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Mini-camp on Rationality, Awesomeness, and Existential Risk (May 28 through June 4, 2011)

39 Post author: AnnaSalamon 24 April 2011 08:10AM

Meet fellow LW-ers, hone your rationality, and get on a path toward reducing existential risk and becoming more awesome.

Who: You and a class full of other aspiring rationalists and world-changers, from around the world.

What: A week-long mini-camp, filled with hands-on activities for applying rationality to your life, your goals, and existential risk reduction.  (See details in the FAQ.)

When and where: Saturday May 28 through Saturday June 4, 2011 in Berkeley, California.

Why: Because you’re a social primate, and the best way to jump into a new way of thinking, make friends, and accomplish your goals is often to spend time with other primates who are doing just that. 

Other reasons:

  • Sing karaoke, develop body language skills, and generally try things, building courage.
  • See the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Get an inside look at the Singularity Institute.

Instructors:

Anna Salamon  Divia Melwani 

Anna Salamon  Luke"prog" Muehlhauser Divia Melwani

Cost:  Room[1], board, and tuition are paid for by the Singularity Institute (see below).  Getting here is up to you.  (A limited number of scholarships are also available to cover the costs of flights; so if you’d love to come but can’t afford it, apply anyhow.)

A week isn’t long enough to learn rationality or how to prevent existential risks.  It isn’t long enough to acquire a cool career or master the skills that will help you succeed. But it is long enough to get on a path toward doing these things.

So if you’ve been wanting the above, now is your moment.  Come meet us! See what we can help you do.

Apply now.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  I’m older.  Should I still apply?

Yes!  We’d really love a more diverse crowd around here, with a wider set of experiences and skills.

2.  I’d like to come, but I’m not sure you’ll accept me.  Should I still apply?

Absolutely!   You can fill out our form in as little 10 minutes.  What’s the harm?[2]

3.  I’d like to come, but I can’t afford the flights.  Should I still apply?

Yes.  A limited number of flights scholarships will probably be available.

4.  Can I come for just part of the time?

Yes. If work or other obligations prevent you from coming for the full week, we are open to partial visits.  You’ll miss out on some of the activities, and some of the sessions will make less sense without the prereqs; but for mini-camp, part of a visit is better than none.

5.  What will we do, exactly?

We're still working out the details.  But our current model:

  • Daily schedule: Every day, you'll get two three-hour course sessions, meals shared with other participants, and shared social activities such as soccer, poker, karaoke, and trips to bay area sites.
  • Rationality: Eight three-hour sessions.  You'll develop a map of your rationality strengths and gaps, write out your goals, practice many specific techniques (e.g. Fermi calculations; applying Bayes' theorem and cognitive biases to daily life; seeing how fungibility can boost your goal achievement), and learn how to continue learning rationality after the program.
  • Social effectiveness:  Five three-hour sessions, covering: why social reality is so important for achieving goals rationally; reading and using body language; developing a fashion sense; and developing social courage and success.
  • Reducing Existential Risk: Three three-hour sessions, discussing AI risks, other existential risks, large-scale risk reduction strategies, and what can be done today.
  • Individual meetings: You'll also be able to schedule one-on-one appointments to discuss career paths you may want to take (we can help with statistics on earnings in different professions, and strategy for getting in), how to start a LW meet-up or similar community, and how to get involved in existential risks-reducing research.

6.  I’m new to all this.  Will it make sense?

If you’ve read at least twenty posts from the core sequences, yes it will.  If you haven’t: why not read them now?

7.  I’ve already read the Sequences seventeen times, and also I’m a self-made billionaire[3] with three PhDs.  Will I learn anything new?

I hope so.  We’re covering a good range of material, and we’ll be focusing on the fundamentals -- pieces that you get some mileage from knowing a little, and more mileage from knowing more thoroughly, and integrating into all aspects of your thoughts.

We’ll also aim for an atmosphere in which everyone is free to make mistakes and to try things, and in which people are receptive to a wide range of skill levels.

8.  Why is the Singularity Institute paying for this?

We're trying to reduce existential risk -- to increase the odds that an eventual Singularity is good, from the perspective of humane values.  To do this, we need more rational, effective people -- people who can train to do the needed research, who can fund that or other work, and who can otherwise exert influence toward good outcomes.

So, we're hoping you'll come out to the SF Bay Area and spend a week boosting your personal effectiveness, having fun, and growing community.  Similar past ventures, notably the old visiting fellows program, have shown that this can be fruitful; and so, since the full rationality boot camp is too long for many, we wanted to offer a shorter version that more people could try.

Apply now.


[1] More exactly, we provide a bed in a shared room at a house rented by SIAI.  You can also stay elsewhere in the local area if you prefer.

[2] Sometimes people say they’re “afraid of wasting our time” by sending in an application.  This is ridiculous.  If you’re interested in us, we’re interested in you.  Also, it takes just seconds to read someone’s form, and many of the highest-value people have been the ones who hesitated to apply.

[3] Okay, fine, this isn’t really a frequently asked question.  But seriously, we’ll be covering a lot that isn’t in the sequences -- and the flesh-and-blood experience of meeting other aspiring rationalists is hard to duplicate.

 

ETA: Women, especially, please apply!  It's time to make LW a more whole community; rationality applies to any career and life-circumstance, but we need a broad set of people, careers, and life-experiences to create that rationality.

ETA: Applications for mini-camp are now closed.  Also, everyone who applied to mini-camp should now have heard back as to whether they got in (except for the few who didn't answer our emails requesting an interview).  If you applied but haven't heard back, check your spam filter and then email annasalamon at gmail dot com.  Also, if you'd like to be emailed about any future mini-camps we may run, please email annasalamon at gmail dot com.  We received 112 applications for just over 20 spots in mini-camp.

Comments (84)

Comment author: BrandonReinhart 25 April 2011 09:21:51AM *  38 points [-]

I applied to mini-camp. However, I may not be selected because of my personal situation (older, not college educated). I believe the mini-camp program is worth supporting and should be helped to be successful. I am willing to back up this belief with my wallet...and in public, so you all can hold me to it.

Whether or not I am selected, I pledge to pay for the flight of one individual who is (and who isn't me). This person must live in the continental United States.

If the easiest way to fulfill this pledge is to donate to the SIAI, earmarked for this purpose*, I can do that. Otherwise, I can just buy the flight directly when the time comes.

*See comment below. This was posted before I did some investigation and put more thought into things.

Comment author: TimFreeman 25 April 2011 07:57:31PM *  17 points [-]

You're spending after-tax money if you buy the flight yourself, or before-tax if you donate to SIAI, assuming they're 501(c)3. If you trust them to honor a targeted donation (I would), it's better to donate.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 April 2011 05:14:50AM 9 points [-]

If you trust them to honor a targeted donation (I would)

Does it make any practical difference? They already committed to paying for travel regardless. So for practical purposes the money just goes into the pool that would otherwise have been drained for the flight purchase.

Where the earmarking for the donation becomes significant is in the signal it gives them regarding potential value of future camps. It both increases the expectation that the announcement of a camp will prompt immediate donation but probably more significantly that the program has broader positive influences in how SIAI is perceived

Comment author: TimFreeman 27 April 2011 03:32:16PM 3 points [-]

Does it make any practical difference?

If they canceled the program and kept the money, they would not be honoring the targeted donation, and it would give a different outcome from buying and donating plane tickets. I can imagine lots of things that could conceivably happen that would force them to cancel the program. None of them seem especially likely.

Comment author: BrandonReinhart 28 April 2011 03:51:13AM *  16 points [-]

I will donate the amount without earmarking it. It will fill the gap taken by the cost to send someone to the event.

I don't see a lot of value in earmarking funds for the SIAI. I'm working on a document about SIAI finances and from reading the Form 990s I believe they use their funds efficiently. Given my low knowledge of their internal workings and low knowledge of their immediate and medium term goals I would bet that they would be better at figuring out the best use of the money than I would be. Earmarking would increase the chance the money is used inefficiently, not decrease it.

Comment author: David_Gerard 02 May 2011 07:27:48AM *  12 points [-]

Yes. In general, earmarking is a hideous pain in the backside for charities and leads to great inefficiency thinking about how to deal with this radioactive donation. If the donation is sufficiently large it may be worth it, but it's still a nuisance.

Simple heuristic: if you trust a charity enough to donate to them, just donate and leave them to figure out what to do with it. Don't try to micromanage.

Comment author: BrandonReinhart 08 May 2011 02:49:35AM *  10 points [-]

I donated $275 to the SIAI via the Facebook page. Given the flight prices on Orbitz, this should cover somebody. Maybe not an east coaster or someone overseas.

Pledge fulfilled!

Also: I will be attending mini-camp and have also gotten my own ticket.

Comment author: Psy-Kosh 24 April 2011 03:07:46PM 14 points [-]

First, can you confirm that my application to the rationality boot camp has been rejected? I assume that all the interviews are done by now, so if I've received zero response, I have in fact been eliminated from consideration early on... but I'd like confirmation on this first.

Second, if I have been rejected from that, should I bother applying for this, or would the same reasons apply?

(Actually, as a general comment/suggestion/complaint re SIAI: please please please... for those of us who apply for something and are rejected before even any interview or such... let us know. I applied within a day of the boot-camp post going up, and, so far, have heard nothing back. Last time I applied for the SIAI visiting fellowship thingie, ended up with silence, and IIRC it took a bit of pestering (and several months) before anyone got around to letting me know I wasn't needed there at the time. I think others also are having this issue with silence from SIAI given that my comment here was somewhat upvoted)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 24 April 2011 06:51:24PM 7 points [-]

I just emailed you (Psy-Kosh) about your own situation.

To others who have similar questions:

  1. If you'd like to come, do apply, even if you didn't get into the main rationality boot camp. There were a lot of good applicants for the main camp, and that camp is capped at 10 participants, while Mini-camp can accomodate more. Also, if we get too may good applicants, this will let us know that we should run repeat programs later in the year.
  2. While I'm not involved with the main rationality boot camp applications, I believe that, yes, people who haven't heard back (to schedule an interview) won't be accepted to it this time.
  3. I'll make a point of letting people know when I know; I apologize for not doing that in the past with the visiting fellowship applicants.
Comment author: Psy-Kosh 25 April 2011 08:38:34PM 0 points [-]

Replied to your email, thanks.

Comment author: ata 24 April 2011 08:44:54PM 0 points [-]

While I'm not involved with the main rationality boot camp applications, I believe that, yes, people who haven't heard back (to schedule an interview) won't be accepted to it this time.

I was interviewed for rationality boot camp and haven't heard whether I was accepted yet. Would it make more sense for me to apply to the mini-camp right away, or wait until I know whether I'm accepted to RBC?

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 25 April 2011 05:22:19AM 0 points [-]

Wait a couple days, then apply. (But not longer.) (Also, everyone who wants to come and isn't waiting to hear from RBC, please apply today rather than waiting, since the application is brief, it'll give us an immediate estimate of demand, and if you wait you might forget.)

Comment author: komponisto 24 April 2011 11:28:38PM 11 points [-]

I think it would be worth mentioning to what extent people who have participated in the visiting fellows program should consider applying to things like this. Are you looking mainly for new people?

More abstractly, I'd be interested in some more clarity on what sort of "level" you're outreaching to. Are you looking to take ordinary LW readers and turn them into awesome people, or are you wanting to start with awesome people and turn them into super-awesome people? Despite your remark about being receptive to a wide range of skill levels, these seem like two different hypothetical programs to me; yet the description could fit either of them.

(The difference I have in mind is approximately the following: on the one hand, you could have a program that helps intelligent people overcome their akrasia and inertia to become high-achievers; and on the other, you could have a program that helps people who are already high-achievers channel their productivity in the most useful directions.)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 25 April 2011 05:22:36AM *  4 points [-]

New people should apply regardless of knowledge level:

  • I reliably benefit from doing epistemic rationality exercises of the sort we’ll be doing, despite having done many such exercises, and having spent three years working with highly skilled rationalists (by current human standards). Fundamentals stay interesting, and can be internalized on many levels.
  • For the topics where advanced students are most likely to not learn from beginners' questions, such as Bayesian probability and also such as AI risk, we'll be breaking the group in two halves based on how much background folks have with that specific topic (folks can choose which half to join).
  • Anyone who is trying to figure out how to reduce existential risk should especially consider coming, since discussing strategy with others who’ve thought carefully about it, and meeting people you can potentially work with, is typically valuable.

I’ll have to discuss the issue of past fellows with others. We’ll select mostly participants who’ve never stayed here before, in order to have made contact with more people; but that isn’t an absolute rule.

Comment author: Morendil 25 April 2011 11:37:06AM 8 points [-]

While I'd love to (apply to) come to one of those, it will have to be a later one: my planning horizon is much longer than one month and change.

I suspect this is more likely to be the case for those of us who are "older" (I'm taking that to mean "older than any of the instructors").

May I suggest scheduling and announcing the next one well ahead of time, like six months or so?

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 25 April 2011 04:46:26PM *  12 points [-]

This one is a bit of a windfall; the facilities rented for the full rationality boot camp program turned out to come with a free week's rental at the beginning; and so, given the demand voiced in the comments to the main RBC, we decided to make use of it.

But, yes, I will try to do that in the future, if we continue to run these. I understand that many people, and especially many of the people we want, need to plan ahead.

Comment author: Benquo 25 April 2011 03:01:54PM 1 point [-]

This would be very helpful.

Comment author: taryneast 19 June 2011 11:00:44AM *  0 points [-]

Yep I agree. not just for Being Older (which leads to scheduling considerations, including a requirement to give advance notice of "holidays" from normal work hours)... but also coming from a different continent - thus requiring advance notice to book flights that aren't ridiculously overpriced.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 29 April 2011 01:21:53AM 6 points [-]

If anyone is still planning to apply, apply TODAY (Thursday, 4/28). Or at the very latest, tomorrow. We've received 91 applications so far, have most of them sorted into (interview / no interview), and will, as planned previously, get back to everyone by Monday (except in cases where their schedule doesn't allow an interview by then).

So if you want to be considered, the last chance to apply is officially here.

Comment author: atucker 24 April 2011 10:58:20PM 6 points [-]

I'd be interested in coming to this, but need to figure out how to pitch the idea to my parents without it sounding like a cult.

I'm pretty sure that if I put thought into it, I could figure out how to do that, but before I try I'm just wondering:

Has anyone already done this? Successfully?

Comment author: komponisto 24 April 2011 11:31:28PM 13 points [-]

I'd be interested in coming to this, but need to figure out how to pitch the idea to my parents without it sounding like a cult.

Summer program at an AI think-tank.

Comment author: atucker 24 April 2011 11:37:48PM 1 point [-]

I like this one.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 April 2011 11:22:00PM *  11 points [-]

Meh, I just told my parents it was a cult, and then when they stared at me I explained in more detail. Mine didn't have any control over my movements, though.

Try calling it "summer camp"?

Comment author: ata 24 April 2011 11:33:24PM *  3 points [-]

I'd be interested in coming to this, but need to figure out how to pitch the idea to my parents without it sounding like a cult.

Just try describing it (here) how you'd describe it to your parents if you were not worried about 'sounding like a cult'. We will then tell you if it does, by your description. Honestly, it probably won't.

Maybe leave out bits about existential risk if you think there'd be too much inferential distance between you and your parents on that subject.

Comment author: atucker 24 April 2011 11:38:12PM 0 points [-]

I'll do this, but I'm going to take longer thinking about it.

Comment author: falenas108 25 April 2011 02:17:14PM -1 points [-]

I'm in the same boat; I think I'll talk about how it's from a really respected institution and what a great opportunity this is.

Comment author: lukeprog 11 May 2011 06:01:48PM *  5 points [-]

For the record...

While teaching body language and other social effectiveness skills, I will not be repeating the myth that the content of one's communication is carried by a 7-38-55 breakdown of words (7%), voice tone (38%), and body language (55%). This is the 'Mehrabian Myth', named after the researcher whose two 1967 studies on nonverbal communication have been misinterpreted ever since.

Instead I'll just say that while I don't know what the numbers are, body language and voice tone are, like, super duper important and stuff. :)

For more recent research, see Givens' Center for Nonverbal Studies.

Comment author: ac3raven 26 April 2011 03:37:26AM *  5 points [-]

I'm making a game about rationality that could possibly serve as an activity for these kinds of camps. But I don't have enough Karma to post about it here. You can read a bit about it here:

http://shinyogre.com/2011/04/08/a-gameplay-exploration-of-yudkowskys-twelve-virtues/

and here:

http://shinyogre.com/glenn/2011/04/13/designing-epiphany-note-1/

The game is currently in the prototyping phase.

I think that game playing as well as game development can be powerful tools for learning in general, and my goal with this game is to craft a learning experience with a narrative that is heavily laced with metaphor.

Comment author: AlexMennen 26 April 2011 05:29:37AM 3 points [-]

You can still post in the discussion section.

Comment author: olimay 25 April 2011 03:00:42AM 5 points [-]

I suggest putting the date in the post body as well as the title. There is who, what where, and why, so it makes sense to have a "when". (...Unless this is an intentional test!)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 25 April 2011 05:31:58AM 1 point [-]

Done. Thanks for the suggestion.

Comment author: zaph 25 April 2011 07:15:48PM *  3 points [-]

I won't be attending*, but just out of curiosity, what did you have in mind for the social effectiveness curriculum? Any particular authors that you recommend for things like body language, communication, etc.?

*Due to life constraints, but it sounds very interesting!

Comment author: lukeprog 28 April 2011 03:14:16PM 1 point [-]

I'll be able to give more detailed recommendations after the mini-camp has finished.

Comment author: taryneast 19 June 2011 11:07:07AM 2 points [-]

and... ? :)

Comment author: lukeprog 21 June 2011 07:13:05AM *  2 points [-]

I'm slowly building a resource list for social skills learning here.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 25 April 2011 02:17:07PM 3 points [-]

First, excellent idea. Second, any chance there will be a second mini-boot camp later in the summer?

Comment author: lukeprog 28 April 2011 03:12:47PM 0 points [-]

I don't know yet.

Comment author: wilkox 26 April 2011 08:28:02AM 2 points [-]

Why is the Singularity Institute paying for this?

We're trying to reduce existential risk -- to increase the odds that an eventual Singularity is good, from the perspective of humane values. To do this, we need more rational, effective people -- people who can train to do the needed research, who can fund that or other work, and who can otherwise exert influence toward good outcomes.

I'd be interested in hearing more about how you foresee graduates of these camps working to reduce existential risk, especially as a donor to the SIAI. Is there a long term plan in place or are you just trying some things out?

Comment author: Jonathan_Graehl 26 April 2011 09:54:52PM 7 points [-]

At the very least, people who personally benefit from this program are incredibly more likely to donate for the rest of their lives, even if (especially if) they make no direct research or advocacy contribution.

Comment author: wilkox 27 April 2011 01:05:42AM 3 points [-]

That's a good point. An increase in donations from a specific group of people should be easy to measure too, so the SIAI could use it to directly assess the effectiveness of these programs.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 April 2011 01:08:15AM *  1 point [-]

Holding a program for the purpose of increasing donation revenue makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe we should stick to the party line about raising the sanity waterline.

Comment author: wilkox 27 April 2011 01:22:06AM 4 points [-]

The idea of holding a program to increase donations actually made me more comfortable, as it seems more like a long term investment in reducing existential risk then money squandered on something fun but not obviously essential.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 April 2011 01:51:06AM *  0 points [-]

You'll have to run that calculation by me. I don't see how expected utility of the the former is higher than the latter.

Comment author: wilkox 27 April 2011 02:16:49AM 6 points [-]

By way of analogy, suppose a cancer charity has $10,000 to spend. It could invest the money directly into research, for a marginal expected return in decreased cancer suffering, or it could spend it on a glitzy event where potential donors get to "try their hand" at working in a research lab for a day. The second option could sound like a waste of money, as the donors probably won't do anything worthwhile in a day of messing around in a lab. However, if they go on to contribute $100,000 more to the charity than they otherwise would have, that money can be reinvested in research for a 9x greater return on investment than investing the original $10,000 directly into research would have yielded (ignoring discount rates and assuming linear return on research investment). If any of the participants did happen to go on and become great cancer researchers, this would just be an excellent bonus effect.

The idea that this program will result in increased donations makes me more comfortable because it seems this is a more likely way the program will directly reduce existential risk than the vaguer goal of 'raising the sanity waterline'. If it does succeed in raising the sanity waterline in a way that reduces existential risk, that would be an excellent bonus.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 April 2011 02:23:39AM 2 points [-]

Your analogy makes sense, but why do you think the numbers will go that way?

Comment author: wilkox 27 April 2011 02:31:59AM 5 points [-]

I don't know they will - see my above comment suggesting the SIAI actually measure donations from program participants. It does seem more likely now, however, that the program will at least break even on reducing existential risk, hence my increased comfort with the idea.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 April 2011 02:34:21AM 3 points [-]

Does it seem that the program will break even because you've anchored yourself to 9x ROI?

Comment author: wedrifid 25 April 2011 06:23:32AM 2 points [-]

Social effectiveness: Five three-hour sessions, covering: why social reality is so important for achieving goals rationally; reading and using body language; developing a fashion sense; and developing social courage and success.

That sounds brilliant. Do you plan to cover that stuff in the bootcamp too?

Comment author: lukeprog 28 April 2011 03:11:18PM 0 points [-]

Yes, we'll have even more time to cover social effectiveness in the longer boot-camp than in the one-week mini-camp.

Comment author: Davorak 24 April 2011 11:56:23PM 2 points [-]

Is it possible to get more details on what the program will consist of? It sounds like fun, it sounds interesting, but I can not tell if I fit into the targeted group.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 24 April 2011 11:58:39PM *  2 points [-]

If you ask specific questions, I'll try to answer. (I assume you've read FAQ #5?) Or if you tell me about yourself and what you're looking for, I'll try to tell you if you're in the target group.

Comment author: Davorak 25 April 2011 12:43:36AM 1 point [-]

Examples of the what will be demonstrated or what exercises will be practiced would go a long way to help me understand what you are aiming for.

Examples of "Fermi calculations; applying Bayes' theorem and cognitive biases to daily life" and "reading and using body language; developing a fashion sense; and developing social courage and success" would give me a better idea of how much I could apply to my life or weather you are teaching lessons that I already learned. Weather it would be more valuable for me to not to apply and ensure that someone else got a slot.

Comment author: lukeprog 28 April 2011 03:10:32PM 4 points [-]

I can give more detail on the social effectiveness part of the curriculum.

Training here will include reading body language, transforming your own body language, using fashion, and putting these skills together in the social world. We will also teach some skills for business success to those who already have pretty effective body language and fashion. Everyone has their own fingerprint of social effectiveness, and we plan to make the mini-camp valuable to everyone.

Comment author: Davorak 28 April 2011 09:11:45PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the reply.

Let me tell you what I currently imagine and then you can correct for incorrect or missing portions.

Body language:

I image some one giving a lecture with slides first talking about the importance of body language and providing evidence, anecdote, and personal anecdote. The lecture would then move on to showing different body postures and the use different common body languages. The might lecturer mimic some specific body language and asking the audience what it means. Then moving on to one on one instruction while the people observe. Multiple groups will be formed if there are enough instructors. A participate would be asked to role play an encounter and then that encounter would be critiqued/discussed and suggestions would be made. Observes would be encouraged to ask questions offer insight that would be vetted to help solidify a common terminology and understanding.

For fashion I would imagine something similar to the above though without props it would be harder to go as in depth. Maybe weave this into a trip into town and a visit to cloths stores?

Other then anecdotes on building culture from the top down I don't have a clear idea of what business skills would be taught or how they would be taught. Maybe where to go to get more resources? Information on Loans, angle investors, venture capitalists?

Comment author: lukeprog 28 April 2011 09:35:11PM 1 point [-]

Your guesses about body language and fashion are pretty good, though there will be much more as well. Trips to clothing stores are planned.

Business success training will be teaching 'advanced social skills' - Dale Carnegie-ish stuff, microexpressions, etc.

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 27 April 2011 08:34:54AM 3 points [-]

or weather you are teaching lessons that I already learned. Weather it would be more valuable for me to not to apply

or whether you are teaching lessons that I already learned. Whether it would be more valuable for me to not to apply

Comment author: Davorak 27 April 2011 04:08:38PM 2 points [-]

Noted, and thank you. I was/am aware of the difference, but obviously was not paying enough attention to catch my mistake this time.

Comment author: alexvermeer 25 April 2011 01:52:20PM *  1 point [-]

Any idea how long it will take to select applicants?

I'm going to a conference the entire second weekend of the mini-camp. I will cancel the conference without hesitation if I am accepted, but since that is only a month away I need to know asap to try get my money back for the conference, plus I need to book my flight soon.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 25 April 2011 04:58:40PM 3 points [-]

We'll let people know by a week from today (i.e., by Monday, May 2). If anyone needs to know before then, please message me privately and I'll see if we can fast-track your application.

Comment author: Fredrik 03 May 2011 07:53:26AM 0 points [-]

I guess I wasn't selected if I haven't received an email by now? Or are you staying up late sorting applications? Will you email just the selectees or all applicants?

Comment author: [deleted] 03 May 2011 08:00:59AM *  0 points [-]

I received an e-mail saying I wasn't selected a couple days ago. Maybe your spam folder?

Comment author: Fredrik 03 May 2011 08:15:55AM 0 points [-]

No matter. Just received word!

Comment author: Benquo 25 April 2011 03:01:31PM 2 points [-]

I, too, need to know whether to cancel my pre-existing plans fairly soon.

Comment author: ameriver 25 April 2011 05:55:56PM 0 points [-]

I am in a similar situation, only with school.

Comment author: meta_ark 24 April 2011 12:12:08PM 1 point [-]

When you say you'll cover the cost of flights, does this include international trips?

Comment author: JoeW 24 April 2011 12:57:58PM 2 points [-]

As someone in Australia this is also relevant to my interests. :)

However I note in terms of min-maxing, if I were allocating limited scholarship funds, I would want a very compelling reason to bring one international attendee when the same money could perhaps instead result in half a dozen additional USA attendees. I'm obviously not speaking for the SIAI and there is a counter-argument for casting a wider net.

(Actually I have no stake in this, if I were to attend it would be self-funded.)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 24 April 2011 05:45:11PM *  1 point [-]

We'll cover the costs of some flights, in special cases. Most people will have to get here on their own.

As to international attendees... yes, we'll consider covering those flights, too, if needed. JoeW's reasoning below is basically correct; given a limited budget, it's better to fly in less expensive people when all else is equal; but the ratios are less extreme than he suggests, since flights are only part of the total costs.

Comment author: Curiouskid 25 November 2011 11:34:54PM 0 points [-]

Is there going to be one in 2012?

Comment author: Jahed 28 April 2011 03:48:02AM *  0 points [-]

Hello,

Just curious about how/when we will be reached with application results. I have a lot of time on my hands this summer due to some unforeseen circumstances, and I am local, so I'm very excited about this opportunity!

Cheers

Comment author: free_rip 28 April 2011 09:32:09AM 2 points [-]

Anna commented on basically the same question earlier:

"We'll let people know by a week from today (i.e., by Monday, May 2). If anyone needs to know before then, please message me privately and I'll see if we can fast-track your application."

Comment author: Jahed 29 April 2011 12:32:00AM 1 point [-]

Thank you, should have read further. I'm off to a roaring start! Haha.

Comment author: Peter_Twieg 26 April 2011 08:26:40PM 0 points [-]

I put in an application. But I realize that I think I forgot to include my LW username (the site was having issues so I couldn't check.) So here it is. I'm pretty sure you won't have trouble attaching it to my real name. :P

(Also, feel free to delete this comment once it's been registered with the proper authorities.)

Comment author: wedrifid 27 April 2011 05:08:09AM 0 points [-]

I put in an application. But I realize that I think I forgot to include my LW username (the site was having issues so I couldn't check.) So here it is. I'm pretty sure you won't have trouble attaching it to my real name

In my experience there seems to be no particular problem with not including your lesswrong username - and my lesswrong username is both less translatable and more prolific than yours.

Comment author: SilasBarta 25 April 2011 03:10:43PM 0 points [-]

My answer is dependent on *cough* Jasen getting back to people on the rationalist boot camp. And I think I'm not the only one a bit peeved you didn't go for a happy medium between 10 weeks and 1 week.

Comment author: michaelsullivan 25 April 2011 09:37:42PM *  3 points [-]

whatever length they choose, it will be too long or too short for many/most things/people.

1 week is already a long time to devote if you are already focused on a career. I couldn't realistically do even the mini-camp without a lot of advance planning. OTOH, If you are still in school or have an academic job that gives you summers off, then 10 weeks is equivalent to a summer internship or fellowship. I'm not sure what the medium would be except maybe 2 weeks -- harder but still doable for those who don't have summers off. Once you go longer than 2 weeks, it's almost impossible for anyone with serious family or career commitments other than education/academe, so you might as well do the whole summer if it makes sense.

Comment author: SilasBarta 25 April 2011 09:47:33PM 5 points [-]

No, there are better happy media. Plenty of career-minded people can take three weeks off. I could probably even pull off five. But doing 10 is going to mean drawing from a class of people who haven't gotten a "real" job yet, where they're paid to think, and have to hold it.

As one commenter complained on the boot camp thread, this is basically setting yourself up for failure -- you don't have an independent check on your filtering ability, and indeed a visiting fellow problem had exactly such a predictable failure mode.

I applied for the 10 week (while hoping it will be shortened, though fully ready to do it as planned), but I expect to be the only one there who's held a thinking job -- most other such people can't take a 10 week break. I can do it because of significant savings.

Three weeks would be eminently reasonable. Making people go to either 1 or 10 is ... poorly considered.

Comment author: wedrifid 11 May 2011 07:52:53PM 0 points [-]

I applied for the 10 week (while hoping it will be shortened, though fully ready to do it as planned), but I expect to be the only one there who's held a thinking job

I assign a greater than 95% chance to you being mistaken.

Comment author: SilasBarta 11 May 2011 08:22:22PM *  1 point [-]

Because you were accepted? ;-)

Anyway, it looks like I was indeed overconfident there -- I didn't get accepted. I'm interested in knowing who was, and how it works out.

Comment author: wedrifid 11 May 2011 08:38:15PM *  0 points [-]

Because you were accepted? ;-)

Much can be inferred from my confidence in my model of what Jasen is looking for, an estimate of how many people applied, the relative easy of holding a thinking job, the extent to which the opportunity would appeal to people who have at some point held a thinking job, the likelyhood that thinking jobs would appeal to those likely to apply to a rationalist bootcamp and the ease of finding a new thinking job if that is necessary after the event.

I'm interested in knowing who was, and how it works out.

So am I!

Comment author: SilasBarta 11 May 2011 09:17:12PM *  1 point [-]

So you were or weren't accepted?

Anyway, even with all those factors, it doesn't seem to override my points above about the difficulty for such people of taking ten weeks off, or SIAI's past tendency to overlook such criteria. Very successful people who can basically set their own hours could spare the block of time, but wouldn't they already have achieved what this course has to offer?

Comment author: wedrifid 11 May 2011 09:40:44PM 0 points [-]

So you were or weren't accepted?

Was, but the question dodge was deliberate!

Anyway, even with all those factors, it doesn't seem to override my points above about the difficulty of such people of taking ten weeks off, or SIAI's past tendency to overlook such criteria.

Absolutely, I don't have an overall position to express on that one (talk to me in a few months) but your points seem valid.

Very successful people who can basically set their own hours could get the time off, but wouldn't they already have achieved what this course has to offer?

I would disagree on this one. Even, say, Tim Ferris could benefit from such a program despite already being successful and having an undeniable ability to research and train himself in practical skills independently. There is a level of strategy above that required for the social phenomenon of 'success' which is both rare and (I assume) at least part of what would be covered by a boot camp.

Comment author: SilasBarta 25 April 2011 10:47:13PM 0 points [-]

Hm, just to think out loud: is the visiting fellows program going on this year? If so, it might be better for me to do that, for a shorter period than the bootcamp, but while also having some level or participation in those activities. Don't know how compatible the two roles are, though.