Comment by brendon_wong on Do we have any recommendations for financial advisers for earning to give? · 2019-04-14T20:27:07.319Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I run Antigravity Investments, an EA-aligned investing firm that helps EA nonprofits and individuals with investing. Our EA Forum article with public recommendations is mostly focused on cash management, although Appendix B discusses higher-EV investing options.

We give free advice and typically charge a low fee for directly managing portfolios. Feel free to reach out at support@antigravityinvestments.com.

For a DIY approach in the United States, we recommend a portfolio with low-fee ETFs. A DIY approach with ETFs makes it possible to donate investments that have gone up in value without paying any taxes, which is an optimal way to donate.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-28T18:16:28.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for asking! At this time we do not specifically limit the types of early-stage high-impact activities that can apply. Early-stage nonprofits, for-profits, and personal projects would all fall under the scope of acceptable activity types.

Comment by brendon_wong on $100 Prize to Best Argument Against Donating to the EA Hotel · 2019-03-28T07:47:13.282Z · score: 20 (12 votes) · EA · GW

The following arguments are ideas and have not been thoroughly researched. They may not reflect my actual views. Counterarguments are not mentioned because the OP is "mainly interested in seeing critiques." I may post counterarguments after the reward deadline has passed.

Claim to argue against: "$172,000 to the EA Hotel has at least as much EV as $172,000 distributed randomly to grantees from EA Meta Fund grantees or EA grants grantees."

Argument 1: The EA Hotel has a low counterfactually-adjusted impact

In this post, the EA Hotel states:

Out of 19 residents, 15 would be doing the same work counterfactually, but the hotel allows them to do, on average, 2.2 times more EA work -- as opposed to working a part time job to self-fund, or burning more runway.

This datapoint supports the view that most EA Hotel residents would be doing the same work whether or not they stay at the hotel. The claim that "the hotel allows them to do, on average, 2.2 times more EA work" could be incorrect. To gain more certainty about this, the EA Hotel should track what residents that are not accepted actually end up doing instead.

EA Hotel residents have many options to consider to do the same work while not staying at the hotel. For example, depending on the time and location requirements of the work, they could do some combination of: (1) part-time work to finance their living expenses, (2) living with parents, friends, or another location with near-zero living expenses, or (3) living in very low-cost housing that resembles the cost of the EA Hotel.

If someone pursues option (2), the EA Hotel is negative EV because someone can choose a free option instead of the EA Hotel, which consumes community funds.

If someone pursues options (1) and (3), they might only have to work a very limited amount of time. For example, I believe I recently heard of someone that was able to find a one bedroom living arrangement in Berkeley, CA in a large house for $500 a month, although they have to share a bathroom with many people. So someone might only need to do paid work 25% of the time and can do EA work 75% of the time. This suggests that the "2.2 times more EA work" figure greatly overstates the benefit of the EA Hotel in terms of reducing living expenses. Pursing options (1) and (3) seems to be feasible for the vast majority of people.

If direct funding allows people to pursue option (3) and secure low-cost housing, and if the cost is around the same as the EA Hotel, there may be no need for the EA Hotel itself to exist. The question becomes what is the counterfactually-adjusted impact of funding living expenses at the EA Hotel compared to option (3)? Adjustments should be made for things like missing out on the benefits of living elsewhere than Blackpool as well as relocation time and expenses which would further reduce counterfactual impact. The EA Hotel community certainly provides benefits, although coworking out of REACH may provide similar benefits.

Argument 2: The EA Hotel should charge users directly instead of raising funding

Rather than fundraising from EAs, the hotel should try to directly charge people who are benefiting from their services and community, which is an argument against donating to the hotel.

There doesn't seem to be a need to fund people who can afford the hotel. It's not clear what proportion of people fall under this category, but considering that it only takes 13 weeks of work at $15/hour to pay $7,900 for a one year stay at the hotel, it is possible that majority of residents can already afford to stay at the hotel.

For people who cannot afford the EA Hotel, applicants to funding organizations like EA Grants can include that they are requesting funding for living expenses and indicate EA Hotel expenses as part of their requested grant funding. EA Grants evaluators and other funders may be better equipped to evaluate the EV of projects people are working on as opposed to EA Hotel staff. If EA Grants can already cover this, there is no need to donate to the EA Hotel.

Argument 3: Funding projects has a higher impact than funding living expenses

I assume that EA Grants funds applicants' project expenses as well as their personal salary and living expenses. This could be higher impact than solely funding living expenses. Working at the EA Hotel with an unfunded project may be quite unproductive, particularly if the project requires funding to get anywhere. Seeking early-stage EA project funding seems to require waiting for long periods of time (perhaps months) for funders to get back to you rather than working full-time trying to acquire funding.

Argument 4: People should not donate to the EA Hotel until they improve their impact metrics and reporting

The EV estimation for the EA Hotel is highly mathematical and commenters have expressed that it is difficult to follow. Actual impact reporting appears to consist of testimonials which are hard to evaluate. It's even trickier to evaluate the counterfactually-adjusted impact.

Comment by brendon_wong on Mental support · 2019-03-28T06:34:47.363Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

There is probably a nontrivial number of people who do not seek support due to the presence of a fee, even if they can theoretically afford it (see trivial inconveniences). Unfortunately, I've seen this happen in practice.

Comment by brendon_wong on Bayesian Investor proposes you can predictably beat the market by ~3% following a simple and easy strategy · 2019-03-27T19:13:29.507Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The potential downside (and upside) of diversifying by adding some tilts and consistently sticking with them is limited, so I don’t see a major problem with “non-advanced investors” following the advice. Investors should be aware of things like rebalancing and capital gains tax; perhaps “intermediate investor” is a better term.

Comment by brendon_wong on Bayesian Investor proposes you can predictably beat the market by ~3% following a simple and easy strategy · 2019-03-27T06:06:39.175Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It takes a certain degree of investment knowledge and time to form an opinion about the historical performance of different factors and expected future performance. It also requires knowledge and time to determine how to appropriately incorporate factors into a portfolio and how to adjust exposure over time. For example, what should be done if a factor underperforms the market for a noticeable period of time? An investor needs to decide whether to reduce or eliminate exposure to a factor or not. Holding an investment that will continue to underperform is bad, but selling an investment that is experiencing cyclical underperformance is a bad timing decision which will worsen performance each time such an error is made.

As a concrete example, the momentum factor has had notable crashes throughout history that could cause concern and uncertainty among investors that were not expecting that behavior. Decisions to add factors to portfolios need to take into account maintaining an appropriate level of diversification, tax concerns (selling a factor fund could incur capital gains taxes, and factor mutual funds will pass capital gains the fund incurs while following factors onto investors whereas factor ETFs almost definitely won't), and the impact of fees, among other considerations.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-22T19:55:47.134Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

This post was intended as a grant application announcement post that also happened to contain some information about new funder-friendly and applicant-friendly policies we are adopting. I did not include any information about our evaluation process or risk reduction process in the body of the post, so I would not expect the post to convey high awareness of either reasons why long-termist applications don't get funded.

I am curious what ideas we included you think address your first point about grantmakers being unable to vet the project. I'm not sure if application sharing, rolling applications, or providing feedback to grant applicants address your first or second points.

To elaborate more on risk, I wrote in another comment on this post that:

We have several layers of checks to help reduce risks and improve grant decision making including initial staff review of incoming applications, angels sharing their evaluations with one another and talking with external contacts/experts if appropriate, and hearing opinions of external grantmakers on grant applications we have received (we still need to talk with grantmakers to set this up).

I think that an initial staff review can help detect risks, and if we notice a large problem with downside risk in incoming projects, we can enhance the initial staff review process. The angel evaluation period is where a lot of nuanced considerations about risk can come up, since angels can share their perspectives on a grant proposal with other angels and external experts, and we have angels with significant experience in areas like meta and AI. Finally, this wasn't mentioned in the post, but we are aiming to share evaluations both ways with funders in EA. I think this can go a long way towards making all funders aware of all of the potential risks of a project.

Angels in the group seem to actively avoid funding projects that they feel they are not qualified to evaluate. Angels can point out funding behavior that they perceive is risky from other angels, although from what I've seen, our angels lean more on the side of risk avoidance than anything else.

High-quality grant applications tend to get funded quickly and are thereby eliminated from the pool of proposals available to the EA community, while applicants with higher-risk proposals tend to apply/pitch to lots of funders. This means that on average, proposals submitted to funders will be skewed towards high-downside-risk projects, and funders could themselves easily do harm if they end up supporting many of them. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

As Denise mentioned in a post on Jan's project evaluation idea, there is a category of project that is "projects which are simply bad because they do have approximately zero impact, but aren't particularly risky. I think this category is the largest of the the four." This lines up with many of the applications I am seeing. This might be different with long-term/x-risk projects specifically, but since we are a general funding group with individual EA funders with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, we are not receiving a large number of such applications relative to the entire pool of applications.

Therefore, I wouldn't say that our applications are likely to be "skewed towards high-downside-risk projects." I expect to continue to receive a large number of projects that may have very low impact just like other funders are likely receiving. As Oliver mentioned, "in practice I think people will have models that will output a net-positive impact or a net-negative impact, depending on certain facts that they have uncertainty about, and understanding those cruxes and uncertainties is the key thing in understanding whether a project will be worth working on." I think that other EA funders will fund projects that match the model of the funders, but because people's models differ wildly and are very likely wrong in many cases due to the high failure rate of funded startups for the most successful VCs, I don't know if other funders are actually funding a significant fraction of the opportunities that end up having the highest impact.

To my understanding EA Grants is the only other funder that is funding general grants, with BERI Grants and EAF Fund focusing on long-term projects exclusively, and the EA Funds focusing on their respective areas and funding larger organizations as well. Since EA Grants is currently closed for applications (I support rolling applications rather than application rounds), we are receiving applications that have not been funded by other funders because the only other funder isn't accepting applications right now. Since I support funder application sharing, with this method funders will be able to see the entire pool of proposals, rather than the pool without the projects other funders have funded. This will help each funder evaluate the quality of the projects they are funding relative to the quality of other projects that other funders have funded.

I really like that you're providing feedback to applicants! In general, I wish the EA community was more proactive with providing critical feedback.

Thanks! I completely agree.

Comment by brendon_wong on Request for comments: EA Projects evaluation platform · 2019-03-22T19:31:42.841Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW
I think it is fair to say you expected very low risk from creating an open platform where people would just post projects and seek volunteers and funding, while I expected with minimum curation this creates significant risk (even if the risk is coming from small fraction of projects). Sorry if I rounded off suggestions like "let's make an open platform without careful evaluation and see" and "based on the project ideas lists which existed several years ago the amount of harmful projects seems low" to "worrying about them is premature".

The community has already had many instances of openly writing about ideas, seeking funding on the EA Forum, Patreon, and elsewhere, and posting projects in places like the .impact hackpad and the currently active EA Work Club. Since posting about projects and making them known to community members seems to be a norm, I am curious about your assessment of the risk and what, if anything, can be done about it.

Do you propose that all EA project leaders seek approval from a central evaluation committee or something before talking with others about and publicizing the existence of their project? This would highly concern me because I think it's very challenging to predict the outcomes of a project, which is evidenced by the fact that people have wildly different opinions on how good of an idea or how good of a startup something is. Such a system could be very negative EV by greatly reducing the number of projects being pursued by providing initial negative feedback that doesn't reflect how the project would have turned out or decreasing the success of projects because other people are afraid to support a project that did not get backing from an evaluation system. I expect significant inaccuracy from my own project evaluation system as well as the project evaluation systems of other people and evaluation groups.

Thanks - both of that happened after I posted my comment, and also I still do not see the numbers which would help me estimate the ratio of projects which applied and which got funded. I take as mildly negative signal that someone had to ask, and this info was not included in the post, which solicits project proposals and volunteer work.
In my model it seems possible you have something like chicken-and-egg problem, not getting many great proposals, and the group of unnamed angels not funding many proposals coming via that pipeline.
If this is the case and the actual number of successfully funded projects is low, I think it is necessary to state this clearly before inviting people to work on proposals. My vague impression was we may disagree on this, which seems to indicate some quite deep disagreement about how funders should treat projects.

I wrote about the chicken and the egg problem here. As noted in my comments on the announcement post, the angels have significant amounts of funding available. Other funders do not disclose some of these statistics, and while we may do so in the future, I do not think it is necessary before soliciting proposals. The time cost of applying is pretty low, particularly if people are recycling content they have already written. I think we are the first grantmaking group to give all applicants feedback on their application which I think is valuable even if people do not get funded.

The whole context was, Ryan suggested I should have sought some feedback from you. I actually did that, and your co-founder noted that he will try to write the feedback on this today or tomorrow, on 11th of Mar - which did not happen. I don't think this is large problem, as we had already discussed the topic extensively.

Ben commented on your Google Document that was seeking feedback. I wouldn't say we've discussed the topic "extensively" in the brief call that we had. The devil is in the details, as they say.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-22T07:23:23.213Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

John Maxwell brought up some interesting points. He suggests that platforms can experience the chicken and egg problem when it comes to getting started, and that intensive networking is a way to overcome this issue. I agree that platforms often have this problem, but the EA Angel Group resolved this not by networking intensely but instead by offering a lot of value to angels. This would incentivize them to join the platform even without a large number of existing grant applicants which would in turn incentivize grant applicants to apply.

Of course, we do need a stream of incoming grant applications to remain viable, and unfortunately we encountered some unexpected issues when attempting to collaborate with EA Grants and speak to many community members as part of several strategies to acquire grant applications. As mentioned in my progress update comment, I am currently pursuing alternate strategies to achieve this objective which involve steps that I have greater control over (and less steps that require the approval of entities whose decisions I cannot influence). That being said, I think networking and collaboration is highly valuable, and am scaling that up even as I pursue strategies that do not require networking to succeed.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-22T07:04:47.552Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I wrote a progress update comment regarding the EA Angel Group which covered our grant opportunity discovery activities over the last few months. We spoke with EA Grants several months ago, and to the best of my knowledge they are still determining whether to send and receive grant applications with other funders. At least one major funding group has expressed significant interest in sending and receiving grant applications with the EA Angel Group, and we are in the process of talking with various funders about this.

I mentioned the one concern I heard and my response to it in my progress update comment:

One objection to sharing grant applications among funders is that a funder would fund all of the grant proposals they felt were good and classify all other grant proposals as not suitable to be funded. From the funder's perspective, sharing the unfunded grant proposals would be bad since other organizations could subsequently fund them, and the funder classified those grant proposals as not worth funding. I personally disagree with this objection because the argument assumes that a funder has developed a grant evaluation process that can actually identify successful projects with a high degree of accuracy. Since the norm in the for-profit world involves large and successful venture capital firms with lots of experienced domain experts regularly passing on opportunities that later become multibillion-dollar companies, I find it unlikely that any EA funding organization will develop a grant evaluation process that is so good it justifies hiding some or all unfunded applications.

Can you elaborate on:

I think for example that a ‘just-another-universal-protocol’ worry would be very reasonable to have here.

Are you suggesting that funders may be concerned about adopting a protocol which ends up providing limited value? As I've stated in several other comments, I think sharing grant applications can be of considerable value since arbitrarily limiting the pool of projects seems pretty suboptimal.

To avoid that I think we need to do the hard work of reaching out to involved parties and have many conversations to incorporate their most important considerations and start mutually useful collaborations. I.e. consensus building.

I agree. I did some initial outreach at first and will begin additional outreach shortly.

Comment by brendon_wong on Request for comments: EA Projects evaluation platform · 2019-03-22T06:06:58.377Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for pointing that out! Jan and I have also talked outside the EA Forum about our opinions on risk in the EA project space. I’ve been more optimistic about the prevalence of negative EV projects, so I thought there was a chance that greater optimism was being misinterpreted as a lack of concern about negative EV projects, which isn’t my position.

Comment by brendon_wong on Request for comments: EA Projects evaluation platform · 2019-03-21T20:08:04.055Z · score: 14 (9 votes) · EA · GW
We had some discussion with Brendon, and I think his opinion can be rounded to "there are almost no bad projects, so to worry about them is premature". I disagree with that.

I do not think your interpretation of my opinion on bad projects in EA is aligned with what I actually believe. In fact, I actually stated my opinion in writing in a response to you two days ago which seems to deviate highly from your interpretation of my opinion.

I never said that there are "almost no bad projects." I specifically said I don't think that "many immediately obvious negative EV projects exist." My main point was that my observations of EA projects in the entire EA space over the last five years do not line up with a lot of clearly harmful projects floating around. This does not preclude the possibility of large numbers of non-obviously bad projects existing, or small numbers of obviously bad projects existing.

I also never stated anything remotely similar to "to worry about [bad projects] is premature." In fact, my comment said that the EA Angel Group helps prevent the "risk of one funder making a mistake and not seeking additional evaluations from others before funding something" because there is "an initial staff review of projects followed by funders sharing their evaluations of projects with each other to eliminate the possibility of one funder funding something while not being aware of the opinion of other funders."

I believe that being attentive to the risks of projects is important, and I also stated in my comment that risk awareness could be of even higher importance when it comes to projects that seek to impact x-risks/the long-term future, which I believe is your perspective as well.

Also, given the Brendon's angel group is working, evaluating and funding projects since October, I would be curious what projects were funded, what was the total amount of funding allocated, how many applications they got.

Milan asked this question and I answered it.

Based on what I know I'm unconvinced that Brendon or BERI should have some outsized influence how evaluations should be done; part of the point of the platform would be to serve broader community.

I'm not entirely sure what your reasons are for having this opinion, or what you even mean. I am also not exactly sure what you define as an "evaluation." I am interpreting evaluations to mean all of the assessments of projects happening in the EA community from funders or somewhat structured groups designed to do evaluations.

I can't speak for BERI, but I currently have no influence on how evaluations should be done, and I also currently have no interest in influencing how evaluations should be done. My view on evaluations seems to align with Oliver Habryka's view that "in practice I think people will have models that will output a net-positive impact or a net-negative impact, depending on certain facts that they have uncertainty about, and understanding those cruxes and uncertainties is the key thing in understanding whether a project will be worth working on." I too believe this is how things work in practice, and evaluation processes seem to involve one or more people, ideally with diverse views and backgrounds, evaluate a project, sometimes with a more formalized evaluation framework taking certain factors into account. Then, a decision is made, and the process repeats at various funding entities. Perhaps this could be optimized by having argument maps or a process that involves more clearly laying out assumptions and assigning mathematical weights to them, but I currently have no plans to try to go to EA funders and suggest they all follow the same evaluation protocol. Highly successful for-profit VCs employ a variety of evaluation models and have not converged on a single evaluation method. This suggests that perhaps evaluators in EA should use different evaluation protocols since different protocols might be more or less effective with certain cause areas, circumstances, types of projects, etc.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T19:51:17.603Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA · GW

That is correct! The EA Angel Group is designed to help individual funders who are already making grants with discovering more opportunities and hearing from other funders about possible benefits and risks of individual funding opportunities. Many people in the angel group have been heavily involved with the EA community for many years and have a history of making successful grants. Analogous to a for-profit angel group, we do not force angels to do everything through our group, we just seek to add value in terms of helping people fund better opportunities through improving opportunity discovery, evaluation, and funding processes.

We have several layers of checks to help reduce risks and improve grant decision making including initial staff review of incoming applications, angels sharing their evaluations with one another and talking with external contacts/experts if appropriate, and hearing opinions of external grantmakers on grant applications we have received (we still need to talk with grantmakers to set this up).

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T19:26:18.346Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the suggestion Remmelt! I just added your primary wording recommendation to the post.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T19:19:39.732Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

According to information that we requested from angels around our launch in October 2018, our individual funders had ~$600,000 in available capital to make early-stage grants for the remainder of 2018. Angels have been making grants during the time the group has been operating, although I am not sure of the exact volume aside from the fact that one angel recently made a grant of ~$25,000 to a project.

I am not sure of the exact volume because angels have not made a grant through a project that has submitted our grant application form yet. This is because we had lower than expected grant application volume since we were unexpectedly delayed for many months pursuing grant sharing with EA funders and trying to launch the EA Project Platform rather than doing a public call for applications and working with volunteers to source evaluations. We are now switching to doing public requests for proposals and active grant opportunity sourcing which I expect will significantly increase the number of grant opportunities we can present to angels. We are continuing to talk with EA funders about grant sharing, and one major funder just expressed an interest in sharing grant applications, so things may be moving forward on that front.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T03:07:02.422Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Bringing up that possible concern is a good point Remmelt! My paragraph was specifically suggesting that established EA funders should share applications with one another. As I mentioned in my comment to Ruth, if the application systems of 5 funders capture equal fractions of all projects in existence, each funder would only be able to make funding decisions with a pool of projects that is 1/5 the size of the total number of opportunities. Arbitrarily limiting the pool of projects to evaluate seems clearly suboptimal.

I agree that people may be concerned about inexperienced EA funders making unwise funding decisions. People with that concern should actually be supporting the EA Angel Group, because if they had read our introductory article or my recent comment about this they may have realized that:

the EA Angel Group [has] an initial staff review of projects followed by funders sharing their evaluations of projects with each other to eliminate the possibility of one funder funding something while not being aware of the opinion of other funders.

We help individual funders of all experience levels avoid issues like the unilateralist’s curse by benefiting from the perspectives of other funders. Funders can point out potential risks or downsides of a project and strongly warn each other against funding a project that appears to have a material chance of causing significant harm.

But that’s just a guess and I don’t really know. I do share in the sentiment that the option to downvote something is too easy for people who pattern-match abstract EA ideas like that, instead of putting in the somewhat strenuous and vulnerable work of sharing their impressions and asking further in the comment section about how the platform concretely works.

It is unfortunate that people may be downvoting without engaging in what is actually being proposed. I think that asking good questions or commenting is far better for everyone involved than giving a strong downvote based on a quick impression (possibly wiping out several standard upvotes) and leaving.

@Brendon, I thought you tried to address possible risks of a making applications available online in a previous post.

That is correct, I wrote about that in my post about the EA Projects Platform, which I recently mentioned has been indefinitely delayed. The EA Angel Group does not and was not designed to make projects available online.

How do you think right now about how to address funder blindspots in built-up knowledge and evaluation frameworks – for both established EA grantmakers and new venture capitalist-style funders (who might have valuable for-profit start-up experience to build on)?

I don't have a readily prepared analysis of addressing funder blindspots. Something that might be helpful in reducing that would be having funders share evaluations with one another, so that if one funder recognizes a potential risk that is hard to detect, other funders can factor it into consideration as well. To prevent groupthink, funders should use a process where they conduct an initial or full evaluation before seeing what other funders think about a proposal.

Can you elaborate on what a "new venture capitalist-style funder" is? I'm not sure what this refers to, I believe the EA early-stage funding space is currently made of small number of entities like EA Grants and BERI grants and a larger number of individual donors.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T02:42:42.591Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ruth! I agree, I was surprised both by the negative votes and also by the lack of comments, particularly since our original article announcing the EA Angel Group was received quite positively. I linked to the EA Forum Post introducing the EA Angel Group at the beginning of the article. I felt that if people had thoughts or concerns with the idea of the angel group they could comment or vote on the original angel group article, but the article had no new votes or comments.

Regarding the many different funding systems and separate application forms that currently exist across EA, I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective. Simplifying a bit, if we assume there are 3 EA funders and 15 EA projects and each funder's application captures an equal fraction of all projects, each funder can only make funding decisions from their pool of 5 projects rather than the 15 projects that exist. Choosing the best projects to fund out of a smaller set of projects that are randomly selected out of a larger pool seems clearly suboptimal.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding · 2019-03-21T02:21:00.792Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Our main objective is to fund the highest impact projects regardless of form. We have historically received several applications from EAs working on projects that are structured as for-profit entities.

EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding

2019-03-19T18:29:32.777Z · score: 35 (22 votes)
Comment by brendon_wong on Sharing my experience on the EA forum · 2019-03-19T08:09:06.785Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

I feel similarly! I like your idea of a prompt before downvoting new users. Perhaps in general there could be a message with no user action required that appears whenever a downvote is made to encourage people to downvote with an explanatory comment in the event the reason for downvoting isn't obvious (i.e. it hasn't already been expressed in a comment).

Comment by brendon_wong on Concept: EA Donor List. To enable EAs that are starting new projects to find seed donors, especially for people that aren’t well connected · 2019-03-19T07:33:10.423Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · EA · GW

I'd like to point out for the benefit of other forum readers that EAs have different views on the average expected value of projects, variance in expected value of projects, and prevalence and severity of negative expected value projects. Based on the applications that the EA Angel Group has received, as well as lengthy lists of projects that have existed or currently exist in the EA community, at present I do not think that many immediately obvious negative EV projects exist (it is possible that people come up with negative EV projects but then receive feedback on potential harms prior to the project's existence becoming known to many people). I have seen a lot of projects that could potentially have a near-zero EV by failing to achieve their intended objectives or underperforming a top-rated EA charity, but people will often have highly varied opinions on a project's EV.

Jan has a focus on x-risk and the long-term future. A project seeking to directly impact x-risks by doing something like AI safety research has not yet applied to the EA Angel Group, and I have rarely or ever seen projects like that in EA project lists. It is possible that people behind projects like those are already aware of the risks of sharing information or do not see the need to either share the project's existence with many people or apply for early-stage funding from funders that do not focus exclusively x-risk. It is possible that complex projects that are doing direct work to impact the long-term future can have a greater potential to create harm and should be reviewed more rigorously.

In the case that most EA projects are EV positive and are in need of funding, then this article's suggestion is likely net positive. Also, essentially all individual funders I've spoken with already consult other funders and experts if they see the need before making funding decisions. If this is the norm, which I think it is, this makes it much less likely that the unilateralist's curse will happen in practice with regard to EA project funding.

Most importantly, this article’s proposal will probably only have a marginal impact on project and funder discoverability. Historically, many resources have existed online to enable EAs and funders to discover projects, like the .impact Hackpad (which shut down when Hackpad was acquired), various lists of projects that have popped up on the EA forum and elsewhere on the internet, and the EA Work Club. Announcing that a project exists or is seeking funding is simply sharing information, and there doesn't appear to be any easy way to prevent people from sharing information if they want to.

Therefore, I do not think it is fair to label this proposal a "bad idea." Implementing the article's proposal only makes it marginally easier for funders to learn about things than existing methods like someone posting a project idea directly on the EA Forum and even seeking funding, as has been done many times in the past. Someone who is motivated enough about seeking funding can simply speak with a lot of EAs they encounter and ask for funding, sidestepping this article's list of funders.

Nevertheless, there still may be a risk of one funder making a mistake and not seeking additional evaluations from others before funding something. That is why I created the EA Angel Group, which has an initial staff review of projects followed by funders sharing their evaluations of projects with each other to eliminate the possibility of one funder funding something while not being aware of the opinion of other funders. For optimal safety, a setup like the EA Angel Group is safer than publicly posting everyone's contact information online and seems to achieve the same overall objectives as this article's proposal.

Comment by brendon_wong on Bayesian Investor proposes you can predictably beat the market by ~3% following a simple and easy strategy · 2019-03-17T17:18:21.585Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

There are various frameworks like the transtheoretical model (TTM) that try to explain why individual behavior change is difficult. There are many prerequisites to change, like making people aware there may be an issue in the first place, convincing them that the possible problem is an actual problem, persuading them that the issue is urgent enough they should work on it in the near future, and helping them develop an effective plan of action. There are reasons why people do not proceed ahead at every step of change, like smokers believing that smoking is not harmful to them, or a perceived lack of urgency or time to implement changes in the near future. This problem may be magnified within organizations because multiple people within an organization often need to agree that change is necessary and should be implemented before anything gets done, and anyone that disagrees in the chain of command could prevent the intended change from happening.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA is vetting-constrained · 2019-03-17T12:28:28.208Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I am unclear on whether or not the main constraint of evaluating EA projects in general is the "time of senior people with domain expertise." For-profit venture capitalists are usually not the world's leading experts in a particular area. Domain familiarity is valuable, but it does not seem like a "senior" or "expert" level of domain knowledge is all that helpful in assessing the likelihood of something succeeding or not. Like VCs, many EA funders I've spoken with rely strongly on factors that do not require a high level of domain familiarity to determine whether or not to fund a project, such as the strength of the founding team. Some amount of domain expertise may be helpful in evaluating certain types of highly complex or research-heavy projects, but most of the projects that I've seen and that other funders are funding do not seem to involve this level of deep domain complexity.

Comment by brendon_wong on EA is vetting-constrained · 2019-03-17T11:43:19.099Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · EA · GW

To provide more information on the status of the EA Angel Group, Benjamin Pence and I are working together on the EA Angel Group (and its parent project Altruism.vc). The EA Angel Group is operating, although it received a lower than expected number of referrals from angels within the group which has significantly reduced the benefit that the group currently provides to its members.

I anticipated this concern months ago and tried to resolve the issue, but was delayed by ~5 months in our attempt to discuss sharing grant proposals with EA Grants. I felt like sharing grant proposals would be more efficient than launching our own "competing" grant application. I think a common app with rolling submissions is a much more sensible idea than having many separate applications that all do not share the applications they receive with other funders. To my understanding EA Grants currently doesn't have an opinion on whether sharing grant applications with other funders is a good idea or not, and it is unclear when they will develop an opinion on this topic.

One objection to sharing grant applications among funders is that a funder would fund all of the grant proposals they felt were good and classify all other grant proposals as not suitable to be funded. From the funder's perspective, sharing the unfunded grant proposals would be bad since other organizations could subsequently fund them, and the funder classified those grant proposals as not worth funding. I personally disagree with this objection because the argument assumes that a funder has developed a grant evaluation process that can actually identify successful projects with a high degree of accuracy. Since the norm in the for-profit world involves large and successful venture capital firms with lots of experienced domain experts regularly passing on opportunities that later become multibillion-dollar companies, I find it unlikely that any EA funding organization will develop a grant evaluation process that is so good it justifies hiding some or all unfunded applications.

Around the time I became more concerned that application sharing with EA Grants would be indefinitely delayed, I began to think an EA Project Platform would be a really great way to share not only grant opportunities but also other project-related opportunities like volunteering opportunities with the community. After building a prototype and seeking feedback, much of it positive, one EA decided to try to unilaterally block our platform from launching for reasons like wanting a central organization like CEA to back such a platform rather than a newer team like Ben and I. I personally disagreed with their reasoning, since it does not appear like a major organization has indicated any substantial interest in launching such a platform in the near future, and the launch of such a platform does not preclude the possibility of CEA or some other organization having a key role in the platform in the future. Not wanting to upset this person I decided to pause work on the EA Project Platform.

Ben and I are currently evaluating whether or not we want to work on a common app for funders or defer that plan and launch our own separate grant application.

Since our project to improve the EA project space is itself an EA project, our project also has the same capacity and funding constraints as other EA projects. If anyone would like to collaborate with us or provide some funding, please let me know!

Comment by brendon_wong on Bayesian Investor proposes you can predictably beat the market by ~3% following a simple and easy strategy · 2019-03-17T10:09:40.115Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Bayesian Investor's recommendations are actually pretty similar to the more advanced portfolio recommended in Ben Todd's post Common investing mistakes in the effective altruism community. The article recommends "[adding] tilts to the portfolio for value, momentum and low volatility (either through security selection or asset selection or adding a long-short component) and away from assets owned for noneconomic reasons" as an advanced move that should only be done if "you know what you’re doing."

Likewise, Bayesian Investor's recommended portfolio heavily involves low-volatility and fundamentally weighted (value-tilted) ETFs.

These articles reach fairly similar conclusions because academic research indicates that these strategies have historically outperformed market capitalization–weighted indexes (commonly known as "the market"). Various theories exist about why these strategies outperformed historically and whether they can be expected to outperform in the future.

Your observation that investing is important for EA because it can significantly increase funding for the EA community is why I'm working on Antigravity Investments, a social enterprise with the goal of improving investment returns in the EA community. Right now, we're picking the lowest hanging fruit by recommending that EA organizations move low-interest cash reserves into high-interest and low-risk savings options (see my EA forum article), which is essentially a guaranteed 2.5% improvement in returns every year at current interest rates. If we shift $15 million in cash, that's another $1 million in direct funding for high impact charities over three years.

Interestingly enough our most recommended option is both safer and higher interest than storing large amounts of cash in a checking account.

While there may be obvious things that EAs should be doing, unfortunately it is very difficult to invoke behavior change. My current approach to behavior change with regards to investing is to have an organization with specific expertise in investing help other EAs and EA organizations implement sensible recommendations. This approach seems to be more effective than writing articles online since it removes the prerequisites of having adequate expertise and time to learn about and implement sensible investing practices.

I wrote the high-yielding cash equivalents article because the recommendation seems particularly easy and obvious to implement. So far, although my article was well received, I haven't heard from any EA organization that has attempted to implement the recommendation based on reading the article, although organizations I've directly reached out to in the past have implemented the recommendation. I'm currently in the (very slow) process of doing more direct outreach to EA organizations to determine for them (and for us) whether our recommendation is worth implementing.

To answer your question about whether the advice is worth following, my personal opinion is that some of Bayesian Investor's recommendations are worth diversifying (tilting) into at a level that reflects each investor's confidence about how likely the anomaly will persist into the future. The low volatility factor in particular has achieved very high out-of-sample risk-adjusted and absolute returns, which is promising, but of course a prolonged period of underperformance could be on the horizon—hence the importance of diversifying.

Comment by brendon_wong on Concept: EA Donor List. To enable EAs that are starting new projects to find seed donors, especially for people that aren’t well connected · 2019-03-17T09:19:51.099Z · score: 8 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Hi there! Ben Pence and I launched the EA Angel Group several months ago, which seems related to your proposal. We wrote an EA Forum post announcing the launch. It'd be great to jump on a call and compare thoughts on what we're working on and how we might be able to collaborate! One thought, some funders may be uncomfortable with being publicly listed (perhaps due to concerns about lots of people contacting them), but a certain subset of funders could be pretty on board with the idea.

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-26T06:59:01.080Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Based on our preliminary research into nonprofit financial documents, there may be quite a few organizations within or adjacent to EA that have significant cash reserves, so we think there is the chance we can increase funding for EA causes by millions of dollars relatively quickly.

Last year, we directly reached out to two well-known EA organizations and recommended that they move cash to a money market fund. This recommendation was more complex than our current StoneCastle recommendation. One of them implemented our recommendation with millions of dollars. The other felt like they weren't large enough to gain a significant benefit (I am not sure the exact amount of cash they had on hand when making this judgement).

It is hard from our end to determine exactly how much an organization can gain because financial documents like the public Form 990 nonprofit tax return can be outdated (the latest Form 990s available are from 2016) and not clearly indicate how effectively an organization is managing its cash and exactly how much cash it has on hand.

We are currently evaluating whether to pursue a slow, networking-based outreach approach versus something like emailing staff members at dozens of EA and EA-aligned organizations to try to accelerate the rate of adoption.

We are being cautious with planning our outreach strategy because if a recommendation is accepted or rejected, in some cases a single charity may be holding tens of millions of dollars, and so a single successful or failed recommendation could impact funding by millions of dollars over the course of one year or several years.

Any insight into how we should approach outreach to maximize our impact would be appreciated! Perhaps emailing a lot of organizations as you mention is the best option.

Another interesting thought is that while EA is focused on driving a limited amount of funding to the most effective charities, we can essentially "create funding out of thin air" so to speak. That means that we may be able to have a very high impact even if we advise organizations that are likely a bit lower impact than say GiveWell's top charities. If anyone knows of a convenient list of dozens or hundreds of charities that are high impact enough where advising them would be a high impact use of time, I'd love to see it!

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-25T16:32:14.999Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks Cullen! Your post was great as well! At the beginning of February an EA reached out to us with a question on how to implement your recommendation, so it seems like people are following your advice :)

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-24T21:03:30.682Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Several people in the EU have reached out to me regarding savings options. My preliminary research indicates that "term deposits," the European term for certificates of deposit, are one of the best savings options for funds that need to be held in Euros. Websites like Raisin can help individuals and organizations find the highest yielding term deposits across the EU. Deposits are insured up to €100,000 per bank. Term deposits in the EU have positive yields, whereas many other savings options like money market funds appear to have negative yields because of the negative interest rate in the EU.

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-24T01:31:24.335Z · score: 18 (9 votes) · EA · GW

Since you mentioned CEA, I'll use them as an example. CEA internally values staff time at $75 an hour. Assuming CEA moves the $4,005,000 in cash (as of January 31, 2019) in EA Funds to StoneCastle's zero-risk 2.4% banking option, the expected yearly gain is $96,120. Making the conservative assumption of 10 hours of setup time to fill out a short application and get internal approval and 10 minutes a month using an online interface to transfer money between StoneCastle and a checking account, this adds up to $900 a year in operational expenses, which is under 1% of the expected gain. My understanding is that CEA is already actively moving to implement a better cash management solution.

I believe that EA organizations that are currently keeping money in a checking account or low-yield savings account are not aware of how much additional annual funding they could be generating with a low investment of staff time. The goal of this article is to make more organizations aware of the potential gains and low cost of implementation of a much higher-yielding cash management program and provide specific guidance on how to get started.

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-23T18:38:22.516Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

If the EA community invests all intended donations in a mix of investments that are high-EV and uncorrelated, many years there would be more money available to donate than if everyone had been more risk adverse. That sounds really beneficial.

One potential issue is there aren’t that many highly liquid asset classes out there. If most EAs put their intended donations in stocks, there may be undesirable effects from having donations significantly decrease in recessions from negative returns on intended donations combined with a decrease in donations due to job loss/lowered income.

On an individual level, another potential issue is that the variation in donation value could be more harmful than the higher EV. For example, at an extreme, doubling donations every 6 years and losing all the money every 4 years could lead to missed donation opportunities during those 4 years. The additional opportunities made possible with the doubled donations may not be impactful enough to overcome the effect of the missed donations.

These concerns are just speculative. If nonprofits retain sufficient capital reserves to mitigate the effects of donation variability and if EAs adjust to funding shortfalls caused by other EAs not having enough cash on hand, then all EAs should be investing intended donations in high-EV options.

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options · 2019-02-23T16:40:52.035Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

That depends on the goals and risk tolerance of the individual. Generally, the longer the holding time, the higher the chance stocks and bonds outperform cash and cash equivalents. Therefore, investing with stocks and bonds is typically recommended for savings that aren’t needed in less than several years (like retirement savings).

EAs and EA Orgs Should Move Cash from Low-Interest to High-Interest Options

2019-02-23T12:24:02.970Z · score: 46 (21 votes)
Comment by brendon_wong on If slow-takeoff AGI is somewhat likely, don't give now · 2019-01-27T07:29:07.417Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · EA · GW

My interpretation of Premise 4 ("Being an investor in such companies will generate outsized returns on the road to slow-takeoff AGI") is that Milan is asserting a company that develops advanced AI capabilities in the future will likely generate higher returns than the stock market after it has developed these capabilities. This does not seem like a controversial claim since it is analogous to the stocks of biotech companies skyrocketing after good news is announced like regulatory approval to launch a drug. The market may have priced the probability of a company leading a slow AI takeoff in the next X years, but having that actually happen is an entirely different story.

The concept of investing in something that generates a lot of capital if something "bad" happens like investing in AI stocks with the goal of having a lot more capital to deploy if a suboptimal/dangerous AI takeoff occurs is known as "mission hedging." EAs have covered this topic, for example Hauke's 2018 article A generalized strategy of ‘mission hedging’: investing in 'evil' to do more good. Mission hedging is currently a recommended research topic on Effective Thesis.

I think the more important question, which Richard brought up, is whether having X times more cash after a suboptimal/dangerous AI takeoff begins is better than simply donating the money now in an attempt to avert bad outcomes. EAs will have different answers to this question depending on their model of how they can deploy funds now and in the future to impact the world.

The title of the article ("If slow-takeoff AGI is somewhat likely, don't give now" at the time of writing) implies giving now is bad because mission hedging all of that money for the purpose of donating later will lead to better outcomes. I believe the article should be modified to indicate that EAs should evaluate employing mission hedging for part or all of their intended donations rather than suggest that putting all intended donations towards mission hedging and ceasing to donate now is an obviously better option. After all, a hedge is commonly known as a protective measure against certain outcomes, not the sole strategy at work.

Comment by brendon_wong on EAs Should Invest All Year, then Give only on Giving Tuesday · 2019-01-23T07:27:28.933Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I recommend modifying this:

I use and recommend Vanguard, because they have no transaction fees on their index ETFs.

To something like this:

I use and recommend Vanguard as a brokerage firm because they have no transaction fees for buying and selling nearly all U.S. exchange-traded funds. I also recommend using Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds because they essentially operate at cost.

Comment by brendon_wong on Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform · 2018-12-29T00:55:18.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Alex, thanks for sharing your thoughts! This article was meant to get community input on the design of the platform which is why we did not include other details like the governance structure.

Our prototype was not custom coded, so we did not set up a shared repo. I think that open development has a lot of potential, but there can be drawbacks, particularly slow development or even abandoned projects. My intuition is that a small but dedicated group (or even one person) would be more effective than a large but noncommitted group.

Comment by brendon_wong on Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations · 2018-12-20T21:51:44.953Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I reached out to WealthSimple. Their response was:

“We do indeed support the donation of specific assets to a charity of this choice. To my knowledge, we do not have limitations regarding the amount or charities accepted.

This feature is fairly manual. It requires a number of forms to be signed and is not fully supported in-product. However, we can definitely still process a request like this.”

This is great to hear. WealthSimple’s 0.5% annual fee is twice as high as Betterment’s and WealthFront’s. A DIY approach of investing in separate ETFs for asset classes and donating them when appreciated and selling them to harvest losses when depreciated would be more optimal, but WealthSimple looks like a functional choice for people that want to donate a lot of assets.

The Betterment page on donating stock (https://www.betterment.com/donating-stock/) now does not appear to limit the selection of charities. As such, Betterment appears to be a better choice for an EA that wants a managed investment option and wants to donate substantial amounts to registered charities because Betterment makes donating assets very easy within their user interface, has a low fee, and is well established.

Comment by brendon_wong on Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations · 2018-12-20T20:53:42.291Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I agree with your heuristic in the sense that prior experience increases the probability of success, but not in the sense that it’s necessary for success.

“Long-Term Active Investing” refers to systematic asset allocation approaches designed by experts that are active in the sense of more frequent trading rather than human decision making.

My main point was to emphasize that because Antigravity Investments is already operating and producing real world outcomes, those operations and outcomes should have majority weight in evaluating this project. I agree that FINRA licensing exams are fundamental competency tests rather than measures of skill, and should be weighted accordingly. In talking with evaluators of this project, I speak almost exclusively about actual impact and progress rather than FINRA licensing or prior experience I had before starting Antigravity Investments.

Information about our actual impact and progress is currently not public knowledge. We’re on course to drive tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to effective charities in 2019, and I think this can be increased substantially since the scope of our operations is very limited. I think this project can drive more to charity than E2G in my near-term future, which is why I’ve prioritized this project above earning to give.

Comment by brendon_wong on Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations · 2018-12-20T02:37:30.237Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · EA · GW

"No one has reached out to me" refers to not hearing "significant bugs" in evaluations within the last year (2018) on my current plan for Antigravity Investments. My current plan differs considerably from previous plans that were run past EAs. There currently has been no overlap between people that have evaluated previous versions of the plan versus the current version of the plan, although I am interested in having there be more overlap.

Previous feedback primarily involved (1) focusing on passive investment approaches instead of active approaches, (2) focusing on donating appreciated securities, and (3) questioning the need for EA-specific investment services. Regarding point 1, I revised the plan to incorporate offering passive investment approaches, and think that such approaches are great for DIY investors and taxable investment accounts. Regarding point 2, I think donating appreciated securities is a great idea, if we were currently managing taxable accounts, I would utilize that approach. Regarding point 3, the data points I have indicate that EA organizations are currently not investing or investing suboptimally, and that staff do not have experience with nonprofit asset management. I think external providers either would not be incentivized to provide certain types of recommendations or would provide services that are fairly suboptimal and/or high fee. I am currently focused on serving EA organizations. Regarding serving individual EAs, I think that skilled DIY investing with the donation of appreciated securities is pretty optimal and doesn't require Antigravity Investments if someone can and wants to do it themselves. Managed alternatives like, say, most robo-advisors are less optimal and may not support asset donation.

Antigravity Investments does not do trading or money-management in the sense of actively managing portfolios. Looking at our actual progress and work output (incorporating, becoming SEC-registered, managing EA capital, and using non-controversial evidence-based investing practices) my opinion is that I've managed to make it work despite launching the project without experience (I'm now an SEC-registered investment advisor and have experience managing portfolios).

I've reached out to see if you'd like to reevaluate the current plan.

Comment by brendon_wong on Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform · 2018-12-11T22:22:46.402Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I look forward to our upcoming call on Monday to compare platform designs!

I agree that talking with many individuals, which is what we have been doing and will continue to do, reduces the risk that we launch with a suboptimal version of the idea. We are very open to talking with anyone to hear their feedback (the primary reason for this post) as well as collaborating on the platform design with fellow EAs. I think our openness to incorporating insights on how to optimize the platform before and after launch reduces the chance this will have a "large negative impact."

Comment by brendon_wong on Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform · 2018-12-11T22:15:04.379Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I agree that those bottlenecks are important and have reached out regarding how to best address them.

Comment by brendon_wong on Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform · 2018-12-10T23:19:50.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

That's a great idea, I'll include a summary with action items on future long posts. Do you think I should edit a summary into the current post?

I hadn't considered using the EA Survey as a data gathering mechanism. My initial thought is that the survey administrators might not want to include project-related questions in the survey because it might be beyond the scope of the survey, add a lot of additional questions to the survey, and not apply to many respondents. Did you have something specific in mind about what adding project-related info to the survey would look like?

Perhaps the word "project" has a different connotation than I intended. We're seeking to support the highest impact early ventures, and included in that classification would be the past early-stage versions of every currently existing EA organization. Do you think a different term would be appropriate? The naming is very much a work in progress; I was thinking of the EA Initiatives Platform, EA Coordination Platform, or simply the Altruism.vc Platform among many potential names.

The EA Angel Group has received proposals that would match "startup" more than "project." The majority of proposals have already received funding prior to applying to us, have teams actively working on the proposal, and have some degree of traction.

Comment by brendon_wong on Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform · 2018-12-10T23:03:24.702Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! I haven't been able to find a public retrospective on EA Ventures but I just reached out to Tyler Alterman to see if he has any insights. We've also been in communication with multiple EA Grants team members.

Requesting community input on the upcoming EA Projects Platform

2018-12-10T17:41:32.212Z · score: 23 (16 votes)
Comment by brendon_wong on Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations · 2018-12-05T04:21:16.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks! WealthSimple's support for the donation of appreciated securities is not listed online, so this is very useful information for EAs to have as they evaluate investment options. Do they explicitly support this in the United States, and do they impose any restrictions on asset donations?

Comment by brendon_wong on Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations · 2018-12-05T04:18:00.129Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Jonas, thanks for mentioning this, I was not aware this was happening. Unfortunately, no one has reached out to me, so I cannot comment on any potential concerns or address any rumors floating around about the project. I welcome anyone getting in touch with me to evaluate the effectiveness of the overall idea (enhancing community financial returns) and my specific implementation of this idea, since that is much more useful to me and the overall community than circulating possibly incorrect information. My email is brendon@antigravityinvestments.com. As a related note, I believe making it easier to evaluate the EV of EA initiatives such as this one can provide significant value to the community, and this is part of a project I am personally working on at the moment.

It is very likely most concerns are "partly or fully out of date" as you mention, likely stemming from when I talked with a lot of EAs in finance about my very first investment related project idea in 2016, at which time I had a weak background in finance. Within the last year, this project has received positive evaluations from EA Grants, other funders in the community, and EAs in finance, and I have not received any negative feedback or heard of any concerns.

Comment by brendon_wong on Announcing the EA Angel Group - Seeking EAs with the Time and Money to Evaluate and Fund Early-Stage Grants · 2018-10-19T01:08:55.270Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

It's interesting to see that we are receiving community responses that line up with three areas of demand: EAs who just want to fund grants, EAs who want to fund and evaluate grants, and EAs that just want to evaluate grants. There is also the category of EAs that want to perform auxiliary functions like help people assess the impact of working on an EA project and provide advising/support to EA projects that are running.

In our post, we mentioned a system targeted towards the third group (EAs that solely want to evaluate projects) involving the creation of a "distributed group of volunteer grant evaluators with expertise across many different areas of EA to improve upon the traditional model of a small centralized group evaluating a tremendous range of grants." This system will operate meritocratically and I anticipate that it will operate very transparently (barring concerns about project confidentiality).

As Ben mentioned, for the angel group which aims to target the middle group of EAs that want to fund and evaluate grants, we will cater to what angels in the group want. It's hard to tell if there will be strong consensus either way, or a divided group. I anticipate that at least some angels, particularly those that are confident in their grantmaking ability and process, will publicize their grants, and we definitely don't have a problem with that.

We have acquired the domain altruism.vc as a preliminary brand name and website for our initiative. We may use https://altruism.vc/, Medium, or the new EA Forum to post grant recommendations and grants we have issued.

Comment by brendon_wong on Announcing the EA Angel Group - Seeking EAs with the Time and Money to Evaluate and Fund Early-Stage Grants · 2018-10-19T00:57:13.420Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the supportive words Sanjay!

We also believe that early-stage grant opportunities should be made more transparent, and we even proposed a system in our post to create an "online portal to enable the broader community to discover grant opportunities, add their thoughts on the relative merits and risks of grant proposals, and directly fund grants without an intermediary." Making an online portal is more involved than making an angel group but it is possible we may launch something like this in the coming months.

We have already reached out to CEA regarding getting access to EA Grants' grant opportunities. Once our angel group gets going, I intend on resuming our contact with CEA to see what we can do regarding sharing grant opportunities in the early-stage funding space.

CEA doesn't seem to be as responsive on the EA Forum but we have been able to communicate with them via direct outreach.

Antigravity Investments: Helping the EA Community Leverage Investing to Increase Funding and Donations

2018-10-16T10:51:40.054Z · score: 6 (16 votes)
Comment by brendon_wong on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-12T05:08:30.359Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Remmelt, have you joined the Rethink Charity Slack? I can't seem to find you on there.

I increased my speed of reviewing progress in the space of small project funding. There seems to be one major project related to improving centralized grant funding. 1–2 people are interested in implementing a "Kickstarter for EA projects" at some point in the future but have not started yet. The EA Peer Funding project is essentially "Kickstarter for making grants to individual EAs." This is the extent of my knowledge based on Skyping with several people in this space. No one has mentioned anything else in the comments section of this post or otherwise.

Since there doesn't appear to be others in this area yet, I believe moving forward with concept refinement and seeking additional feedback would be a useful next step. Let's coordinate this via Rethink Charity's Slack!

Comment by brendon_wong on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-12T03:16:02.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Agreed! I, for one, would like to know who is handling "Idea 2." I have talked to several people working on funding small projects and have only heard about Idea 1 and Idea 3. Idea 3 doesn't seem to have anyone actively working on it, just thinking about it.

Comment by brendon_wong on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-11T18:53:47.987Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I propose an infrastructure to generate more active qualified grant makers by making people who are close to qualified/good grantmakers (as Gregory says, good judgement, domain knowledge, relevant network, etc) into grantmakers by giving them the ability to recommend grants from a centralized fund that donors can contribute to in order to fund small projects without the hassle of evaluating dozens of projects themselves, and with the possibility of earmarking funds for specific grantmakers.

I also aim to solve the awareness problem of EA projects that are requesting funding, since EA Grants does not at present have a way for non-CEA staff to learn about possible grants, so only a handful of people can actually assess grants and people that might be great grantmakers are left out. This also requires infrastructure.

Comment by brendon_wong on Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations · 2018-07-11T00:28:03.089Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the insight Remmelt! A good way to start this would be to create an MVP much like Ryan Carey suggested so that we can get started quickly, with a prebuilt application system (Google Forms, Google Docs, a forum, etc) and possibly using a DAF or fiscal sponsor. The web app itself could take a while, but having public projects and public feedback in a forum or something would be reasonably close and take much less effort.

I am meeting with someone who has made some progress in this area early next week. Based on traction and the similarity between the other person's system and this system, I'll see if a new venture in this space could add value, or if existing projects in this space have a good chance of succeeding. One way or the other I'll be in touch!

Comment by brendon_wong on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-07-11T00:16:46.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If EA Funds wants an effortless "zero risk" option to hold the cash, putting all of the money in a high yield business saving account looks like the way to go. This would probably only take several hours to set up.

According to various online reviews "Community Bank of Pleasant Hill Business Premier Money Management Account" seems the best, and "Goldwater Bank Savings Plus Personal & Business Account" looks good as well. Free withdrawals seem to be limited to twice a month but the withdrawal fee is pretty negligible relative to learning $20,000 in annual interest.

To increase yield, using CDs is an easy next step. Otherwise, opening a brokerage account and putting the capital into a money market fund or a short term bond fund would be a relatively low risk and higher yielding option.

Ideas for Improving Funding for Individual EAs, EA Projects, and New EA Organizations

2018-07-10T06:12:29.993Z · score: 22 (21 votes)