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Thanks for asking, Julia. Initially, we expect to accept a pretty wide range of people, across both age/experience levels and cause areas as we're exploring how these consultations can be as impactful as possible. Having said that, we intend to use information gathered during this process, along with insights from the community & affiliate orgs around neglected segments/user groups, to inform if and how we ought to specialize.


 My update from a case of fraud isn't that money can't be made ethically. This isn't to dismiss the possibility of value drift etc, which we should take even more seriously than we have been.

Having said that , a few things: 

  1. I  generally am in favor of moving away from a vibes/patronage based community to a more meritocratic professional-ish group. And the approach you suggested  (ie not paying people well) doesn't make it easy to hire people from the "outside world" whom we have a lot to learn from (like hmm corporate governance maybe? or accounting?)I think it'll also make the diversity problem significantly worse - and continue selecting for privileged folks who can afford to actually do the work "purely altruistically"
  2. Also, there are a bunch of ways in which labor can't substitute for capital. I work in biosecurity and it seems like we can do significantly fewer things now , especially magaporjects that involve significant brick and mortar infrastructure. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point down the road, AI Safety also requires significant spend on compute/data., not to say anything of the myriad neartermist stuff that's almost infinitely scalable.

In general, my update is from the situation is more : we need money but we also need better ops , more interfacing with the real world, better corporate governance and generally fewer incentuousy lookign orgs. 

Given the constraints highlighted above, It seems like a venture builder model (focussed on a specific cause area) may be more effective, wherein the following process is repeated:

 (1) Generate plausible venture ideas from existing research within EA orgs

(2) Analyze ideas on two dimensions - (a) Cost benefit Analysis (b) Operational feasibility

(3) Incubate and recruit EA aligned technical and non technical co-founders (who then build their own team)

(4) Tie further funding and possibly  bonuses to specific short term milestones


  • It seems like EA orgs with existing research capabilities are best suited to support  above steps #1 and #2a . This is essentially a high level analysis of the expected value of building this company, a rough estimate of costs (in orders of magnitude) which helps us quickly come to a "Go" /"No go" decision.
  • I think step 2 (b) needs to be outsourced to technical consultants or economic consultants (think Analysis Group, Brattle group etc)  who can conduct feasibility analyses or more accurately estimate lifetime costs. Let's say we wanted to produce and distribute some state of the art PPE equipment. We'd need to have a rough understanding of  things like  supply and demand dynamics of raw materials, regulations around PPE equipment, legal risk etc. Answers to these questions could determine whether it's worth doing something even if the high level cost benefit analysis was positive. These also don't seem like the type of questions orgs like Open Phil routinely answer. 
  • Step 4 could potentially unlock some talent constraints and allow founders to recruit a management team or lead scientists that may not be completely EA aligned or long termist but are still incentivised economically to help move things along.

Everything above is of course contingent on the ability to actually generate actionable ideas that pass Step 2(a) in a particular cause area.