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As part of my work with the Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute, I am experimenting with speculative evaluations that could be potentially scalable. Billionaires were an interesting evaluation target because there are a fair number of them, and at least some are nominally aiming to do good.

For now, for each top 10 billionaire, I have tried to get an idea of:

  1. How much value have they created through their business activities?
  2. How much impact have they created through their philanthropic activities

I then assigned a subjective score based on my understanding of the answers to the above questions. Overall I've spent in the neighborhood of 20 hours (maybe 7 to 40 hours) between research and editing, so this is by no mean the final word on this topic.

Elon Musk (B)

Elon Musk changes the world through:

  • His businesses: Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink. Tesla makes better cars, SpaceX advances interplanetary expansion.
  • His cultural influence: Twitter shitposting, conceiving and pushing for brighter futures, etc.
  • His philanthropy: Little of it is publicly known so far. He will probably end up buying Twitter, partially with the intention of making it a better public good. OpenAI, which he helped found, might end up having greatly positive or greatly negative impact.

Overall Musk seems like has produced large amounts of value, and might produce even more through SpaceX. But he also seems to be oddly nonstrategic at times.

Bernard Arnault (D-)

I see myself as an ambassador of French heritage and French culture. What we create is emblematic. It's linked to Versailles, to Marie Antoinette. -- Bernard Arnault, as quoted in Forbes

His business produces little counterfactual value, and instead serves as a vehicle for conspicuous consumption. That is, if his luxury brands didn't exist, his customers would simply buy from the others, and the world would look extremely similar.

His company describes its philanthropy as "an ideal expression of financial success", and supports art installations, or students attending concerts. Thus his philanthropy seems non-strategic, aimed at the display of wealth rather than at the firm pursuit of improving and fortifying French culture. He also donated $200M to restore the Notre Dame, which probably saved French tax-payers a similar amount.

Jeff Bezos (B)

The market value of Amazon is circa $1T, meaning that it has managed to capture at least that much value, and likely produced much more consumer surplus. His other ventures, like Blue Origin, are as of yet nowhere as valuable.

Gautam Adani (B?)

Adani seems to be a skilled manager, administrator, and deal-maker who, working in a developing country, has unlocked heaps of value.

He has ties to Narenda Modi, and their fortunes have risen together. From the outside, it's hard to say to what extent he has created his wealth:

The governor of Gujarat announced managerial outsourcing of the Mundra Port in 1994, and Adani got the contract in 1995, after which he set up the first jetty, which was originally run by Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone but was later transferred to Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ).

Adani decided to turn it into a commercial port, building rail and road links to it by individually negotiating with over 50 0 landowners across India to create the largest port in India.

or simply aquired it:

Mr Adani’s friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is time-tested. Their friendship goes back to 2003, when none of the country’s leading businessmen publicly stood by Modi’s side because of the handling of the Gujarat riots. But Adani broke ranks with the old business elite, potentially risking his future. And this gamble paid off.

Gautam Adani is today one of the most visible tycoons in the country, whose prominence has accelerated in the years since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014. Since Modi came into office, Adani’s net worth has increased 17.5 times in less than eight years, from $7 billion to $125 billion

Bill Gates (A)

It's unclear whether Microsoft itself has had a positive or negative impact on the world over what would have counterfactually happened (e.g., Apple and Linux would be more popular). However, Gates' impact-focused philanthropy has helped millions. He moreover started the Giving Pledge, which probably multiplied his impact. Too bad that he couldn't prevent the covid pandemic.

Warren Buffett (A)

Berkshire Hathaway is probably a force for good in the capitalist ecosystem. He has also contributed $32+ billion to the Gates Foundation. In addition, Buffett created the Giving Pledge, which probably multiplied his impact.

Larry Ellison (C?)

Ellison has made his wealth by selling universally-reviled database software and other products that work at Fortune 500 and government scale.

He has signed the Giving Pledge, though his giving may have been erratic at times. It's also possible that his closeness to Trump at times improved the quality of Trump's decision-making while in office.

Mukesh Ambani (B?)

His wealth originally came from a vertically integrated commodity business, but has since expanded. Although skilled at navigating government bureaucracies, he also ate his own brother alive in the competitive communications business, providing millions of Indian consumers with cheaper internet access. Overall most of his impact is going to come from his contribution to Indian economic growth, and that contribution is probably highly positive.

Larry Page (B)

By making a better search engine and providing other Google products for free to millions, he has provided heaps of value. However, in recent times, he has disengaged from Google, and Google has abandoned its "don't be evil" motto. His philanthropy, while large, is somewhat secretive.

Sergei Brin (B-)

Like Larry Page, by making a better search engine and providing other Google products for free to millions, he has provided heaps of value. However, in recent times, he has disengaged from Google, and Google has abandoned its "don't be evil" motto. He has donated at least $1.4 billion to his family foundation, and seems to donate to left-of-center causes.

Reflections

Comparisons with other alternatives

From some brief Googling, two other rankings are the Forbes 400, which assigns a philanthropy score to America's 400 richest people, and the philanthropy 50, which is paywalled.

Forbes' Philanthropy score

The methodology for the Forbes 400 philanthropy score can be seen here. In short, Forbes does some intensive investigative work to determine what billionaire's wealth actually is. Then,

To see how philanthropic the ultrawealthy are, Forbes dug into their known charitable giving and assigned a philanthropy score, ranging from 1 to 5, to each member of The Forbes 400. If we couldn’t find any information about a person’s giving and they declined to provide details, they received a score of N/A.

To calculate the scores, we added the value of each person’s total out-the-door lifetime giving to their 2022 Forbes 400 net worth, then divided their lifetime giving by that number. Each score corresponds to a range of giving as a percentage of a person’s net worth. We once again counted only out-the-door giving, rather than cash sitting in billionaires’ private foundations or tax-advantaged donor-advised funds that have not yet made it to those in need. We reached out to every list member for feedback

This is already fairly sophisticated. If I had to suggest one improvement, it would be to incorporate whether billionaires have signed the Giving Pledge.

Personally, I would also:

  • Score individuals on the amount of money donated, rather than on the percentage
  • Accommodate patient philanthropy (see also 1, 2), and not look only at money out the door.

Possible further work

If I had access to a legion of researchers, I would try to move first towards a legible rubric and then to a quantified impact estimate.

An initial rubric

An initial rubric might incorporate:

Some subjective estimate of how much value the individual has created through business

  • Are the business activities more like value creation or like resource extraction
  • How much value has the individual created?

Some mechanistic estimate of how much value the individual will create through philanthropy

  • How much money will the individual end up donating?
  • How much has the individual donated so far?
  • Has the individual joined the Giving Pledge?
  • Are the individual's donations done with some reference to impact?
    • This would require some finesse in order to incorporate different philosophical stances. But there is certainly a substantial difference between Bill Gates' and Bernard Arnault's giving.

Possibly, some estimate of additional sources of impact, like cultural influence or using a position of prominence to positively impact the world.

Crucially, the above categories could be complementary. For instance, a skilled administrator and industrialist like Mukesh Ambani is already creating heaps of value through business in India, and he probably creates more value through deploying his capital through business than he would through philanthropy. So an individual could get top marks by being excellent in any one domain.

A quantified estimate

Eventually, a quantified estimate might move beyond being a rubric and directly attempt to estimate each part of an individual's impact, and then put them all together in a common linear unit.

For example, in the case of Elon Musk, I would estimate how valuable each of his ventures is, either in an impact unit like Open Philanthropy dollars—$1 dollar given to someone earning $50k a year—or in terms of relative values—where you compare how much each element is worth to other elements, and you don't need a unit or can easily construct one once you've done that.

Things I personally struggled with

Some billionaires were harder to estimate than others. I particularly struggled with Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani. I'm probably lacking a whole lot of context there. Thanks to Chinmay Ingalavi for giving me some context.

I am also uncertain about Larry Ellison. Here is a thread on shady Oracle corporate practices. But here is Ellison's Giving Pledge letter. I'm unclear on how to square the two.

The whole exercise took longer than I was expecting.

I'm also unclear on whether to use gossip and private information, and ended up not doing so.

I was also unclear on which philosophical assumptions to use. For instance,

  • I'm partial to Patient Philanthropy
  • I think it's plausible that most of a billionaires impact could come from business rather than from philanthropy.
  • I think that Amazon's union busting is an evil practice but not nearly enough to move the needle on my overall evaluation of Amazon overall having produced very large heaps of value.
  • I didn't incorporate Mackenzie Bezos' giving into Jeffrey Bezos' estimate, although one could argue that he created a big chunk of that wealth.
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I'm surprised you only mention/allude to AI briefly, and only in the context of Elon Musk's donations to OpenAI. 

Intuitively it seems reasonably likely that people's impact on AI timelines and risks will dominate and the other considerations are smaller in comparison. Especially as several of the billionaires on the list are tech billionaires.

So originally I was planning to have a normal estimation and then a different one with more detail on x-risk in particular, but didn't end up going through with it. But I agree that x-risk/AI could be expanded more on.

Hmm this comment seemed pretty controversial! Curious where/why people disagree, though no obligation to comment of course.

Personally something like "There are many important things in the world, and AI risk is just one among them; it would be bad to only evaluate outsiders by their alignment with our fairly idiosyncratic priorities."

(I upvoted your comment, thanks!) Which things do you think are more important than AI risk? 

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The market value of Amazon is circa $1T, meaning that it has managed to capture at least that much value, and likely produced much more consumer surplus. 

I'm confused about your assessment of Bezos, and more generally about how you assess value creation via businesses. 

My core concern here is counterfactual impact. If Bezos didn't exist, presumably another Amazon-equivalent would have come into existence, perhaps several years later. So he doesn't get full credit for Amazon existing, but rather for such an org existing for a few more years. And maybe for it being predictably better or worse than counterfactual competitors, if we can think of any predictable effects there.  

Both points (competitor catch-up and trajectory change) also apply to the Google cofounders, though maybe there's a clearer story for their impact via e.g. Google providing more free high-quality services (like GDocs) than competitors like Yahoo likely would have, had they been in the lead. 

For companies that don't occupy a 'natural niche' but rather are idiosyncratic, it seems more reasonable to evaluate the founder's impact based on something like the company's factual value creation, and not worry about counterfactuals. Examples might be Berkshire Hathaway and some of Elon's companies, esp Neuralink and the Boring Company. (SpaceX has had a large counterfactual effect, but Elon didn't start it; not sure how to evaluate his effect on the space launch industry.) I'd be interested in a counterfactual analysis of Tesla's effect on e.g. battery cost and electric vehicle growth trend in the US / world. (My best guess is it's a small effect, but maybe it's a moderately important one.)

SpaceX has had a large counterfactual effect, but Elon didn't start it; not sure how to evaluate his effect on the space launch industry.

Hm, what's your source for the "Elon didn't start SpaceX" claim? Wikipedia seems to disagree:

In early 2002, Musk started to look for staff for his new space company, soon to be named SpaceX. Musk approached rocket engineer Tom Mueller [...] and invited him to become his business partner. Mueller agreed to work for Musk, and thus SpaceX was born. [...] Early SpaceX employees such as Tom Mueller (CTO), Gwynne Shotwell (COO) and Chris Thompson (VP of Operations) came from neighboring TRW and Boeing corporations following the cancellation of the Brilliant Pebbles program. [...] Musk personally interviewed and approved all of SpaceX's early employees.

Ah, sorry, I was thinking of Tesla, where Musk was an early investor and gradually took a more active role in the company.


In February 2004, the company raised $7.5 million in series A funding, including $6.5 million from Elon Musk, who had received $100 million from the sale of his interest in PayPal two years earlier. Musk became the chairman of the board of directors and the largest shareholder of Tesla.[15][16][13] J. B. Straubel joined Tesla in May 2004 as chief technical officer.[17]

A lawsuit settlement agreed to by Eberhard and Tesla in September 2009 allows all five – Eberhard, Tarpenning, Wright, Musk, and Straubel – to call themselves co-founders.

For other readers, there was a recent post by Scott Alexander which goes into some depth on this: <https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/billionaires-surplus-and-replaceability>.

My sense is that Amazon still provided significant consumer value on top of exploiting a "natural niche", but I agree that this could use more analysis.

Warren Buffett (following Ted Turner) funded the project that is the most impressive example of just throwing money at a problem: buying ex-Soviet nuclear material. Most of the credit should go to Nunn and Lugar, but if we're talking about scalability and what billionaires can do, this should be exhibit A.

Below is a link to the Philanthropy 50 from last year.  It is US only and ranks by amount given

https://archive.ph/XFfEI

Appreciated

I think posting this was probably net negative EV but it was really funny

Care to say more, either in this thread or in a PM?

Your methodology looks pretty flimsy but it looks like other EAs are taking it seriously

I was surprised how slim the reviews were of the billionaires given the hours spent on it TBH. I think we do a disservice oversimplifying the impact (or lack thereof of billionaires) and not hold them to a stricter standard. Below are some examples of things I would have mentioned.

  • Bill Gates has tried to keep the IP of COVID vaccines from being released to manufacturers of countries like India. I don't think the case of COVID IP is open and shut, but it's quite possible that Gates is contributing to lots of unecessary COVID deaths.

  • Elon Musk did a great service by making electric vehicles trendy, but he is also really hurting the climate by working against public transit and pushing car ownership. To the extent we produce new vehicles, they should be electric. But addressing climate change means reducing car ownership/car production not maintaining or growing the status quo--building electric cars is still significantly harmful to the environment.

  • You mention Elon's allged intention to make Twitter a better public good which has often been brought up in terms of free speech. But you don't mention Elon has an anti-free-speech track record of going after (legitimate) critics of him and trying to get them deplatformed. We should be concerned how he might actually lead Twitter.

  • Jeff Bezos' Amazon unecessarily pushes consumerism which is quite harmful for the environment, as you point out with Arnault. Amazon would still be thriving without trying to manipulate people's psychology to get them to buy more things. This is also arguably bad for the consumer if they make purchases that end up being of little value.

  • For what it's worth, Gates broke a lot of IP law in Microsoft's origins and didn't become philanthropic until Microsoft was under investigation for being a monopoly.

It's omissions like these that make me think this post contributes more so to bad discourse about billionaires than a good discourse.

Don't take it personally. I think you could resolve this stuff by being more holistic in the review. Or if this is just an idea you are playing around with, then I would leave off the grades.

I think I disagree with most of the points on your comment, which is kind of surprising. Though I do think that they are interesting in a red-teaming kind of way.

I think we do a disservice oversimplifying the impact (or lack thereof of billionaires)

I agree that the impact is going to be multifaceted, but I think that most of it will be dominated by the first few factors. More specifically, I think that impact is probably something  like lognormally distributed, and that an estimate which only takes into account the first few components fundamentally makes sense

Bill Gates has tried to keep the IP of COVID vaccines from being released to manufacturers of countries like India. I don't think the case of COVID IP is open and shut, but it's quite possible that Gates is contributing to lots of unecessary COVID deaths.

It seems very likely to me that expropriating IP leads to less innovation in the next disaster.

Elon Musk did a great service by making electric vehicles trendy, but he is also really hurting the climate by working against public transit and pushing car ownership. To the extent we produce new vehicles, they should be electric. But addressing climate change means reducing car ownership/car production not maintaining or growing the status quo--building electric cars is still significantly harmful to the environment.

I'm not sure whether this point stands when you consider what the counterfactual would have been. I think that the most likely counterfactual is that people would have been producing and buying normal cars, whereas now not only Tesla but also other major manufacturers are producing electric ones. I probably agree that electric cars aren't as good if the energy comes from coal plants instead of from renewables. But pushing for electric vehicles still enables advances in renewables to cash out into more renewable vehicles, so I think that his Shapley value is high.

Maybe there is something I'm missing? What do you think would have happened in the absence of Tesla? Or maybe you think that lead/lithium batteries are just very harmful? That is something I know less about.

You mention Elon's allged intention to make Twitter a better public good which has often been brought up in terms of free speech. But you don't mention Elon has an anti-free-speech track record of going after (legitimate) critics of him and trying to get them deplatformed. We should be concerned how he might actually lead Twitter.

Not convinced, but hard to articulate why. 

Jeff Bezos' Amazon unecessarily pushes consumerism

I'd think that this effect is mild in comparison with the efficiency gains.

Gates broke a lot of IP law in Microsoft's origins

I don't really care about this in comparison with his philanthropy and the Giving Pledge.


So overall I think that your points are good in a red-teaming kind of sense, but that they ultimately don't switch the impacts around. E.g., if you consider grades as indicative of the order, it would surprise me if these considerations moved that around.

You mention Elon's allged intention to make Twitter a better public good which has often been brought up in terms of free speech. But you don't mention Elon has an anti-free-speech track record of going after (legitimate) critics of him and trying to get them deplatformed. We should be concerned how he might actually lead Twitter.

Are you predicting that Twitter will be worse along the free speech dimension if Musk takes control of it? If so, what metrics would you use to operationalize this prediction?

I see this post as part of a project to attempt "very brief/rough" evaluations of several topics, instead of spending a lot of time on any one. 

Of course, if readers can't tell a "very brief/rough" analysis from a "very thorough" analysis, I guess then we just can't post the former. 

In this case, the word "brief" was in the title, and the post/comments are so short, I would have hoped that readers would understand that the brevity of the analysis. 

We'll try harder to make this fact more prominent in future posts. Also, if others reading this have thoughts on ways to highlight the depth/breath of an analysis, I'd be quite curious.

For me this isn't counterproductive because it's "brief." It's counterproductive because even in being brief it still misses important considerations. Take a look at the issues that I highlight in my earlier comment. I did all of that without any research. I typed it out during a long metro ride. For me this wasn't "brief," it was half-baked, and it contributes to problematic framing around billionaires that doesn't hold them to higher moral standards. (In my book, Bill Gates shouldn't get higher than a B+ and the rest of the Western billionaires are C or lower).

Unless the author had minimal familiarity with billionaires, I am having trouble seeing how we arrived at these assessments after 20 hours of research. Maybe elaborating on the research process would illuminate why there are blind spots.

I did all of that without any research

As answered in your comment above, I think that the downside of this is that you don't stop to consider whether your points switch the conclusion, or what the magnitude of the problems you point out is, and so your red-team ends up being less valuable than it could have been.

How are you getting the impression that other EAs are taking it seriously, or seriously enough for it to cause harm?

I don't see where the harm is coming from to be honest.

I doubt someone's going to be like "I was originally hesitant to work at OpenAI, but after seeing Nuño's "B" rating for Elon Musk, I now think working for him is a good idea." Or "I was unsure of where to donate to, but Warren Buffet's "A" rating means I should probably donate to him instead."

I think the harm from posting things with flimsy methodology and get a lot of upvotes/uncritical comments is something like "lower epistemic rigour on the forum in general", rather than this article in particular causing a great deal of harm. I think the impact of this article whether positive or negative is likely to be small.

I think Nuno acted in a permissable way. I only mentioned the expected EV likely being negative because of how much attention the post was getting + how straightforward Nuno generally is.

For what it's worth, Nuno and I were both expecting this post to get a lot less attention. Maybe 30 karma or so (for myself). I think a lot of the interest is mainly due to the topic.

Seems like a signal that much more rigorous work here would be read.

Hey Kirsten (& others), I've briefly written my thoughts about when flimsier evaluations are worth it. I would be curious to get your thoughts <https://nunosempere.com/blog/2022/10/27/are-flimsy-evaluations-worth-it/> before I either post it to or reference in the EA forum.

Thanks for linking! I agree with your points. In some situations my evaluation is pretty flimsy but I have to make a decision anyways, so the evaluation still seems worth doing and using.

I might distinguish between doing an evaluation and publishing the full evaluation. If you're testing a new evaluation method and you notice it's giving bad results, maybe you want to just post "I tried this evaluation method and it gave bad results," or post your evaluation but with a disclaimer that the results are clearly wrong and you hope it will help other people improve their methods.

I think you might be more optimistic than me about other people's ability to update away from an incorrect evaluation. I've found it very difficult for me to update away from the first thing I read on a topic even if it's later shown to be clearly wrong. I subconsciously have a much higher bar for later evaluations than the first one I read. That's part of why I try to point out when evaluations aren't very rigorous - I need to remind myself when I shouldn't update much on something and when I should.

Thanks Kirsten, these are good points.

I commented on the blog, but will reproduce my comment here too since maybe not everyone will click the link.

I suspect that some of the negative reaction was from a combination of (1) the methodology being flimsy and (2) the subject matter being somewhat controversial. Out there in the non-EA world, billionaires are extremely controversial. I suspect some of the people who read your post thought there's a cost in seeming to approve of billionaires and as a consequence that, if we do want to state our approval of them, we should better be sure that we're right.

Thanks! Your explanation makes a lot of sense. I think ~20h of work is reasonable for an exploratory Forum post (the majority of my posts have taken less time[1]). Re lots of uncritical comments,  I do think my comment (right now the top comment) is fairly critical: the implication of "I think this ranking neglects to track the most important factor"  is pretty damning in terms of decision-relevancy. But it's possible my words were too sugarcoated.

  1. ^

    I would guess this post took 15-20h, and this post took ~5-8, including reading the primary source

Thanks Linch, I think the amount of time /effort probably depends on the topic, and is unfortunately very difficult to make much progress on "ranking ten people's entire life impact" with 20 hours. For many posts, 2 hours of effort would suffice, it just depends on the topic! But I'm certain reasonable people can disagree here

I also think the tone of the comments has shifted since I posted this, and ironically the number of people who agree with my comments might suggest that I was wrong to be concerned.

I can see some, although I admit I too am skeptical of the harm here:

  1. People become aware of good things about [powerful person] without realising that person is also a douchebag in many ways

  2. People want to bring about a world without billionaires slightly less (or more, depending on which of these you think is bad)

I don't think (1) is a problem, if anything I think the world is far too skewed in its tendency to judge powerful people based on personal virtues and foibles, and not enough on judging them based on their impact (in either direction).

E.g. all the comments about Zuckerberg sounding robotic and very few about him donating money to random charities, far more comments about Elon's various Twitter spats and few about either space or OpenAI, various public figures lambasted for breaking lockdowns (rather than utterly poor pandemic preparedness and response),  the whole Andrew Cuomo thing, etc. 

Well, I disagree on that one. In my view it's harmful to "give a free pass" to obviously bad behaviours by powerful people because of other things they do, both in terms of justice in general and of sending a message to society that morality is optional.

E.g. many people fetishizing Musk over his space ideas or Twitter personae, and ignoring his awful labour practices or his sexual harassment and what appears to me to be predatory behaviour.

Edit to add: I wouldn't put "Zuckerberg sounding robotic" in this category, but I would "various public figures breaking lockdowns". I think you greatly underestimate the importance of leading by example.

I don't understand why "we should hold powerful figures accountable for the impact of their actions" translates to "morality is optional."

From their comments

Not that convinced, but I've added a caveat at the top & pointed out the estimated number of hours it took me to write this.

Cool, thanks :)

I think it's reasonable and often useful to write early-stage research in terms of one's current weak best guess, but this piece makes me worry that you're overconfident or not doing as good a job as you could of mapping out uncertainties. The most important missing point, I'd say, is effects on AI / biorisk (as Linch notes). There's also the lack of (or inconsistent treatment of) counterfactual impact of businesses, as I mention in my other comment. 

Also, a small point, but given the info you linked, calling Oracle "universally reviled" seems too strong. This kind of rhetorical flourish makes me worry that you're generally overconfident or not tracking truth as well as you could be. 

but given the info you linked, calling Oracle "universally reviled" seems too strong

Yes, fair enough, I do have a strong bias/prior in favor of open source software, and this does probably color my assessment of Oracle.

Interesting exercise; I think it would be great to try to quantify more clearly how widely adopted EA principles are by billionaires in general. (Hard to assess, apart from data-mining their public statements for references to EA keywords and phrases?)

There are a lot of them -- 2,700 billionaires worldwide, according to Forbes. So it's not just the top 10 who count. If EA can nudge even 10% of them to take EA principles more seriously, that could be another couple of hundred major donors to EA cause areas.

Hard to assess, apart from data-mining their public statements for references to EA keywords and phrases?

This seems like it could be a fragile approach.

I've been thinking about this a bit. It seems very likely that research we would all find satisfactory would be too much for one person. One option would be to have a well-funded team, like the Forbes one, do that research. A different option might be to crowdsource it. I think I'm more attracted to the crowdsourcing option, but not sure.

Interesting idea. Just one comment about Adani. I don't know much about his potentially positive impact in India or elsewhere, but I do know about his connection to coal (in particular in Australia), which I would bet has overall a significantly negative impact. It's unclear to me if anyone else would have counterfactually made a similarly huge investment in Australian coal industry at this point.

No thoughts on this on my side right now, but I appreciate your comment.

For something similar, see David Manheim's 2021 list

Net worth & Charity Pledges

Elon Musk: $205 billion - Giving Pledge (GP), 50% 
Jeff Bezos:  $200 billion - No pledge (None) 
Bernard Arnault:$159 billion -  None 
Bill Gates: $151 billion - GP, ~100% 
Mark Zuckerberg: $136 billion - Non-specific, 99% 
Larry Page: $126 billion - None 
Sergey Brin: $121 billion - None 
Steve Ballmer: $107 billion - None 
Larry Ellison: $101 billion - GP, 95% 
Warren Buffett: $101 billion- GP, 99%

Interesting, this makes me realize how little one hears about the Google guys' philanthropy.

Can we see the numerical analyses that led to these?

There is no numerical analysis (yet, or perhaps ever), but see the reflections section for some thoughts on how we could get there.

Thank you for this! I think that there are several paths to impact for a scaled up version of this, but I am not at all sure what path is most consequential. I am curious about what you think is the most important way evaluations of this sort can have an impact. 

Hey, thanks. I can think of:

  1. Experimenting with evaluations in order to get generalizable lessons.
  2. Making a robust rubric and then eventually either incorporating it or elements of it into a more prestigious ranking, 
  3. Influencing billionaires in a more altruistic or effective direction

I'm aiming for 1. If I or others continue working on it, 2. could be decently likely (like, 1 to 20%?). 3 seems more like a valuable but improbable event (<<1%).

Hmm, I guess I'm more optimistic about 3 than you are. Billionaires are both very competitive and often care a lot about how they're perceived, and if a scaled-up and properly framed version of this evaluation were to gain sufficient currency (e.g. via the billionaires who score well on it), you might well see at least some incremental movement. I'd put the chances of that around 5%.

Thanks for sharing! 

FWIW, I have also attempted to very crudely rank the top 10 richest people here. I have not found much data, so it is very incomplete.

Neat! Pretty wild that you think that most of the cumulative value comes from two $10M donations by Musk to  OpenAI and the Future of Life Institute. I think that I'd be more uncertain about the value of either.

The impact isn't coming from the literal $10M donation to OpenAI, it's coming from spearheading its founding.

See https://twitter.com/esyudkowsky/status/1446562238848847877

Yeah, I'm aware Yudkowsky thinks that, though I think I don't agree with it. In particular, it could be the case in expectation, but Yudkowsky seems like he speaks more of certainties.

There's a lot of existing analysis and literature on how to become a billionaire startup founder (or quant trader, etc.). But there seems to be little analysis of how to turn a $1b fortune into a $100b fortune. Put differently, it's pretty clear to me how one might make $10m or $100m per year, but very unclear how one could make $10b per year, even though e.g. Gautam Adani seems to have done just that.

Do you have an overall take on whether there are any strategies that seem to work predictably, or whether it's pure luck at that point? (Perhaps it's worth looking out for strategies that require billions of dollars of capital as a barrier of entry, otherwise markets are likely to be efficient.)

I haven't thought much about this.

One answer might be to, over the course of a few decades, create $1T worth of value and capture 10% of it. When I think about what could qualify, yeah, infrastructure projects in a rapidly growing developing county could qualify.

Another answer might be to cozy up with corrupt elites, and then immorally capture some % of a country's GDP.

I/Samotsvety have a forecasting piece in the work where we try to estimate the chances that an   EA could become a billionaire, and a few of the forecasters have some comments that somewhat overlap with this, might be worth it for you to keep an eye on it.

I imagine that if the matter is of more than academic interest, it wouldn't be that difficult to commission some research into it.

In my opinion, it is not clear if space colonization increases or decreases x-risk. See "Dark skies" from Daniel Deudney or the article "Space colonization and suffering risks: Reassessing the 'maxipok rule'” by Torres for a negative view. Therefore, it is hard to say if SpaceX or  Bezos Blue Origin are net-positive or negative.

Moreover, Google founded the life extension company Calico and Bezos invested in Unity Biotechnology. Although life extension is not a classical cause area of EA, it would be strange if the moral value of indefinite life extension was only a small positive or negative number.  

[anonymous]1y1
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I linkposted a review of "Dark skies" on this forum for any interested readers: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/gcPp2bPin3wywjnGH/is-space-colonization-desirable-review-of-dark-skies-space

Why does Larry Page get a "B" and Sergei Brin get a "B-"? what is Brin doing that is worse than Page and vice versa?

So this is tricky. I don't think that the organizations that Brin is donating to mentioned in the Influence Watch article[1] I linked to are particularly effective. It's not clear to me whether Page is saving up the money he has assigned to philanthropic causes but if so I think that it is a good move per patient philanthropy considerations[2].

  1. ^

    Note that InfluenceWatch is explicitly right wing and tends to spin facts. But I trust them to report specific facts, e.g., donation targets, correctly.

  2. ^

    Note that the funds are in a DAF, rather than in his pocket, so the funds will be donated: this is a question of optimal timing, not of volume.

     

Love to see this, thank you Nuño!

What do you think EA can learn from your exercise? (I realize one of your goals may have been to just experiment with speculative evaluation)

one of your goals may have been to just experiment with speculative evaluation

Yep, see this comment.

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