[summary: We are doing well at finding high-potential people and getting them on-board with the idea of trying to fix the world's largest problems. However, we seem to be doing a much worse job at providing them with environments (social and emotional support networks, living situations, contacts with others on the same path, and long-term mentorship) which would allow them to self-actualize and become capable of sustained effort towards improving the world.]
(Back to Accelerator home) The weakness of the third arrow seems like one of the largest strategic issues for the group trying to make the future go well. And it seems solvable.
We are doing well at finding high-potential people and getting them on-board with the idea of trying to fix the world's largest problems. However, we seem to be doing a much worse job at providing them with environments (social and emotional support networks, living situations, contacts with others on the same path, and long-term mentorship) which would allow them to self-actualize and become capable of sustained effort towards improving the world.
The most impressive people I've met are not just extremely smart and aligned with important goals, they have spent (and generally continue to spend) a significant portion of their productive work hours improving themselves, learning things they expect to be valuable, and being surrounded by a social atmosphere which promotes healthy and productive habits.
Due to jobs, commitments, and normal academic pathways, most people do not have opportunities to put in sustained effort without taking scary risks (e.g. dropping out of the stable approved-of path and burning through savings in the bay). The places where you can find the right atmosphere are unfortunately also the ones which burn savings fastest.
I've just come back from EAGx Oxford, where something like a third of the people I spoke with had a story like "I'm convinced that x-risk is The Most Important Thing and want to work on it, but don't have deep knowledge of the field or a likely path to acquiring it. My actual plan is to study a vaguely related topic for several years / get a job in a field which won't give the most important skills / attempt to join one of the major organizations / try to self-study but don't really expect motivation to hold up.".
I also know half a dozen awesome, smart, capable people in the later stages of this. They care about fixing things, but they're trapped in jobs and life circumstances which give them little to no spare emotional and cognitive energy to build towards becoming an agent of positive change, and no easy contact with others who're stuck in the same trap. I've attempted to break several of them out of this set of traps, results pending. While doing so, and while re-analyzing my own development %%note: MIRI Summer Fellows 2015 and several conferences gave me enough exposure to move for a while, then I fell back towards inactivity due to lacking a support network. I moved back to activity after visiting the bay to work with Arbital, and was boosted by EAGx.%%, I formed a model of why they were stuck.
These people don't want to move to the bay or another hub without a plan. They don't want to just be in a shared house hanging out with cool people but spending all their productive hours staying financially afloat. They want to actually help, and they don't see how to, because they've often not had time, space, and support to develop themselves to the point where they're prime choices for the major orgs to employ. Organizations are busy working on hard problems and don't have spare capacity or resources to support people as they acquire deep knowledge of a field or lift them into a state of stability and sustainable productiveness by giving them emotional runway.
This project aims to create an affordable and awesome space which will help people who want to solve the greatest problems facing humanity to experience rapid personal growth.