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

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

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

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

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

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

Other rea­sons:

  • Sing karaoke, de­velop body lan­guage skills, and gen­er­ally try things, build­ing courage.

  • See the San Fran­cisco Bay area.

  • Get an in­side look at the Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute.


Anna Salamon Divia Melwani

Anna Sala­mon Luke”prog” Muehlhauser Divia Melwani

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

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

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

Ap­ply now.

Fre­quently Asked Ques­tions:

1. I’m older. Should I still ap­ply?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. What will we do, ex­actly?

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

  • Daily sched­ule: Every day, you’ll get two three-hour course ses­sions, meals shared with other par­ti­ci­pants, and shared so­cial ac­tivi­ties such as soc­cer, poker, karaoke, and trips to bay area sites.

  • Ra­tion­al­ity: Eight three-hour ses­sions. You’ll de­velop a map of your ra­tio­nal­ity strengths and gaps, write out your goals, prac­tice many spe­cific tech­niques (e.g. Fermi calcu­la­tions; ap­ply­ing Bayes’ the­o­rem and cog­ni­tive bi­ases to daily life; see­ing how fun­gi­bil­ity can boost your goal achieve­ment), and learn how to con­tinue learn­ing ra­tio­nal­ity af­ter the pro­gram.

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

  • Re­duc­ing Ex­is­ten­tial Risk: Three three-hour ses­sions, dis­cussing AI risks, other ex­is­ten­tial risks, large-scale risk re­duc­tion strate­gies, and what can be done to­day.

  • In­di­vi­d­ual meet­ings: You’ll also be able to sched­ule one-on-one ap­point­ments to dis­cuss ca­reer paths you may want to take (we can help with statis­tics on earn­ings in differ­ent pro­fes­sions, and strat­egy for get­ting in), how to start a LW meet-up or similar com­mu­nity, and how to get in­volved in ex­is­ten­tial risks-re­duc­ing re­search.

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

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

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

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

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

8. Why is the Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute pay­ing for this?

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

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

Ap­ply now.

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

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

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

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

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