Hey all!

Are you wanting to follow EA research, but finding papers and longform forum posts too dry?

Late last year, Jenna Ong and I noticed a lack of research-focused EA video content and decided to do something about it. Today, we are excited to introduce Insights for Impact, a YouTube channel that’s all about communicating the key insights of EA-aligned research papers.

In our first video, How Science Misunderstands Power, we explore why well-meaning scientists failed to prevent nuclear proliferation in the 20th century. Perhaps by examining the history of nuclear weapon development, we may be able to better manage other powerful technologies, like AI and genetic engineering.

A 2018 paper by Samo Burja and Zachary Lerangis, The Scientists, the Statesman, and the Bomb, served as the basis for this video. However, we also drew inspiration from HaydnBelfield’s post, especially their idea that the current headspace of the AI Safety community closely resembles the “this is the most important thing” mindset of scientists throughout the mid 20th century. From these case studies, it seems that both social and technical factors are crucial in ensuring powerful technologies have a positive impact.

In future videos, we want to explore a range of EA-relevant cause areas. We’d love to collaborate with researchers to ensure we accurately portray their work. So if you’re a researcher who wants to give your work a voice outside of the forum, please get in touch!

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I thought the video was really good, and I encourage everyone to watch it, if you're interested in how to operate with power.

I also recently started reading "How to Hack your beaurocracy", which seems like a pretty good guide to getting things done in a complex organisation.

I greatly appreciate that, Ludwig!

That book sounds totally up my alley. I will check it out!

Nice work! I am excited to see more work on EA research communication!

Thank you Peter! You're a trailblazer in the comms space!

Thanks Christian! 

Great work! Nice, concise video that got to the heart of a really important problem.

I'm curious to know if you came across anything in your research about the most effective levers scientists currently have to affect change. As much as I'd like to see an institutional reinvention of the scientist as a scientist/statesman hybrid, it seems a bit vague and pollyannish as a proposed solution. My intuition is that a few scientists might excel in both domains, but it's unrealistic to expect statesmanship to be a part of the regular curriculum. Additionally, if a large number of people come to speak the language of power and politics, wouldn't those in power simply change their language to maintain influence?

I'm also skeptical about public awareness as net-positive by default. I can imagine it might work better in a case like nuclear weaponry where the only purpose of the technology is to kill, and the feedback loops are short (everyone gets exploded very quickly, and you have regular drills to prepare for The Bomb), and might fail in cases like Climate Change with high uncertainty, entrenched power structures (energy companies) and slow feedback loops. Did you come across any research regarding public pressure as a power mechanism?

(Epistemic status: Vague intuition and curiosity)

Again, great job on the video! Can't wait to see more.

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