Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative

Research Assistant to Professor Nick Bostrom

Remote (US)


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Start date: As soon as possible
Status: Full-time non-exempt employee, salaried. We may consider part-time candidates in exceptional circumstances.
Compensation: Based on experience; $50,000/year minimum
Typical Hours: 40 per week, flexible schedule
Work Location: Anywhere in the US (this is a remote position)
Reports to: Sawyer Bernath (but you will mainly communicate with Nick Bostrom and his other RA)
Application: at the bottom of this page

BERI is seeking an experienced research assistant to work closely with Nick Bostrom on his ongoing projects, alongside his current RA.

Purpose

Nick Bostrom is a Professor at Oxford University, where he leads the Future of Humanity Institute as its founding director. Nick’s research is aimed at shedding light on crucial considerations that might shape humanity’s long-term future. He has made important contributions to ideas including existential risk, AI risk, the simulation argument, anthropics, transhumanism, and much else.

The purpose of this position is to increase the efficiency, throughput, and impact of Nick’s research. We believe it is an exceptionally high-impact opportunity for a talented researcher.

Responsibilities

We are looking for candidates able to contribute to all stages of the research pipeline:

  • Answering specific research questions at Nick’s request
  • Undertaking literature reviews and writing up the results for Nick, or for publication or for presentation at conferences
  • Contributing to research publications, book chapters and reviews
  • Contributing to pieces for non-academic media outlets (e.g. Aeon, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic)
  • Provide research support (copy-editing, proofreading, fact-checking, finding citations) as needed
  • Editing and providing feedback on draft manuscripts, and building systems to efficiently solicit, collect and synthesize feedback from others
  • Coordinating subject matter experts and other external collaborators
  • Other tasks aimed at increasing the efficiency, throughput, and impact of Nick’s research

Example tasks

Here are some examples of the sorts of tasks you might be expected to work on (mostly drawn from tasks undertaken by Nick’s current RA):

  • Read the literature on ‘moral cluelessness’ and understand it well enough to have a deep conversation with Nick about it
  • Briefly summarise the literature on what it means to implement a computation
  • Prepare a shortened version of ‘The Vulnerable World Hypothesis’ for a non-academic outlet; receive comments from Nick and incorporate his feedback; submit for editorial review, and review their changes and suggestions prior to publication. (See finished piece in Aeon)
  • Explain how economists arrive at estimates of GDP growth over very long timescales, and discuss with Nick
  • Identify a handful of academics with expertise in some philosophical or other academic subfield; invite them for a Skype conversation with Nick and the team; prepare questions related to their research and lead the discussion
  • Oversee a hiring process (like this one): identify a need for additional capacity, determine the parameters of a new role, work with BERI and FHI ops to manage a search, and evaluate candidates

Qualifications

We are seeking candidates who have:

  • Outstanding intellectual capacity, as evidenced by either:
    • An exceptional academic record in a relevant area (e.g. highly ranked in undergraduate/masters; high-quality original research)
    • OR a non-academic background that is similarly impressive (i.e. having done original, exciting, work independently)
  • Ability to read, synthesize, and explain academic papers across a variety of fields relevant to Nick’s work
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Familiarity with Nick Bostrom and FHI’s work
  • Excited by increasing the efficiency, throughput, and impact of Nick’s research
  • Versatile competence and the ability to solve new, unfamiliar problems
  • Ability to contribute ideas for new research projects
  • Experience handling sensitive and confidential information
  • Strong initiative and drive to proactively pursue opportunities for impact
  • Ability to manage multiple work-streams and prioritise accordingly

Desirable characteristics:

  • A background in philosophy
  • PhD or Master’s in a relevant area
  • Familiarity with the ways and styles of academia

Benefits

  • Time-off (paid vacation, holidays, sick, bereavement, and parental leave)
  • Platinum health, dental, and vision insurance (98% of premiums covered by BERI)
  • Life and short-term/long-term disability insurances (100% of premiums covered by BERI)
  • Very flexible work schedule including hours, location, and unpaid vacation policies

BERI is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. Our mission to improve human civilization’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing is in service of all of humanity, and is incompatible with unfair discrimination practices that would pit factions of humanity against one another. We do not discriminate against qualified employees or applicants based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, sexual preference, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law or local ordinance. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state and local law.

Time commitment: Full time

  • Category Long-Term Future
  • Created by Sawyer Bernath
  • Submitted 19 Mar
  • Last updated 19 Mar