Been reading about cryptocurrencies and block-chain. Cool technologies, but the valuation of current cryptocurrencies seems like a bubble that must crash, and the people who are "investing" in crypto right now are gambling, and I worry they do not know they are gambling. I hope current EA-aligned people in crypto manage to cash out, and that there is no reputational harm for the movement from the fact that some well-known proponents work in the field.
Gresham College is hosting an event with the title "Does Philanthropy do the Public Good?" by Professor David King. It can be watched afterwards here https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/good-philanthropy. It might be interesting, or alternatively it might be terrible but relevant for EAs to know what views are put out in the public debate.
The current conflict with Russia has increased my estimate of the importance of democratization. I think a democratic Russia would be unlikely to go to war with brother country like Ukraine. Many efforts to spread democracy seem pretty unsuccesful.
I wonder whether democratic countries sometimes could make deals with dictators to allow a gradual change to democracy, only finishing when the dictator dies or decides to retire. Assuming the dicator cares somewhat about his country's long-term future he might be persuaded that democracy is best way of ensuring peace and prosperity for it long-term.
Of course we can't be, but sanctions are also nothing new. And rogue countries like Russia also understand how sanctions work and would already use them if it could.
Definitely worrying about WW3 or nuclear holocaust at the moment. I gave an extra donation to long-terminst causes this month. Don't usually donate to them, but the argument that some long-term thinking should be promoted seemed convincing now. I hope, but have no real reason to believe, that western leaders know how far they can support Ukraine without causing the war to spread.
Estimates of Trump's wealth vary. He is certainly controversial, but I don't think his detractors view him as a billionaire.
Scott Aaronsson has received a grant to redistribute and is asking for charity recommendations. https://scottaaronson.blog/?p=6232 Note that he indicates AI-risk and other rationalist-flavored organisations are disfavored, but the blog post might still be of some interest.
It would seem to enourage competition inside parties, and even sabotaging party comrades, in a way that does not happen in most proportional representation systems, since it is important to be among the most popular candidates in the party.
I think spreading democracy might be something that is a prerequisite for long-term EA gains in many areas. If there were effective organisation that spread or helped preserve democracy I might donate to them, but I would be skeptical of the benefits of changing voting systems in existing democracies.
Merry Christmas! I hope you all have great holidays, and are able to draw inspiration from them, even if Christmas presents are often an example of the most inefficient altruism there is.