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This is wonderful – thank you so much for writing it.

Mutual dedication to one another’s ends seems like a thing commonly present in religious and ethnic communities. But it seems quite uncommon to the demographic of secular idealists, like me. Such idealists tend to form and join single-focus communities like effective altruism, which serve only a subset of our eudaemonic needs.

Agree about secular, single-purpose communities – but I'm not sure EA is quite the same.

I've found my relationships with other EAs tend to blossom to be about more than just EA; those principles provide a good set of shared values from which to build other things, like a sense of community, shared houses, group meals, playing music together and just supporting each other generally. Then again, I don't consider EA to be the core of my identity, so YMMV.

Not a wholly-unserious suggestion. SWP could do a tie-in with the artist creating these fun knock-offs, capitalise on Swift madness, rehabilitate shrimp as cute in the process.

In addition, the "not funding a company that will make the world worse" constraint on this program likely makes unicorn status substantially less likely

Citation needed on this - I’m not sure what net-bad unicorns you’re thinking of (and I’d be interested to know), but I think at the outset they probably mostly looked like not-making-the-world-worse ideas and by the time they’re getting to unicorn status the original incubator has very little influence over what they do.

I actually think the overlap between those interested in EA and founding unicorns is weak

Perhaps, although as the post says you don’t need to found a unicorn to have a very promising exit and give a large amount to charity. I’m one of the people who became a software engineer back when 80K recommended it as a promising career path. I think more of us should start EtG startups - and suspect there are many like me who don’t feel themselves a good fit for direct work (or just like tech) and would make good founders.

(I ask because I think burnout is a serious problem and its seriousness is probably generally under-appreciated in this community)

It's bizarre isn't it

Very much hoping the board makes public some of the reasons behind the decision.

This is wonderful.

I'd love to see a writeup of what happened in 2018 if you're willing to share.

One thing I hadn't realised is that Ilya Sutskever signed this open letter as well (and he's on the board!).

An open letter from 500 of ~700 OpenAI employees to the board, calling on them to resign (also on The Verge).

Suggests there's an enormous amount of bad feeling about the decision internally. It also seems like a bad sign that the board was unwilling to provide any 'written evidence' of wrongdoing, though maybe something will appear in the coming days.

But all told it looks pretty bad for EA. Seems like there's an enormous backlash online - initially against OpenAI for firing everyone’s favourite AI CEO, and now against “EA” “woke” “decelerationist” types.[1][2]

It’s also seemed to trigger a flurry of tweets from Nick Cammarata, saying that EAs are overwhelmingly self-flagellating and self-destructive and that EA caused him and his friends enormous harm. I think his claims are flatly wrong (though they may be true for him and his friends), and some of the replies seem to agree, but it has 500K views as I publish.

Seems like the whole episode (combined with at least one prominent EA seemingly saying it’s emblematic dreadful and toxic) has the potential to cause a lot of reputational damage, especially if the board chooses not to clarify its actions (although it's possibly too late for that).

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I don't understand the strategy of creating a lower risk business in order to fund a higher risk business though: if you are aligned with your investors (and if your goal is "make money" then you probably are aligned), then it seems strictly better to use their money instead of your own?

Second-time founders (at least in my experience, and in the UK/Europe) have a much easier time getting funding for their businesses. Certainly as a first-time founder our experience of getting funding has been like pulling teeth, despite decent traction and ARR. With greater access to capital I'd expect a higher chance of building a very large company. So in essence, the goal of one's first venture might be to just get to some form of exit to provide the cachet for then starting the next thing, rather than going for as big an exit as possible.

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