Impact Island is the hip new reality TV show that all of your cool, chic, and longtermist impact-oriented friends would love to binge watch. Think "Survivor" meets "Shark Tank" meets "Open Philanthropy."

Premise

The premise is simple:36 young humble aspiring effective altruists are invited to a private Caribbean Island. Each aspiring EA is expected to do high-impact projects during their stay here. They will also gossip and continuously publicly rate each other's projects, impact, and likability. Every week, an anonymous team of grantmakers rank all participants, and whoever accomplished the least morally impactful work that week will be kicked off the island. 

At the end of the season (36 episodes), the single remaining most impactful participant will be given 10 million dollars of seed funding for their new org.

How will you select participants?

Participants will be chosen via a formal selection process combining past track records, good looks, EA promisingness, movie chemistry, reference letters, and the coherent extrapolated gut feels of leading EA grantmakers. Of course, all participants are expected to be polyamorous.

How much is this project? Do you need more funding?

Our current budget is $25 million dollars. We have already secured funding from reputable EA sources, such as the FTX Future Fund, Open Philanthropy, Longview Philanthropy's Media Engagement arm, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and real estate mogul with political and reality TV experience Donald Trump.

However, 25 million is only enough money to tide us over for season 1 (36 episodes). As we (the producers) believe strongly in patient longtermism, we would ideally like to run for 3 quadrillion seasons. Thus, we have extremely large room for more funding, which we do not expect to fill any time soon, making us the premier community building EA megaproject.

Do you plan to seek additional sources of funding?

Yes, we believe in being self-financing as quickly as possible, so we plan to mint an NFT of every episode.

What is the expected impact of this project?

We think the expected impact of the project is so high it is literally incalculable. If we're forced to put numbers on this, we think we can get at least 10 million viewers, and conservatively 1% of those people (1 billion viewers) will counterfactually become EAs. This will be the largest and most successful community building megaproject EA has ever seen, and even if our impact calculation is substantially off (say by 25%), 750 million highly engaged EAs is still an impressive number.

In addition to the community building aspect, we also think that the direct impact of having 36 EAs do highly impactful projects can be quite high, and having them all continuously rate each other can help solve the vetting bottleneck in EA.

Further, we think the NFT funding schema should allow us to quickly become self-financing, meaning that this project will pay for itself in no time (less than 3 geological eons in our techno-economic analysis).

How does this project fair in terms of importance, neglectedness, and tractability?

Importance

In addition to becoming a future cultural milestone (incalculable value), we also think this project has very high community building benefits, as well as direct impact.

Neglectedness

To the best of our knowledge, no other impact-oriented reality TV show in the Carribean exists, suggesting high neglectedness.

Tractability

We're very sure of the tractability of this project, having read skimmed multiple blog posts on how to run reality TV shows.

How will you make sure the TV show is fun to watch?

We think watching people doing high-impact altruistic activities in front of their computers is high utility (and thus fun) enough! 

But for discerning reality TV viewers, we intend to inject drama by a) selecting highly neurotic and extremely disagreeable people with very different cause areas in the initial program, and b) having them rate each other aggressively.

Furthermore, all participants will live and work in the same hotel with spotty WiFi (which is critical to their impact), and there will only be a small number of MiFi mobile internet hotspots for participants to fight over.

Finally, we will encourage vicious fights and disagreements among participants about whether counterfactual or Shapley values are the best ways to measure impact, which our specialty consultants from QURI have assured us is among the most fun things to watch ever.

Special events and celebrity judges

We intend to have a visitor program where EA visitors can interact with our participants, increasing drama, tension, and the viewers' knowledge of the current EA landscape.

We've invited Will MacAskill, Elon Musk, Grimes, and Eliezer Yudkowsky to be our celebrity judges.

In addition to impact, special events will have celebrity judges rate participants on other desirable features, such as intellectual engagement, ambition, likeability, and ability to die with dignity. 

How robust is your theory of change?

In addition to general judgement and our cost-effectiveness analyses (see above) in the community-building space, we also believe this project performs robustly well along a wide range of cause areas:

Global Health and Poverty

The TV show will be set in a pretty poor island nation, and many expenditures will be used to power the local economy. According to our impact consultant, the estimated impact of those purchases will be "within 3 orders of magnitude of GiveDirectly", which is pretty close to being an optimal global poverty intervention!

Animal Welfare

At least one participant is working on animal welfare. In addition, we're committed to catering cruelty-free meat on Mondays at Impact Island, and at least one participant is flexitarian, helping to raise awareness of this very important cause area.

AI Safety

At least one participant is working on AI Safety. Impact Island is very strongly committed to AI safety. We will only use safe AIs (AIs with adversarial debiasing for fairness) in our postproduction processing of this show.

Biosecurity

Being on an island, Impact Island is naturally a safer location in case of a large scale pandemic. In addition, as part of the program, we plan to host talks and discussions about the most creative and deadly potential bioweapons and biological information hazards on live TV, helping to raise awareness of this very important cause area.

Nuclear security

Being on an island, Impact Island is naturally a safer location in case of a large scale nuclear war.  In addition, one of the producers read a study at some point that found that watching reality TV helps reduce probability of great power conflict and thus nuclear war. She's too busy to reread the study, but we think now that the case is sufficiently strong to start a pilot experiment to test this hypothesis. 

Climate Change

Impact Island NFT is built using EcoCoin, a highly environmentally friendly blockchain system, helping to raise awareness of this very important cause area.

Do you have reservations about this program?

Yes, we have reserved many TV studio spaces and parking spots in anticipation of this project.

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16 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:11 PM
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We've invited Will MacAskill, Elon Musk, Grimes, and Eliezer Yudkowsky to be our celebrity judges.

I haven't received my invite yet (probably because you left out my first name)

Epistemic status: very strongly held and stated beliefs.

Hello, it is I, the discerning reality TV viewer. I'm very excited at the potential of impact island but I'm concerned that your TV show Garner the billions of EAs and millions of views you desire.

Here are some suggestions for the game design that might fix this problem:

  1. I'd throw the judges out the window (figuratively, but for maximum views literally) and purely have participants judge each other. The logic is foolproof: participants are honing their TV personalities all day, so they'd be way more entertaining to watch.
  2. Have "no kill" days: for at least 3 days per elimination round, force participants to /not/ viciously rate and in fact work together, so that when elimination time comes, participants must choose between friendship and impact

Thank you for the ideas and feedback Vaidehi. We will be certain to take them into account in future seasons. At least one of us were worried that the basic format will get stale after the first 10,000,000 seasons, so always good to get fresh takes! 

"Of course, all participants are expected to be polyamorous."

So on point. If I was a coffee drinker, I would have spit it out laughing at this sentence.

Pardon my negativity, but I get the impression that you haven't thought through your impact model very carefully.

In particular, the structure where

Every week, an anonymous team of grantmakers rank all participants, and whoever accomplished the least morally impactful work that week will be kicked off the island. 

is selecting for mediocrity.

Given fat tails, I expect more impact to come from the single highest impact week than from 36 weeks of not-last-place impact.

Perhaps for the season finale you could bring back the contestant who had the highest impact week of the season and have them face off against the last survivor. That could also make for more exciting television than whatever you had planned for the 36th episode.

Seems like it's more important to encourage discussions-about-impact than it is to encourage impact directly

But I'm not sure, I don't even own a TV

I googled it and it returned "Did you mean Prospera?"

I would enthusiastically watch this. You should implement a viewer voting mechanism, where viewers can vote for who should receive more research funding and who should have to move out of their private apartment into the island group house with one bedroom. 

This sounds like a great idea! I think it's very important to have democratic oversight into impactful funding and housing decisions! 

*quadratic voting mechanism

My April Fool's idea was "I'm going to be a Virtual Reality streamer where I play a game while someone interviews me about Effective Altruism"

The main pushback I got was "this sounds like it would actually work"

I'm probably going to make at least one episode and see how it goes

I have no idea what I'm doing, if anyone wants to give me a hand maybe

The TV show will be set in a pretty poor island nation, and many expenditures will be used to power the local economy. According to our impact consultant, the estimated impact of those purchases will be "within 3 orders of magnitude of GiveDirectly", which is pretty close to being an optimal global poverty intervention!

AGHHHHHHHHHH

This already almost exists in effective altruism and it's easy to imagine how it would be established. 

Many retreats spanning several weeks or even a few months have already been established in effective altruism. The EA Hotel also already exists. A similar physical base that will allow people from the EA community on an international level to freely live and work with each other has been proposed by FTX. 

The proposal placed it on a Caribbean Island. The same has been proposed for the charter city in Honduras, which isn’t an island but is part of Central America on the Caribbean. Open Philanthropy and other funders in EA have made a call for more grant proposals for creative representations of EA in media. One such proposal could be to set up cameras at one of these places and produce a TV show based on them. 

We actually had documentary film makers and major TV networks interested in the EA Hotel at the start. We turned them down. (We also don't tend to vote people out.)

we think we can get at least 10 million viewers, and conservatively 1% of those people (1 billion viewers) will counterfactually become EAs.

1% of 10 million isn’t 1 billion.

Instead of 10 million, it should be much bigger, maybe 20 million.

"Being on an island, Impact Island is naturally a safer location in case of a large scale pandemic. In addition, as part of the program, we plan to host talI ks and discussions about the most creative and deadly potential bioweapons and biological information hazards on live TV, helping to raise awareness of this very important cause area."

I am really looking forward to those episodes.