Pranay K

167 karmaJoined Dec 2020


Pranay K

Hi Michael,

Thank you for the clarification!

But it seems to me that in every instance that I've seen there has either been a good explanation or the failing has been at worst a) bad decisions made for good reasons, b) lapses in personal judgement, or c) genuine disagreements about which actions are worth doing.

I think you make a good point that many things are (a) or (b), which are relatively fine. And I believe (and maybe we agree) that EAs should still verify these things in sketchy looking situations (including the purchase of Wyntham Abbey). 

But in the case of "c) genuine disagreements about which actions are worth doing", it's possible we disagree. I feel like definitionally this means we don't believe other EAs are behaving well or representing our movement. In other words, "genuine disagreement about which actions are worth doing" sometimes is good cause to trust other people less.

I think you have valid reason to "distrust" EAs if you strongly disagree with the reasoning for  the purchase of Wytham Abbey or for investing a lot in community building or for promoting longtermism. I strongly disagree with flat-earthers, and I would not "trust" a community based on evidence/reasoning  that has a lot of flat-earthers.

I think at the end of the day, this discussion depends on your definition of "trust". It probably comes down to vibes. And it sounds like you're saying "even if you strongly disagree with someone, keep the positive vibes", and what I'm saying is, "sometimes it's okay to have negative vibes when you strongly disagree with someone."

Pranay K

Hi Michael,

I appreciate the post, particularly because I have been slowly updating towards the low-trust side of things. I have a few points I'd like to raise.

  1. I think that an important update is that "EA leadership" is fallible and I think more people (especially new and/or younger EAs) should not (entirely) defer. You may not think "not deferring to EA leadership" does not count as "trusting EA less", but I do. For me, in the past, highly trusting EA leadership has meant largely trusting their cause and career prioritization without digging too much into it.
  2. I think that not trusting EA leadership/not deferring to EA leadership is especially true on career choice. 80k seems to add new carer paths to its list of recommended career paths every few months (I don't have a source - this is just based on my subjective observations). This doesn't discount them entirely, but it does mean that even if 80k doesn't currently  recommend a career path, it may be very impactful for an individual to pursue that path (especially if they're well suited for that path and have good reasons to think it may be impactful).
  3. Besides not deferring to EA leadership, there are certain things many EAs do because of (what I would label as) high trust in other EAs that I think we should probably do less of. I think this includes:
    1. Romantic/sexual relationships in certain cases. This includes boss/employee, funders/fundees, and probably other cases.
    2. Limited accountability into whether grantees used their money effectively.
    3. Limited investigation into whether community building efforts are effective. 
    4. Not stating that certain grantees (including individuals or organizations) should not receive additional funding. (As in, I think we should increasingly publicly "name names" and state that certain people/orgs are being ineffective.)
      1. I feel like this fundamentally requires less trust than what the EA community currently has and will also, ultimately, reduce trust a little. But I think it's necessary.

If your point is that we shouldn't defer to people's opinions without fully understanding their arguments and we should verify people are doing good/effective work but we should believe they're acting in good faith... I think I maybe agree? I'm still not sure though what "believing people are acting in good faith" does and doesn't include. 

Pranay K

Hey Jeroen! I personally would love to see the argument for your idea that CEA should publicly defend expenses over $500k. 

I can imagine that the disagree votes can be pretty encouraging, but consider the 'overall karma' was positive, I think people (including myself) would be interested in seeing your reasoning - even if they (initially) disagree. 

When I read your initial comment, my thoughts were "Yes! Wait, actually no. Maybe? What would be the difficulties?". So I'd love to see a post elaborating on the ideas you've already thought up. 

Pranay K

What systems/solutions currently exist for "dealing with" misconduct, harassment, or assault  after it happens? 

What systems should exist? 

  • I feel some hesitation about solutions that involves handing the power to blacklist or "punish" people to one agency.
  • But it's really hard for individuals to publicly post about other people's problematic behavior. 
    • A friend of mine  in the EA community told me they had been sexually harassed and stalked by another EA member and were considering posting on social media about it. I encouraged them to post do so. They were scared of potential backlash so they didn't.
    • But I didn't post about it at all. It feels inappropriate for me to do so on someone else's behalf, especially since I'm not particularly wrapped up in Y's life. 
  • I wonder if scandal markets could potentially be useful (as Scott Alexander recently discussed in a recent thread), or something else inspired by scandal markets. 
    • I think it's plausible that we could use scandal markets on high-profile people in the EA community. 
    • Scott writes, and I pretty strongly agree: 
      "I’m tired of bad things happening, and then learning there was a “whisper network” of people who knew about it all along but didn’t tell potential victims. It’s unreasonable to expect suspicious to come out and make controversial accusations about powerful people on limited evidence. But a prediction market seems like a good fit for this use case."
    • But the majority of the people who do/will do/have done problematic things are unlikely high-profile enough to have a scandal market made about them. 

It seems plausible to me that a well-designed system would be able to effectively deal with the kinds of issues the OP talks about and things like financial misconduct.

But I feel like there are a few challenges: 

  • I can't think of any community that effectively deals with misconduct that isn't also authoritarian-esque (the CCP comes to mind). (That being said, please comment what other communities or systems exist that effectively deal with misconduct). 
  • And a well designed system should reflect that different problematic actions require different responses. 
    • I think this points to the weakness of a centralized system: most people agree that things like rape should lead to removal from the community. But a lot of things are debateable (like making a ranked list of women someone wants to hook up with), and if CEA or whomever implemented some response as "the authority", it would almost certainly be opposed by some for being too lenient and by some for being too harsh. 
    • It almost feels like making public knowledge of these kinds of things is the right thing to do, because then people will react accordingly.
    • But simply saying "we're going to publicize every distasteful things others do so so that people can decide for themselves how they should respond" feels bad for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it would erode trust between members if people felt like they might be publicly outed for small infractions. 
Pranay K

Hi NunoSempre, grants given before when are the result of fraud? And is this an argument for or against OP's argument?

Hi OP, 

Welcome to the EA Forum! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and using this forum to engage with the EA community. 

I'll use my own number system separate from yours so it doesn't get too confusing if you want to respond.

1. To summarize my personal thoughts, it's plausible that people should return unspent money (I'm mostly unsure but lean towards disagree). But if what you're saying is that people should return FTX Future Fund money that they've spent (and therefore go into personal debt), I disagree. 

2. Regarding your #5, could you give examples of people giving "zero empathy for the individuals who put money/crypto on the FTX exchange and then were criminally defrauded by FTX"? And could you give examples of "Those people do not seem to count to the EA community"? I feel like most posts I've read about this have mentioned people feeling terrible about the effects on innocent people who lost money to FTX. I agree that the harm suffered by them is far greater than any harm to the EA community.

 For some examples off the top of my head, there's the Future Fund team's post ("Our hearts go out to the thousands of FTX customers whose finances may have been jeopardized or destroyed."),   Michel's post  ("people's lives got ruined..."), Will's post ("... that may cost many thousands of people their savings..."), evhub's post ("People's life savings and careers..."), Rob Wiblin's post ("Most importantly FTX's depositors... may lose savings they and their families were relying on..."), and Rethink Priorities' Leadership Statement ("many customers are unable to retrieve funds held by FTX"). 

3. It would help if you could spell out your exact logic here. The next few questions are sub-questions/specifics I fail to understand. Feel free to answer them specifically or just spell out your logic cohesively if you think that would answer all my questions.

3a. I (and every EA I'm aware of) agree that depositors in FTX who've lost their money are victims here. If FTX Future Fund recipients paid back all their money (including spent money), most would be in financial problems and be victims as well. What good would that do? And why should the recipients pay back the money and not the organizations that they paid their money to? 

3a. How does this apply to money that had been spent before the FTX news came out? Many individuals or organizations would need to pay back thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars that they don't have. FTX grantees who would face financial ruin as a result would also be victims here. 

3c. Would you then agree that all organizations and celebrities that were paid by FTX should pay back whatever money they got? Including sponsorships like the Miami Heat,  TSM (the e-sports team), and Stephen Curry? And the electrical company and janitors in the Bahamas paid by FTX? And other employees of FTX (uninvolved and unaware of the scandal) who received a salary?

3d. If your answer to 3c is that some parties shouldn't have to pay back money, then why?  I really encourage you to think about why this should apply to the people and organizations who used or are using the money they received to fund charitable causes. Why is the financial burden on them?

3e. Is your logic affected by how the amount of money FTX grantees received compares to the amount of money owed to depositors? By my best findings, it seems like over $8 billion is owed back (New York Times, "The run on FTX..."), and the FTX Foundation gave away $140 million (New York Times, "as recently as last month..."). $140 mil divided by $8 bil is just under 2%. If all that $140 million is given back, then 98% of money owed will be remaining. The vast majority of depositors will still be financial affected, and now suddenly hundreds (if not more) of recipients  of FTX Foundation grants will be financially affected.

Thank you!

Lorenzo, Is your comment about Emre Kaplan's comment or Daedalus? 

If Emre Kaplan, I figure it's okay if there are very very few such "strong emotions, low 'substance'" type comments, which I believe is the case.

If Daedalus, I maybe agree.  But is "True" that much different from comments that are like "+1" and then just a couple words of justification*? (A potential answer is "yes, because comments that are like '+1 and then a couple words of justification' are meaningfully harder to replicate/spam than "True" and less likely to slowly erode discussion norms.")

*Edit: it appears I do have one comment I've made myself that's just "+1" without any further justification haha. So maybe if "True" is not good, then maybe clearer discussion norms are required. I did a skim of (what I believe are) the Forum discussion norms and it does not appear to me that comments like "True" or "+1" are addressed by anything in the "Strong discussion norms" or "Softer discussion norms and tips" sections. 

Pranay K

Hi Miguel, I broadly agree with AbigailT's comment. Could you expand why you think this is a bad thing? From my perspective, it just seems like he put 2 people in touch, and that Elon's purchase of Twitter was not immoral. 

By the way, sorry you got downvoted so much. I suspect it's because your comment was (1) strong/accusatory, (2) didn't have justification, (3) and not obviously true. 

Thank you for writing this post. The discussion and critiques brought up are important and valuable, and I just want to say that I'm grateful you put this out there, since I've been very worried about the same things. 

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