Campus Team – Generalist

Lightcone Infrastructure is looking for exceptional generalists who want to dedicate themselves to ensuring that humanity survives this century. Lightcone Infrastructure is a small early-stage organization with five team members.

About the Team

We are building a community dedicated to ensuring that humanity survives this century and successfully colonizes the stars. Currently, we build, the AI Alignment Forum, and the Lightcone Offices as well as organize many events and retreats for people working on safeguarding humanity’s future.

The most serious risk to humanity’s future that we are aware of is the creation of powerful unaligned Artificial Intelligence, and reducing that risk is the primary focus in our daily operations.

It seems to us that successfully avoiding that risk requires substantial conceptual, empirical and technological breakthroughs in AI Alignment, as well as substantially improved global institutions for handling risks from new technologies. We aim to create a world-class research and entrepreneurial environment where the seeds of these breakthroughs can grow, and from which that institutional change can start.

We currently support thousands of active members on LessWrong and hundreds of professionals working in the Bay Area who attend our events and work from the Lightcone Offices. We aim to grow both our online and our offline community, and make it one of the worlds best places for making intellectual progress and starting ambitious projects.

Organizational Culture

The Lightcone Infrastructure Team operates on sprint-based agile principles, with a very strong emphasis on user-interviews, quickly prototyping ideas, and a heavily collaborative atmosphere.

The Lightcone Infrastructure Team fosters the expression of strong disagreements. At the same time individuals are given responsibility for problems and products with the power to make decisions based on their inside views to the contrary of others on the team.

A core team value is thinking for yourself. Any individual on the team is expected to build their own models of how to best approach world-scale problems like AI Alignment, build their own expertise in community and institution building and do many independent back of the envelope calculations when facing a new problem domain. We take inspiration from the motto of the royal society: Nullius in verba (On no one's word).

The community and team strongly emphasizes written communication. For instance, team members stay up to date with new research on the AI Alignment Forum and LessWrong; team members also regularly write many-page memos explaining their plans and ideas to other team members.

We generally think of ourselves as a small startup. This means we tend to throw ourselves at problems fully, and we want to maintain the intensity of our current operating culture, so you should expect to work occasional weekends and late evenings.

The Role

We are looking for exceptional generalists who have the potential to develop in a variety of directions and take on many possible roles in the future. Working in this role will involve solving a wide range of problems, ranging from research tasks, to software engineering problems to solving the operational and logistical problems inherent in building a community center and office space. Over time, both as our organization and projects grow, you should expect to take on major responsibilities, including managing large project teams of 30+ people and allocating tens of millions of dollars.

Some example tasks that have come up in the past include figuring out how to publish professional quality books, building grantmaking software for allocating millions of dollars, furnishing an office for over 30 people, and evaluating technical alignment research on LessWrong. Nobody on the team had done any of these things before, but everyone was willing to learn and capable of picking up the necessary skills, and request help from the team and external advisors when needed.

The best candidates will have:

Automating yourself away with software is one of the key values of Lightcone Infrastructure, so any member is expected to already have, or quickly learn, the skills necessary to automate any simple data-entry task and build their own simple applications or spreadsheets to guide commonly recurring tasks.

Additional information

The team is in Berkeley, California, and team members must be here full-time. Our current salary policy is to pay rates competitive with industry salary minus 30%. Given prevailing salary levels in SF for the kind of skill level we are looking at, we expect salaries to start at $150k/year plus healthcare (but we would be open to paying $315k for someone who would make $450k in industry).

We can obtain H-1B and E3 visas for those who need them, and are willing to put in a lot of work to solve any particular visa issues.