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Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28

24 AnnaSalamon 29 March 2012 08:48PM

I do not say this lightly... but if you're looking for superpowers, this is the place to start.”

--Michael Curzi, summer 2011 minicamp participant

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

What: Two 3-day weekend minicamps and one 8-day minicamp, filled with hands-on activities for applying rationality to your life, your goals, and the making of a better world.  (See details in the FAQ.)

When and where: We're running three camps, so that we can do this for three sets of participants: May 11-13 and June 22-24 for the 3-day camps, and July 21-28 for the eight-day camp, all in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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:

  • Hang out and explore the Bay Area with two dozen other people like you who are smart, interesting, and passionate about rationality
  • Attend bonus sessions about style, body language, and confidence-building.
  • Get help charting out career paths; and, entirely optionally for those interested, connect with folks at the Singularity Institute about optimal philanthropy.


Eliezer Yudkowsky Anna Salamon Julia Galef
Andrew Critch Luke Muehlhauser Michael Smith

Cost:  $650 for the three-day programs; $1500 for the week-long program.  This includes lodging[1], meals, and tuition.  

(Note that this *still* isn't quite enough to make running minicamps sustainable in the long-run; a lodging + meals at retreat centers start at around $90 per person per night, the "three-day camps" include four nights, and these workshops take a staff of about 5 full-time people for over a month each prior to each workshop, most of us at $3k/month, counting curriculum development time (plus miscellaneous expenses).  We are trying to strike a compromise between "charge enough that we can run more camps" and staying affordable, especially for our start-up phase; costs will probably go up in following years.)

Three days (or a week) isn’t long enough to learn rationality, but it's long enough to learn how to learn rationality, and to get some momentum toward doing so.

Come meet us, and see what you can do.

Apply now.

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POSITION: Design and Write Rationality Curriculum

54 Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 January 2012 06:50AM

Update March 2012: We are still accepting and processing applications for this work on an ongoing basis.

Imagine trying to learn baseball by reading essays about baseball techniques. [1]

We're trying to make the jump to teaching people rationality by, metaphorically speaking, having them throw, catch, and hit baseballs in the company of friends. And as we develop curriculum to do that, we're noticing that we often improve quite a lot ourselves in the course of coming up with 20 examples of the sunk cost fallacy. This suggests that the best of us have a lot to gain from practicing basic skills more systematically. Quoth Anna Salamon:

There are huge numbers of basic, obviously useful rationality habits that I do about 10% as often as it would be useful to do them. Like "run cheap experiments/tests often”, and “notice mental flinches, and track down the thought you’re avoiding”.

Eliezer Yudkowsky, Anna Salamon, several others paid on an hourly basis, and a few volunteers, have been designing exercises and exercise-sets for a rationality curriculum. Our current working point is on the exercises for "Motivated Cognition". Currently the only completed session is "Sunk Costs", which is still being tested - yes, we're actually testing these things repeatedly as we build them. The main purpose of the sessions is to be performed in person, not read online, but nonetheless the current version of the Sunk Costs material - presentation and exercise booklets - is available as a sample: [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. This is a presentation on sunk costs in which background explanations are interspersed with "do as many of these exercises as you can in 3 minutes", followed by "now pair up with others to do the 'transfer step' parts where you look for instances in your past life and probable future life."

We're looking for 1-2 fulltime employees who can help us build more things like that (unless the next round of tests shows that the current format doesn't work), and possibly a number of hourly contractors (who may be local or distant). We will definitely want to try your work on an hourly or monthly basis before making any full-time hires.

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