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Atlas Fellowship Application

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Round 1 Application

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Last edited: Apr 9 2022 06:09 PM (BST)

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Deadline: Apr 11 2022 07:59 AM (BST)

Round 1 Application

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Round 1 Application

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Applicant Profile

Phone number (optional)

We’ll use this to send you updates about the status of your application.

Gender (not used for assessment)

Clear

Race/Ethnicity (not used for assessment)

School name

Expected High School Graduation Year

Clear

Country

State/Province

How did you hear about us?

From what organization or person did you hear about Atlas?

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Assessments

If applicable, what were your scores on the following exams? Where applicable, give your best subscore on each section or an exam. Including test scores in your application is not required, and not submitting scores will not harm your application. If you haven’t taken any of the following tests and your score becomes a deciding factor on your application, we will fund you to take the GRE.

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PSAT 10/NMSQT (optional)

  Reading & Writing Mathematics
     

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SAT (optional)

  Reading & Writing Mathematics
     

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ACT (optional)

  English Reading Mathematics Science
         

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JEE-Advanced (optional)

  Physics (Marks) Math (Marks) Chemistry (Marks) Overall Rank
         

TOEFL Composite (optional)

Other Standardized Tests (optional)

If you’ve taken other standardized tests (such as the AMC, AIME, Pre-ACT, or GRE), please enter your scores here.

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Academic Profile

GPA (optional)

Please enter your (unweighted) grade point average and the maximum possible grade point average (e.g. 3.9/4.0). If you don’t have a GPA, leave this blank.

GitHub (optional)

Please add your GitHub or a link to another portfolio.

LinkedIn Profile (optional)

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Resume

If you already submitted a LinkedIn profile, or don’t have a resume, leave this blank.

  1. .pdf

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Activities

If you did not submit a LinkedIn or resume, please describe, in no more than 50 words each, the three extracurricular activites that you have been most committed to or are most meaningful for you.

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Free Response

These questions are intended to give us the best picture possible of you as a person and an applicant. We’re fine with rough answers—we don’t expect your application will benefit much from spending more than 30 mins on this section. Please complete all questions.

What important issue do you disagree on with most of your friends and why? (2–5 sentences)

What’s something you think is interesting or cool that you’ve done? (1-3 sentences)

(E.g., wrote a book, learned Colemak, organized a political campaign, came up with a novel take on a scientific, philosophical, or societal issue, broke a hash function, started a YouTube channel).

Note: We’re interested in admitting people to the program who are taking the initiative to change the world around them. It’s okay if your answer isn’t impressive by mainstream standards; we are aware that people have had different access to opportunities.

List three books, blog articles, movies, podcast episodes, or other media that have substantially influenced your worldview or thinking.

Characters entered: 59 Min: 0 Max: 100

What do you think is the most pressing problem facing humanity today and why? (2–5 sentences)

If you were given a billion US dollars, what would you do with it and why? (2–5 sentences)

Assume that you’re unable to hire advisors.

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Please read On Caring, a piece by Nate Soares about scope-sensitivity and doing good.

mindingourway.com/on-caring

If the above link doesn’t work for any reason, feel free to use this one.

What is one decision, not mentioned in the post, that a scope-sensitive person might make differently from a scope-insensitive person in the real world? (2–5 sentences)

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Quantitative Reasoning

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Question 1

img

If I live on the island in the middle, is it possible for me to cross all seven bridges (represented by red lines) exactly once and return home?

Clear

For any map like this with islands and bridges, which attributes must the map have such that I could always return home after crossing every bridge exactly once?

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Question 2

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Event A has a 90% chance of occurring. Event B has a 20% chance of occurring. The correlation (i.e. whether they tend to occur together, or separately, or are unrelated) between the events is unknown.

What is the maximum probability that both event A and event B will occur?

%

What is the minimum probability that both event A and event B will occur?

%

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Logical Reasoning

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Question 1

Historians have commonly believed that paint used before the year 1500 did not contain copper. However, lab techniques have shown that copper is present in the paint of both the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), a widely-renowned and timeless piece that is one of the most valuable pieces in the Louvre today, and in that of another painting known as the Sine Nomine, also from the same time period, whose painter is unknown—but not found in the paint of any other Renaissance painting analyzed. This is strong evidence that the Sine Nomine was painted by da Vinci, as well as evidence that the presence of copper in the paint of a recently resurfaced map by Fra Mauro, ostensibly from the year 1450, cannot be used as an argument against the map’s authenticity.

The reasoning in the passage is vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that

Clear

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Question 2

Anne is 35 years old, Bob is 24 years old, Charlie has feature A, and Daniel doesn’t have feature A. You’re allowed to ask people how old they are and whether they have feature A. You want to conclusively test the hypothesis “among these four people, those above age 30 definitely have feature A”.

What’s the minimum number of people you have to ask?

Clear

Which people do you ask?

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What important issue do you disagree on with most of your friends and why? (2–5 sentences)

Some of my friends who are interested in changing the world do not often talk about changing compulsory education as a cause area in and of itself. I think there are a lot of cognitive biases at play that make compulsory education an easier pill to swallow once you’re out of it, a pill I think I am slowly digesting the further away the memories of my school become.

I also disagree with some of my friends about climate change societies being a useful expenditure of time at school due to the array of more pressing issues, however I don’t have robust arguments surrounding these myself.

What’s something you think is interesting or cool that you’ve done? (1-3 sentences)

(E.g., wrote a book, learned Colemak, organized a political campaign, came up with a novel take on a scientific, philosophical, or societal issue, broke a hash function, started a YouTube channel).

Note: We’re interested in admitting people to the program who are taking the initiative to change the world around them. It’s okay if your answer isn’t impressive by mainstream standards; we are aware that people have had different access to opportunities.

I co-founded a movement (called End School Slavery) for burning down the global system of compulsory schooling, which we saw as highly unethical. I created a twitter account that posted quotes from writings on compulsory education, as well as planned out a site that would incorporate everything. The site in it’s current form exists at endschoolslavery.brick.do. Also got over 2,000 views on my essay about compulsory schooling (lesswrong.com/thetruesquidward) that was contentious on Less Wrong with over 76 comments. I also did an interview on a podcast for this, as well as created a web app exploring an alternate learning method through video (increview.app).

What do you think is the most pressing problem facing humanity today and why? (2–5 sentences)

I used to think it was unethical schooling, as it impacted millions, if not billions of people, and the people effected had no vote (as by the time they were adults, rationalisation and other factors like compression of memories involving boredom are at play such that they no longer take the suffering they experienced in childhood anywhere near as seriously).

After reading the works of Jason Hickel, I then thought that unequal policy and power wielded by rich countries against the poor was one of the most pressing problems, as his book makes the case for why these things cause the cycle of poverty and keep it there.

But I now think that unaligned AI is the most important problem. The arguments for why it is both extremely likely to be created in the next few decades are robust, including the arguments for why they’re extremely difficult to stop once they’re created and begin recursively self improving.

If you were given a billion US dollars, what would you do with it and why? (2–5 sentences)

I would spend a sizeable fraction on human augmentation; I would fund a trustworthy entrepreneur to iterate on current nootropics and find something more potent and sustainable. But also fund other research into human intelligence augmentation. Though it is a high risk operation keeping something like this secret, I would make an effort to keep the fruits of these down low and only provide them to promising safety research organisations, and not be widespread, as that would increase the risk of AI.

I would also fund the personal development of a promising individual to run for president of the United States in order to cause dramatic changes in policy work, including around near termism causes like democratising the world bank.

Please read On Caring, a piece by Nate Soares about scope-sensitivity and doing good.

A scope-sensitive person would generally orient themselves towards working on one of the most important problems during their life, or the ones that effect the most amount of sentient beings for the most important time.

For example, if originally they believe that stopping compulsory education is one of the most important cause areas, they may stop optimising solely for that and spend more time exploring and skill building in order to do more impactful work that effects more people later in their lives.

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Long Termism application form

Suppose it is 2024/2025 (or whatever year you will finish your degree), you are about to graduate from university, and you are thinking about what to do next. How would you reason about this question, and what are some possible paths that seem potentially compelling to you today?

Note that we fully appreciate that as a prospective undergraduate student, it’s very difficult to anticipate how your interests and opportunities will evolve over the coming years. We are therefore not asking you to make a prediction about what sort of paths you will actually choose to pursue following your graduation. Instead, we are interested in learning more about how you would reason about this sort of question, i.e. what sorts of factors you expect you would consider, as well as what paths seem most interesting to you right now.

First, I would aim to get a strong sense of personal fit for any careers. I would consider the degree I have just completed, and reflect on how much I enjoyed the subject matter. Then I’d look at the internships / workshops / other things I have done over the past five years and reflect on how much I enjoyed them.

If it turned out that I didn’t actually learn much from my degree (and that I’m not particularly well skilled after all) then, depending on the state of the world, it is possible I spend some time skilling up in an organisation unrelated to EA.

If I am in a position where I am unhappy, I will prioritise that and attempt to move to wherever my friends are in the world in highest concentration, and focus on just resting and enjoying the positive social opportunities in the meanwhile.

One appealing path after university is creating a startup, potentially web development related. I already have proven interest and skill in web development and I find it deeply rewarding and fun. Doing software for an EA org is a possibility that would be personally rewarding, however doing more direct work would be preferable.

Travelling, in order to get a deeper emotional sense of the variety inherent in the world and what’s at stake if it all is destroyed would also be high value for those reasons, however this is not something that has to wait until after university.

On the chance that AI Alignment is now significantly more legible to me (seemingly more likely in the world where I major in Computer Science over Economics) it would be a matter of urgency to get into an alignment organization and start making useful contributions.

In the case I major in Economics, it is likely that policy work, though already largely appealing, is a lot more legible and tractable me so applying to jobs in these fields is also a potential option.

Suppose you wanted to use your future career to solve one important problem and/or advance one important cause. If you would have to pick one such cause/problem today, what would it be and why?

Assuming personal fit, I would choose AI Alignment as a cause area. I have been familiar with the arguments for a long time, however only now am I beginning to grok on an emotional level the likelihood that it does cause the end of humanity, and likely far more. This was through a combination of reading MIRI’s “Death with Dignity” post, hearing Nate Soares discuss these ideas in person, as well as digesting the arguments for AI safety in a swifter and more condensed form, all in a rather short time frame.

However, it seems unlikely that working in AI Alignment has good personal fit for me. As it stands, I find I do not enjoy work with slower feedback cycles compared to work with faster feedback. Additionally, though I will be diving into machine learning soon, and computer science is one of my favourite subjects, I have no proven interest thus far of interest in machine learning.

However, there is a chance these factors could change.

It is my understanding that risks surrounding biosecurity are one of the highest downsides available.

I expect I have decently high personal fit with such a field, as I find retrospectives on policies and their effects to be highly intersting. I also know this problem to be highly tractable, meaning faster feedback loops meaning it’s more fun to work on.

What book?

HPMOR

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality was the first time I encountered a protagonist who took the idea of suffering incredibly seriously. I found his repulsion at the cruelty of prisons, as well as his total defiance of death, really motivating. I was familiar with Nick Bostrom’s Fable of the Dragon Tyrant prior to reading HPMOR, so the ideas weren’t new to me, but seeing them taken so seriously was really inspirational.

Doing Good Better

I was already familiar with the ideas of Effective Altruism prior to reading Doing Good Better, but as a prerequisite to the idea of starting an EA Club at my high school, I thought it would be a good idea to become a lot more familiar with the ideas at their source. My primary emotional takeaway from the book is the immense difference possible in funding between different causes. However, more than that, Macaskill often goes from describing some horrific infliction of human suffering, and then describing another one that’s just as bad but cheaper to solve by a significant factor. This made it click in my head how many different shades of deplorable suffering there are in the world and how with every fight that you decide to take on, you make a massive tradeoff between what other causes you aren’t doing anything about, but that that tradeoff necessarily needs to exist.

Unaligned AGI

I was first introduced to the ideas of the existential risks involved with Unaligned AGI in Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Rationality: from AI to Zombies. The arguments for why they would not have human values by default and why they would have every incentive to deceive and take control have been clear to me for a while. However, I had a reaction to it that I did not endorse, which was a foundational feeling of safety and trust in Eliezer Yudkowsky to create an aligned AI.

His recent publishing of MIRI’s new “Death With Dignity” strategy (their acceptance that the alignment problem will not be solved in time), as well as meeting Nate Soares in person (another person I had a deep trust in) and hearing him rehash these ideas, as well as outside of that having the arguments for AI Safety rehashed to me in greater detail and far more succintly than the sequences, made me understand on an even deeper level how likely it is that AI will destroy the world shortly. This helped me grok why so much funding was going to alignment, and how it was the most important, most urgent problem to solve.

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EA Summer Communications Fellowship Application

When: July 1, 2022 → August 31, 2022 If you can’t make it for the entire fellowship, please still apply and let us know your availability below. We expect fellows to be available for the start of the fellowship, but understand that some schools and other programs begin in mid-to-late August and can be flexible. Where: The Bay Area Deadline to Apply: Applications accepted on a rolling basis through April 25th, 2022 For more information, go to our website at https://tinyurl.com/EACommsFellowship or contact Zeke Reffe-Hogan at zekesimon@gmail.com

First Name *

Last Name *

Email *

What stage of your career or education are you in?

Please elaborate if you selected “other”

LinkedIn/CV

Please add a link to your LinkedIn profile or other relevant online CVs/résumés (e.g., GitHub, personal website etc). Alternatively, attach a file below.

https://spacelutt.com/projects (this page largely covers my more artsy projects)

Linkedin/CV

Attach a file here if applicable:

Attach file

Space Lutterodt-Clottey Resume March 2022.pdf

If you’re not available for the entirety of the fellowship, when would you need to leave?

(optional)

What is your background with Effective Altruism? *

Please limit your response to 100 words.

I found EA through the rationality community. I’ve attended three EAG conferences, and visited the Lightcone and Constellation offices while in the Bay Area for the Atlas Fellowship Beta Program. I have a lot of friends in the EA community.

Communications is a field that encompasses many career paths. Which comms field(s) are you most interested in pursuing? Tell us about any relevant experience you have with this field or other comms related skills or experience. *

Examples of communications career paths include journalism, community building, policy comms, art and entertainment, writing, marketing, fundraising, and more. If any career path that interests you and/or that you have experience in could help in communicating about EA to people outside the movement, please include it in your answer. Please limit your response to 150 words or less.

I am highly interested in the art and entertainment and writing fields, and interested in learning more about the journalism field. I have a lot of experience writing, having been writing fiction and non-fiction online since I was twelve on multiple blogs (https://gingerjumble.wordpress.com / https://squid.brick.do / https://spacelutt.com). I won regionals for the Jack Petchey Speak Out Competition in 2020 for my speech “I Want You To Be Happier” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWM_1WlWxjc) I also have a podcast feed where I’ve done interviews, discussion of media, and narration of short stories (https://anchor.fm/daylightismine/) and one podcast episode called “Quote Therapy” that was nominated for the BBC Young Audio Awards in the Rising Talent category (https://dukeboxradio.com/podcast/quote-therapy/).

I am also very interested in web development, and made my personal site (https://spacelutt.com) as well as a web app for incrementally watching videos (https://increview.app).

In terms of video, I’m very interested in film making and editing, and outside of currently being on the writing and editing teams for a production at my school, I make animations and hand-drawn animatics.

Why are you interested in attending this fellowship? *

Please limit your response to 150 words or less.

I think giving people who otherwise would have been doing only altruistic work a community and recources with which to make it highly effective is really important and can significantly boost the impact had, but can’t happen if people don’t hear about EA, or hear poor, unrepresentative, uninteresting messages describing it.

I want to learn more about how the things I find naturally find really enjoyable regarding media creation can be used productively in industry, outside of the intrinsic enjoyment working on them provides. This would also help me get a sense of personal fit for communications work, and would help for future comparisons for which career I am likely to have highest impact in.

I also think it would be very rewarding spending time with other people who are interested in arts and media and creation.

If you could work on any EA communications project, what would it be and how would you approach executing it? *

Projects can include anything related to communicating to people outside EA about the movement or a particular EA cause – anything from starting an organization, to writing articles, to writing a book or making a movie. Note: It is unlikely–but not impossible–that you will work on this particular project this summer. Most projects will be ones mentors are already working on and which have a particularly high likelihood of making a positive impact. See the “How is the fellowship structured?” section of this page for examples of potential projects: https://tinyurl.com/EACommsFellowship Please limit your response to 200 words or less.

I would create a highly edited animated video that conveys the basics of EA, to the style of fireship video describing web development topics (https://youtu.be/U3aXWizDbQ4). These videos are very entertaining to watch and the use of a relaxed narrator with high speed, smooth, well transitioned animations makes it extremely entertaining and easy to understand while watching.

I would start by writing a script for the video. Potentially via analysing the structure of a script in a fireship video (such as how long to spend on the intro, what’s covered in how much time). Then, I would write a script for the video, heavily adapting from pre-existing, optimised-for-clarity definitions of EA. I would then watch tutorial videos on all the features that already exist in AfterEffects. As I am putting together the video in Premier and AfterEffects, I would adjust the script, removing words where graphs/images/short videos would do, to adapt it fully for an audiovisual instead of purely text experience.

**Give an example of a piece of Effective Altruist content (an article, a website, an argument from an EA author, a video, etc.) that you think should be improved, and tell us how you would improve it. *

Please limit your response to 250 words or less.**

A small example is Peter Singers “drowning child” argument, where he argues that you have a moral obligation to save a child who you see is drowning. It would be more appropriate to rephrase this as whether you would want to save the child who is drowning, as in a sense there is no such thing as a moral obligation (something that is spoken about extensively in Replacing Guilt

A different example is the website for the Atlas Fellowship application (https://atlasfellowship.org). I would increase the size of the text under the “What” header, and decrease the amount of text, increasing the amount of spacing between the paragraphs to make it an easier and more pleasant experience to read. I would also make the logo in the upper left corner a lot bigger, and radically increase the shadow behind the white text in front of the illustration to make it more readable.

Alternatively, regarding the post “Simply EA Pitches to ‘Holy Shit, X-Risk” (https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rFpfW2ndHSX7ERWLH/simplify-ea-pitches-to-holy-shit-x-risk) it has many good ideas but I would make it radically shorter. Though the conversational tone can be a part of the style, the length of the post is daunting and I would remove a lot of the fluff surrounding the ideas themselves. For example, under caveats, many of the bullet points have sub-bullet points beneath them, with information that can be condensed into one expansion as opposed to two.

**Imagine you’re talking to someone who’s new to EA. How would you approach explaining EA to them? *

Please limit your response to 150 words or less.**

I would say that EA places a focus on doing the most good with the available recources, and use the major example of some charities being significantly more effective than other charities, and that EA has a big focus on finding those charities and making sure those are the ones receiving funding.

I would then explain the basics of longtermism, conveying how some believe that even though there are many really bad things happening here now, there are potential things in the future that could be even worse, for example a pandemic worse than Covid. Therefore a large amount of EA is involving decreasing the risks to humanity in the future.

References (optional)

References are totally optional, but can help us learn more about you. Please don’t let lack of references or waiting to contact potential references prevent you from applying. If you want, give 1-3 references, along with their contact information. References by people who are directly involved in Effective Altruism and adjacent communities are particularly useful, though people who can speak to your abilities and who you are as a person more generally are also helpful for us.

Sydney von Arx - sydney@atlasfellowship.org / +1 503-462-5740
Kyle Scott - kyle@alignment.org / +1 925-817-7188

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Are you interested in having us share your application with potential employers/relevant organizations/experts who might be interested in collaborating with, advising, or hiring you? *

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Stage 2 Applicaiton

China Question Full Answer:

Reference class: US going to war

Reference class:

Reference class:

Whether 2/4 reputable news sources say that the US is in war with China

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

OKAY!

41 wars in 77 years.

41/77 percent chance of going to war

53.2 Percent chance of going to war in the century

(but we MUST adjust for superpowers.

excluded under 1000 troops

(counting supported by?)

III (two were taiwan stuff)

I (vietnam)

Ah, gonna have to start again?

No wars between them from 1990-recent

Persian gold crisis - I* supported by

Real wars: IIIII

Measuring based on the number of wars

6.49% chance. Because

In any given year since 1945, there’s a 6.67% chance that the US is in direct war with China. Therefore in the next 100 years, there’s a 6.67% chance that the US goes to war on any given year. Therefore the chance that they go to war within a hundred years is 6.67%. Oh wait, is it or? Oh god, then it’s 6.67 x 100 = 600%. then it’s a certainty.

Oh god.

6.67% chance. Out of the 77 years since the end of world war two and the costs on war imposed by the existence of nuclear weapons, The US and China have been in what is closest to direct war only five times, such as during the Korean War, the Taiwan Strait Crises, and the Vietnam war. These are counted by when Wikipedia does not put them under the “Supported by” category, and states them as main combatants.

The closest to an all out war between the US and China was the Chinease Civil WAr, however even that was primarily a war between the US and the Soviet Union.

Every instance of a war is really a war between two other countries that the US and the China are not full a part of, and there are no instances since 1945 and 2022 of the US and China going to direct war between eachother. This makes me put a 50% dampener on the derived value, and change it to a 3.3% chance of them going into all out war.

They have both been supporting proxies.

The only reference class we have is major world powers going to war, which is the US and Russia, which have only ever been in one direct war since 1945, which was the cold war. This refence gives a 1.3% chance of major world powers going to war.

As China is less powerful than Russia, the US may feel more comfortable going to war with them (also

My understanding is that since 1945, major world powers tend to very infrequently go to war. Therefore I will calculate the mean between 6.7 and 1.3 = 4% chance of going to war, and basically just 1.3. Okay, maths!

Nope. Do it

Unsolved Problem

The heap of sand one. This is removed by all that stuff in the sequences about definitions. Doing this one would be pretty easy.

Am I really gonna do the “it started because of grunts and stuff”. I guess that still leaves the question of when?

A prominent question in metaphilosophy is that of whether or not philosophical progress occurs and more so, whether such progress in philosophy is even possible.

The Existence Question: is there progress in philosophy? The Comparison Question: is there as much progress in philosophy as in science? The Explanation Question: why isn’t there more progress in philosophy?[21]

Is there progress in philosophy?

I believe there is progress in philosophy. It is a very common occurance that when human beings ponder questions, they consider some aspects and not others.

It is an incoherent question to ask whether

Ahh, but do I know any examples?

Okay, move onto something else.

— — —

Times when China went to war:

Times China has gone to war

Altogether: IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

21 / 77 = 27.3%

Stage 2

Free Response Questions

Completed: Apr 30 2022

Free Response Questions

Free Response Questions

Free Response

Describe a time when you changed your mind about something important. What led you to change your mind? (2-5 sentences)

I used to think that school in all its forms was a really bad thing for society, and that it was on net incredibly harmful and that people could learn equally well outside of school using the internet. Part of what changed my mind about this was starting at a much better school than my previous one, and realising that my original school which I was extrapolating from was unusually bad.

But also between spending a lot of time with people who had both been and not been to uni, realising that there was a palpable depth of knowledge in people who had gone to uni, and there is definitely something about university for most people that makes them leave it having much deeper knowledge on a subject, instead of merely surface level.

I still believe that my secondary school had terrible tolls on the mental health of the students there, and given accounts I’ve heard I think it’s fair to extrapolate this to many other secondary schools. But I think I was incorrectly conflating this with the benefits and costs of university, and incorrectly conflating this with the value of even just other secondary schools, like the one I’m at now.

What is an original opinion that you came up with? (2-5 sentences)

This should be something you put together yourself rather than reading somewhere and adopting. It can of course be a synthesis of or built upon things you’ve read. Ideally, it should be something substantive, where someone could reasonably disagree with you.

A lot of gurus give advice about how certain things and thought processes will help you to become happier. They have long chains of reasoning about why the things should make you happy, but on actual further inspection these aren’t the things that made them themselves go from sad to happy. Instead, these thought processes came from something else, usually to do with making the brain fine on a simple level, like not being tired, hungry or lonely.

So most advice is ignorable, and instead you should look at what state was able to produce that kind of thought in the author’s mind, and follow how they went about achieving that.

Three things helped me come to this belief:

  1. Noticing my brain tending far more towards complex philosophies of happiness when I had had some caffeine and was feeling good
  2. Reading about people taking antidepressants and feeling way better, then describing complex philosophies
  3. Reading, fully believing, and over time coming to disagree with some of the works of philosopher Naval Ravikant (https://nav.al/happiness)

Please select an unsolved problem in a category of your choosing (if you’re not sure which one, we recommend having a look at the philosophy section), either from the list below or another source. In 5–15 sentences, please explain how you would first approach tackling that problem in a unique way.

List of Unsolved Problems

If you’re not sure how you would tackle the problem, it’s fine to simply share your initial thoughts.

The Sorites Paradox (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorites_paradox)

Some think that it is a philosophical dilemma to ask when exactly, if you continually remove a grain, a pile of sand is no longer a heap. However, the label heap truly is only a semantic label applied by humans.

This problem cannot be “solved”, but only annihilated, through two different lenses.

The first is to look at the purpose of the word “heap”. It is, like every other, created by and for humans, that holds no more information than what is produced inside of the minds of other humans when the word is used. Therefore it is nonsensical to ask the precise point at which a heap of sand is no longer a heap, as the word does not have any objective meaning, and there are no objective categories for it. If objective categories were created, they would be ignored because it would be inconvenient to remember the precise meaning of it whenever you wanted to use it, because that would be far removed from the purpose of the word “heap”, which is to vaguely describe things that look like heaps, and nothing more precise than that.

The second lens is to consider that we can already know everything we could possibly want about the pile, with the question of whether it is a “heap” being impossible to provide anything of value.

For example, imagine you are looking at a dog, and you see that it has four legs, is furry, has a dog-shaped face, is running around, and literally is identical to a dog because it is a dog, and then you ask “but is it truly a dog”. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “truly” a dog, because you can already see it and you already know everything there is to know about it. Once you know all of the other information, whether or not it is “truly” a dog is irrelevant.

And besides, you have all the information you would want from looking at the actual sand. You are able to say “this is 15 grains of sand” or “this is 30 grains of sand” and there is nothing useful gained from asking “whether it is a truly a heap” because that is like asking “is it truly a dog” as it is completely irrelevant.

You have all the information you could possibly want about the sand by looking or counting the actual pieces of sand, and after that, there is nothing left over to know. You can say “this is 15 grains of sand” or “this is 30 grains of sand”, and at that point asking “is it truly a heap?” is the same as asking “is it truly a dog?” or “is this clone of me still me?” or “is the Ship of Theseus the same ship?” all interesting questions, but all the same questions that revolve around expectations of precise definitions of language that do not exist, and asking questions that are less specific than the information we do indeed have access to.

(There is of course the issue of asking another question which is more important, like “how should I treat this clone?” but will likely get worse, less direct answers by instead asking the classic “is this clone actually me?”)

For the next question, we’ll be exploring and applying an idea relevant to understanding and shaping the future, called reference class forecasting. To prepare, please watch this introduction to what forecasting is and then this video on how to do reference class forecasting. You don’t need to remember any of the specific examples from the videos, or definitions of the words used. You also don’t need to prepare in any way other than watching the videos. The main thing to pay attention to is the idea of reference class forecasting, as explained in the videos.

Will the US and China go to war this century? Please state your probability forecast as a percentage number, then explain how you arrived at your conclusion. (2–10 sentences)

Final probability estimate: 4%

The possible reference classes I considered were:

I decided to use the reference classes of times when the US and China have been major drivers of war since 1945, according to the Wikipedia pages titled “List of Wars”.

== Times the US has gone to war since 1945 ==

41 wars in 77 years.

41/77 = 53.2% chance of going to war in any given year.

== Times that China has gone to war since 1945 ==

21 wars in 77 years.

21/77 = 27.3% chance of going to war in any given year.

These estimates both seemed far too high, and this was due to the poor reference class: most of the time either the US or China were at war, it was with countries far weaker than each other.

I instead looked at the more specific reference class of times the US and China were at war with each other since 1945.

I found five wars that counted under this, giving it a 6.49% chance.

I counted wars where Wikipedia didn’t put them on the “supported by” section, and listed the US and China as main combatants on opposite sides. Wars that counted under this included the Korean War, the Taiwan Strait Crises, and the Vietnam war.

The closest to an all-out war between the US and China was the Chinese Civil War, however, even that was primarily a war between the US and the Soviet Union.

Every instance of war was really a war between two other countries that the US and China are not fully a part of, and there are no instances between 1945 and 2022 of the US and China going to direct war between each other. This intuitively made me want to multiply the value by 0.5, but I instead looked at another reference class.

A good reference class is major world powers going to war, and the best we have for those are the US and Russia, which have only ever — barely — been in one direct war since 1945, which was the cold war. This reference class gives a 1.3% (1/77) chance of major world powers going to war.

(The fact that China is less powerful than Russia and has a tenth as many nukes — meaning the US would likely feel relatively more comfortable going to war with them — affects my confidence interval of the final estimate.)

My understanding is that since 1945, major world powers tend to very infrequently go to war. Therefore I will calculate the mean between 6.7 and 1.3, which, extrapolating, gives a 4% chance of the US and China going to war in the next century.

Likelihood the US and China go to war (since 1945) = 6.7%
Likelihood that major world powers go to war (since 1945) = 1.3%

Likelihood they go to war with each other = 4%

Ethical Reasoning

Completed: Apr 30 2022

Ethical Reasoning

Free Response Questions

Ethical Reasoning

Imagine you’re in an emergency situation, and the only way to save another person’s life is to sacrifice your own leg. Are you morally required to make this sacrifice? Why, or why not? (2–5 sentences)

On one hand, if this is an isolated event, then it would certainly make sense to sacrifice your leg in order to save the other person; the value of their life is greater than the suffering you would experience from not having a leg, especially when factoring the data collected on what the onset of paraplegia (a condition where you can’t move the lower half of your body) has on long term happiness, which after a short period of time, rounds to about zero.

However, it can also be said that if you are already using your life to do good and save people from not as blatantly dire but similarly dire situations, you can save a lot more lives from the increased productivity of having your leg.

But beliefs like this could cause something resembling arrogance, and lead you to develop apathy towards the people you actually intend to save, and a more deontological rule that says “you will save people’s lives who are directly near to you if it is not at risk to your own life, but at a smaller sacrifice to yourself” is probably a good rule that keeps you moral in the long term.

Is it morally better to save the life of a person in your neighborhood or the lives of two people in a country far away? Why? (2–5 sentences)

It is morally better to save the lives of two people far away, as their lives are worth equally much to the life of the person in your neighbourhood. Objectively, the suffering experienced inside a human brain is the same irrespective of distance relative to the person considering the moral dilemma, and 2 is twice as big as 1.

However, the human mind evolved in small groups, and we intuitively value saving the life of the person in our neighbourhood far, far more. While you can try to ignore this feeling, generally ignoring and suppressing your feelings doesn’t work and you will probably feel unfulfilled only helping the two people who live in a country far away, so it’s very much worth investing in ways to still feel emotionally fulfilled while doing the actions that are actually the most effective (eg. by visiting the inflicted areas and letting your emotional brain naturally feel what it needs to feel, or to indulge and sometimes help the person in your neighbourhood).

All else equal, should your government implement a policy that reduces global malaria deaths by 20% or one that reduces leukemia deaths in your country by 50%? Why? (2–10 sentences)

The malaria policy should be taken.

There are currently around ~600,000 deaths due to malaria worldwide each year, and ~5000 deaths due to malaria in the UK each year.

The malaria policy would save ~120,000 lives, and the leukaemia policy would save ~2500 lives. The malaria policy would save an order of magnitude more people and should be the policy taken.

There are considerations to be made of who the beneficiaries of tax should be, since the citizens of the country may be fair to argue that since they are the ones paying the tax, they should be the primary beneficiaries of its spending. However lack of investment in global health and development can be considered a market failure (as individuals in the market do not experience the costs of not donating to charities) and it is largely the government’s job to correct for market failures in the economy, therefore this spending of money may be justifiable from an economic perspective, while certainly being necessary from a moral perspective.

(https://www.who.int/teams/global-malaria-programme/reports/world-malaria-report-2021)
(https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/leukaemia)

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Why? (2-5 sentences each)

When the government makes laws, the number one principle should be ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.

Bad things happen when governments blatantly do not treat different groups fairly, and being marginalised by one’s own government is one of the worst places to be. In terms of it being the number ONE principle, there are of course other things that the government should prioritise in making laws, like increasing wellbeing of most people. However, other considerations like this pretty easily collapse into ensuring fair treatment when making laws.

There are two ways this can easily go wrong.

One is through misinterpreting the statement in ways that would clearly cause large amounts of damage, eg. by giving people all the same treatment whether or not they need it. Treating people fairly involves taking into account their needs and reaching to bring them up to a universal standard of wealth and wellbeing.

Another more malicious way this can go wrong is to enact laws that artificially seem to be to treat everyone fairly, but as a second-order effect cruelly discriminate against a group. For example, the war against drugs. Though the drugs were technically banned universally, it was known that the drugs being banned were primarily being taken in black neighbourhoods, meaning the superficially fair laws were just an excuse to arrest black people.

It can never be right to kill a human being against their will.

On an individual level, this seems to be true. The fact that something has a will to live is justification alone that it is valuable for them to be kept alive. For example, though we may think that some people in the third world live lives that are so miserable that they are worse than death, when sampled and asked, most say they were overall glad to be born.

However, on a macro level, it is often that human beings have to kill other human beings in order to stop a greater atrocity, therefore the question of “if it can ever be right to kill a human being against their will” is identical to “can there ever be a just war” — to which I think the answer is yes, because it can be worth a large number of deaths to prevent many more, and to protect a greater, more just future (eg. killing Nazis to free the millions they were prosecuting, and protect the future of the planet). However this does not make each individual killing of a human against their will any less of a tragedy.

Suppose you discover that most non-human animals in zoos live in constant suffering worse than death, but all wild animals live happy lives, and that each animal has the same capacity for happiness and suffering regardless of size. Which of these actions would have the greatest positive impact on the happiness and suffering of the world’s animals, if successful?

Reducing population of several natural predators of ants, increasing total insect populations by 50%

Rank these based on how many deaths you think each would prevent in the next 100 years, from most deaths prevented down to least deaths prevented. Ignore secondary effects.

Eliminating 25% of violent murders

Most deaths prevented

Magically making everyone age 1% slower

In between

Curing a disease that kills 1000 people per year

Fewest deaths prevented

Rank these based on how much happiness you think each would create in the next 50 years, from most happiness to least happiness. Ignore secondary effects.

A treatment that cures depression and anxiety, that only 10% of the world population can afford.

Most happiness

Moving 1,000 people from slums to new high-rise apartments, and giving them job training.

Least happiness

Providing everyone missing an arm with prosthetics that are just as good as natural arms.

In between

You have 300 people with disease X, which causes a 100% chance of death. Of the 300, half have genetic marker A and half have genetic marker B. You have 100 doses of a drug. For people with marker A it cuts the risk of death to 10%. For people with marker B it only cuts it to 50%. 

How many of the 100 doses do you give to people with genetic marker B?

0

Reading Tasks

Completed: Apr 30 2022

Reading Tasks

Free Response Questions

Reading Tasks

Please read The Most Important Century, a piece by Holden Karnofsky about the hinge of history and the potential importance of today.

cold-takes.com/the-most-important-century-in-a-nutshell

What is the strongest counterargument you can give to the author’s central claim? (2-5 sentences)

The author makes substantial claims about how AGIs (PASTAs) could radically increase productivity and be the cause of major change. However, humans have historically been terrible at predicting when AGI will be developed. For example, it was once predicted that with a team of ten people, and the computing technology of 1956, they could create an AI in two months at Dartmouth College.

Additionally, it is very difficult to make claims about the affordability of compute due to the sketchiness of the logic that metrics like Moore’s Law are based on, and it is largely unknown whether this is the only thing in place of making a strong AGI.

So, using the outside view, it is unlikely that we are correct this time about when they are likely to be created.

Additionally, some of his arguments about specific timelines and why this is the most important century are heavily dependant on the reference frame he uses for his comparisons. You are of course able to make any event “one of the very first” or a completely average occurrence by changing what period of time you are looking at, which does not necessarily translate to it being especially special.

Please read sections I. and II. of the following article about phenomena known as collective action problems: Meditations On Moloch.

slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

Which of the following are example(s) of the phenomenon described in the article?

Responses Selected:

Countries deciding against suppressing Covid with severe measures (full lockdown and travel bans) because some of their neighboring countries will fail to contain the pandemic, and some of those cases may later spread to their country, too.

Luxury brands increasing their advertising budgets to beat their competitors.

Humanities

Completed: Apr 30 2022

Humanities

Free Response Questions

Humanities

What graph(s) do you think are most important for understanding the history or future of humanity and why?

Our World In Data is a good place to get started. Please provide a link and/or description. (Example graph - number of airports over time).

Prevalence of undernourishment
(https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/prevalence-of-undernourishment)

Some metrics of poverty do not directly correlate with the actual wellbeing of the people being measured. However, food is a fully universal need among humans, and it is self explanatory that if somebody has sufficient or excess wealth, they will not be undernourished. It has occurred previously that the number used for the poverty line has been changed, instantly creating or erasing millions of people in actual poverty overnight from the metrics (https://odi.org/en/insights/the-definition-of-extreme-poverty-has-just-changed-heres-what-you-need-to-know/). As undernourishment is relatively more objective, it cannot be as easily modified.

The graph also objectively shows the difference in wealth between western countries and the rest of the world, in a way that the global poverty graph fails at. Despite technically having extreme poverty rates that match many other parts of the world, the United States has a constant rate of extremely little undernourishment, reflecting the fact that it is, objectively, the country with the highest GDP (withstanding that there are issues with GDP as the sole metric of development, such as with inequality).

This can help show the history of humanity by displaying which countries have had the best historical luck (assuming humans across the world are psychologically identical), and it can be used to deduce which parts of the world were most efficient for requisites for development that applied early on, such as agriculture.

With the premise that a country that is no longer struggling to feed itself can go on to solve other problems, the graph shows which countries are the most powerful, thus which countries are likely to have the most influence on the future, and therefore what values the future of humanity are likely to most resemble (currently looking to be the western nations).

Choose one historical event that seems either very underrated or very overrated in standard history textbooks in your country and briefly explain why you think it was or wasn’t significant from the lens of well-being.

Consider the history of the world through the lens of well-being (ie, consider historical people and events significant to the degree that they influenced the average person’s health, safety, fulfillment, etc.)

An event that was highly underrated was when people started working for other people in order to afford the rent of the property they lived on (around the 15th century). Before that, people predominantly “owned” (or at minimum had strong informal rights to) the land which they lived on, and would spend most of their time creating food for themselves and their families on that land, so they would be self-sustaining and not be compelled to work for others in order to live.

This was due to the laws that protected the land of peasants, meaning that even though they faced poor nutrition they were still able to live for themselves. However, due to pressures towards using the land for profit, the laws that protected these peasants’ ownership of their land were challenged and reneged, meaning the land they were using for their independent survival was privatised.

I think very often about the rat race, and about how, sparing all external expenses, the thing that most people need to live unhindered is in fact as simple as food and rent — food and a place to live — and this is what keeps most people working. But once you have these things, you are in a large sense, free.

There were of course a lot of downsides involved in farming your whole life and having the lives your family depend on how well you can look after them, and our material wealth of course completely outstrips the wealth of peasants. However, there was undoubtedly a deep sense of meaning in the work and the simplicity of their lives that may have made up for the relative lack of wealth.

There is a potential parallel to UBI, in terms of allowing vast amounts of people to opt out of the rat race. However, this would come without constant work in order to provide one’s life with meaning, which may lead to an even greater decrease in wellbeing. Therefore it could be the case that primarily providing for oneself and one’s family and not being dependant on working for others was one of the highest sources of fulfilment available to humanity, and one that we’re now permanently locked out of. (But this also may well not be true; there are likely other ways of acquiring equivalent depths of meaning in your work).

Imagine an alien species visits earth. Are they more likely to like the sound of our music or the taste of our food? Explain your answer in 2-5 sentences.

The best data we have to extrapolate the likely traits of aliens are the other species of animals, and they prove that eating food is far more universal than listening to music. Music anhedonia is a condition where one can’t derive pleasure from listening to music, and it is harmless to the person who has it, displaying how music is not nearly as necessary to life (relative to the certain death the average human across history would experience if they could not eat).

Producing energy from one’s environment is universal among every animal and every species of plant in the world, therefore it can be very strongly assumed that this is a universal requirement for life. It is not perfectly assumable that an alien species would also digest food through their mouths, but since it is more likely they would develop this then a pleasure for music (which is unique to humans, while mouths are common between very many species) it is more likely overall that they would enjoy the taste of our food than like the sound of our music.

Quantitative Reasoning

Completed: Apr 30 2022

Quantitative Reasoning

Free Response Questions

Quantitative Reasoning

What is your 95% credible interval for the number of people who will be alive in the year 3000 CE (including digital people)? Explain your reasoning by giving a roughly one-sentence justification for each important step of your reasoning.

A 95% credible interval means that you believe there is a 95% chance that thetrue value will fall within your interval. If I were 95% confident that the number of books in a library was between 100 and 500, then my 95% credible interval would be 100-500.

== Risk ==

1) Likelihood that we have not been destroyed by AI, biorisk, nuclear war, or other factors?

25% - Some experts, particularly in AI, rate the survival likelihood at less than 1%, with other experts ranking it much higher, up to 50%. In the absence of being able to generate a complete inside view of these risks in less than the time it takes to complete the entire form, I’m using roughly the mean.

== Real People ==

In general, this number would be incredibly swamped out by the amount of digital people (in the sense that it wouldn’t count in Big O notation).

1) How many people can the planet earth support?

6 trillion - Humans need approximately 400sqft each to live, and there is over 5 quadrillion square feet of land on planet earth. Assuming 50% of the land actually is habitable, about 6 trillion can fit. On a gut level seems too high, but it is the plausible number.

2) Likelihood of having colonised other planets?

99%. Seems like few to no hard physical limitations in the way of this.

2a) How many people will be living on these planets?

82 quadrillion - Currently 61 possibly habitable planets. Assuming by 3000 AD, a hundred times that many habitable planets are discovered, with 10% of them actually being habitable (aided by terraforming), with 496 sextillion people possible on colonies possible by then (assuming 1000 people starting populations and 500 years of 1.1%/year population growth). This amount outstrips the raw amount given by the amount of people who could possibly fit on earth multiplied by the amount of colonies likely found, which is 82 quadrillion, so 496 sextillion is capped by 82 quadrillion.

== Digital People ==

3a) Will we be able to create digital people?

95% - Seems to be no inherent technical barrier to at minimum simulating brains, and there are likely other ways of getting digital people.

3b) What is the mostly likely reason to create digital people?

Increased economic productivity, however it seems very unlikely that they would use digital people instead of AIs or AGIs that would exist by 3000, meaning the most likely reason is for the joy of people existing.

3c) How many digital people would we create for this reason?

800 quadrillion - We would want to create as many as possible, only barely constrained by the amount of compute, which is almost unlimited given space travel. For an estimate I would say at least equal, likely a hundred times the amount of real people who would likely exist around this time, at 800 quadrillion people. This is extremely difficult to estimate, given how vastly unconstrained their creation is from a technical perspective.

1d) Will it be legal to create digital people?

60% - Over the next 1000 years, it is somewhat probable that something inhumane occurs involving the first digital people created, which makes them realise that letting them be created in general was a large moral hazard, but there is some chance they instigated proper legislation.

== Overall ==

Digital people
= 99% probability of being able to create them * 800 quadrillion likely existing * 60% probability of legality
= 800 quadrillion * 0.95 * 0.6 = ~456 quadrillion digital people existing

Real People
= 0.006 quadrillion (6 trillion) the earth can support * 99% likelihood of colonising other planets * 82 quadrillion people
= 82.006 * 0.99 = 81.186 quadrillion people

Chance of Being Alive
= 0.25

456 + 81.2 = 537.2 quadrillion people.

Risk

573.2 * 0.25 = 143.3 quadrillion people.

95% risk estimate = 143.3 - 537.2 quadrillion people

Viral Disease

A new viral disease has infected over 100 million people. The disease, however, appears to cause only mild symptoms that disappear after a couple of days, even though the virus lingers in the body for much longer than that. Therefore, the government has not invested in developing a medical cure. 

According to the theoretical work of a team of well-credentialed, but controversial, biologists, this disease has the potential to cause serious harm a few years after the initial infection. Based on their computer simulations, they predict that the infection may prove lethal in almost half of cases unless patients are cured of the disease. Based on this, the researchers urge the government to rapidly invest in developing a cure. 

The scientific community, however, predominantly rejects this view. According to a new scientific report, signed by over three hundred leading epidemiologists, medical experts, and biologists in the field, the infection is highly unlikely to cause any serious long-term harm. The report claims that prior laboratory data already rules out the possible biological mechanism that the research team proposed as the cause of long-term fatalities. So according to the majority of the scientific community, there is no cause for concern. 

The government is considering whether to fund the development and distribution of a medical cure, which they believe would be relatively easy to accomplish. They estimate that this would cost approximately $5 million. Due to a limited budget, the government would need to take that amount from the part of the medical budget that was designated for the overdue upgrade of the technical equipment in the children’s hospital oncology (cancer) section. This upgrade is expected to save the lives of over 3,000 children over the next twenty-five years.

Should the government fund the development and distribution of this cure?

Please provide your answer as a number from -100 to 100, where -100 is “absolutely not” and 100 is “absolutely yes.”

78

Take the GRE

Not Started

Take the GRE

Info

We encourage applicants to take the GRE—an online reasoning, writing, and mathematics test—only if they haven’t taken the SAT, ACT, or PSAT yet. No preparation or studying is needed, and the test takes 3.5 hours. 

If you’ve submitted a test score already (SAT, PSAT, ACT), taking the GRE will most likely not affect your application; we recommend not doing it.

Reimbursements

If you choose to take the GRE, Atlas will reimburse you for all expenses (around $200). Taking this test is an additional way to boost your application if you do well. However, if you don’t expect to do unusually well on the GRE in a way that’s not reflected on the rest of your application, then taking the test is unlikely to help your application. You can fill out this form to be reimbursed: https://forms.gle/VQuHm9jUrAg8yS7Q6. Reimbursements will be completed at maximum within 1 week of submission, but most reimbursements will be done more quickly.

How to Sign Up

  1. Go to this link: https://www.ets.org/gre

  2. Click “Register now” and create a new account

  3. Fill out the information to create a Test Taker Account. You will then navigate to “schedule a test” and choose the “GRE General test” and a test time.

  4. Register for the GRE. This will cost ~$200.

Here’s a video explaining how to sign up - you can take the test at any time in your own home, and get scores immediately after you finish the test.

Scores

Once you’re finished taking the test, you’ll get scores immediately. Please report scores below.

Verbal Reasoning

(No response)

Quantitative Reasoning

(No response)

Please upload a screenshot or PDF of your scores.

EA Funds Application

*Summary

Please provide a brief summary of your project (max. 1000 characters).

We will use this summary to pre-screen your application, so please make sure to include the key reasons in favor of your project here.

If you have already talked to a particular fund manager, please mention their name here so we can be sure to get their input.*have already talked to a particular fund manager, please mention their name here so we can be sure to get their input.

I’m 16, and very interested in rationality, and have been exploring and learning more about EA and the community for the last 8 months. I have had funding from a friend I met online just to explore and buy things I need for about the last nine months. He recently stopped being able to fund me, and my ability to spend money to increase my capacity, to explore, and to have liquidity to purchase things prior to reimbursement has been significantly decreased and I believe this is slowing down my growth. I have been advised by 80000h that the most effective things for me to be doing at this stage are getting as good grades as possible to get into the best uni as posisble, as well as general exploration. Having a grant would greatly aid these things.

**Project goals

What specific actions or steps might your project involve? What impact will this have on the world? What is your project’s goal, how will you know if you’ve achieved it, and what is the path to impact? How does this relate to the goals of the fund(s) you are applying to?**

I have been advised by 80000 hours that it would be most effective for me to mostly focus on school and getting the best grades I can, and working on getting into the best university I can — but also, to just in general, explore. I do not have a particular EA project running at the moment.

The path to impact is likely increasing my capacity and grades now, leading to increasing my chances of getting a very prestigious university, and increasing the amount of connections I can make and potentially quality of edutaion/potential to do useful work down the line. Also, optimising for positive black swans along the way through exploring.

I do not currently have a more precise plan or know excactly what field of what I intend to go into later on, and have been advised against this by 80k and others in preference for exploration.

I’ve been experiencing problems with fatigue for the last two years, and having money will allow me to continue to try solutions that could lead to radical improvements in my productivity and capacity. For example, next I am looking to try ketogenic meal replacements, and previously this has looked like purchasing a weighted blanket, sleep masks and earplugs, and receiving a grant from Sydney von Arx to sleep undisturbed in an airbnb for ten days over the Christmas holiday. A record of my attempts to fix this up until January 2022 are available at alienmechanic.wordpress.com.

I have previously spent time with the Oxford EA Community and at Trajan House, and having funding would allow me to visit the location more frequently as it’s relatively nearby to my school.

Additionally, I am very interested in trying life coaching. I have done taster sessions with Lynnette Bye, and something similar with Vael Gates, and these have been extremely eye opening in the potential benefits of dedicated reflection with people well-versed in the techniques.

Thus, my goals include spending money on things that improve my general capacity, my performance at school and the quality of the universities I am able to get into, as well as my exploring of the EA and Rationality communities, and learning more about the world as a whole.

Track record

What is your track record for running projects of this kind?

Please give us an outline of previous successes and failures that would help us understand your (or your organization’s) ability to execute this specific project. For example, campaigns you’ve implemented, products you’ve built, research you’ve published, or relevant professional and volunteering experience.

Alternatively, what other kind of evidence do you have that the organization or project will succeed? If you are applying for a project that is related to a previous EA Funds grant, please elaborate on how your previous grant/project went.

(Since this is not necessarily a project, I will give examples of previous grants I’ve received and how they went.)

In December 2021, I received a grant to investigate a sleep issue by sleeping in a different environment, a secluded airbnb. I collected data and wrote up a report on it at the end https://alienmechanic.wordpress.com/2022/01/10/airbnb-report/.

In February 2022, I recieved a grant to spend a week in Oxford learning about the EA community and meeting people. I met a lot of people who I now consider friends, and a lot of people offered to help me in my currently running projects.

In March 2022, I received a grant to fly to the Bay Area for two weeks for the beta version of the Atlas Fellowship. In the time before the program started, I attended an EA Berkeley and a Rationality Meetup, and in the time after I visisted Constellation and was invited to the Lightcone offices, where I met a fair few people.

Each of these experiences has widened my perspective on the in-person EA and Rationality communities and informed my weightings for the valuations of different places to live in the future.

Proof of my ability to excecute include that I have been blogging for four years (currently at spaceclottey.github.io), created an app for incremental learning from videos in the summer of 2021 (increview.app), ran a rationality society at my school for four months (ratsoc.brick.do), created a site for compiling details on ending unethical compulsory schooling (endschoolslavery.brick.do), among other projects (spaceclottey.github.io/projects).

Alternatives to Funding

I would prefer not to ask people who I see as friends for funding as it seems likely to degrade the quality of the relationship. However if I continued to have no disposable income then I might resort to this. It seems likely that I could receive a monthly stipend of enough money from someone I know.

Getting a job concurrently with school is also an option, however I did this for a brief amount of time in January, and it sucked time away from school, increased my stress and amount of things I had to balance, and did not teach me much relative to other things I could be doing.

— — —

Openphil scholarship

Open Phil 2

#

Open Philanthropy Undergraduate Scholarship (2022/23)

A summary of the program (including details regarding the funding criteria and application deadlines) is available here.

Please contact undergraduatescholarship@openphilanthropy.org with any questions.

The form should auto-save any information you enter, so if you aren’t able to complete it in one session, you should be able to fill in parts of it and return to it at a later point (as long as you are using the same device).

Section 1 - Basic information

First name

Last name

Date of birth

/

/

Address

Email

Country of birth

Country of citizenship

Country of residence

(If you reside in the USA but aren’t a US citizen) Visa type

(Optional) With what races or ethnicities do you identify?

Please choose one or more.

Asian (East Asian)

Asian (Indian subcontinent)

Black

Latinx

Middle Eastern

Native American

Pacific Islander

White (non-Hispanic)

Prefer not to answer

Other

Please choose one or more.

(Optional) As what gender do you identify?

Please choose one or more.

Male

Female

Prefer not to say

Other

Please choose one or more.

How did you hear about this opportunity?

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Section 2 - Application details

For what are you seeking funding?

I’m seeking funding to attend university in the USA only.

I’m seeking funding to attend university in the UK only.

I’m seeking funding to attend university in the UK or in the USA (i.e. I’m applying for both).

To which of the US universities listed as eligible on our program page are you planning to apply?

Please select all that apply.

University of Chicago

Stanford University

Columbia University

University of Pennsylvania

Duke University

California Institute of Technology

Brown University

Johns Hopkins University

Northwestern University

Harvey Mudd College

Rice University

Vanderbilt University

Washington University in St Louis

Cornell University

Pomona College

Williams College

University of Notre Dame

Swarthmore College

Georgetown University

Tufts University

Carnegie Mellon University

University of California, Berkeley

Please select all that apply.

What is your fee status at the relevant US universities?

Most of the relevant universities count everyone who is neither a US citizen nor a US permanent resident as an international student, but some universities differ in their treatment of students with refugee visas or asylum status. If in doubt, you should consult the relevant universities’ websites to confirm your fee status qualifcation.

I qualify as an international student at all of the US universities to which I am applying. (Applies to most candidates who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents.)

I qualify as an international student at some of the US universities to which I am applying but not others.

Most of the relevant universities count everyone who is neither a US citizen nor a US permanent resident as an international student, but some universities differ in their treatment of students with refugee visas or asylum status. If in doubt, you should consult the relevant universities’ websites to confirm your fee status qualifcation.

Are you planning to apply to a university in the US through early decision/early action?

Yes

No

Please specify to which university you plan to apply through early decision/early action.

Is the university to which you plan to apply through early decision/early action one of the US universities listed as eligible on our program page, and would you like us to consider your application for a scholarship to attend this university?

Yes

No

Have you already submitted your application (through early decision/early action or otherwise) to one or more of the eligible US universities listed on our program page for admission in 2022/23 at the time of completing this form?

Otherwise, go to the next question.

Yes

No

Otherwise, go to the next question.

Please list all of the universities to which you have applied/are planning to apply in approximate order of preference (assuming financial considerations were not an issue), including universities that are not on the list of universities described on the program page and/or outside of the USA/UK, as well as universities you have already listed above.

Decision timeline

Please refer to the program page for further information about application deadlines and default decision timelines.

The default decision timelines described on the application page work for me.

I require an expedited decision.

Please refer to the program page for further information about application deadlines and default decision timelines.

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Section 3 - Academic record

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High school

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Current enrollment status

High school/secondary school

University

Not currently enrolled

High school/secondary school - name

High school/secondary school - start date

/

/

High school/secondary school - end date (anticipated or actual)

/

/

GPA/aggregate score for the most recently completed academic year of high school/secondary school

For example, if you’re currently in 12th grade, please specify your GPA/aggregate score for 11th grade (or equivalent).

If GPA is not a metric that is commonly used to describe aggregate performance wherever it is you go to school, you can use whichever alternative format is used for these purposes. So for example, if you are at a school that does AS/A-Levels, you can just say “3 A*s, 1 A”, or if you are at a school that does the IB, you can just say “3 7s, 2 6s, 1 5”, etc.

For example, if you’re currently in 12th grade, please specify your GPA/aggregate score for 11th grade (or equivalent). If GPA is not a metric that is commonly used to describe aggregate performance wherever it is you go to school, you can use whichever alternative format is used for these purposes. So for example, if you are at a school that does AS/A-Levels, you can just say “3 A*s, 1 A”, or if you are at a school that does the IB, you can just say “3 7s, 2 6s, 1 5”, etc.

Please briefly explain the grading scale used by your high school/secondary school.

E.g.: “Grades from 1-6, where 1=best, 6=worst.”

E.g.: “Grades from 1-6, where 1=best, 6=worst.”

Class rank for the most recently completed academic year of high school/secondary school

For example, if you were ranked 3rd out of 100 students in your high school class, your response here should be “3/100.”

If you don’t know your exact class rank, please still try to provide your best guess. Please also indicate if your response here is an estimate, e.g. by writing “3/100 (estimated).”

For example, if you were ranked 3rd out of 100 students in your high school class, your response here should be “3/100.” If you don’t know your exact class rank, please still try to provide your best guess. Please also indicate if your response here is an estimate, e.g. by writing “3/100 (estimated).”

Please upload your school report (or equivalent) for the most recently completed academic year.

For now, it’s fine for you to upload the report even if it is not in English. We may ask you to provide a translated copy at a later point.

Space_ReportSummer22.png (100%)

Choose a file

For now, it’s fine for you to upload the report even if it is not in English. We may ask you to provide a translated copy at a later point.

(Optional) Any additional information regarding your high school/secondary school performance you would like to share?

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Awards, prizes, or other exceptional achievements

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Please list any awards, prizes, or other exceptional achievements about which you would like us to know.

We suggest focussing on the achievements that feel most important to you and listing no more than 5 items. We are aware that many applicants (including highly promising ones) may not have anything particularly noteworthy to share in this category, in which case you should feel free to skip to the next section.

We suggest focussing on the achievements that feel most important to you and listing no more than 5 items. We are aware that many applicants (including highly promising ones) may not have anything particularly noteworthy to share in this category, in which case you should feel free to skip to the next section.

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Standardised tests

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If you have taken the SAT or ACT before, we strongly encourage you to share your scores.

Do you have any SAT scores you wish to report?

Yes

No

How many times have you taken the SAT?

1

Highest total score

Test date

/

/

Highest evidence-based reading and writing score

Test date

/

/

Highest math score

Test date

/

/

Please upload your SAT score report for your test with the highest total score.

Please upload your score report for your test with the highest total score.

Instructions for how to download your score report as a pdf can be found online, e.g. here: https://tinyurl.com/ddae3vke. If you are having difficulty obtaining your score report, you can skip this step for now, but you will still have to provide this document at a later stage, assuming we decide to move forward with your application.

SATSTUDENTSCOREREPORT_1654260220176.PDF

Please upload your score report for your test with the highest total score. Instructions for how to download your score report as a pdf can be found online, e.g. here: https://tinyurl.com/ddae3vke. If you are having difficulty obtaining your score report, you can skip this step for now, but you will still have to provide this document at a later stage, assuming we decide to move forward with your application.

Do you have any ACT scores you wish to report?

Yes

No

Section 4 - Essay questions

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For each of these questions, please limit your response to 1,500 characters (which corresponds to roughly 250 words).

Suppose it is 2025/2026 (or whatever year you will finish your degree), you are about to graduate from university, and you are thinking about what to do next. How would you reason about this question, and what are some possible paths that seem potentially compelling to you today?

Note that we fully appreciate that as a prospective undergraduate student, it’s very difficult to anticipate how your interests and opportunities will evolve over the coming years. We are therefore not asking you to make a prediction about what sort of paths you will actually choose to pursue following your graduation. Instead, we are interested in learning more about how you would reason about this sort of question, i.e. what sorts of factors you expect you would consider, as well as what paths seem most interesting to you right now.

Note that we fully appreciate that as a prospective undergraduate student, it’s very difficult to anticipate how your interests and opportunities will evolve over the coming years. We are therefore not asking you to make a prediction about what sort of paths you will actually choose to pursue following your graduation. Instead, we are interested in learning more about how you would reason about this sort of question, i.e. what sorts of factors you expect you would consider, as well as what paths seem most interesting to you right now.

Suppose you wanted to use your future career to solve one important problem and/or advance one important cause. If you would have to pick one such cause/problem today, what would it be and why?

Discuss up to three books, articles, or ideas that have significantly shaped your views about how to do good in the world.

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Section 5 - Financial information

All figures below should be converted into US dollars.

We will follow up with you to request more detailed information if we decide to proceed with your application (similar to the information requested by university financial aid offices), and plan to request supporting documentation (tax forms etc.) prior to confirming any scholarship awards.

Since we will ask for further details at a later stage, it’s fine for you to provide approximate figures here.

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Family status

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With whom do you live?

I live with two parents.

My parents are divorced or separated and I live with one parent, who has not remarried.

My parents are divorced or separated and I live with one parent, who has remarried.

I live with one parent who is single.

I live with one parent who is widowed.

Other

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Custodial parents

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If your parents are married and/or your parents live together, please fill in the information for both parents (where applicable).

If your parents are divorced or separated, please fill in the information for the parent with whom you have lived for the majority of the last 12 months. If you lived with both parents for an equal amount of time or you haven’t been living with either parent, please fill in the information for the parent who provided more financial support during the last 12 months or in the last year when you received financial support. If the relevant parent has remarried, please also fill in the information for your stepparent.

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Parent 1

Relationship

Mother

Father

Stepmother

Stepfather

Legal guardian

Name

Date of birth

/

/

Occupation

Employer

Total pre-tax income (2021)

Please include wages/salary, income from family business, and income from any other sources (if applicable).

Please include wages/salary, income from family business, and income from any other sources (if applicable).

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Parent 2

Relationship

Mother

Father

Stepmother

Stepfather

Legal guardian

Name

Date of birth

/

/

Occupation

Employer

Total pre-tax income (2021)

Please include wages/salary, income from family business, and income from any other sources (if applicable).

Please include wages/salary, income from family business, and income from any other sources (if applicable).

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Non-custodial parent

##

If your parents are divorced or separated, please fill in the information for the parent not listed in your response to the previous question. We may follow up with you to ask your non-custodial parent to provide additional information about their finances.

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Relationship

Mother

Father

Other

Name

Date of birth

/

/

Occupation

Employer

Annual support received from this parent for all children

When will this support end?

/

/

How much does this parent plan to pay towards your 2022/23 college expenses?

If you are unable to provide this information regarding your non-custodial parent (e.g. because you are not in contact with them), please briefly describe your reasons.

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Additional information

If any of the figures above were converted into US dollars from a different currency, please specify the currency and exchange rate you used.

If there are any special circumstances with a material impact on your family’s finances of which you think we should be aware, please describe these below.

As noted above, we’ll follow up to request more information if we decide to proceed with your application, so feel free to keep your response here brief.

As noted above, we’ll follow up to request more information if we decide to proceed with your application, so feel free to keep your response here brief.

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Section 6 - Other information

(Optional) Any additional information about any aspect of your application you would like to share?

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Signature

I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the information in this application is complete and accurate.

SIGN HERE

Submit

POWERED BY PAPERFORM

Currently, career paths that involve making a lot of money very quickly are very appealing to me, such as becoming a quant trader or working at Google. This is just so that I would never have to worry about money again for the rest of my life. However, this goal already feels almost naive to me already, which is a sign that a thought is on its

way out, but I think this is because this is more of a goal in the absence of having other goals. I have noticed that my altruistic feelings have been dependant on how close I am to suffering. When reading books on ways the world is broken, I feel very altruistic, though the feeling is very brief. I think if I am able to spend some time in the third world, likely doing altruistic work because what else would I do or want to do except help people if I was so close to it. I think having prolonged exposure to suffering could permenantly hijack my values into making more altruistic, in a way that I accept because it would not involve lies, but visceral exposure to truth.

It would be research into and deregulation of nootropics. This seems like an extremely tractable and simple method to increase the intellegence of those working on the hardest problems such as AI alignment. It seems significantly easier to work on increasing the effectiveness of these workers through enhancing their intellegence than to work on the problem directly.

This is especially the case because many nootropics are known to generally highly effective, such as adderal and modafinil, and it is the case that they are excessively regulated, and basically illegal for people who do not have prescriptions, despite the immense benefits often received by people who don’t have ADHD or narcolepsy.

HPMOR

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality was the first time I encountered a protagonist who took the idea of suffering incredibly seriously. I found his repulsion at the cruelty of prisons, as well as his total defiance of death, really motivating. I was familiar with Nick Bostrom’s Fable of the Dragon Tyrant prior to reading HPMOR, so the ideas weren’t new to me, but seeing them taken so seriously was really inspirational.

Doing Good Better

I was already familiar with the ideas of Effective Altruism prior to reading Doing Good Better, but as a prerequisite to the idea of starting an EA Club at my high school, I thought it would be a good idea to become a lot more familiar with the ideas at their source. My primary emotional takeaway from the book is the immense difference possible in funding between different causes. However, more than that, Macaskill often goes from describing some horrific infliction of human suffering, and then describing another one that’s just as bad but cheaper to solve by a significant factor. This made it click in my head how many different shades of deplorable suffering there are in the world and how with every fight that you decide to take on, you make a massive tradeoff between what other causes you aren’t doing anything about, but that that tradeoff necessarily needs to exist.

The Divide

This was the first economics book that I read, and it outlined the terrible failure of global world systems to adequately provide value for poor and rich countries alike, convincingly making the case that these systems are setup in ways that perfectly match the incentives of the rich western countries on purpose. This book opened my eyes to very simple ways in which things can be improved through increased policy in world systems, and by returning autonomy to poorer countries by not encaging them through seemingly upstanding measures like large loans (which inevitably lead to large debts).