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Great to hear Will's thinking this. Some thoughts

I believe that EA is about

  • discovering problem areas that are underfunded/ignored
  • discovering robust, testable (maybe capital efficient?) solutions to those problem areas
  • allocating capital to these solutions

EA has capital, but the bottleneck is either problem areas that are underfunded and/or robust testable solutions to problem areas.

To me, this sounds a lot like starting a startup. Founders aim to find under-explored areas in which they can build robust solutions. We know this works well for incentivizing innovation.

So my thinking is as follows: rather than attempting to prescribe what people could solve, EA starts giving large cash payouts for demonstrated QALYs saved (near term / long term / recurring). Admittedly this could be a lot of work. However, EA is already doing this in its assessment of charities. The objective would be to use EA capital to provide an upside for startups that demonstrate that they save a considerable number of QALYs. Maybe this creates strange incentives but could be something to explore.