Sinclair Chen

Software Engineer @ Manifold Markets
155 karmaJoined Working (0-5 years)



How I can help others

web development, product design, and all things about startups and shipping fast


you're right, and there were anyone-created prediction markets before Manifold, like Augur. I misspoke. the real new-unintuitive thing was markets anyone could create and resolve themselves rather than deferring to a central committee or court system. I think this level of self-sovereignty is genuinely hard to think of. It's not enough to be a crypto fan who likes cypherpunk vibes; one has to be the kind of person who thinks about free banking or who gets the antifragile advantages that street merchants on rugs have over shopping malls. 

although it's quite possible that Manifold got popular more because the UX was better than other prediction markets or because a lot of rationalists to joined at the same time which let the social aspect take off

I agree with the caveat that certain kinds of more reasonable discussion can't happen on the forum because the forum is where people are fighting.

For instance, because of the controversy I've been thinking a lot recently about antiracism recently - like what would effective antiracism look like; what lessons can we take from civil rights and what do we have to contribute (cool ideas on how to leapfrog past or fix education gaps? discourse norms that can facilitate hard but productive discussions about racism? advocating for literal reparations?) I have deleted a shortform I was writing on this because I think ppl would not engage with it positively. and I suspect I am missing the point somehow. I suspect people actually just want to fight, and the point is to be angry.

On the meta level, I have been pretty frustrated (with both sides though not equally) on the manner in which some people are arguing, and the types of arguments they use, and the motivations they. I think in some ways it is better to complain about that off the forum. It's worse for feedback, but that's also a good thing because the cycle of righteous rage does not continue on the forum. And you get different perspectives

(i wonder if a crux here is that you have a lot of twitter followers and I don't. If you tweet you are speaking to an audience; if I tweet I am speaking to weird internet friends)

I wouldn't expect super-high correlation between any specific business owner's personal ideology and good business sense for their business.

It's the other way around. Prediction markets that anyone can create are good, but it's such crazy idea that one has to be pretty libertarian to be able to even think of the idea in the first place

Rachel ended up rolling her own timeslot reservation system. I think it was over-all quite good (aside from some UI nitpicks). Keep in mind tho that Manifest is organized only around talks and group activities, but EAG uses swapcard for scheduled 1:1s, a very different use case.

I continue to like discord, though I didn't look at the Manifest discord very much.

Isn't this true for the provision of any public non-excludable good? A faster road network, public science funding, or clean water benefit some people, firms, and industries more than others. And to the degree community-building resources can be discretized, ordinary market mechanics can distribute them, in which case they cease to be cause-general.

On the other side of the argument, consider that any substantial difference in QALY / $ implies that 
a QALY maximizer should favor giving $ to some causes over others, and this logic holds in general for [outcome you care about] / [resource you're able to allocate]. like if that resource is labor, attention, or eventspace-hours you rederive the issue laid out in the original post.

I wonder if GiveDirectly has so good results not (just) because cash transfers are transformative but because digital payments on cellphones are.

- Voluntary human challenge trials
- Run a real money prediction market for US citizens
- Random compliance stuff that startups don't always bother with: GDPR, purchased mailing lists, D&I training in california, ...

Here are some illegal (or gray-legal) things that I'd consider effectively altruistic though I predict no "EA" org will ever do:
- Produce medicine without a patent
- Pill-mill prescription-as-a-service for certain medications
- Embryo selection or human genome editing for intelligence
- Forge college degrees
- Sell organs
- Sex work earn-to-give
- Helping illegal immigration

A gripe I have with EA is that it is not radical enough. The american civil rights movement of 1950-1960s was very effective and altruistic, even though it's members were arrested, and it's leaders were wiretapped by the FBI and assassinated in suspicious ways. Or consider the stonewall riots.
More contemporarily, I think Uber is good for the world counterfactually. It's good that Nakamoto made bitcoin. It's good that Snowden leaked the NSA stuff. (probably, I'm less sure about the impact of these examples.)

Most crime is bad, and most altruistic crime is ineffective or counterproductive. But not all.

I think swapcard is pretty bad and it's better to just move off of it entirely. Manifest is trying to use discord + airtable's calendar. we'll see if it's better

If you don't patent an invention, someone else can instead. So you should definitely get it patented, if only to put a very open license on it.

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