Michael Simm

Executive Director @ The Logical Foundation
44 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)Arizona, USA



Michael Simm is a disruptive systems expert and nonprofit founder focused on fighting homelessness and poverty. He earned his Bachelors in Political Science and Minor in Innovation in Society from ASU’s honors college in under two years. During his time at ASU, he published a peer-reviewed paper about how a Universal Basic Income would brighten the future of our economy and society. Having come to the undeniable conclusion that guaranteed income is the most effective way to fight poverty, he envisioned a nonprofit that could unleash the massive anti-poverty potential of guaranteed income.

In addition, he is a generalist in understanding disruptive policy, technologies, and their implications for the future. He knows a medium amount about most topics in the realms of politics, and finance, and a great deal about renewables, guaranteed income, and complex system analysis.

How others can help me

I am looking for funders for my nonprofit as well as a co-founder with experience in fundraising. 

I invite anyone who thinks they can help me (through volunteerism or philanthropy) to reach out!

How I can help others

Reach out if you have questions about guaranteed income and how it will transform our society and economy.

I also can provide insight into other disruptive technologies such as autonomous technology, EVs & clean energy, reusable rocketry, and other topics of technologically enabled disruption.


Thanks for reading this 30-minute thing. I first wanted to make a short 5-minute read but I realized that many of you would probably really want all of the evidence laid out clearly, and our plan explained in excruciating detail. - so you can point out the super obvious reason why this has a 0% chance of success, that I've completely overlooked  -  despite my search for fundamental issues since I came up with the idea, and asking all of the experts I can find

The EA community is probably the most knowledgeable community in the world about helping people. Considering the world-changing impact potential I've outlined, even a 1% chance of success would justify spending millions to make this happen. Unless of course, someone can find a problem.

Please find a fundamental, first-principles problem with my plan, and, if you can't, please help us succeed. My challenge for you: Find an insurmountable problem, or help us change the world.

  I think our odds are more like 40% without support from EA organizations and as high as 75% with your support. The faster we can grow (but not too fast), the faster we may be able to end poverty. Time is very much of the essence.

Given the rapid changes to the word that we're expecting to happen in the next few decades, how important do you feel that it is to spend money sooner rather than later?

Do you think there is a possibility of money becoming obsolete, which would make spending it now make much more sense than sitting on it and not being able to use it?

This could apply to money in general, with AI concerns, or any particular currency or of store value.

This was incredibly powerful, thank you so much for writing this. It made me tear up and that doesn't happen very often.

While I think there are other ways to donate that could ultimately save & improve lives more cost-effectively than GiveWells' top charities, the act of giving to help people should be a valued part of any person's life.

Wishing you & all of the people working to proliferate giving pledges the best.

Thanks Jacob, I definitely appreciate your input too as I am no expert on the production of cellular meat or precision fermentation. I'm generally interested in reducing costs of living & reducing suffering.

That said here are my thoughts on what you said.

I entirely agree that their predictions in this space in the near term have proven inaccurate on the market. However the $2 figure might not be referring to sales costs, but the cost of production in a large state of the art factory.

Basically if an optimized factory was built with the best 2023 technology, could they get the cost of production below $2/Kg?

We're in complete agreement about their 2023 timeline predictions, they were overly optimistic. What's important though is if the overall cost curve over the next decade is going to take the shape they've predicted (exponential declines versus linear or logarithmic).

With input costs, cows & chickens are inefficient machines that require massive amounts of (water especially) input materials, land area, and maintenance. I agree the feed & fuel costs for animals could in theory be reduced by an order of magnitude, but animals will always be inefficient.

Importantly, if PF & cell based meats take market share from the most affordable meats first (ground beef & whatever chicken nuggets are made of), the animal meat sellers will encounter a negative feedback loop as they loose economies of scale and margins reduce.

By disruptions, I mean any system that is 5X or more better at doing something than the incumbent system.

You're right that PF Meats are not - yet - a disruptive technology, I should have worded it better, but I the costs are declining by a consistent percentage each year. If the cost keeps declining exponentially according to Wrights Law, these predictions will come to pass.

At the end of the day, how much room for improvement is there in R&D and mass manufacturing in this space?

How much extra room can be created by AI enabled advancement, protein folding, robotics advancement, and rapidly lowering energy acquisition costs?

Thanks for the insight, I'm no expert on this topic so I've been going off conversations with friends in the space, RethinkX, and I take a first principles approach to solving problems.

I read the study and the conclusion seems to say the top problems are metabolic efficiency enhancements and the development of low-cost media from plant hydrolysates. But there are a lot of other engineering problems.

However I didn't see any fundamental problems (physics based) that would force a floor on how good it can get. There were and are plenty of engineering problems with making batteries & solar cheaper as well (and AI better).

I also took at look at the forecasting articles, and they all seem to revolve around explicitly looking at cell based meat predictions and the bad predictions made by startups in the space.

It might be much better to forecast based on the historical price declines of precision fermentation per kg over the last several decades which this covers: https://rethinkdisruption.com/the-roadmap-to-disruption/

"from what I recall I didn't find it especially compelling. Are there any particular attributes or analyses that stood out to you, besides the reputation of its publisher?"

I read the entire report a few years ago, and I found it quite compelling. I've studied the s-curve adoption of many technologies and I've found the 'Seba Disruption Framework" to be very reliable. It's not just their reputation, I've personally seen their predictions in other spaces be far more accurate than other prediction organizations.

I'm interested to know what you found particularly uncompelling about the report?

Let's talk raw materials. The vast majority of the elemental components of meat can be sourced directly from the air using electricity. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Some minerals and other elements (Sulphur Iron, Zinc, Selenium) would need to be sourced, which would entail transportation to a factory for processing. I asked GPT4 to calculate the cost of the needed mined materials for one lb of steak.

Sulphur: Typically found at about 0.3% in meat. Average cost: $65 per ton. Cost in one pound of steak: 0.003 * 1/2000 * $65 ≈ $0.0000975

Iron: Around 0.007% in meat. Average cost: $120 per ton. Cost in one pound of steak: 0.00007 * 1/2000 * $120 ≈ $0.000042

Zinc: Around 0.0035% in meat. Average cost: $2,500 per ton. Cost in one pound of steak: 0.000035 * 1/2000 * $2,500 ≈ $0.04375

Selenium: Extremely trace amounts, around 0.000035% in meat. Average cost: $65 per pound (Selenium is often priced per pound due to its rarity). Cost in one pound of steak: 0.00000035 * $65 ≈ $0.00002275

Adding these up, the total elemental cost of Sulphur, Iron, Zinc, and Selenium in one pound of steak would be approximately $0.044.

Each pound of meat needs ~4.4¢ of mined material. Every other cost is in the production process.

They did similar calculations for the cost of lithium ion batteries, which were over 100X more expensive decades ago and are now approaching the material cost.

I agree this stuff doesn't ensure public acceptance, but I've never seen public acceptance not change in the past with other disruptions. Most people in the original PTC studies put price as their #1 issue, and that's the same answer I've gotten from anecdotal conversations (including conservatives). There's also a page or two in the report that addresses public acceptance.

Also if this takes most of the meat demand, economics of scale dictate that animal meat costs will rise, further accelerating the S-curve disruption.

The time horizon they've predicted is cheaper than conventional meat by 2030, and ~80% cheaper by 2035.

I agree that the PTC hypothesis is generally unsupported by the data available, however I also think this report may be missing the forest for the trees.

My primary issue is that I can't see how this report or any of this proposed research could meaningfully accelerate the transition away from factory farming and greenhouse gas intensive meat production.

This research deals with understanding whether people would purchase alternative meat if it tasted the same and costed the same as regular meat. However neither of these things are going to be true for longer than 1-2 years because of the cost curve of alternative meats and the technologies involved.

Many of the following points I'm making are based on research by RethinkX, an extremely reputable research organization in the space of disruptive technologies:

Source: https://www.rethinkx.com/food-and-agriculture

Enter precision fermentation, the technology behind cellular meat production. This technology, like most disruptive technologies such as solar and batteries, followed a Wrights Law cost curve.

"For every cumulative doubling of units produced, costs fall by a constant percentage."

The current costs of precision fermentation are decreasing by about 20% annually and there are no fundamental physics reasons why this would stop anytime soon. The limit to the affordability of lab (or at that point optimized factories full of vats) produced meat is the cost of acquiring energy and the fixed costs of factory infrastructure.

Why should we care about the PTC Hypothesis, people's preferences for meet alternatives with similar metrics to legacy meat, when the most likely future is one in which alternative meat has the following attributes:

• At least 80% cheaper

• At least as tasty as the best meat today

• Consistently the same quality, every time

• At least as healthy, likely far healthier

• At least 100X less contamination issues.

• A longer shelf life

If the above predictions are accurate, shouldn't our priority be to accelerate the production of lab grown meat by funding factories, research, etc...?

Why does the PTC Hypothesis matter?

Note that these estimates I've put out are sourced primarily from RethinkX and Tony Seba, who accurately predicted the solar price declines, rechargeable battery cost declines, and electric vehicle cost declines of the last two decades.

Read this for a highly in-depth report on all of this:


I consider them to be a highly reliable source which we should take very seriously - however I'm interested to hear any insights from people who are more directly experienced in this space.

Do you think these predictions are directionally correct?

Hold up. That $1T number originated from this peer-reviewed study that I cited. I'd be happy to see your strong evidence that the $1T number is overblown, or perhaps even off by 10X. The goal here is to be less wrong.

But this is the EA forum, my friend. You can't just claim something's "a fake, made-up number" without any evidence. Especially when that source is a peer-reviewed academic study.

ignoring the huge genetic confounding that accounts for a very substantial part of the correlation between child poverty experience and worse adult outcomes. 

If anything, this seems to me like an extremely dubious claim. The idea that 'genetic confounding' has anything to do with why impoverished childhood experiences lead to worse adult outcomes absolutely needs a strong RTC Study cited. Actually, it would need several gold-standard studies and a meta-review.

At first glance, 'genetic confounding' (especially in the context of poverty) also seems like a slippery slope to the idea that poor people are poor because there is something wrong with them, ignoring the multitude of ways the cards are stacked against them.

However, I'd really like to give you the benefit of the doubt. What were you trying to get at?

Cite your sources, this isn't Twitter.

  • Approach disagreements with curiosity

It is true that the 'poverty line' is an arbitrary number that doesn't necessarily equate to life experience not being 'in poverty' if you're above it. It is also true that UBI puts every person, universally, over a certain amount of income. If you define poverty as people living under the poverty line, then a UBI reaching the poverty line would abolish poverty by definition.

Regarding the welfare system, almost everybody is in favor of dramatically reforming the welfare system because a lot of it right now is actually harmful to people. The one program most people approve of, social security, already functions (sort of) as a UBI for the elderly. 

I struggle to see who, after looking at the numbers, would be against spending <10% of America's budget ($539B) on a UBI that would pay for itself several times over & make it so the government can delete a ton of less effective welfare programs. Do you know that child poverty alone (only one small part  of the damage of poverty) costs over $1.03 Trillion annually?

I think the idea that UBI would 'massively increase taxes' could do with some solid numbers. Taxes would increase moderately, but it's not nearly as high as you think:

Research by Karl Widerquist of Georgetown University shows that it would cost only $539 Billion, less than 3 percent of the U.S. GDP, to permanently end poverty with Universal Basic Income. Widerquist says the $539 billion per year is 2.95 percent of America’s GDP & about one-sixth of the cost of commonly circulated estimates, and that this amount is less than 25 percent of current entitlement programs.

Widerquist’s research used U.S. Census Bureau data for 2015 to examine an estimated poverty-level UBI of $12,000 per adult and $6,000 per child. It also found that some 43.1 million people (including 14.5 million children) would benefit from this increased income, reducing the poverty rate from 13.5 percent of the population to zero.

The additional $539 Billion would account for less than 10% of the U.S. federal budget, even though proponents think it would be far more positively impactful than... well... pretty much everything else the government does put together. Creating a stable foundation for society is the function of government.

What I have in mind would be a refundable tax credit, which also applies for people who do not pay excess amounts in income taxes. (i.e., it would be like receiving a $X check if you have not paid any taxes)

I think this is the same idea as a Negative Income Tax. As mentioned before UBI and NIT are functionally identical and only differ in accounting terms.

I want to make it clear I'm not attempting to stretch the definition of UBI to include NIT. A Universal Basic Income is a very different mechanism from a Negative Income Tax, my point is that both policies achieve the game-changing impact of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG).

UBI is a government policy that distributes funds to all people equally

My point here is that the government distributes those funds equally, establishes that baseline of economic stability, and that does not include how it's being paid for. GiveDirectly is running a UBI experiment where every person in Maryland Liberia will receive UBI for 3 years. The UBI is not being paid for by taxes, but by philanthropy & international aid money. Whether something is UBI or not depends on the disbursement mechanism, not on the means of funding.

From what I've seen it's incredibly likely (logical economically) that direct cash transfers - or funding guaranteed income - is the most cost-effective way to help almost all people in need philanthropically. If we can prove this claim with rigorous RTC trials, it could substantially blur the lines between paying taxes dedicated for UBI & spending money on high-impact philanthropy.

Wouldn't a rich person or organization in Maryland Liberia also want to support GiveDirectly's UBI program?

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