Anoneacommenter

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$100 Prize to Best Argument Against Donating to the EA Hotel

I think this gets to the big flaw in the current appeal from a design perspective -

  1. the idea of the hotel is too new and cannot demonstrate impact on an aggregate scale (unlike say cash transfers) in an easy to understand way.

  2. Therefore people look for specific examples of what people are doing at the hotel to reassure them of the impact

  3. But as there are numerically few residents so far and the first residents had little competition to be accepted, many are not seen as competitive to what funders would independently decide to fund so they don’t make the hotel look good. (At least as they have been presented)

4)therefore the pitch is either that the hotel will continue to attract stronger applicants and/or get better at selecting good funding opportunities in the future so that they are doing some valuable intermediate role for the ultimate funders but a) no evidence has been given as to why the hotel staff are likely to be good at that role and b)trust has already been destroyed by the fact that funders now are looking at the first “lowest quality” residents and not finding them attractive.

The best thing by far imo the hotel could do is present the current and past residents in a way which explains why they have done valuable things at the hotel and why they could not have done them without the hotel. I don’t think they have done this well at all but my knowledge of a few of the residents suggests that there are good stories to tell here. Hopefully the planned post on this will give the hotel an injection of new interest from funders.

Why is the EA Hotel having trouble fundraising?

Thanks for the response Greg - I look forward to reading the list of outputs and that is what I would have led with In the first post months ago. There may have been reasons that you didn’t but that’s what people are “buying” at the end of the day.

Why is the EA Hotel having trouble fundraising?

I don’t necessarily think all these are true because I know some good people who have benefited from the hotel but my responses would be:

  1. Questions about what the residents are doing - The dominant activity reported in the current residents post is “self-study” - usually of AI related things and frequently in a pretty vague way. A more traditional way of framing this would be “unemployed”. The criticism of “This is going to attract people who are into EA and unusually bad at making a living” is not enhanced by this. Better to show what residents have actually achieved (if you can do that)?

  2. Lack of buy in from EA organisations - A decent number of the residents seem to have been hired from the EA hotel into EA organisations and/Or EA organisations staff are using it as free accommodation. There is certainly an argument that RISE or rethink priorities should be paying to upkeep the hotel since the hotel is allowing them to employ staff at presumably below market rate. But the fact that ea organisations are unwilling to even endorse the hotel as helpful in these posts is a red flag.

  3. Low entry bar - due to low demand Essentially anyone who has any familiarity with Effective altruism has been admitted even projects that seem pretty tragic like “writing a novel on AI alignment” and “writing a mobile game” - it’s a difficult balance here, unoccupied rooms are doing nothing for the hotel but equally I doubt indulging these sorts of things are valuable - especially if they are being publicly reported as outputs of the hotel .

  4. Poor presentation- I found the post on expected value essentially incoherent as a pitch , but in all of the posts so far little thought seems to have been put into the elevator pitch of why fund this or what are the best aspects of the project are. Funders want a one paragraph or one sentence summary of why they should fund it which seems absent here

  5. Wariness over founder quality- the founder previously attempted to setup a rationalist group house in Manchester that spectacularly imploded. (Through primarily the fault of others imo). One of the biggest metrics of success in venture capital is founder quality and there are legitimate questions over Greg’s personality and judgment from that episode that would make me personally step away from the hotel.

  6. Over ambition/ lack of social proof - people are more likely to contribute to online campaigns they think will be successful and which have a lot of backers - at the last time I checked, not even close to every current/previous resident had made even a nominal donation of £5 to the campaign

All of these together present a picture of quite a low status organisation. People don’t want to be associated with something low status and are likely to subject anything they perceive as low status to a lot of scrutiny.