Open Thread 198
This is the weekly visible open thread. Odd-numbered open threads will be no-politics, even-numbered threads will be politics-allowed. This one is even-numbered, so go wild - or post about whatever else you want. Also:
In case you missed it last week, I’m accepting grant applications. So far many people have generously volunteered to help fund grants, and relatively few people have submitted really high-quality ideas I’m excited about. So no need to volunteer more funding, but if you have great ideas please send in an application form.
So far I’ve got about 100 applications. Types of grant proposals I need less of on the margin:
Social media sites
Education and science communication projects (these are great, we’re just kind of heavy on them right now)
Attempts to develop new ways to think about psychology
Things on blockchains, although if your idea is actually good (eg https://www.gwern.net/CO2-Coin) this doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker
Lifestyle products that would make people feel self-actualized
Cool startup ideas of unclear charitable relevance
Perpetual motion machines (yes, really)
People who say they want to leverage new ways of thinking to create coordinated high-impact outcomes or whatever, without explaining what specific things they are going to do.
Things that will help advance cutting-edge AI research. Remember, I think AI might be bad, and I hope it comes as late as possible so we have more time to prepare. If you have proposals to hinder the advance of cutting-edge AI research, send them to me! Or if you have proposals to help AI safety research, send those too (people who are just looking into normal AI applications for health care or whatever don’t have to worry about this).
People saying “I don’t need money, I just want your official stamp of approval so I can use it to convince other people”. I have already committed to throwing money at things, including unlikely-to-work-but-could-be-cool things. But if I have to stake my reputation on it then I’ll be looking it over with a fine-toothed comb and being super-conservative.
Types of grant proposals I need more of on the margin:
Basic research into important scientific questions
Well-thought-out proposals to enact political change
Anything that might lead to 20,000 clones of John von Neumann
High-impact, concrete proposals to help the global poor
The questions I most often had after reading people’s applications were “why would this be good?”, “why isn’t this a for-profit startup?”, “but what actual, concrete things are you going to do?”, and “if you care so much about this and you’re a software engineer at Google and it only costs $1000 why haven’t you just funded it yourself?” If your applications answer those questions, you’ll have a better chance of getting accepted, or at least of saving yourself an email conversation with me about them.