74 karmaJoined Feb 2023


Maybe most relevant excerpt for the forum (taken from 01:08:45, might contain some mistakes):

DF: When you say, you became less exciting about feeling this space [~Effective Altruism] how much was FTX, the CEO of FTX, the CEO of Alameda came from this space? Cause on some level, it's not great, but it doesn't seem like the most relevant thing for evaluating it.

OH: I don't know. I feel very confused about it. I think my perspective is more that I for many years had a number of things that felt very off about the space. I worked at the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and left after basically being depressed for 1.5 years for stuff that in retrospect feels like in meaningful ways the culture there was a precursor to what happened at FTX. Like a lot of situations, people were taking really quite extreme deceptive action. And the reaction of the organisation, and the people on the board, and the people I was working with was often a surprising amount of apathy to people doing things that, at least from my perspective in terms of honesty, were very immoral. 

DF: Like, what?

OH: I mean, people lying, like a lot. Situations that I'm pretty sure happened were: There was a decision about a major merger between CEA and Giving What We Can, where basically it was announced and executed almost fully in the week of EAG. My best guess of what happened behind the scenes here is people being like "Man, when are a lot of people who would have opinions on this going to be most busy, so that they could least object on this? But in a way that lets us claim that we technically listened to people."
Other situations were: There were a lot of people who were of very unclear employment. There was Leverage Research, an organisation that now somewhat interestingly imploded/exploded, that 'employed' a lot of people that worked at CEA. Where employment means something like: They were living together with everyone else at Leverage Research, they were getting some amount of housing and food support for it. They were not technically being paid by it, but they were present – like they had a manager designed to them under Leverage and would be held accountable to their performance in various ways. And that thing was just completely held secret and hidden from the rest of the organisation, where there were people working for Leverage Research and people would just lie about their relationship with the other organisation. These people were often also just straightforwardly referred to as "spies". And this does not spark anyone to go like "OMG WTF crazy thing is going on?" it was kind of like par for the course for the kind of adversarial epistemic environment. [...]
At various points there were situations in leadership where Will MacAskill was supposed to be the CEO of the organisation [CEA], but he wasn't really present, he was mostly busy promoting his books and so on. Which means that the COO had actually taken over most of the CEO-responsibilities for over a year, in that case it was Tara Mac Aulay, one of the co-founders of Alameda. I had conversations with her where she was just very clearly was like "Yes, and I intentionally did not tell the rest of the organisation the fact that I had taken on CEO-responsibilities and was taking major strategic decisions because I expect that this would have meant that people would interfere with my plans. And what would I have to gain from informing you about that change in the power-balance?". A terrible way to run an organisation.

DF: I want to add that my understanding is that she left Alameda well before alleged improprieties happened.

OH: I will take bets against this fact. My guess is that there was fraud at Alameda while Tara was present. 

I'm a big fan of both EA and FIRE, so this is awesome!

One way the tool could be improved is by allowing to adjust for-tax deductibility of donations.
I'm not quite sure how the calculator would be adjusted, but the relevant metrics seem to be.

  • Maximum % of net/gross income that is tax-deductible if donated
  • % of donations that are tax-deducible

The distinction between if it applies to net or gross income might be necessary, because countries differ to the specification of tax-deductibility of donations.