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Emily Dardaman on AI safety, EACN retreats, and advice for young consultants

This month we caught up with Emily Dardaman who works as a Senior Strategist at BCG BrightHouse and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. From discovering EA while at university her interest has only grown, especially in regards to the cause area she finds the most intriguing... preventing an Artificial Intelligence-related catastrophe!


Can you tell us a bit about your current role at BCG Brighthouse?


BCG Brighthouse is part of Boston Consulting Group. BrightHouse focuses on purpose, mission, values and culture. My job as a Senior Strategist means I conduct a lot of research and I lead on the development of strategic materials for organisations at a pivot point in their journey. This could be anything from an organisation preparing for huge growth, to an organisation in crisis.


Tell us about how you were first introduced to EA?


I came across the 80,000 Hours career guide whilst I was completing my undergrad degree. I was interested in data driven social impact, so that appealed to me a lot. I didn’t start to get properly invested in EA until the pandemic and since then my interest has only grown further as I’ve gotten more into the community though going to conferences and retreats, and getting to know like minded people.


What are your current top content recommendations for those who want to learn more about EA?


My top three recommendations would be:

What cause area is taking up most of your brain space these days?


For me, it’s definitely AI safety.


What interests you about AI specifically?


I think a lot about what constitutes meaningful work, and there is an elephant in the room when it comes to human purpose - AI. It’s not talked about very much, but the fact that it’s so neglected makes it more interesting to learn about.


How does your awareness of the issues AI may pose in the future link to the work you do at BCG Brighthouse?


There is a surprising amount of direct overlap. Right now, lots of organisations are having an existential crisis about the role technology plays for them. Many are creating ethical frameworks for how they’re going to deploy AI, and this is creating shifting institutional priorities, which is relevant to the work I do in helping organisations.


You recently attended your first EAG in San Francisco, how did you find it?


It was honestly a highlight of my career. It made me feel like I didn’t have to trade off ambition with my deepest values and priorities. The people I met there and the conversations I had shifted my theory of change and path to impact. It was amazing to meet like-minded, intelligent peers.


What advice do you have for others attending EAGs/EAGx’s?


The main piece of advice I would give is to plan before you go. Think about who you want to talk to, and focus on getting to know people rather than going to too many of the sessions. It’s also important to balance the one-to-ones you have between those you can help and those who can help you. The final piece of advice I would give is not to forget about friendship, as this can be a real source of energy.


What role has EACN played in your life and EA journey so far?


Initially I thought I was far away from EA, but then I found it was right in my community. BCG has an EA workplace group – shoutout to Simon and Max who do a great job of running it! As I got more involved in my workplace group I found that EA is a great way to meet other ambitious, curious and open individuals. I have also been on two EACN retreats which have been great.


Talking of EACN retreats, what do you find most valuable about them?


When I first joined EACN, I was expecting to just attend the occasional lecture on zoom, but the retreats offer so much more than that. They give space for life-changing relationships and decisions. They’re not just a place to learn things, but a platform for open discussions with people who are engaged in EA and have a similar mindset to you. I highly recommend them.


What types of EA roles and opportunities excite you the most?


What excites me most is the opportunity to make this community a sustainable and rewarding place for human effort, by ensuring that the kind of leadership and culture is best in class.


What advice would you give to young consultants who have an interest in EA?


Step out from behind the screen and chat with someone. Set up 1-1 coffee chats with someone approachable from your workplace group, they can be immensely valuable.