Kevin Lacker

191Joined May 2022

Comments
32

  1. Don't rush to judgment. We don't know the full story yet.
  2. If it's fraud, give back whatever money can be given back.
  3. If it's fraud, make it clear that the EA community does not support a philosophy of "making money on criminal activity is okay if you donate it to an effective charity".

I don't know how the criminal law works. But if it turns out that the money in the FTX Future Fund was obtained fraudulently, would it be ethical to keep spending it, rather than giving it back to the victims of the fraud?

Banning slaughterhouses is essentially a ban on eating meat, right? I can't imagine that 43% of the US public would support that, when no more than 10% of the US public is vegetarian in the first place. (Estimates vary, you say 1% in this article, and 10% is the most aggressive one I could find.)

It seems much more likely that these surveys are invalid for some reason. Perhaps the word "slaughterhouses" confused people, or perhaps people are just answering surveys based on emotion without bothering to think through what banning slaughterhouses actually means.

This explanation of events seems to contradict several of SBF's public statements, such as:

"FTX has enough to cover all client holdings."

"We don't invest client assets (even in treasuries)."

source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/ftx-founder-sam-bankman-fried-removes-assets-are-fine-flood-from-twitter

I guess we'll know more for sure in the coming days. One big open question for EA is whether SBF's money was obtained through fraudulent or illegal activities. As far as I can tell, it is too soon to tell.

In the last few hours, Coindesk reported that Binance is "strongly leading towards" not doing the FTX acquisition.

https://www.coindesk.com/business/2022/11/09/binance-is-strongly-leaning-toward-scrapping-ftx-rescue-takeover-after-first-glance-at-books-source/

I believe the title of this article is misleading - FTX.com was not technically bought out by Binance. Binance signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy FTX.com. Sometimes this is just a minor detail, but in this case it seems quite important. As of the time I am writing this comment (9 a.m. California time on November 9) Polymarket shows an 81% chance that Binance will pull out of this deal.

https://polymarket.com/market/will-binance-pull-out-of-their-ftx-deal

I am not an expert in crypto, but I think people should not assume that this acquisition will go through. It is possible that FTX will just become insolvent. See the relevant Polymarket:

https://polymarket.com/market/will-ftx-become-insolvent-by-eoy

The point about corruption is a good one and it worries me that so many EA cause areas seem to ignore corruption. When you send money to well funded NGOs in corrupt countries, you are also supporting the status quo political leadership there, and the side effects from this seem like they could be more impactful than the stated work of the NGO.

When you say “working with African leaders”, I worry that in many countries that means “paying bribes which prop up dictatorships and fund war.” How can we measure the extent to which money sent to NGOs in sub Saharan Africa is redirected toward harmful causes via taxes, bribes, or corruption ?

I’d like to push back a bit on that - it’s so common in the EA world to say, if you don’t believe in malaria nets, you must have an emotional problem. But there are many rational critiques of malaria nets. Malaria nets should not be this symbol where believing in them is a core part of the EA faith.

I think we should move away from messaging like “Action X only saves 100 lives. Spending money on malaria nets instead would save 10000 lives. Therefore action X sucks.” Not everyone trusts the GiveWell numbers, and it really is valuable to save 100 lives in any absolute way you look at it.

I understand why doctors might come to EA with a bad first impression given the anti-doctor sentiment. But we need doctors! We need doctors to help develop high-impact medical interventions, design new vaccines, work on anti-pandemic plans, and so many other things. We should have an answer for doctors who are asking, what is the most good I can do with my work, that is not merely asking them to donate money.

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