Hide table of contents

TL:DR: 🚀+💰➡️🌍👁️💡=💰💰💰➡️🌍🌳🍲👩‍⚕️💚

Today, I present to you a groundbreaking proposal with the potential to create a paradigm shift in philanthropy and global stewardship. The mission: to send 10 of the world's most affluent individuals into space to experience the "overview effect," a powerful cognitive transformation that could inspire them to become agents of change for our planet and its inhabitants.

The "overview effect" is a phenomenon experienced by astronauts during spaceflight, often while observing Earth from orbit. This profound sense of interconnectedness and the realisation of our planet's vulnerability have been known to inspire a heightened sense of responsibility towards preserving and protecting Earth.

Financial Implications and Potential Returns

A commercial crew launch to low Earth orbit using SpaceX's Crew Dragon costs approximately $55 million per seat[1]. Thus, sending 10 billionaires into space would require an investment of $550 million[2].

Assuming the "overview effect" encourages these individuals to increase their annual philanthropic efforts by a modest 1%, the impact could be staggering. With a combined net worth of roughly $1 trillion, a 1% increase in annual giving would result in an additional $10 billion in charitable contributions each year, an 18-fold ROI.

Importance, Tractability, and Neglectedness

Importance: This proposal aims to foster a significant shift in the philanthropic mindset of some of the world's wealthiest individuals by leveraging the "overview effect." This cognitive transformation could result in increased charitable contributions towards global challenges such as climate change, global health and development, and extinction risks.

Tractability: The proposal is feasible given the current advancements in commercial space travel, such as SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Although the initial investment is substantial, the potential for a substantial return on investment through increased philanthropy provides a strong incentive to pursue the project.

Neglectedness: While the concept of the "overview effect" is known within the space community, its potential impact on the philanthropic behaviour of billionaires has not been widely explored. This proposal brings forward a unique and innovative approach to encouraging large-scale philanthropy, addressing a relatively neglected aspect of global problem-solving.


The proposal to send billionaires into space to experience the "overview effect" is firmly grounded in both scientific understanding and financial analysis. The initial investment of $550 million carries the potential to generate a substantial increase in philanthropic giving, which could dramatically impact our world for the better.

  1. ^


  2. ^

    55,000,000 x 10




Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:48 PM

I welcome the footnote setting out the detailed cost calculation. 

It is this commitment to rigour and transparency that demonstrates the intellectual and moral superiority of effective altruists compared to other humans, and, indeed, all sentient life.

This is a great suggestion for how to make billionaires’ money go further.

This needs more discussion of how spaceship architecture and furniture choices are important to facilitating discussions with a full multi-planetary perspective. I doubt the plebian environment of this "SpaceX's Crew Dragon" is up to the task. If we take the square foot difference between crew cabins on cruise ships and mid-tier suites as an estimate, we can guess that the proper architecture and furniture will be several times more expensive than the costs of crew accommodations. This proposal is seriously underfunded.

You're right. EA should be funding luxury spaceships for billionaires.

This is absolutely essential. My productivity--and earnings--dropped off precipitously after I was recently forced to relocate to a much more austere setting.

Did you model the cost-effectiveness if we just funded sending the billionaires to space and not funding their return?

Or maybe the other way around?

Finally, leftists will ally with us!

You're massively underestimating your ROI, probably by an order of magnitude. $10 billion in charitable contributions per year, even with a very steep discount rate of 20%, would be an ROI of, not 18-fold, but closer to 90-fold (with a net present value of $50 billion). With a more reasonable discount rate of 10% (would have said 5%, but then the Fed happened), you're talking about 180-fold returns.

Of course, this falls apart under sufficiently short timelines.