David Mathers

3281 karmaJoined Dec 2021


But I do take your point that Will was not the only person involved, or necessarily the most important internally. 

I think part of the issue is that the Time article sort of contains a very serious allegation about Will specifically, which he hasn't (yet*) publicly given evidence against (or clearly denied), namely Naia Bouscal's allegation that he threatened Tara Mac Aulay. I say "sort of", because saying someone "basically" X-ed, where X-ing is bad arguably carries the implication that it maybe wasn't really X exactly, but something a bit like it. Which makes it a bit hard to tell exactly what Naia was actually accusing Will of. Alas, as far as I know, she's not said more on here (she might have in another venue.) 

Culpable mistakes and failures of integrity around very rich people with large amounts of money, are I expect common, and not *necessarily* a (strong) sign of personal bad character.  Genuinely threatening someone in an 'I will end your career in this space' sort of way on the other hand, seems to me to be genuinely an indication of bad character. 

*We'll here what if anything he has to say about it in his interview on the Clearer Thinking podcast tonight. 

I must say that, given that I know from prior discussion on here that you are not Will's biggest fan, your attempt to be fair here is quite admirable. There should maybe be an "integrity" react button? 

I think that even if you buy that, Will's behavior is still alarming, just in a different way. Why exactly should we, as a community, think of ourselves as being  fitted to steer public opinion? Weren't we just meant to be experts on charity, rather than everything under the sun? (Not to mention that Musk is not the person I would choose to collaborate with on that, but that's for another day.) Will complains about Sam's hubris, but what could be more hubristic than that? 

I remember feeling nervous when I first started working in EA that (otherwise very sober seeming) people were taking it as read that we were somehow important to the future of the whole world. That just seemed crazy and ominous to me. (And quite different from when I first became a GWWC member in 2012, where it was all just "give to good charities, be humble epistemically"; which to be clear was compatible with taking weird ideas seriously and I think people were doing that; I recall long conversations about Pascal's Wager, people already talking about AI risk etc.). 

Trying to steer opinion in this way also just seems very manipulative to me. (I probably have unusually strong feelings about this because I'm autistic, but I think the autistic attitude is just better on average here.) In line with Will talking internally about "controlling the narrative" around EA and FTX Some people will probably just shrug and say this is just PR, and I get that there is massive hindsight bias here, but reading this made me genuinely cringe. 

Unendorsed as I trust Jason on this far more than my own judgment, since he's an actual lawyer.

I strongly suspect Will is trying to avoid being sued.

Even from a purely selfish point of view, explicitly apologising and saying "sorry I made a mistake in not trusting the people who told me Sam behaved badly at Alameda", since it would actually help restore his reputation a bit.

EDIT: Actually the bit about Beckstead here is wrong, I'd misremembered the exact nature of the suit. See Jason's comment below. But Nick Beckstead has already been sued (unsuccessfully) on the grounds that he in some sense endorsed SBF whilst he "should have known" that he was a fraud. And this was on grounds far weaker than "people who worked Sam told him he was unethical and lies to clients." Being sued is not nice, even if you eventually win. Every time FTX has come up on the forum, EAs with legal experience have said "people and orgs probably can't say much without risking legal exposure". Seems plausible to me that is right.

Unfortunately this means we'll likely never have a full accounting of who did what when.

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I meant something in between "is" and "has a non-zero chance of being", like assigning significant probability to it (obviously I didn't have an exact number in mind), and not just for base rate reasons about believing all rich people to be dodgy. 

I feel like "people who worked with Sam told people about specific instances of quite serious dishonesty they had personally observed" is being classed as "rumour" here, which whilst not strictly inaccurate, is misleading, because it is a very atypical case relative to the image the word "rumour" conjures. Also, even if people only did receive stuff that was more centrally rumour, I feel like we still want to know if any one in leadership argued "oh, yeah, Sam might well be dodgy, but the expected value of publicly backing him is high because of the upside". That's a signal someone is a bad leader in my view, which is useful knowledge going forward. (I'm not saying it is instant proof they should never hold leadership positions ever again: I think quite a lot of people might have said something like that in similar circumstances. But it is a bad sign.) 

(Well not quite, Wiki edit out "or our culture" as an alternative to "form of government").

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