The Hotel

Facilities

Food

Cleaning & Laundry

Showers

Wifi

Rules

Booking

Travel to & from the hotel

Blackpool & the surrounding area

Things To Do / Group Activities

FAQs

People

Number of Guests over time

Projects

The Hotel

The hotel is run as a non profit organisation, with the aim of assisting people seeking to do the most good they can with their time and other resources (following the principles of Effective Altruism) by providing them with low cost living arrangements. See here for more information about the project.

The building dates back to the 1870s, and is situated in the original resort area of Foxhall village in Blackpool. It has a storied history.

Facilities

17 bedrooms (3 single rooms, 2 twin rooms, 10 double rooms, 2 dorm rooms), 12 with en suite.

Bar with seating for 40, dining room that seats 32, and lounge with seating for 12. Whiteboards*, projector and printer. Bookshelf (please bring books to add that you think guests will enjoy). The stereos in the common areas have bluetooth adaptors attached. To use, press and hold the button on the top of the dongle until you hear “waiting for connection”, then connect to RT-B6 on your bluetooth-enabled device (phone, laptop, tablet etc). Please switch off your bluetooth after use to allow others to connect (it automatically connects if you leave your bluetooth on).

Meals, laundry, cleaning, bedding, towels and basic toiletries provided (provided in the rooms are toilet paper, hand wash, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, ear plugs, eye masks. On the shelves out the back of the kitchen are more of the room supplies, plus painkillers, anti-histamines, supplements, tampons, moisturiser, nail scissors).

Exercise equipment (behind the bar) – yoga mats, pull up bar, gymnastic rings, parallettes, juggling balls. Please limit long workouts in the bar to before 1200 on weekdays so as not to disrupt others’ work.

Beach stuff (behind the bar are mats, inflatables, towels, games, balls, flip-flops, goggles. By the front door are sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas).

Lost and found – in a box behind the bar.

High lumen overhead daylight lighting (5,500 lumens per LED ceiling tile, 11,000 lumens in bar); soft on-wall/lamp-based evening lighting.

*feel free to erase (apart from wifi/info in the corners, the weekly goals on the dining room whiteboard, the exercise schedule in the bar, and any current announcements). Take a picture first though in case someone wants the info.

Food

All food provided by the hotel is vegan, and is free of charge. There is a self-service buffet in the dining room for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Cooked dinners based on a set menu will be provided in the evening between 7 and 8pm. Please inform staff of any food allergies and intolerances. All food is communal, apart from that stored in plastic bags (in or outside the fridges and freezers). Guests are permitted to consume non-vegan food on the premises, but they will have to purchase and prepare it themselves (please store non-vegan food in labelled bags). Food & drink preparation facilities for guests are limited to a toaster, hot water machines and a combi microwave/grill/oven/streamer and air fryer in the buffet area, and kettles in the bedrooms (feel free to take tea and coffee up to rooms to use with kettle there – use the provided grip-seal bags). The fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the buffet are stocked with buffet food for communal use; the fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the kitchen are reserved for storage and dinner recipe items, please do not eat stuff from them. Please leave dirty dishes on the tray trolley outside the kitchen.

Cleaning & Laundry

Laundry baskets are provided in the bedrooms. If you want your laundry done (at no/no additional cost), please leave the basket outside your room door, with the laundry to wash in it, ready for collection at 10am.

Self service laundry is also available, but only outside mealtime hours (as you have to go through kitchen to get to the washing machine and dryer).

Cleaning is done weekly on Wednesdays from 10am, downstairs first and then rooms (from ~12.30), with beds made with fresh sheets and towels changed (each floor of rooms is done on alternate weeks). Please indicate with the door sign whether you want your room cleaned (or to not be disturbed).

Showers & Heating

The plumbing and heating system is somewhat antiquated. Hot water is only available with heating, and not on demand. To keep costs down, we have the hot water and heating set to go on 0630-1200, 1400-1500, 1700-1800, 2000-2100 and 2200-2300.  Showers on the top floor are set to go on 0600-0800, 0900-1300 and 2000-2200. The showers are fed from hot water tanks, so if too many people have showers at once, the tanks run out of hot water and need to be re-heated from cold. Radiators in rooms can be adjusted by the room’s occupant.

Please ensure shower curtains are inside the shower tray to avoid flooding floors.

Wifi

We have the fastest Wifi available in the area (76Mb/s), but have been finding that it can end up going slow with lots of people using it at once. Please limit video streaming to outside normal working hours, and use mobile data if you have free data available.

Rules

Hotel guests are required to adhere to our Code of Conduct.

Guests must also agree to the Terms & Conditions of their stay at the hotel.

Please return your room key to the key board in the dining room, bring down any power outlet adapters, and check the lost and found box for anything you might’ve left, before you leave.

Booking

You can book a stay at the hotel here. Acceptance of guests is at the discretion of management. There are 3 tiers with different prices, for which spare rooms are prioritised in order:

  1. EA working on EA projects: free (subject to approval by the Board of Trustees if staying over a month)
  2. EA on holiday (/working on non-EA stuff): cost price (= £10/day)
  3. Non-EA: market price (= £50/day double room, £25/day dorm bed)

Travel to & from the hotel

The address is 36 York Street, Blackpool, FY1 5AQ, UK. Google Maps will provide good directions for driving or public transport. Coaches (Megabus or National Express) are generally cheaper than trains, but take about twice as long. Manchester is approx. 1-3 hours away, London, 3-7 hours (depending on mode of transport).

Manchester Airport is the closest international airport.

Car parking is free on the surrounding streets, but it is often hard to find a space during the summer, especially in the day time (although you can nearly always find one within a couple of minutes’ walk after driving around for a couple of minutes). There are car parks on York Street that charge £9/day.

For late arrival (after 2200), post to the “current guests” Facebook Messenger chat (you will be added on the day you are due to arrive) when you are outside. If no answer after a few minutes, knock or ring the bell.

Blackpool and the surrounding area

The beach is just two minutes’ walk from the hotel, it is 2.5km long and features 3 piers. Walks featuring long horizons are good for thinking. There are many tourist attractions nearby. There is also the picturesque and award winning Stanley Park just a mile inland. The national parks of the Lake District, and Yorkshire Dales, and several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are also relatively nearby. Lancaster University – rated Top 10 in the UK – is relatively close by (30 miles by road). Manchester is a bit over an hour’s drive away, or an hour and a half on public transport.

See map below for a selection of local places serving vegan food (green [note there are also countless Fish & Chips takeaways serving chips, curry sauce, mushy peas]), pubs (purple), clubs (magenta) and tourist attractions (brown). The hotel is marked in blue.

Things To Do / Group Activities

Group meeting Fridays at 5.30pm: set goals for the week, discuss hotel systems, events, meals etc.

Exercise/yoga in the bar, daily at 10am (open windows, put ceiling fans on, move tables and chairs to back, put water jugs and glasses on table, music), followed by meditation. See whiteboard in bar for schedule.

Dinner in the dining room, daily between 7 and 8pm.

Pomodoros: 1400-1800 Mon-Fri in the bar.

Hackathon, book club/reading group/working group, peer debugging/Hamming circles.

Lightning talks (new guests are encouraged to give a lightning talk after dinner as an introduction), longer presentations/seminars/workshops.

Walk along the promenade/beach/piers, sitting on the beach steps at sunset, early-morning foot races on the beach, sea swimming, beach day (beach stuff behind bar).

Tram rides along the Fylde Coast, Geocaching.

Football, other sports, walking, in Stanley Park.

Cooking, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, board games, drinks in the bar.

Pub crawl, night clubbing.

Blackpool resort pass/tourist attractions.

There is a group chat on Facebook Messenger for current guests and a Facebook group for past, present and future guests, staff and trustees. You will be added to these when you book/arrive as appropriate. Social events are often planned in the current guests group.

FAQs

“I’m from the US [/other non-EU country], can I get a visa for my stay?” Guests coming from the US can get a six month tourist visa. This was tested recently with someone arriving from the US. They got a six month tourist visa after the immigration officer asked Greg questions on the phone (they wanted to make sure their stay was paid for and that they wouldn’t be employed). Read about their account here. Hopefully we will be able to sponsor 12 month Tier 5 charity work visas in time, so it might be possible to then return home and come back on the 12 month Tier 5. This remains to be seen/tested though. Make sure to have a return flight booked.

If coming from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan, and aged 18-30, you can get a Youth Mobility Scheme visa. More details here from someone who has recently done this.

“How safe is Blackpool?” Blackpool is pretty safe. The crime rate is a bit higher than the UK average, but a lot of it is just antisocial behaviour (e.g. begging, street drunks). In experience so far it has been fine walking around at night, and not any worse than London or Manchester.

“What EA projects can I work on at the hotel?” There are lists of project ideas here. More general advice on what to work on as an EA can be found here.

“Will there be any guidance in formulating projects?” It’s expected that guests will largely self-direct their own work, or work with on-site/remote collaborators (although there may be some guidance available, depending on the area of interest, and the number/availability of other people working in that area at the hotel). If starting something new, keep in mind this advice.

“I’d like to supplement my income with other, non-EA, work, whilst at the hotel as an ‘EA working on EA projects’, staying for free” guest, is this ok?” If working on revenue generating, non-EA, stuff, reducing the amount of funding by the proportion of time spent on the other stuff makes sense (if at the hotel this would come in the form of requiring the guest to pay something toward their stay). So if it was 25% of time spent on other stuff, and the cost of hosting is £5,700 a year (current best estimate), then that would mean paying £5,700/4 = £1425/year or £27.40 a week (which is pretty much just the £30 stipend being cancelled out). The limit of this for EAs is just the “EA on holiday” rate of £10/day + forgoing the £30/week stipend.)

“I have funding for my project/work/study, can I stay at the hotel for free?” If you are drawing a salary, or otherwise have a source of stable income, we would appreciate it if you could contribute toward your stay at the cost price of £10/day.

“I’m staying for free working on EA stuff, how can I get my stipend?” If you have a GBP (£) bank account, let us know the account number and sort code and we’ll set up a standing order. If you don’t have a GBP account, please set one up – Revolut is a phone app that is easy to set up and allows you to hold multiple currencies and convert between them commission free, at the market exchange rate (i.e. that shown by Google). If you are from the US, you aren’t able to open a Revolut account – let us know if you come by a solution for having a GBP account that doesn’t lose anything in conversion (i.e. not PayPal).

“What is there in the way of quiet study space?” Most guest rooms have desks in. In terms of common space, there is the bar, dining room and lounge. So far most people have been using all of these areas to quietly work throughout the day (in the evenings there are communal dinners and games/socialising).

“Can my partner stay?” Yes. If you are sharing a room and they are not working on EA stuff, they would be expected to contribute £5/day (to cover food and utilities). They can book here selecting the option “Double/Twin room (visiting an EA sharing a room with them) [£5/night]”.

“I have a question not answered here/have an inquiry/would like to offer a suggestion/feedback.” Please contact us here. To leave anonymous feedback, leave the email field blank. You can also use this form to report things that need fixing in your room or make a complaint.

“I would like to chat with you about a proposal for a free stay/have a look around the hotel.” You can book a call with one of the trustees by following the links at the bottom of the contact page.

People

Trustees:

Greg Colbourn – Has been into EA for years but has moved into working on related things (including founding this project) full time relatively recently. Previously, he studied Astrophysics (undergrad), and Earth System Modelling (PhD), and worked on 3D printing/open source hardware (business with a view to EA). He has dabbled in investing (mainly crypto), and studying subjects related to AI Safety, of which he hopes to do more of.

Florent Berthet – Florent is a social entrepreneur who cofounded Effective Altruism France. He also founded and is the director of a Sudbury school in Lyon. After teaching entrepreneurship at an engineering school for 3 years, Florent now works full-time at Good Growth, a new initiative that helps high-impact organisations be more effective by connecting them with experts from various fields.

Sasha Cooper – Has been involved with the EA movement in various capacities since its inception, and currently works as a software developer for Founders Pledge.

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Denisa Pop [Guest Representative, Sep 2018 – present] – “I’m a former counselling psychologist specialised in cognitive-behavioural therapy and I also have a research background in human-animal interaction (PhD). As a hobby, I enjoy bringing people together (e.g. through organising conferences such as EAGx, TEDx), because I find this to be a great way for people to inspire and to get inspired, as well as to strengthen the bonds within the community. So at the hotel, besides writing a scientific article and offering mental health sessions, I’m organising events together with EA Netherlands.”

Staff include:

Tom Rogers – Tom works on minimising animal suffering via promoting veganism. He helped with the logistics of getting the hotel up and running and maintains the building. .

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Toon Alfrink – Toon is the founder of RAISE, which aims to upgrade the pipeline for junior AI Safety researchers, primarily by creating an online course. He co-founded LessWrong Netherlands in 2016. He has given talks about EA and AI Safety, addressing crowds at various venues including festivals and fraternities. He is also working part time on managing the hotel, using his experience of living in a Buddhist temple as a reference for creating the best possible living and working environment..

Lee Wright – “I’m currently undergoing a course of self-directed study to prepare myself for an EA-aligned career. Despite my main interest in global governance and international policy, while at the hotel I’ve focused on developing a general skill set that I think will be useful for any analytics or operations job. Since I’m not working directly on an EA project, and the opportunity cost for me is comparatively lower than some other guests, I help out with the back-end operations of the hotel where I can.”

Guests include:

Derek Foster – Derek has a background in philosophy, education, public health and health economics. While living at the EA Hotel, he co-authored a chapter of the 2019 Global Happiness Policy Report (to be published on 10 February), which focused on ways of incorporating subjective wellbeing into healthcare prioritisation. He now works on animal welfare, mental health and grantmaking for Rethink Priorities.

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Justin Shovelain  – Justin is the founder of the quantitative long term strategy organisation Convergence. Over the last seven years he has worked with MIRI, CFAR, EA Global, Founders Fund, and Leverage, and done work in EA strategy, fundraising, networking, teaching, cognitive enhancement, and AI safety research. He has a MS degree in computer science and BS degrees in computer science, mathematics, and physics.

David Kristoffersson – “Software engineer, thinker, and organiser. I have a background as R&D Project Manager and Software Engineer at Ericsson. I’ve worked with FHI. I co-organised the first AI Safety Camp. I’m currently doing AI and existential risk strategy with Convergence and this is what I’ll be working on at the hotel when I return in September. I enjoy figuring out the most fundamental questions of how reality and humanity works.”

Chris Leong – Chris is currently focusing his research on infinite ethics, but his side-interests include decision theory, anthropics and paradoxes. He helped found the EA society at the University of Sydney and managed to set up an unfortunately short-lived group at the University of Maastricht whilst on exchange. He represented Australia at the International Olympiad in Informatics and won a Gold in the Asian Pacific Maths Olympiad. He’s studied philosophy and psychology and occasionally enjoys dancing Salsa.

Davide Zagami – Davide completed a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and decided to head as an autodidact towards contributing to AI safety and AI alignment technical research. He strives to learn as much as possible and is hungry for evidence about how he can personally mitigate existential risks. He leads the content development of RAISE, a non-profit organisation which is creating an online course for AI safety.

Hoagy Cunningham – Having graduated from Oxford in 2017 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Hoagy is now teaching himself all the Maths, Neuroscience and Computer Science he can get his hands on that might point the way towards a future of safe AI. He currently works for RAISE, porting Paul Christiano’s IDA sequence to their teaching platform, and adding exercises.

Roshawn Terell – Roshawn is an AI Researcher, Information Theorist, Cognitive scientist, who works to build bridges between distant fields of knowledge. He is mostly self-taught, having worked on multiple research projects, with various published papers and lectures at Oxford, and not only. He is presently engaged in applying his cognitive science theories towards developing more sophisticated artificial intelligence.

Edward Wise – Ed became interested in Effective Altruism at Oxford University, and aims to research the interaction between the ethics of effective altruism and left-wing political philosophy.

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Fredi Backtoldt – I’m studying philosophy at Goethe Universität Frankfurt, currently writing my master thesis on the Demandingness Objection to ethical theories. On the side, i started to volunteer for Animal Ethics, where I now also do an internship. The hotel with its great atmosphere helps me to put my values into action and that’s what I’m trying to do here!

Saulius Šimčikas – Saulius is a Research Analyst at Rethink Priorities, mostly working on topics related to animal welfare. Previously, he was a research intern at Animal Charity Evaluators, organised Effective Altruism events in the UK and Lithuania, and earned to give as a programmer. Living in the hotel helps him focus on work.

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Rhys Southan is a writer and philosopher with a focus on animal ethics and population ethics. Last year he completed a master’s degree in philosophy at The University of Oxford. He has been published in the New York Times, Aeon Magazine and Modern Farmer. While at the EA Hotel, Rhys is working on a fiction novel related to AI alignment, as well as researching and writing on animal ethics. He is also interested in autism and how it affects romantic relationships and mental health.

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Rory S. – Rory is currently self-studying machine learning and economics, in order to develop a wider range of relevant skills, think more about cause prioritisation, and pursue further graduate studies on topics related to effective altruism. Whilst at the hotel, they have begun working on a conference paper (aiming to introduce ideas about logical induction and AI safety to mathematical philosophers), and performed remote work for the Open Philanthropy Project, helping to develop better tests for future research applicants. Previously, they were a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Cambridge, working on decision theory and formal epistemology. They have nascent interests in the potential for research in quantitative history to provide guidance in predicting the long-term future, and find the communal atmosphere of the hotel a fantastic place to discuss many different cause areas, given their current focus is on the ‘explore’ side of the explore/exploit tradeoff.

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Matt Goldenberg is a community builder and entrepreneur. His current research is on the systematisation of creating impactful organisations.

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Max Carpendale – Max studied philosophy at university. Max has been doing research and writing on the subject of invertebrate sentience from an EA angle. He has worked with Rethink Priorities on the subject. Max’s been interested and involved with EA since 2011 and has been interested in many related ideas before then.

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Rafe Kennedy – With the goal of contributing towards AI Safety, Rafe works on macrostrategy & AI strategy and studies maths and statistics. Previous work at the hotel has included game-theoretic modelling of AI development and visualisations of statistical concepts. He holds a master’s in Physics & Philosophy from Oxford and has previously worked as a software engineer at a venture-backed data science startup.

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Arron Branton – Arron moved from London to Blackpool, quitting his job to focus on learning programming full time. He is currently working on creating a video game for the Google Play store and Apple’s App store, which is planned to be released later in 2019. The money raised will go towards helping save human lives in the poorest poorest countries around the world. ‘What kind of game is he working on?’ (I hear you ask). You’ll have to wait and see!

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Past guests include:

Gavin Leech – “I’m a data scientist at a giant insurer. I write an EA blog here. I like talking about the far future, machine learning, analytic philosophy, statistics as applied epistemology, tech solutions to social problems, and social solutions to tech problems. During my first stay at Athena I worked on the Prague AI Safety Camp and wrote my first LessWrong piece, on technological unemployment. I’ll be back!”

Mathilde Guittard – “Senior Associate at Invesco (finance), I work on big real estate projects around the world. It is a bit an earn to give situation that allows me to donate monthly to EA charities. I try to spread the word. I also care about social entrepreneurship and finding effective ways to improve global health (mostly through nutrition) in order to reduce poverty/human suffering in order to increase equality of chance so the best people can make the world a better place. Still pondering if my next move will be in impact investment or in global health. My stay in the hotel inspired me to take a step forward global health and to reach out more often to EA community.”

John Maxwell – “I’m a software developer and entrepreneur, and I’ve been thinking about effective altruism for nearly ten years now. I cofounded MealSquares, a nutritionally complete food bar company, and I have a degree in computer science from UC Berkeley. At the hotel, I am focused on acquiring deeper knowledge of machine learning and thinking about AI safety (this essay of mine won $2000 in the AI alignment prize).”

Evan Sandhoefner – Evan graduated from Harvard in 2017 with a degree in economics and computer science. He worked as a program manager at Microsoft for a short time before leaving to pursue EA work directly. For now, he’s independently studying a wide range of EA-relevant topics, with a particular interest in consciousness.

Linda Linsefors – Linda is an independent AI Safety student and researcher. She has previously completed a PhD in Quantum cosmology, organised an AI Safety Camp and interned at MIRI. Linda is currently learning more ML and RL, and also thinking about wireheading and the relation between learning and theory, among other things.

Markus Salmela – Markus studies human health, philosophy and social sciences. He has worked on research projects relating to existential risks and long term forecasting, and also organised EA-events. He is currently writing about longevity research from an existential risk perspective.

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Alexandr Nil – “I came to know and embrace effective altruism through the writings of David Pearce. Alas I’m in the Hotel only for ten days – an official “vacation” from my earning-to-give software developer job in Berlin. While I’m here, I’m finishing a project proposal related to Pearce’s Abolitionist Project, working on a blog-post draft, deciding whether and how to switch to ~direct EA work (including considering the Hotel Manager role), continue volunteering for LEAN’s editorial team and experience a better way of living an EA life in general.”

Alexandra Johnson – “I’m a current graduate student and researcher with an interest in policy and operations. I’ve been involved with effective altruism for the past 3 years or so. I have a degree in engineering and I’m currently in an operations role with Convergence Analysis, focused on existential risk strategy, while also working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on health related topics. Previously, my research work has spanned health and animal welfare.”

[Please send us a short bio if you are staying, or have stayed, at the hotel and would like to appear here.]

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Number of guests over time:

(last updated: 10th Jan 2019)

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Projects (List of things people have been/are/will be working on):

Setting up an x-risk strategy organisation.

Volunteering – working on hotel building.

Working on hotel building and day-to-day running of hotel.

Studying AI / Machine Learning.

Researching ways of incorporating subjective wellbeing into health care prioritisation for the next Global Happiness Policy Report.

Studying Machine Learning.

EA events organising, Human Welfare Taskforce, psychology research.

Moral philosophy thesis on the Demandingness Objection to Utilitarianism.

Transitioning to full-time AI safety research & engineering; reading, writing papers, coding, applying to AI safety grants and jobs.

EA London Retreats (Life Review Weekend, Careers Week, Holiday/EA Unconference).

Studying Computer Science, Maths, Philosophy.

Working on an app for Decision markets.

Anthropics and decision theory research.

Work for the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering.

Work for European Summer Program in Rationality.

Working on hotel administration.

Suffering-focused EA author collaborating with others.

Researching Infinite Ethics.

Researching Invertebrate Suffering.

Collaboratively setting up an x-risk strategy organisation (2 people).

Advising guests on fitness and hotel systems.

Writing books on AI (fiction) and Wild Animal Suffering (non-fiction).

Collaboratively distilling AI Safety material for an online course (Road to AI Safety Excellence) (2+ people).

Studying Economics, revising for the GRE.

Studying philosophy, writing up explorations of EA related questions.

Collaboratively writing up AI Safety research (2 people).

AI strategy research.

AI Safety research.

Work for Rethink Priorities.

Responding to left-wing / Marxist critiques of EA.

Researching the systematisation of creating impactful organisations.

Programming, game/app development with a view to earning-to-give.

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