46

RyanCarey comments on Introducing the EA Funds - Effective Altruism Forum

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (59)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: RyanCarey 10 February 2017 08:11:49PM 12 points [-]

Seems like a great idea!

Re Nick, I trust his analysis of charities, including meta-charities a lot. But the conflict does seem worth thinking a bit about. He is responsible for all 2-3 of the top EA-org grant-makers. From a point of view of redundancy, diverse criticism and incentives, this is not so good.

If I was CEA, I'm not sure I have very much incentive to identify new good strategies, since a lot of my expected funding in the next decade comes from Nick, and most of the other funders are less thoughtful, he is really the one that I need to work to convince. And then If I am Nick, I'm only one person, so there are limits to how much strategic thinking I can transmit, and to the degree to which I will force it to engage with other strategic thinkers. It's also hard to see how, if some of its projects failed, I would allow CEA to go unfunded?

How can we build these incentives and selection pressures, as well as on the object level, getting better ideas into EA orgs? Dviersifying funding would help, but mostly it seems like it would require CEA to care about this problem a lot and take a lot of effort.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 10 February 2017 11:55:25PM 5 points [-]

My guess is that the optimal solution has people like Nick controlling quite a bit of money since he has a strong track record and strong connections in the space. Yet, the optimal solution probably has an upper limit on how much money he controls for purposes of viewpoint diversification and to prevent power from consolidating in too few hands. I'm not sure whether we've reached the upper limit yet, but I think we will if EA Funds moves a substantial amount of money.

How can we build these incentives and selection pressures, as well as on the object level, getting better ideas into EA orgs? Dviersifying funding would help, but mostly it seems like it would require CEA to care about this problem a lot and take a lot of effort.

I agree that this is worth being concerned about and I would also be interested in ways to avert this problem.

My hope is that as we diversify the selection of fund managers, EA Funds creates an intellectual marketplace of fund managers writing about why their funding strategies are best and convincing people to donate to them. Then our defense against entrenching the power of established groups (e.g. CEA) is that people can vote with their wallets if they think established groups are getting more money than makes sense.

Comment author: RyanCarey 11 February 2017 12:30:32AM *  2 points [-]

Cool. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be pidgeonholed into being someone concerned about concentration of power, though.

We can have powerful organizations, I just think that they are under incentives such that they will only stay big (i.e. get good staff and ongoing funding) if they perform. Otherwise, we become a bad kind of bureaucracy.

Comment author: BenHoffman 27 April 2017 12:58:05AM *  1 point [-]

Tell me about Nick's track record? I like Nick and I approve of his granting so far but "strong track record" isn't at all how I'd describe the case for giving him unrestricted funds to grant; it seems entirely speculative based on shared values and judgment. If Nick has a verified track record of grants turning out well, I'd love to see it, and it should probably be in the promotional material for EA Funds.