EAs seem so good at taking long-termist perspectives on everything -- other than our own movement's public relations (PR) issues.
Let's try to apply some of our long-termist perspective-taking and future point-of-view imagination to the current situation.
In ten years, we'll still remember the FTX/SBF crisis as a dramatic betrayal, a public relations (PR) crisis, and a significant financial and reputational setback.
However, I'm also confident that in ten years, EA will still exist, will have restored its reputation, will still be attracting great talent, resources, and ideas, and will be doing more good than ever in the world.
When we happen to find ourselves living in 'interesting times', it's useful to remember the age-old wisdom: the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on. This too shall pass. Think about all the 'huge crises!!!' that the news has covered over the last few years -- and how quickly each news story died down when the news media shifted to some new crisis narrative that carries enough monetizable outrage potential that it could attract clicks, subscribers, and advertisers.
We are part of this week's monetizable outrage narrative. Every other week, ever since the development of the 24-hour news cycle, has had its own monetizable outrage narrative. If you've never been part of an outrage narrative before, welcome to the club. It sucks. It leaves scars. But it is survivable. (Speaking as someone who has survived my own share of public controversy, cancellation, and outrage narratives, and who has worked in several academic subfields that are routinely demonized by the press.)
Also, haters gonna hate. Many people resent EA because it makes their warm-glow virtue-signaling seem superficial, irrational, and performative. They know deep in their hearts that it's hard to argue with the core EA values that we should use reason, evidence, and open debate to try to reduce suffering, and to promote a better long-term future. They've been waiting for an opportunity to attack EA as hypocritical or hyper-earnest, as hyper-rational or irrational, as hyper-nerdy or suspiciously cool, as hyper-sexual or incel-adjacent asexual -- anything they can think of. Just remember -- if you wouldn't have taken any misguided, uninformed, snarky critiques of EA seriously last month, don't take them seriously this week. Haters gonna hate.
None of this is to minimize the actual, real-world impact of the current crisis. Many people lost of lot of money to a company they trusted. A major tech industry (crypto) will be handicapped for a while. Our organizations face real losses of resources, for a while. These are real problems, but I think they are not existential threats to EA as a movement, and they are certainly not good counter-arguments against EA principles and insights.
There will come a time, maybe in the 2050s, when you may be sitting in front of a cheerful Christmas fireplace, a grandkid bouncing on your knee, and your adult kids may ask you to tell them once more the tale of the Great FTX Crisis of 2022, and how it all played out, and died down, and how EA survived and prospered. You won't remember all the breathless EA forum posts, the in-fighting, and the crisis management. You'll just remember that you either kept your faith in the cause and the community -- or you didn't.
I hope more of us can take this kind of long-term perspective on the current situation.