Josh Jacobson

627 karmaJoined Mar 2015


There's a similar post on this forum from a few years back, I believe, with some probably valuable discussion.

Quick Take: Probably the best board members will have some significant hesitance to accept. This is one spot where I think EA is sometimes getting things wrong right now, and where I think e.g. a full hiring round for a board is quite misdirected.

Wrote the following in a Slack thread asking about advice for selecting board members:

(I’m familiar with the US and not other places, so some of this may not exactly be right outside the US.)

  1. First of all, your Board has ~complete control over your organization. They can remove the executive, change strategy, etc.. So people who share your vision, who you trust, who have high levels of insight, etc.

  2. Given this immense responsibility, you want people who:

  • Will take this seriously, learning a lot about the org and its space before making key decisions
  • Who won’t confuse their role with that of e.g. the CEO (won’t overreach)
  1. The Board / board members should add something to the organization. Often this is less relevant in EA, but in startups people often are interested in particular board members because of their network and connections. In EA, perhaps you can bring on someone particularly excellent in people management if you could use improvement there, financial diligence if you’d like that sort of oversight, or someone with strong strategic vision who you otherwise would get less engagement from.

  2. Combining the above, probably the best board members will have some significant hesitance to accept. This is one spot where I think EA is sometimes getting things wrong right now, and where I think e.g. a full hiring round for board members is quite misdirected. Why is it likely that the best board members will have some hesitance to accept?

  • They take the responsibility seriously; so they plan to dedicate significant attention / hours to the role.
  • They have high expertise / are in demand, so they have to be careful about how many commitments they take on.

I expect that if they aren't hesitant to accept, they are often not sufficient in one of the above subbullets (most often in EA from my POV, the relevant one is that they don't place sufficient importance on the role and dedicate too little time to it.)

There’s a lot more I could say about board membership and the important qualities, but hopefully this helps a bit.

Yeah, that can be significant work.

Some lawyers claim that there may be significant (though not at all ideal) whistleblowing protection for individuals at AI companies that don't fully comply with the Voluntary Commitments: https://katzbanks.com/wp-content/uploads/KBK-Law360-Despite-Regulation-Lag-AI-Whistleblowers-Have-Protections.pdf

I’m pretty surprised it seemed like a large pain. In my experience it’s been easy to secure.

Thanks for sharing!

This isn't on you, but just sharing that the website feels really lacking in detail and salesy. It isn't clear to me at all:

  1. What the normal price is
  2. Why this would be any better than all the other offerings
  3. Why I should particularly go through the significant additional red tape vs. other options
  4. If this will be repeatable; after all, being able to compare results over time is likely a huge amount of the value of these things

If you happen to know any of these answers, I'd be interested. Otherwise, this comment is just to help others know some potential issues before they decide whether to investigate further.

I didn’t read this, but my very first foray into “doing good” was building a web app to fight loneliness via helping people make friends online (2010-2013).

We didn’t get to see what it could become as I became passionate about doing other EA things (joined CEA then) but I’ve sometimes wondered if continuing with that app would have been the right call. I think there’s some chance we had found the right design / product for this space.

Anyway if anyone feels like picking up the codebase or otherwise trying to move forward with a massive loneliness intervention, I’d be open to messaging about it.

FWIW, I would value (for the community) a "how-to" post that describes e.g. branding process more than this type of post which points at various considerations. E.g. something(s) that taught what it means to create a hierarchy of the messages you want to get across, what positioning statements are, etc. and how to create a brand on the basis of those considerations.

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