Comment author: Paul_Christiano 17 December 2017 07:21:15PM 6 points [-]

A $200k lottery has about 4x as much cost-via-risk as a $100k lottery. Realistically I think that smaller sizes (with the option to lottery up further) are significantly better than bigger pots. As the pot gets bigger you need to do more and more thinking to verify that the risk isn't an issue.

If you were OK with variable pot sizes, I think the thing to do would be:

  • The lottery will be divided up into blocks.
  • Each block will have have the same size, which will be something between $75k and $150k.
  • We provide a backstop only if the total donation is < $75k. Otherwise, we just divide the total up into chunks between $75k and $150k, aiming to be about $100k.
Comment author: Jess_Riedel 18 December 2017 04:18:24AM 0 points [-]

Could you explain your first sentence? What risks are you talking about?

Also, how does one lottery up further if all the block sizes are $100k? Diving it up into multiple blocks doesn't really work.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 17 December 2017 06:00:05PM 1 point [-]

I'm curious about why blocks were chosen rather than just a single-lottery scheme, i.e., having all donors contribute to the same lottery, with a $100k backstop but no upper limit. The justification on the webpage is

Multiple blocks ensure that there is no cap on the number of donors who may enter the lottery, while ensuring that the guarantor's liability is capped at the block size.

But of course we could satisfy this requirement with the single-lottery scheme. The single-lottery scheme also has the benefits that (1) the guarantor has significantly less risk since there's a much higher chance they need to pay nothing, especially once the popularity of donor lotteries is more stable and (2) the "leverage" can get arbitrarily high rather than being capped by $100k/<donation size>. The main feature (benefit?) of the multi-block scheme is, as Carl says elsewhere in this thread, "the odds of payouts for other participants are unaffected by anyone's particular participation in this lottery design". But it's not clear to me why this non-interaction principle is better than allowing large leverage. We just want to be really careful about unintended incentives?

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 16 July 2017 04:29:16PM 4 points [-]

EAs seems pretty open to the idea of being big-tent with respect to key normative differences (animals, future people, etc). But total indifference to cause area seems too lax. What if I just want to improve my local neighborhood or family? Or my country club? At some point, it becomes silly.

It might be worth considering parallels with the Catholic Church and the Jesuits. The broader church is "high level", but the requirements for membership are far from trivial.

Comment author: HaydnBelfield 09 February 2017 06:22:44PM 7 points [-]

Very interesting idea, and potentially really useful for the community (and me personally!).

What's the timeline for this?

I'm presuming that the Funds would be transparent about how much money is in them, how much has been given and why - is that the case? Also as a starter, has Nick written about how much is/was in his Fund and how its been spent?

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 10 February 2017 06:59:25PM 2 points [-]

The list of donation recipients from Nick's DAF is here:

I don't believe there's been any write-ups or dollar amounts, except the above list is ordered by donation size.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 09 February 2017 10:43:33PM 15 points [-]

I am on the whole positive about this idea. Obviously, specialization is good, and creating dedicated fund managers to make donation decisions can be very beneficial. And it makes sense that the boundaries between these funds arise from normative differences between donors, while putting fund managers in charge of sorting out empirical questions about efficiency. This is just the natural extension, of the original GiveWell concept, to account for normative differences, and also to utilize some of the extra trust that some EAs will have for other people in the community that isn't shared by a lot of GiveWell's audience.

That said, I'm worried about principle-agent problems and transparency, and about CEA becoming an organization receiving monthly direct debits from the bank accounts of ten thousand people. Even if we assume that current CEA employees are incorruptible superhuman angels, giving CEA direct control of a firehose of cash makes it an attractive target for usurpers (in a way that it is not when it's merely making recommendations and doing outreach). These sorts of worries apply much less to GiveWell when it's donating to developing-world health charities than to CEA when it's donating to EA start-ups who are good friends with the staff.

Will EA Fund managers be committed to producing the sorts of detailed explanations and justifications we see from GiveWell and Open Phil, at least after adjusting for donation size? How will the conflicts of interest be managed and documented with such a tightly interlinked community?

What sorts of additional precautions will be taken to manage these risks, especially for the long term?

Comment author: tyleralterman 30 January 2016 05:23:20AM 4 points [-]

Very much support the thrust of this post. Oliver Habryka on the EA Outreach team is currently chatting with the Good Judgment Project team about implementing a prediction market in EA.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 12 July 2016 11:19:46PM 0 points [-]

Update: the Good Judgment Project has just launched Good Judgement Open.

Comment author: Jay_Shooster 17 May 2015 07:10:55PM *  12 points [-]

I'm so excited by all the recent public discussion about movement building. It's really encouraging to see so many brilliant people investing their time and energy into this neglected area.

That being said, I am concerned that we are reinventing the wheel, and ignoring a substantial body of empirical and theoretical work that has already been done on the subject.

Why are we starting from scratch and developing novel theories of social change? Why are we focusing on mathematics and philosophy instead of academic sociology research? I'm not an expert but, I'm familiar enough to know that lots of other smart people have studied the issues addressed in this paper. Lots of people are interested the growth and strategy of social movements.

If we were talking about ending global poverty, we would not be postulating new models of economic development. Why should we demand any less empirical/academic rigor in the context of movement building? Why are we so willing to trust our intuitions here?

I think there are two common reasons for ignoring academic sociology research here (but both of them are pretty weak): 1. The research on movement building is extremely shallow and of poor quality 2. The EA commitment to cause neutrality is so unique that analogies to other movements (and to existing academic research) are not very useful

To address the first point, I think that we have to consider "EA expert overconfidence" bias. As Rob Wiblin has pointed out, people who are experts in one area are often radically overconfident in other areas. I think EAs succumb to this pretty severely: we are all so shocked (rightly so) at how much cause prioritization is neglected by smart people that we think we have to basically do everything from scratch. But this isn't quite right. We need to distinguish between "effective means" and "effective ends." EA's might be world leaders when it comes to thinking about effective ends (i.e. worthwhile causes like global poverty, animal suffering, far future suffering etc.) but we have no reason to think we are superior when it comes to effective means. Smart people have been trying to understand the spread of ideas and the grow movements for a long time. We should be shocked if there isn't at least some good work done on the subject. My own shallow research has left me convinced that there is a lot of good stuff out there. Even though sociology has the reputation for being less rigorous than economics, there is a lot of serious, rigorous empirical and theoretical work out there.

I think the second point is also not a huge issue. First, lots of other social movements have faced the problem of maintain a broad base of support in the face of ever-changing goals/priorities (political parties and religions seem like good examples). But more importantly, even if we are unique in this regard, it seems that many of the big questions in movement building apply equally well to either case.

Ultimately, if I was GPP, I would try to convene a working group of non-EA academic experts on social movements before trying to do any more original thinking on the issue.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 24 May 2015 07:40:00PM 6 points [-]

I mostly agree with this. No need to reinvent the wheel, and armchair theorizing is so tempting, while sorting through the literature can be painful. But I will say your reason #1 (the typical sociological research is of very poor quality) leads to a second effect: scouring the literature for the useful bits (of which I am sure there is plenty) is very difficult and time consuming.

If we were talking about ending global poverty, we would not be postulating new models of economic development. Why should we demand any less empirical/academic rigor in the context of movement building?

I can tell you that when financial quants want to make money, they spend some time reading the academic literature on the market, but they are often very critical of its quality and usefulness for real-life decisions.

So what we really need are people to say "this particular topic was already addressed by this particular reference". Too often, the criticism to reinventing the wheel is "you should just read this vaguely defined body of work, most of which is inapplicable".

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 04 March 2015 01:55:03PM *  5 points [-]

I am mildly worried that connecting strangers to make honor-system donation trades could lead to a dispute. There are going to be more and more new faces around if the various EA growth strategies this year pan out. The fact that donation trading has been going on smoothly until now means folks might get overly relaxed, and it only takes one publicized dispute to really do damage to the culture. Even if no one is outright dishonest, miscommunication could lead to a someone thinking they have been wronged to the tune of thousands of dollars.

I don't think that communication between the donors, as Brian mentions, is fully satisfactory. Even if everyone promises to send receipts afterwards, you still have Byzantine generals' problems. One idea is that we find someone at CEA who, at the least, can be listed as an email contact to which two donors can send their agreement before they execute, just so there's a records and so the CEA person can point out any obvious confusion. I think this could be a very efficient use of CEA time, especially if it increases trust and therefore makes more trades possible.

Comment author: AGB 22 December 2014 10:59:44PM 0 points [-]

I strongly expect to give a large amount of money to AMF (>$10000) over the next few months. Happy to help.

I'm from the UK.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 06 January 2015 09:29:18PM 0 points [-]

Howdy, I'm trying to make a donation to CEA of about $4,000 this month from Canada. Would be very glad to swap with you for AMF. If you're still up for this, please shoot me an email.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 12 December 2014 01:57:03PM 2 points [-]

Worth noting that it can still be worth posting to your personal blog if only to increase how many people see it.

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