Neel Nanda

3573 karmaJoined Nov 2019neelnanda.io



I lead the DeepMind mechanistic interpretability team


I also think orgs generally should have donor diversity and more independence, so giving more funding to the orgs that OP funds is sometimes good.

I'd be curious to hear more about this - naively, if I'm funding an org, and then OpenPhil stops funding that org, that's a fairly strong signal to me that I should also stop funding it, knowing nothing more. (since it implies OpenPhil put in enough effort to evaluate the org, and decided to deviate from the path of least resistance)

Agreed re funding things without a track record, that seems clearly good for small donors to do, eg funding people to do independent research or start a small new research group, if you believe they're promising

Yeah, that intermediate world sounds great to me! (though a lot of effort, alas)

Ah, gotcha. If I understand correctly you're arguing for more of a "wisdom of the crowds" analogy? Many donors is better than a few donors.

If so, I agree with that, but think the major disanalogy is that the big donors are professionals, with more time experience and context, while small donors are not - big donors are more like hedge funds, small donors are more like retail investors in the efficient market analogy

I disagree, because you can't short a charity, so there's no way for overhyped charity "prices" to go down

Thanks for writing this up! One problem with this proposal that I didn't see flagged (but may have missed) is that if the ETG donors defer to the megadonors you don't actually get a diversified donor base. I earn enough to be a mid-sized donor, but I would be somewhat hesitant about funding an org that I know OpenPhil has passed up on/decided to stop funding, unless I understood the reasons why and felt comfortable disagreeing with them. This is both because of fear of unilateralist curse/downside risks, and because I broadly expect them to have spent more time than me and thought harder about the problem. I think there's a bunch of ways this is bad reasoning, grantmaker time is scarce and they may pass up on a bunch of good grants due to lack of time/information/noise, but it would definitely give me pause.

If I were giving specifically within technical AI Safety (my area of expertise), I'd feel this less strongly, but still feel it a bit, and I imagine most mid-sized donors wouldn't have expertise in any EA cause area.

I upvoted this comment, since I think it's a correct critique of poor quality studies and adds important context, but I also wanted to flag that I also broadly think Athena is a worthwhile initiative and I'm glad it's happening! (In line with Lewis' argument below). I think it can create bad vibes for the highest voted comment on a post about promoting diversity to be critical

I'm confused by how this relates to Gemma's post?

Thanks for the post! This seems a useful summary, and I didn't spot anything that contradicted existing information I have (I didn't check very hard, so this isn't strong data)

For what it's worth, I interpreted the original post as Elizabeth calling it a pseudo RCT, and separately saying that commenters cited it, without implying commenters called it a pseudo RCT

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