VG

Vilfredo's Ghost

614 karmaJoined Dec 2018

Participation
3

  • Attended an EAGx conference
  • Attended more than three meetings with a local EA group
  • Received career coaching from 80,000 Hours

Comments
119

Strong downvote on the OP because the counting is done in a HIGHLY misleading way. If I were the moderators I would take the post down or demand SUBSTANTIAL corrections. 

For Claim 1. (25% of signatories have been accused of financial misconduct, and 10% convicted[1]), the info provided in the footnote renders this claim outright false. Beyond the fact that many civil violations of the law are not even crimes, civil judgments are not convictions, require a substantially lower standard of proof, and from a legal strategy standpoint, there is often no reason not to settle a case that requires no admission of wrongdoing and where the legal consequences of a criminal conviction are not triggered and it's just not worth the opportunity cost of spending time and money litigating it. 

 

Using the experience of non-US billionaires is also extremely misleading without evidence about base rates of crime in those countries. My guess would be that India, for example, has historically had such high rates of corruption that virtually every Indian over ~50, and certainly those in business, have done things that would result in jail time if done in the US. But that's not morally blameworthy; it's just the system they have to operate in. 

 

Beyond that issue, some more mundane ones: 

No evidence is presented for the idea that white collar criminals are less likely to be punished than other criminals. It is probably the case that rich people are less likely to be punished for the same crime than poor people. But the nature of financial crime in publicly traded companies is that the evidence is just way more accessible to the government than the evidence of stealing toothpaste from Target. So financial crimes in publicly traded companies are likely prosecuted at much higher rates than other types of crimes. 

Overall the rates listed appear to generally be lower than the general population, which is extremely impressive considering that most billionaires are men, who tend to have much higher rates of criminality. So I would expect billionaires to have almost double the population base rate of criminality just by virtue of that! I don't know why Y-combinator funding is a remotely appropriate reference class. 

Let's review the individual claims now:

  1. 25% of signatories have been accused of financial misconduct, and 10% convicted[1]
  2. 4% of signatories have spent at least one day in prison
  3. Overall, 41% of signatories have had at least one allegation of substantial misconduct (financial, sexual, or otherwise

Claim 1. is blatantly false, as noted at the outset. Beyond that, we have only an explanation, hidden in the footnote, of what constitutes a "conviction". No definition of the meaning of allegation. Based on the stated methodology I assume at least a criminal charge or the filing of a lawsuit to count. No indication on whether e.g. a public allegation with no suit counts, and no indication that a lawsuit needs to be credible to count. 

Were it to be true, this would be lower than the overall % of Americans with criminal charges, which is about 1/3 of adults. This doesn't include those who've been defendants in a civil lawsuit, which I can't find good statistics for. I can't find overall statistics for criminal convictions but 8% of American adults have felony convictions. Based on my experience as a lawyer, it's surprising what kinds of minor bs count as a felony but I'd still be surprised if misdemeanor convictions don't outnumber felonies (with substantial overlap), so I'd guess at least 16% have some kind of conviction. Miscount civil judgments as "convictions" and tons more people get thrown in.

Claim 2.--the population base rate is about 5% over a lifetime.

Claim 3. In addition to the problems noted with 1., it's unclear what constitutes "substantial misconduct". Crimes at least have a clear definition. Civil violations of the law have a clear-ish definition. 

Would objective licensing standards help? Training itself can be BS'd but maybe a test run by the state is harder to rig. 

They got outplayed in the context of the internal politics of OpenAI, where there were A LOT of people with profit (Microsoft) or career (the employees) incentives to race ahead. But there seems to be an emerging public consensus in favor of more regulation, so I would expect that e.g. smart, ambitious politicians have quite different incentives. 

In the event of a successful lawsuit, we should consider NL fully vindicated and not engage in this sort of reputational retribution for daring to defend their rights. Actions that successfully punish wrongdoers are generally not negative sum because they discourage future misconduct. This is true even where it's negligent and not malicious; knowing one may face consequences encourages greater care in the future. 

 

Edit: I can see reasons it might be unfair to pursue a defamation suit against an unsophisticated/under-resourced party where it's a really close call legally. But we are talking about legally sophisticated parties who effectively spent $ 6 figures' worth of their time on this; the legal fees are chump change compared to what they've already put in. 

Unlikely, but to the extent it's true it mostly favors the defendant. Burden of proof is on the plaintiff.

My statement stands even on a negligence standard. It's even harder to sue as a pubic figure, but truth is an absolute defense regardless. 

US defamation law is not strict at all. It bends over backwards to respect the First Amendment. Truth is a complete defense. UK defamation law, and the law of many other un-free countries, is pretty ridiculous and I do think it's unethical to take advantage of that. But in the US it's so hard to bring a defamation suit that even bringing one and not being shot down by the anti-SLAPP law is strong evidence that the plaintiff is in the right.

 

 I haven't reviewed it closely enough to know if there's enough for a viable defamation suit, but if there is, NL absolutely should sue Pace and those getting mad about that threat should be ashamed of themselves. A norm that you should not bring, or threaten to bring, lawsuits against people who are wronging you in a way the law recognizes as wrong is very very very bad. That norm privileges those who are doing wrong, at the expense of the innocent. 

I think norms should strongly push against taking seriously any public accusation made anonymously in most circumstances. I feel like we have taken a norm that was appropriate to a very limited set of circumstances and tried to make a grand moral principle out of it, and it doesn't work. Giving some anonymity to victims of sexual assault/harassment, in some circumstances, makes sense because it's a uniquely embarrassing thing to be a victim of due to our cultural taboos around sex.  Anonymity might be appropriate for people revealing problems at their current employer. Or it might be appropriate in industries that are generally more amoral, for conduct I would expect most employers to want to commit--e.g. I would want people to be able to anonymously disclose that a doctor is biased in favor of prescribing drugs pushed by the pharma sales rep who buys him the fanciest lunches, because I think most doctors want to supplement their incomes by taking pharma bribes. But if people have legitimate fears about retaliation by unrelated employers within the EA ecosystem then we have lost the plot so thoroughly that we should probably burn the whole thing down. 

 

If someone is going to make false accusations, the rest of us have a right to know that about their character and avoid dealing with them. A person making false accusations is in fact a predator; describing themself as a victim doesn't change that. Mental illness doesn't change that. I have a family member with mental health issues similar to what Kat has described of Alice. In my experience this person is a genuinely bad person, despite many professions of good intent. This person leaves a trail of wreckage in their wake wherever they go. I don't introduce friends or significant others to them without a warning. It would be unfair to my friends/SOs to do otherwise. If I were in a position to warn their prospective employers, I would consider myself duty-bound to warn them as well. 

 

If the accusations are true I don't see how it possibly hurts their reputation to have their identities attached to them, except that it makes similarly abusive employers less likely to hire them. Which I wouldn't exactly consider a negative if I were in their shoes. 

Current or former Congressional staffers, help me out in the DMs:

 

I see members of Congress fairly often for short periods of time, and I feel like most of my time with them is wasted in chitchat or just like...whatever's in the news. I wanna start using the time more effectively to promote the best available policy interventions at a given time. Assuming I will spend 5 minutes with a Congressperson per week (could be my Rep, could be others), and probably only have like 10 min available to spend on figuring out what to talk to them about, how do I efficiently figure out what I should be pushing that week? Should I just be a broken record about some specific thing no one is doing right now (esp given that I have access to Members other than my own; maybe this is a useful coordinating function), or should I focus more on already pending legislation?

 

Bonus points if you can suggest how to figure out timely appropriations that I should ask state/local elected officials to lobby for; I get wayyyyy more facetime with them.

Is there a specific bill or amendment (or set of them) we should be asking ppl to support or oppose? Gonna see my Congressperson this weekend so good time to ask, but from a quick search it's not obvious what specifically I should be asking for. I'd like to be as detailed as possible. 

 

Second, what exactly needs to be reauthorized? The program itself, or an appropriation of funds? Or both? And if needs an appropriation, how much? Fun fact about the US system: Congress can effectively kill programs that are still technically on the  books, by just not giving them $, so you gotta be very clear in what you're demanding. 

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