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I've seen the idea of retroactive funding for impactful projects tossed around a bit. An obvious case for this that comes to my mind is Eneasz Brodski's production of an audiobook for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. I imagine that this audiobook has significantly increased the reach of the book. (And, personally, his audio production deserves most of the credit for why I consumed the book in entirety.)

Has such a retroactive grant been done? If so, I can't find any evidence of it. 

update 1: Eneasz has confirmed that there has not been. Is there any reason why this might be a bad idea? This seems like low-hanging fruit to me, so I'm unsure why this hasn't been done.




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I reached EA through hpmor (followed by lesswrong), and I might not have read hpmor if it wasn't in audio (I almost only listen to books). 

So big big fan! <3

And FYI, if you're reading this, I'm part of the difference you made

We are building a marketplace (newly published site, very rough-looking) for impact markets. We think it's importance to set it up right as there are short-term and long-term risks involved we want to mitigate. We would be happy to facilitate this sort of funding between Eneasz and retro funders down the line or soon as part of an experiment. (I would personally be quite excited to see retro funding of his video, Shit Rationalists Say.)

I have no strong opinions on whether this is a good or a bad idea, all things considered. But:

  • I feel uneasy about retrofunding as an idea.
  • Retrofunding feels more like 'so-called philanthropists giving money to their pals' than 'high-impact EA philanthropy'.
  • Retrofunding also feels particularly bad for optics.

If you have an argument for why I should feel different, I'd appreciate if you explain the argument rather than downvoting.

I think there is value:

  1. It creates incentives
  2. It helps people who did good (for free? for achieving something they expected would be impactful and get a retro grant?) have more resources


Regarding the downsides:

  1. I agree
  2. But everything has downsides. The question is not if there are downsides,  the question is how does that situation compare to the alternative, which seems to be "people who do really good impactful stuff almost never get funding, and this is a well known fact".

Permissionless economies are much more efficient. 

For funders: Distributing cash upon results being shown is a lot easier than vetting and modelling who and what will succeed, not to mention involves better incentives.
For doers: Barrier to entry is much lower, I just need to do the thing (that i probably enjoy), not this additional labor of getting a permissionful grant (which i will not enjoy).

For many doings, doers might require upfront payment or gaurantees. However, in very many cases, probabalistic recognition and payment is sufficient. 

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Why not ask Eneasz?

update: Eneasz has confirmed that there has not been

ah, yes, this is the obvious thing to do. Ty, I've messaged him over email and facebook.

update: he has confirmed that there has not been

If I were Thomas Kwa right now I would be offering Eneasz $10,000 for 5% of his impact certificate for making the HPMOR podcast.

While I was not brought to EA/rationality through HPMoR, I strongly endorse this proposal.

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