great!

Thanks!

A bunch of inter-book links such as ...

D'oh. It's all good in the epub, but something broke (for very dumb reasons) converting the mobi. It's fixed now. If you've already bought the book though Amazon or e-junkie, you'll have to re-download the file to get the fixed one (in a few hours, while Amazon approves the new book). Sorry about that.

The difference between a link going to the web and one going to a location within the book aren't obvious: one is only a slighter darker grey than the other. In Calibri the links are a nice green/blue, but my kindle doesn't have colours.

Not much we can do about this. Amazon is very restrictive in how you can modify the styling of links. It works fine for displays with color, but people with e-ink displays are out of luck. :-(

Thanks.

Comment author: DanielLC 14 March 2015 02:25:19AM 7 points [-]

Couldn't you pay $0.00, send the money to MIRI, and avoid transaction fees?

Comment author: alexvermeer 14 March 2015 03:38:23AM 1 point [-]

Yup, but those are convenient distribution platforms.

Comment author: alexvermeer 13 March 2015 04:46:10PM 13 points [-]

Just a reminder that mistakes/problems/errors can be sent to errata@intelligence.org and we'll try fix them!

Comment author: Tenoke 13 March 2015 11:25:23AM 3 points [-]

Awesome! How large is it altogether (in words)?

Comment author: alexvermeer 13 March 2015 04:40:42PM 7 points [-]

Approximately 600,000 words!

Comment author: kotrfa 13 March 2015 04:24:34PM *  7 points [-]

Can I know to who and where the money for the book goes?

Comment author: alexvermeer 13 March 2015 04:40:17PM 13 points [-]

From Amazon, 30% goes to Amazon and 70% goes to MIRI.

From e-junkie (the pay-what-you-want option): 100% goes to MIRI, minus PayPal transaction fees (a few %).

Comment author: EGI 09 March 2015 03:18:56PM 2 points [-]

Why not do the whole coordination here on LW instead of Facebook? Much easier to access, since everything on LW is visible without login. And creating an account is easy and has no privacy/terms of use issues.

Comment author: alexvermeer 12 March 2015 07:25:09AM 19 points [-]

(Habryka here. My account still appears to be broken)

I want to outline my thinking a bit, about why I decided to organize all of this with so much reliance on Facebook:

The attendance at these events heavily relies on networking effects and reducing trivial inconveniences. I did consider organizing it on LessWrong, but it's just less integrated into most peoples life as Facebook is. This was the easiest way for people to invite their friends, get notified of new parties, spread information and, most importantly, get interested in the event if you so far haven't been completely hooked on the book.

This is the last obvious big opportunity to get more people to read the book. Sending people to LessWrong, a website they've never been to and often only tangentially heard off, to then send an email to the current organizer, not really knowing who else of their friends will be there, if any, and then add that event manually in their own calendar, just seemed like a path that too many people would not bother to go.

I don't like Facebook. I don't like their stance on privacy, and I don't like the social pressure that drives everyone to sign up for it. But I think the stakes on this are high, and the potential positive impact on the world is large. And I think the number of people who are shied away from this because of its reliance on Facebook is smaller than the number of people who would not otherwise come.

This is the reason why I made all information available outside of Facebook and spent multiple hours copying details from the Facebook events into the spreadsheet. Because I want to make sure that if someone doesn't have Facebook, and wants to attend, that they will be able to. But the need to reduce trivial inconveniences for that category is a lot lower, as I think most would be willing to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to attend these.

I don't think the decision was completely clear, but I did make the decision consciously and tried my best at weighing the benefits and drawbacks. I am interested in anyone's thoughts on this.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 04 March 2015 08:58:26PM *  11 points [-]

I'd like to request that when the date and time of a meetup is finalized, that somebody post as much on LW. I don't have a facebook and would prefer to keep it that way, but I also don't want to miss the London party. Please and thank you.

Comment author: alexvermeer 06 March 2015 10:55:52PM 2 points [-]

(Writing from this account, since through some strange bug my original account can't comment on this post):

I just added the Spreadsheet to the list of resources, and am just in the process of getting everyone's contact information. I hope this helps everyone who doesn't have Facebook to find the details for the parties in their area. I think posting every wrap party individually is probably a bad idea.

Comment author: Ixiel 24 October 2014 07:37:59PM 0 points [-]

Is this going to be released as a real book as well? I see only mentions of digital release in the post.

Comment author: alexvermeer 25 October 2014 10:11:46PM 0 points [-]

The plan is to do both.

View more: Next