Kerry_Vaughan

1169Joined Sep 2014

Comments
201

My read is that Bostrom had reason to believe that the email would come out either way, and then he elected to get out in front of the probable blowback.

As evidence, here is Émile Torres indicating that they were planning to write something about the email.

That said, it's not entirely clear whether Bostrom knew the email specifically was going to be written about or knew that someone was poking around in the extropian mailing list and then guessed that the email would come out as a result. 

In any case, I think it's unlikely that he posted his apology for the email unprovoked. 

There's nothing formally organized that I am aware of.

I think CEA has been relatively clear over the past few years that it is not the leader of the EA community. My impression is that they see themselves as downstream of the community's intellectual leaders and the will of the community, broadly construed.

The claim on Twitter is different.

Can you clarify what you think is unfair? Happy to issue a correction.

https://twitter.com/KerryLVaughan/status/1591508739236188160?t=qL-dGKXar3b7EQ4EHs597Q&s=19

Edit: if anyone else wants to take a stab at explaining why the Twitter thread is unfair given this thread feel free. Would want to issue a correction sooner rather than later.

Will:

One item that should be a part of your reflections in the days and months to come is whether you are fit to be the public face of the effective altruism movement, given your knowledge of Sam's unethical behavior in the past, ties to him going back to 2013, and your history of vouching for Ben Delo, another disgraced crypto billionaire.

The EA community has many excellent people - including many highly capable women - who are uninvolved in this scandal and could step up to serve in this capacity.

I have recently spoken to someone involved who told me that SBF was not just cavalier, but unethical and violated commonsense ethical norms.

Are you in a position to be more specific about what SBF did that this is referring to?

I consider this credible.

It suggests that my categorization of "EA leadership" was probably too broad and that fewer people knew the details of the situation than I believed.

That means there is a question of how many people knew. I am confident that Nick Beckstead and Will MacAskill knew about the broken agreement and other problems at Alameda. I am confident they are not the only ones that knew.

He's now the program manager at a known cult that the EA movement has actively distanced itself from.


If you'd like to investigate whether Leverage was a cult, there are now several additional sources of information available.

 One source is Cathleen's post which is detailed, extensive, and written directly by a former employee. A board member conducted their own investigation into what Leverage could have done better between 2012 and 2019 by conducting interviews with former members of Leverage staff. 

You can also view Leverage's website to learn more about what we've been working on post-2019. The fact that I work at Leverage is best explained by my having a very different view of the organization's history and current work than you do.   

In any case, I don't see why disagreements about the value of Leverage's current or past work have anything to do with the specific claims I've made about what happened at Alameda in 2018.  

I want to clarify the claims I'm making in the Twitter thread.

I am not claiming that EA leadership or members of the FTX Future fund knew Sam was engaging in fraudulent behavior while they were working at FTX Future Fund.

Instead, I am saying that friends of mine in the EA community worked at Alameda Research during the first 6 months of its existence. At the end of that period, many of them suddenly left all at once. In talking about this with people involved, my impression is:

1) The majority of staff at Alameda were unhappy with Sam's leadership of the company. Their concerns about Sam included concerns about him taking extreme and unnecessary risks and losing large amounts of money,  poor safeguards around moving money around, poor capital controls, including a lack of distinction between money owned by investors and money owned by Alameda itself, and Sam generally being extremely difficult to work with.

2) The legal ownership structure of Alameda did not reflect the ownership structure that had been agreed to by the parties involved.  In particular, Sam registered Alameda under his sole ownership and not as jointly owned by him and his cofounders. This was not thought to be a problem because everyone trusted each other as EAs.

3) Eventually, the conflict got serious enough that a large cohort of people decided to quit all at once. Sam refused to honor the agreed ownership structure of Alameda and used his legal ownership to screw people out of their rightful ownership stake in Alameda Research.

4) Several high-ranking and well-respected members of the EA community with more familiarity with the situation believed that Sam had behaved unethically in his handling of the situation. I heard this from multiple sources personally.

5) I believe the basic information above circulated widely among EA leadership and was known to some members of FTX Future Fund.

A person who did work at Alameda during this period described Sam's behavior as follows:

ruthless, immoral backstabbing, and exploitation of EA’s willingness to always play cooperate. it was also extreme risk-taking (including totally unnecessary EV- risks), and a cavalier disregard for any of the standard legal structures or safeguards around managing money. current events are entirely unsurprising and follow from the exact same pattern of behaviour.

Additionally, Jeffrey Ladish has a Twitter thread that further suggests that concerns about Sam's business practices were somewhat widespread.

Information about pre-2018 Alameda is difficult to obtain because the majority of those directly involved signed NDAs before their departure in exchange for severance payments. I am aware of only one employee who did not. The other people who can spreak freely on the topic are early investors in Alameda and members of the EA community who heard about Alameda from those directly involved before they signed their NDAs.

I want to add that I am reasonably afraid that my discussing this will make me some powerful enemies in the EA community. I didn't raise this issue sooner because of this concern. If anyone else wants to step up and reveal their information or otherwise help agitate strongly to ensure all the information about this situation comes to light, that would be most appreciated. 

I think this is really important.

It's worth noting that in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, victims were compensated largely by clawing back money previously withdrawn by people with no knowledge that Madoff was operating a Ponzi.

Hopefully, someone with more legal knowledge about this situation can comment, but given that fact, I wouldn't consider clawbacks out of the question.

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