Lightcone Infrastructure is hiring full-stack software engineers to maintain and expand the LessWrong website. For over a decade, LessWrong has been a place where new community members absorb the culture and knowledge of the community, and where established members further that knowledge through the publication of their ideas and discussion thereof. As much as LessWrong has accomplished to date, there is massive scope to grow and offer the community more.
Lightcone Infrastructure is founded on the assumption that this might be the most important century, that the long-term future matters just as much as the present (or more so, because there’s so much more of it), and that advanced Artificial Intelligence and other risks currently pose existential threats to human civilization. In the face of all these, our goal is to ensure the light cone is as good as it could be.
We build infrastructure and services for the community of people who are committing themselves to overcoming the challenges humanity faces. Our recent projects include running a retreat for sixty researchers, building grantmaking software to allocate millions of dollars, publishing professional-quality books, and running an in-person communal office for a few dozen researchers from several different organizations. And of course, we develop and maintain LessWrong and the Alignment Forum.
LessWrong is a community website dedicated to the Art of Human Rationality, and to the application of that art to real-world problems, especially the largest problems humanity faces. We are the central publishing destination for the community, the best location for public discussion, and the archive of the community’s immense corpus of knowledge. In our pursuit to figure out how the world is, we aim to have the best epistemics of any community–online or offline.
While this role is targeting people with software engineering skills, we are actually seeking “specialized generalists”: engineers who have the flexibility and versatility to perform any work required for the success of an online forum, including “non-engineering” work. Your work will include most of the following:
Prior experience at all of these tasks is not required. What matters is that you are willing and able to skill up quickly, including in unfamiliar domains.
LessWrong is a React app. Technologies used include Apollo GraphQL, MongoDB, Express, esbuild, and typescript. For our analytics, we use Postgres, Python/Pandas, and lots of Jupyter notebooks. Given sufficient engineering competence, specific experience with these tools is not required.
The LessWrong team operates on lean methodology and sprint-based agile principles, with a very strong emphasis on user interviews, analytics, quickly prototyping ideas, and a heavily collaborative atmosphere. We’re fans of Riskiest Assumption Testing. We encourage the free expression of opinions and aim to implement the best version of the LessWrong community’s epistemic culture: being curious, updating on evidence quickly, betting on beliefs, etc. We value honesty and directness, like for real, especially when expressed empathetically.
Though we all aim to be generalists, team members will often have their own specialization. Everyone is expected to mentor others in their specialization and learn from others’ specializations.
Believing that this might be the most important century, and that the next few decades are likely crucial to the light cone, we aim to work as hard as possible while still remaining healthy, flourishing humans.
Coming into this job, you will need to be able to develop software at the level of a strong graduate from a computer science university program. In addition, you’ll need to possess (or develop) a broad base of other skills, ranging from user-centric product development to UI design and forum moderation. It’s okay if you don’t have experience with those additional skills at the start, but you’ll need a high aptitude for developing them quickly.
The position is an in-person role at our Berkeley offices. Relocation support is available.
Salary will be a minimum of $150k, plus healthcare, and will be increased in proportion to the skill/experience of each employee. We can also obtain H1B visas for this position if need be (or an equivalent E3 for Australian applicants).