Devon Fritz

79710967 Berlin, GermanyJoined Apr 2017


Co-Founder of High Impact Professionals. We enable working professionals to maximize their positive impact by supporting them in donating their time, skills and resources effectively.

Ex-CTO and MD of Germany for Founders Pledge. Big on promoting Effective Giving.

Originally from New York, living in Berlin.


Very excited for you to take on this project as you already know Fernando!

Excited to see another impactful set of charities get founded!

I agree that is the other way out of the puzzle. I wonder whom to even trust if everyone is susceptible to this problem...

Yeah I suppose we just disagree then. I think such a big error and hit to the community should downgrade any rational person's belief in the output of what EA has to offer and also downgrade the trust they are getting it right.  

Another side point: Many EAs like Cowen and think he is right most of the time. I think it is suspicious that when Cowen says something about EA that is negative he is labeled stuff like "daft".

The difference in that example is that Scholtz is one person so the analogy doesn't hold. EA is a movement comprised of many, many people with different strengths, roles, motives, etc and CERTAINLY there are some people in the movement whose job it was (or at a minimum there are some people who thought long and hard) to mitigate PR/longterm risks to the movement. 

I picture the criticism more like EA being a pyramid set in the ground, but upside down. At the top of the upside-down pyramid, where things are wide, there are people working to ensure the longterm future goes well on the object level, and perhaps would include Scholtz in your example. 

At the bottom of the pyramid things come to a point, and that represents people on the lookout for x-risks to the endeavour itself, which is so small that it turned out to be the reason why things toppled, at least with respect to FTX. And that was indeed a problem. It says nothing about the value of doing x-risk work.

I think that is a charitable interpretation of Cowen's statement: "Hardly anyone associated with Future Fund saw the existential risk to…Future Fund, even though they were as close to it as one could possibly be."

I think charitably, he isn't saying that any given x-risk researcher should have seen an x-risk to the FTX project coming. Do you?

I agree with most of your points, but strongly disagree with number 1 and surprised to have heard over time that so many people thought this point was daft.

I don't disagree that "existential risk" is being employed in a very different sense, so we agree there, in the two instances, but the broader point, which I think is valid, is this:

There is a certain hubris in claiming you are going to "build a flourishing future" and "support ambitious projects to improve humanity's long-term prospects" (as the FFF did on its website) only to not exist 6 months later and for reasons of fraud to boot. 

Of course, the people who sank untold hours into existential risk research aren't to blame, and it isn't an argument against x-risk/longtermist work, but it does show that EA, as a community missed something dire and critical and importantly something that couldn't be closer to home for the community.  And in my opinion that does shed light on how successful one should expect the longer term endeavours of the community to be.

I am having a hard time here and speckled throughout the rest of this post with people writing that we are doing the "good thing" and we should do that and not just what looks good with the "good thing" in question being buying a castle and not say, caring about wild animal suffering. 

I am for more debate, but don't like this suggestion due to specific names, like Timnit, who just seems so hostile I can't imagine a fruitful conversation. 

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