539Joined Sep 2014


I think this would be a huge improvement in the discourse. Focussing on specific activities or behaviours that we can agree on rather than vaguer terms like "control" would probably help a lot. Examples of arguments in that vein that I would probably like a lot more:

  • "CEA shouldn't have a comms arm"
  • "There should be more organizations running EA conferences"
  • "EA Forum moderators should have more power versus CEA and be user-appointed"
  • "People should not hold positions in more than one funding body"
  • etc.

People in charge of granting $100Ms-$Bs of EA money.

Not laud him as a paragon of virtue in earning-to-give. Not invite him to speak at EA conferences.

The first group of people are not the people who took the latter group of actions.

I'm being picky here, but my point is that people are being very wooly about this idea of "EA Leadership". The FTX Foundation team  and the 80k team are different people, not arms of the amorphous "EA Leadership". So maybe the FTX Foundation team shouldn't have lauded SBF - but they didn't, that was someone else.

This is again where being specific matters. "The FTX Foundation team should have done more due diligence before agreeing to work with SBF" is at least a reasonable, specific, criticism that relates to the specific responsibilities those people might have. "Why did EA Leadership not Do Something?" is not.

I think a significant point of disagreement here is to what degree we see some people as having de facto control or not.

As you've probably realised, my view of the EA community is as broadly lacking in coordination or control, but with a few influential actors. Maybe I'm just wrong, though.

Thanks for this excellent comment. I'm not going to respond more since I'm not sure what I think any more, but I just wanted to clarify one thing.

Also, suggesting that "there are no adults in the room" I think can come across pretty demeaning to all the people who have spent years of their life working on shaping the EA movement.

I'm sorry about that! That wasn't my intention: I was trying to present the idea of the "adults" as hypothetical serious beings in comparison to whom we are like children. I don't mean to imply that the people doing work in EA are not serious or competent, but I do think it's wrong and unfair to think that they are at some ideal level of seriousness or competency (which few if any people can live up to, and shouldn't be expected to without consent and serious vetting).

Yes, I agree that CEA has a responsibility to not abuse the social power that comes from controlling important spaces. I don't agree that they have a general responsibility for membership of the community or something.

people in positions of extreme responsibility

Who are these people? What makes them so responsible? Did they agree to that or did we just kind of decide we want someone to be responsible and they're there? Have we considered that maybe nobody is responsible here?

letting SBF stay in the EA community

Is "not letting someone stay in the EA community" an action that people can take? The most serious such incidents that I know of a) came after multiple documented examples of serious wrongdoing, b) amounted to being banned from the EA Forum and EA conferences (i.e. venues controlled by a specific org, CEA) for a while. SBF didn't post on the EA forum or go to EA conferences. So what, specifically, do you think people should have done?

Someone should have done something, is not IMO a helpful thing to say. I strongly endorse https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/aHPhh6GjHtTBhe7cX/proposals-for-reform-should-come-with-detailed-stories

I don't think de jure leaders for the movement as a whole are possible or desirable, to be clear. Our current model to my mind looks like a highly polycentric community with many robust local groups and organizations. Those organizations often have de jure leaders. But then in the wider community people are simply influential for informal reasons.

I think that's fine (and indeed pretty decentralised!). I'm not sure what specific problems you have with it? Which of the recent problems stemmed from centralized decision-making rather than individuals or organizations making decentralized decisions that you just disagree with?

I'm not especially interested in assigning blame but when you ask the question who could make significant change to the culture or structure of EA I do think the answer falls on the thought leaders, even if they don't have official positions.

I don't agree with this. IMO significant changes to culture or structure in communities rarely come from high-status people and usually come from lots of people in the community. You have the power of persuasive argumentation (which I also think is about as much power as most people have, and quite effective in EA): go forth and argue for what you want!

I think a crucial difference is whether you perceive the activities as offering a service or as taking responsibility for the provision of that service. e.g. I view the CEA community health team as offering "hey, we'd like to help keep the community healthy". In that context it doesn't make that much sense to be annoyed that they haven't solved the problem of "people feeling uncomfortable posting on the forum" - they're out there trying to do some thing useful, they haven't promised to fix everything.

As it happens, I don't think EA is that centralised. But perhaps that's a red herring and the real question is whether people think that some EA orgs or people have responsibility for certain community-wide things.

This post just seems like a snarky way of saying you disagree with their decision, but without offering any actual arguments against.

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