There are many reasons to run a hackathon but some of the main ones are that hackathons are an amazing way to engage the local groups in ML safety and create a sense of community, you get an amazing practical research experience and can show the finished projects off to potential employers and colleagues, and it's a really fun way to spend a weekend. Hear what a few of the organizers have said:
As an AI safety organizer
Additionally, there are many opportunities for local AI safety organizers to create an engaging pathway into AI safety research through these hackathons. E.g. survey data from our first hackathon showed that participants enjoyed it a lot and ended up with a higher probability of working with AI safety.
- 20% chance of working in AI safety before to 32.5% chance after (n = 8)
- 9.5 / 10 in how likely they would promote the hackathon to a friend interested in AI safety
- Spent 16.8 hours on average over the weekend (n = 5)
- 50% female / male ratio (n = 15, 1 non-binary)
The participants also described how their perspective changed on AI Safety
- “More optimistic, it is clear that we can solve problems if we just give it time, attention and resources.”
- “I already knew AI was an interesting subject that I might look into but I hadn't specifically thought of AI safety before. Honestly, I was pretty impressed by how interesting the subject is. Definitely going to read up on it.”
- “i never even considered the prospects of it! i would've always thought its just about making sure AI doesnt go crazy and kill people, but theres so much more to it”
And the projects (5-15 page reports) are generally really impressive for such a short weekend spurt, each with novel and interesting key results. We have summary blog posts for each of the events' impressive results:
This generally seems very valuable and provides a new opportunity to engage researchers and students in the state-of-the-art AI safety work going on.