Head of Online (EA Forum,, Virtual Programs) at CEA. Non-EA interests include chess and TikTok (@benthamite). We are probably hiring:


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The claim isn't that every person is better off doing direct work than donating to every organization. Just the specific claim that I generally prefer the labor of my top candidate to donations.

Even in your example though: if you are (say) an ML engineer senior enough to be donating $1M+/year, I expect that those nine junior researchers might prefer your mentorship to your money. 

(I really want to emphasize Yonatan's point of actually doing the math though. The thing I dislike is when people just assume that their current path is obviously correct, and don't actually bother to find some junior researchers and ask them if they would prefer money versus mentorship.)

November events inspired me to recalculate some estimates of earning to give through entrepreneurship. I haven't gone back to entrepreneurship despite these numbers being fairly high, as one signal of how much my thinking has (not) changed.

I would guess that my willingness to pay for a year of EA labor has fallen by ~2-3x, though I haven't thought about this much (largely because we haven't been hiring) and it depends a lot on the role.

Ben_West6dModerator Comment10

Mod here. Please don't try to munchkin our rules to find a way to deanonymize someone from a ban that was intended to be anonymous. (It's fine to give other evidence that you might have.)  People may choose to reply or not to reply to things for a bunch of different reasons. We really don't endorse pressuring people to engage on a given Forum thread. (See also: You don't have to respond to every comment.)

Microsoft has now officially announced their investment and their stock is up ~1% but that's within normal daily variance. Probably the deal was considered likely enough to go through that a lot of the assumed benefit from this deal was already priced in before the official announcement, but I think it's pretty hard to look at a graph of Microsoft stock price and claim that the market is pricing in substantial benefits in the next year.[1]

PS: thanks :)

  1. ^

    fwiw, I'm considering this a market inefficiency and purchasing Microsoft stock as my only non-index fund holding. Feel free to check in with me next year and see how much I regret this.

Ben_West9dModerator Comment2-7

We are issuing timunderwood a warning for this comment. This is a needlessly inflammatory comparison.

Ben_West10dModerator Comment5

Hi Bob,
1. We have been responding to your messages in intercom, I don't know what you mean. It's true that our moderation team is slower to respond than usual because we are overloaded right now, but I think you can probably guess why we are overloaded.
2. You are probably commenting on popular posts and we don't show all the comments from those on the Frontpage. I think we never show more than 4 or 5. The forum is open source, so you can look through the code to see the logic we use to decide which comments to display, if you would like.
3. I don't know who's downvoting you. It looks like your notifications are batched, so you got notified about them all at the same time because your Vote Notifications setting is set this way.

One irony is that it's often not that hard to change EA orgs' minds. E.g. on the forum suggestion, which is the one that most directly applies to me: you could look at the posts people found most valuable and see if a more democratic voting system better correlates with what people marked as valuable than our current system. I think you could probably do this in a weekend, it might even be faster than writing this article, and it would be substantially more compelling.[1]

(CEA is actually doing basically this experiment soon, and I'm >2/3 chance the results will change the front page somehow, though obviously it's hard to predict the results of experiments in advance.)


  1. ^

    If anyone reading this actually wants to do this experiment please DM me – I have various ideas for what might be useful and it's probably good to coordinate so we don't duplicate work

Ben_West11dModerator Comment9

We are banning trevor1 and their alternate account for one month for messaging users and accusing them of being sock puppets, even after the moderation team asked them to stop. (The moderation team has confirmed that at least some of these accusations were false.) If you believe that someone has violated Forum norms such as creating sockpuppet accounts, please contact the moderators.

Yeah, interesting. I think we have a lot of lurkers who never get any karma and I don't want to entirely exclude them, but maybe some combo like "10 karma or your account has to be at least one week old" would be good.

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