@ Future Fund
1374Joined Sep 2021


Avital Balwit


Hello there, and welcome to the forum! I understand how the number can seem surprising, but here is a little more background from Nick that might have gotten buried below: "Yes, this is a serious amount of money. That said, writing a good blog takes a lot of time, and note that the expected value for any particular blogger will be relatively low. If 100 bloggers apply (which we expect to be a lower bound given the traction), it's $5k for the work of a part-time job over a year. Obviously, Cowen using the same number makes it a bit of a Shelling Point and the number has some viral appeal as well. But we also want to convey how valuable we think writing like this really is: we think the very best entrants really will deserve this. For instance, we have in mind that the breakout successes from the competition might begin writing full-time, or even become public intellectuals within EA. We think the $100,000 amount is the right amount to encourage that kind of ambition. But note that we’re not committing to giving any particular number of these prizes ("up to five")— we’re planning to use an appropriately high bar in judging the blogs." 

100k for a "blog" might seem silly, but it is  about the content not the format. Good ideas change the world, or could possibly save it. One of my favorite quotes about the power of new knowledge: "Civilizations starved, long before Malthus, because of what they thought of as the ‘natural disasters’ of drought and famine. But it was really because of what we would call poor methods of irrigation and farming – in other words, lack of knowledge. Before our ancestors learned how to make fire artificially (and many times since then too), people must have died of exposure literally on top of the means of making the  fires that would have saved their lives, because they did not know how. In a parochial sense, the weather killed them; but the deeper explanation is lack of knowledge. Many of the hundreds of millions of victims of cholera throughout history must have died within sight of the hearths that could have boiled their drinking water and saved their lives; but, again, they did not know that. Quite generally, the distinction between a ‘natural’ disaster and one brought about by ignorance is parochial." (The Beginning of Infinity, by David Deutsch)

Hey Zoe and Luke, thank you for posting this and for writing the paper! I just finished reading it and found it thoughtful, detailed, and it gave me a lot to think about. It is the best piece of criticism I have read, and will recommend it to others looking for that going forward. I can see the care, time, and revisions that went into the piece. I am very sorry to hear about your experience of writing it. I think you contributed something important, and wish you had been met with more support. I hope the community can read this post and learn from it so we can get a little closer to that ideal of how to handle, incorporate, and respond to criticism. 

Phil Torres wrote a response to my piece and as he is not currently on the forum, I offered to post a link to it. Here it is: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/7WxH7fAq76Mvkx5YC/a-harmful-idea I am not endorsing it, but I think it is important to give people a chance to respond! If you are curious what he thought of this piece, I encourage you to read it. 

Thank you Coleman! Looking forward to reading it 

Hello Linch, Sean and Marisa capture the reasons well. I have had several people outside EA/LT ask about the Torres essays and I didn't have a great response to point them to so this response is written for them. I also posted it here in case others have a similar use for it.