Nadia Asparouhova (previously writing under Nadia Eghbal) is an independent researcher with widely read essays on a range of topics most recently philanthropic funding including effective altruism and ideas machines, and recent ideas in funding science.  I podcast with her, link and transcript.

How are crypto billionaires most likely to change charitable giving Effective Altruism (EA) aside?

“Broadly my worldview or thesis around how we think about philanthropy is that it moves in these sorts of wealth generations. And so, right now we're kind of seeing the dawn of the people who made a lot of money in the 2010s with startups. It's the “ trad tech” or startup kind of cohort. Before then you had people who made a lot of money in investment banking and finance and the early tech pioneers, they all formed their own cohort. And then you might say crypto is the next generation after that, which will eventually break down into smaller sub components for sure but we don't really know what those things are yet, I think, because crypto is still so early and they've sort of made money in their own way. 


And so, I think when we talk about how will, let's say, crypto billionaires change the world? The way I often see it discussed in public or in the media is we really hone in on individuals and their individual perspectives on the world. So we'll say, oh, Elon is doing this thing with his money or Jeff Bezos is doing that thing with his money. But I think what gets undervalued or discounted is that all these people are sort of products of their peers and their cohorts and their own generations.


When you have a group of people that have made money in a certain way that is almost by definition it's because it's a new wealth boom. They made their money in a way that's distinctly different from previous generations. And so, that becomes sort of like a defining theory of change or worldview. All the work that they are doing in this sort of philanthropic sense is finding a way to impose that worldview. …what will crypto's contribution to that be? I think it's going to be really different from the startup kind of cohort… for example, I think the trad tech cohort is much more interested in finding and uncovering top talent and in the meritocracy worldview where you have these young unproven founders that went on to start companies that rivaled or took down these huge legacy institutions and that really shapes the view of that sort of startup, a generation, where they saw over and over again that you can see someone who may not have a ton of experience in a topic, but it just has the right combination of ambition or grit, or seeing the world a certain way and they can take down these big legacy institutions. That's really what defines that cohort.


Whereas I think in the crypto kind of generation you might see instead of thinking about the power of top talent, I think they're more about giving people tools to kind of build their own worlds. So it's a lot more diffuse. I don't think it's really about going toe to toe against legacy institutions in the way that trad tech is kind of more obsessed with. It's much more about programmatically ensuring that people have access to tools to build their own worlds or build their own lives for themselves. And so again, you can kind of think about how is that going to play into their public legacy or what they do in the world and I just think it's way too early to really know what crypto's public legacy is going to look like. 


I think we are really only in the very beginning stages. It's maybe similar to in the early 2010s where you saw some people who had made money from startups that were doing experiments in philanthropy, but it was so early that comparing that to now is just completely different. And so, yeah, I think we just don't really know yet, but think the answer to that question would just be think about what does crypto actually value that is distinct from what previous generations have valued and then try to extend that into thinking about how might that play into social public values.”

We speak about what she learned from microgranting. We discuss what she thinks about EA influenced philanthropy, and why she is personally pro-pluralism. Weplayed over-rated | under-rated. In the end, she did think EA is under rated.

I asked about this previously, and the general feedback was Nadia had part misunderstood EA. I also had beedback that EA is compatible with pluralism to some degree (perhaps in a weak form), as in, some giving could "most effective" which would be an EA bucket, but some giving could be in another bucket (eg arts). Although there was not a consensus.

As always, interested in views. Thanks. 


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