Is the EA movement dead?
To be clear, I am not “an EA person,” though I do have sympathies with considerable parts of the movement. Most of all it has struck me, as I have remarked in the past, just how much young talent the movement has attracted. Money enabled the attracting of that talent, but I never had the sense that the money was the reason why the talent was showing up at EA events. So a less well-funded EA movement still will be potent, at least assuming it gets over the immediate trauma. That trauma may even help to drive away some of the less serious poseurs who thought EA was the easiest path to polyamory, or whatever..
Intellectual movements can be quite influential on small sums of money. What exactly was the budget for the Apostles? Or take libertarianism, which arguably saw peak influence in the last 1970s and early 1980s, when it was much less well funded than in later times.
How much money did the Benthamites have? Nonetheless they influenced policy a great deal.
As a side note, Open Philanthropy spent over $400 million in 2021. I know zero about their plans, but I don’t see any reason to think they will be unimportant in the future. That is plenty of funding right there.
A mere month ago, I witnessed the game of young people sitting around, speculating how many future billionaires will be attracted to EA. Probably that number has fallen, for reasons related to the current bad publicity, but I don’t see why it has to have fallen to zero. The next set of billionaires might simply choose a different set of labels.
I do anticipate a boring short-run trend, where most of the EA people scurry to signal their personal association with virtue ethics. Fine, I understand the reasons for doing that, but at the same time grandma, in her attachment to common sense morality, is not telling you to fly to Africa to save the starving children (though you should finish everything on your plate). Nor would she sign off on Singer (1972). While I disagree with the sharper forms of EA, I also find them more useful and interesting than the namby-pamby versions.
Tyrone knocks at the door: “Tyler, you are failing to state the truth about SBF! He did maximize social welfare! And sacrificed himself to that end. What indeed is Christ without Judas? Judas sacrificed his reputation. So did SBF. Now the jump-started EA ideas will live on for eternity. And those who hold crypto through Caribbean exchanges are about the most deserving losers you can think of. Those assets did not represent social value anyway. And isn’t discouraging crypto investment exactly what we should be doing? (SBF is good for the environment!) And you need a celebrity example of wrongdoing for that lesson to stick, not just a few random price drops for bitcoin. He is surely a true angel…” At which point I had to ask Tyrone to leave the penthouse and shut his dirty mouth…he is not a valid boy!
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