Would it be convenient / effective to have an EA-aligned "investigations agency"?

post by Ramiro · 2022-03-02T15:30:30.233Z · EA · GW · 2 comments

This is a question post.

I was talking to some friends who have eventually played detective at some point (I was a cop once)... What could be the impact of having an EA(-aligned) investigative agency? Something that could provide journalists, and other stakeholders (like EA orgs, policy-makers and law-enforcement agencies) with sensitive and high-impact non-public information.

Is there anything like that in the EA space? I don’t mean just “uncovering government corruption / corporate malfeasance” - there are many other possible applications for professional investigators. I recall that a journalistic investigation led to the installment of defibrillators in planes, so saving many lives. In addition, it could be particularly convenient to identify malevolent aspiring leaders [? · GW] and show their true colors while they are in the "political cradle" - before they become famous and powerful enough to deflect public criticism.

On the one hand, the importance and room for funding of independent journalism is well recognized – we all read Vox, TLYCS recommends Development Media International… even WEF and Unesco emphasize this area. On the other hand, this makes me wonder if there’s still low hanging fruit to grab here.

I think I was perhaps too attracted by the coolness of the overall idea, which makes me unreliable for assessing its effectiveness. It seems to me that one of the main issues would be prioritization: how do you choose what to investigate? Also, there seems to a peculiarly hard trade-off between neglectedness and tractability: if no one is concerned with the subject x, what's the expected value of uncovering it?

Answers

2 comments

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comment by Milan_Griffes · 2022-03-02T16:35:06.649Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This seems like a good entry for the Future Fund prize competition [EA · GW]

comment by Chris Kerr (frenbaim) · 2022-03-02T19:39:20.191Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

In addition, it could be particularly convenient to identify malevolent aspiring leaders [? · GW] and show their true colors while they are in the "political cradle" - before they become famous and powerful enough to deflect public criticism.

I agree that this would be useful. However, any organisation which sets out to do this will become an attractive target for anyone who currently holds power and wants to disrupt challengers by claiming that they are malevolent.

In addition, given the state of libel laws in many countries, having a single well-funded organisation making public claims of malevolence is going to end with a huge fraction of those funds being spent on lawyers.