Out-of-context quote of the day:
"...although even $10 trillion isn't a huge amount of money..."
From Simon Johnson, Director of the IMF's Research Department, on "The Rise of Sovereign Wealth Funds".
So if you had $10 trillion, what would you do with it?
Overheat any sector of the economy that I came into contact with, I think. I like motorbikes... I could buy ever model ever made. I like travelling... but I think my tour guides may up their rates, etc.
In what context is $10 trillion not a huge amount of money? It's approximately the entire US national debt, but the difference is nearly enough to pay off the entire debt of the third world; it's what the UK governent spends in ten years. If I had that kind of wealth, after I'd cleared all third world debts, I'd carpet developing nations everywhere with infrastructure like roads and such, and pay for literacy and clean water everywhere, and I'd still have money left over.
If I had $10 trillion dollars it would go in this order:
(1) As close to secret service level security as I could buy for myself. It seems that functionally, presidents post Reagan are no longer killable, or even shootable. Professional security seems to have gotten that good at the highest end.
(2) The same equivalent in medical care. Might have to go better than presidential level. Some combo of presidential level plus the ER room of Mass Gen, with close, 24/7 surveillance.
(3) Map my genome. Like a MadTV skit on Oprah once posited, have an institute devoted to finding cures for all that's likely to kill me. Do this as nontransparently as possible.
(4) The best PR people, the best lawyers, the best investment managers.
(5) Minimum necessary charity not to be a pariah.
(6) The best cryonics care and estate planning for post-revival.
(7) If it's impossible to hide being so much richer than everyone else, give as much of it away as I need to to still be one of the richest people in the world, but not so rich that I'm the number one target or impossible to socialize with some normalcy with other people. Of course, give it away to causes that will best maximize my persistence odds. If it isn't necessary to give it away, keep it to spend as much as I can for some benefit in maximizing my persistence odds, and save and invest the rest.
There is a book by German Author Andreas Eschbach, that got translated into English. One poor young pizza delivery boy inherits one Trillion (Billion for non-US readers) Dollars and tries to save the world.
Paul Crowley: remember that US markets are much larger than, say, the US economy. From the article:
It depends on the comparison. U.S. GDP is $12 trillion, the total value of traded securities (debt and equity) denominated in U.S. dollars is estimated to be more than $50 trillion, and the global value of traded securities is about $165 trillion.
My worries, in order of priority, would be:
I don't know what I'd do for 1. and I won't waste my time thinking about proper course of action for such low-probability scenarios. For 2. I'd hire all AI researchers to date to work under Eliezer and start seriously studying to be able to evaluate myself whether flipping the "on" switch would result in a friendly singularity.
That could be more damaging than the creation of NASA. You would just suck up all programmers and leave none to do the more down-to-earth real life programming.
"I'd carpet developing nations everywhere with infrastructure like roads and such, and pay for literacy and clean water everywhere, and I'd still have money left over."
I would also do this. In addition, I'd fund the rapid development of the cleanest energy we could muster, and I'd make nutritious food ubiquitously available.
I WOULD DESTROY IT ALL!!! First I'd take out a billion to allow me to live like a king (I cannot provide a justification for this.) Then I would convert the rest to various currencies (deciding how much of each currency would be the hardest part, it would be proportional to GDP I suppose.)
Then I would destroy it all, and everyone else would be proportionally richer. I don't have to worry about allocating the money to whomever can use it best, capitalism has already taken care of that (debatable I know, but done better than I ever could.)
So then everyone can decide how to spend their share of my 10 tril, whether it be aid to poor, or hamburgers or whatever.
While inflation is generally agreed upon as a good way of impoverishing everyone generally, I'm not sure that deflation (and in this case it would seem to be a pretty legitimate increase in value of the currency) would be an effective way of enriching everyone generally. But I'd have to give it some thought.
Anonymous: I'd hire all AI researchers to date to work under Eliezer and start seriously studying to be able to evaluate myself whether flipping the "on" switch would result in a friendly singularity.
I doubt this is the way to go. I want a medium sized, talented and rational team who seriously care, not every AI programmer in the world who smells money. I bring Eliezer a blank cheque and listen to his and those he trusts arguments for best use, though he'd have to convince me where we disagreed, he seems good at that.
Also, even after years of studying for it I wouldn't trust me, or anyone else for that matter, to make that switch-on decision alone.
Not a huge amount snicker
The only thing I can think of right now is I'd get a private plane, because I've been rather fed up with airports lately.
I agree with Anonymous: hire the talent. It's been done before, with proven results: the Manhattan project. In 1932, Einstein said: "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable". Ten years later it was solved, but only by a consortium of the brightest physicists, mathematicians, and engineers. No one person or specialty could do the job. They worked in parallel, like the brain. I suppose it has occurred to those working in AI that if it is what they say, and it is developed in the USA, it will become government property under eminent domain because of its effect on national security; so, the government might as well finance it's development. They have the money.
By the way, another Einstein quote, about an intelligent younger colleague: "Of course he's not humble; he hasn't accomplished anything yet."
I want a medium sized, talented and rational team who seriously care, not every AI programmer in the world who smells money.
I'd rather pay the rest of AI researchers to play games and browse web, than have them work independently on their seed AIs without friendliness component. As for "to date" I meant "up to the point when I receive the money".
Me neither. I, however, would trust myself to make the "don't switch on yet" decision alone.
What's up with the sucking up to Eliezer? I see some of it directed towards Robin, too, but not as much. My guess is it comes with overexpressed certainty about stuff. Notice Eliezer himself doesn't suck up to people in this way.
If I believed I had $10 trillion in today's world I would also believe that with high probability that I was insane.
(1) Buy a country. You could probably bribe your way into becoming dictator of North Korea or Myanmar or somewhere similar.
(2) Build a huge army.
(3) Crash the US economy.
(4) Take over the world.
Tom deMarco: Deadline - a novel about project management.
"What's up with the sucking up to Eliezer?"
Genuine admiration and respect, perhaps?
I agree with A.Madden. If the question was phrased $10 trillion in physical wealth that didn't exist before, it would be different. I wouldn't trust myself to manage more than a few hundred billion, and I'd destroy the other $9.6 trillion.
Maybe a $75000 investment trust for myself and about twice that for family and friends.
Most of my investment strategies (Grahamian Value modified to account for future demographic, geopolitical, cultural and technological trends) breakdown at such high valuations.
I like the CDI index and I like P.Martin's initiative to tie Canadian African foreign aid to those nations (Kenya gets bonus pts for denouncing Mugabe and South Africa and Zimbabwe would get nothing at present) that stamp out corruption. So maybe $40 billion to buy down the debt of said nations.
I'd saturate research grants for things like apiculture, grain, and desalination research; maybe one billion would cover 10000 grants. But the real need is probably university research infrastructures, and I'd be worried about being stuck with the operating costs and the marginal research gains not being anything close to the research output now.
I'd want to harmonize distance learning education globally, but that is dependant on accreditation and immigration reforms, and I don't think the real gains will accrue until holograms fill bandwidth. So for now I'd make strategic scientific journal sectors free.
Would buy up mosquito nets and saturate microfinance penetration (dependant on training door-to-door bankers). Maybe $5 billion?
Lots of think-tanks on various subjects. I wasted much time doing casual labour to make rent and may again in the future; no doubt there are millions of others. $2 billion would fund 1000 think-tanks that mimic university institutions without the need to force superfluous course material.
I'd establish a $10 billion trust for grain storage GMO research, and physical pilot projects that mimic the UK's previous Intervention Storage project, but at a much higher tech level.
I'd establish a $10 billion trust to accelerate the research into urban robotic greenhouses (inert gas greenhouse sheaths, robotic pruners, OLEDs, time-release fertilizers, GMOs).
I'd short any oil and coal companies that have funded Neoconservative think-tanks or used lawyers that have previously defended the asbestos or tobacco industries. $25 billion. I'd pay 1/6 the value to developing nations of building wind turbines instead of coal, as wind company stock options towards their sovereign wealth funds. A $4 billion trust?
Saturate IDE's drip irrigation and hand pump market; a $2 billion trust. $5 billion(?) to work with the big US banks to implement grain elevators and exchanges in the developing world, and novel metal commodity contracts in the developed world (semiconductors and polymer solar cells need metals like gallium). I'd match any CSA funding if they wanted to reinstate NASA's cancelled NIAC ($500 million).
A trust to fight computer hackers (best way to fight AI threats from what I can tell), and sketch out the possibility of a low footprint gene sequencing and electronics market decades in the future, to fight designer pandemic and AI/AGI. $10 billion.
Fighting pandemics appears to turn into fighting Staph infections, so $50 billion to give hospitals in the western world gelFAST alcohol rubs dispensors for their nurses and U of T nurse hand-wash sensors ($300 a bed) in all hospital beds. $100 billion for basic sewage, health, nutrition and education infrastructures in the developing world.
Saturate Cuba's 3rd world doctor exporting programme, $500 million. A trust to GMO a crop containing all 8 essential amino acids.
At $263 billion here. The problem is my investment strategy wouldn't work at such a high valuation, and I'd need to devote a lot of time to learn new strategies just to park and manage the trusts. Also, a lot of things I think are high ROEs are properly handled by governments. There is a $10 billion programme forwarded to fight mental health disorders in Canada, certainly useful for managing any futuristic technologies. I like building nursing homes and affordable pedestrian friendly housing, and I like rejigging agriculture tarriff/subsidy rates, but that is the job of government. Same for things like offering free bank accounts, the job of private industry.
Most of the above can be distilled to university grants, and making university accessible to the third world and to first world adults. Many things I don't know enough about to fund. A $1 billion trust to buy light-weight solar cells and mini wind turbines for the developing world. $2 billion to cut Canada's boreal forest into pieces to fight Mountain Pine Beetle, if it eats Jack Pines. $100 million to fund solid-state hydrogen research. $900 million to buy up rainforests/wetlands in danger. A $1 billion prize trust to give annual awards to leaders that safeguard their own environmental capital. I'd want to buy a Zenn electric car, but they are illegal in Canada. $269 billion.
True, but it would not take long radically to reduce the probability. There are tests you can perform. For example, you can try to spend some of the money.
A: I'd buy a ten trillion dollar car.
E: That's fine I'd still pull you over.
A: Bull . You couldn't pull me over, and even if you did I'd activate my car's wings and I'd fly away.
"names changed, blah, blah, blah"
(0) Ask people smarter and more familiar with the subjects than myself on how I should approach these things.
With the exception of "(5) Minimum necessary charity not to be a pariah." pretty much the same as HA, but in addition to that and more specifically:(I'd hire people to start doing listed things simultaneously, so not really in order)
(8) contact various AI, nanotech and life extension organizations and people in order to start negotiations on how much money should be given and to whom(a very important aspect of this being of course not to give anything to people likely to spend it dangerously, which I currently think includes AI organizations and people that don't have ensuring Frienliness as their prime concern.)
(9) initiate healthcare, agriculture and education improvement programs especially in the third world
(10) declare large bounties to certain technological improvements in areas such as energy, healtcare, communications, etc.
(11) initiate programs to bootstrap various industries around the third world with a focus on helping people be more productive and help themselves. Stuff like Muhammad Yunus does, but on a larger scale.
(12) maximize the possibility that in the event of my death as little of the money as possible could be taken off of these projects.
(13) found startups to do interesting projects.
(14) drop out of university, quit day job, party for a while and while not overseeing these projects, resume studying what I find most important and interesting and hire people to help in that.
USD 10^16 is a lot, but some of these projects are rather expensive so and important part would be to solicit other individuals, organizations and states to participate in funding them, e.g. with matching grants.
Whoops, USD 10^13 , of course.
Wait, 10^13 not 10^16? I don't have time for this petty stuff.
I doubt my ability to usefully spend more than $10 million/year on the Singularity. What do you do with the rest of the money?
I wonder how many people who hear that quote understand it.
Ha Ha Ha...
Note- Lara Foster was previously commentator Laura ABJ-
Eliezer: Here’s one way to interpret that quote, though I doubt it’s what you had in mind when you asked who ‘understands’ it:
Young people who have not yet accomplished anything have no reputation to defend and nothing to lose by throwing themselves full-force at a problem, flaunting established political hierarchies, and actually thinking they have some hope of solving it or accomplishing something of value that had not already been done 10 million times over.
I find your musings on hubris interesting.
I have to echo Eliezer's fear of useful spending. I have some contingencies, but I could not absorb that much money intelligently.
To spend any fraction of that, you'd need an organization, and synchronizing an organization's goals with my own is another hard problem.
If it's existing wealth, then destroying the unusable portion of it does make everyone else proportionally richer, at least until the markets recover. If it's new wealth, then probably the best thing to do would be to stabilize existing selected markets with enormous and slow moving investments, until I could determine what to do.
As Justin said, "I could not absorb that much money intelligently".
I think a chunk of currency on-par with the US GDP is not a liquid asset. If you could accumulate such a sum, introducing it into the market would probably deflate whatever currency it was introduced as. It would be roughly equivalent to minting it fresh.
The smartest thing to start with might be a system of checks and balances for your own spending. You'd look like a government at that size, so it's probably best to behave like responsible one.
...The think-tank money would include futurism like SIAI and this blog's topics. For longevity research, I think the best way to promote it might be to screen what health/pharma/biotech companies spend the most on R+D in relavent sub-fields. Money would only come in handy to market such a portfolio as "boomer-ethical". I'd want to give R.Freitas money to do diamond surface chemistry computer sims, but given that they come down in price every year I wouldn't be sure the optimal amount.
Think-tanks is pretty vague. You'd want to look into the specifics of FDA approval processes in pursuit reform ideas; you could fund such a think-tank but the real bottleneck would be educating policy researchers. I'd think any university would respond favourably in instituting new research schools of any type, probably get matching government funding too.
For example, W.Buffett had trouble finding cheap investments as soon as he had tens of billions to play with. The Provincial Government of Alberta couldn't figure out what to do with their oil revenues when approaching eleven digits of play money.
The problem with the hypothetical is that for most of us, there is no way that we could soon come into possession of ten trillion dollars. In the first place, that's far more money than anyone has in the world. And even if someone had that much, nobody is going to knock on your door and give you a check for ten million dollars. It just doesn't happen. Maybe a few readers could, with enough hard work and luck, someday get into a position where they could control or at least influence the spending of that much money, but it would be a long way off.
So the first thing you have to say is, if I had that much money, I would be the kind of person who sought after that much money. I would be a different kind of person than I am today, so I can only speculate on how that version of me would spend the money. And chances are he would invest it in a diversified portfolio that was expected to produce high returns with low risk.
I doubt my ability to usefully spend more than $10 million/year on the Singularity. What do you do with the rest of the money?
Pay all the competition to retire?
Maybe part of the point of this question was, much like the injunction to write our own commandments, an exercise in determining what we would do in a God-like position- such as we might be if we were to design the first successful fAI and tell it what it should want to do.
I would not tell anyone that I had the money, but rather assemble several closely-knit teams of truth-seeker rationalists to work together on finding ways to improve the world via the expenditure of money. They would write reports with evidence- I would higher people I felt capable of evaluating such reports, and do what they said with the money.
I would do meetings with the most bayesian/utilitarian/imaginative/brilliant and cultivated people I can think of, asking them to invite whoever they think could be useful.
We would first discuss about what would be the best decision making process for the group; surely every decision could be made either by consensus or by vote.
Then we would take action.
10 trillion of anything is more than we have evolved to be able to process.
It is simply orders of magnitude beyond my comprehension, a class beyond "woo, that's alot of money."
So if I had somehow gotten ahold of this much money, I'm fairly sure I could not properly administer even a tenth of a tenth of percent of the interest. The vast remainder would have absolutely no value for me. I'm simply not smart enough to extract value from it.
So. The only rational act would be for me to skim the tiniest portion of it useful to me, then construct a giant swimming pool in which to dive into the remainder at my leisure.
To those who would destroy the money, I have to ask, how would that be possible? Money on that scale is not available in physical form to destroy, and if you buy valuable goods and then destroy them, you've actually destroyed wealth, not increased the value of other peoples' money. I just can't conceive of a way to vanish $10 trillion.
Well I admit it's a hell of a diminishing returns curve. OK... Dear Santa, please can I have an army of minions^H^H^H^Htrusted experts to research cool but relatively neglected stuff like intelligence enhancement, life extension (but not nanotech) & how to feed and educate the third world without screwing it up. And deal with those pesky existential risks. Oh, and free cryonics for everyone - let's put those economies of scale to good use. Basically keep people alive till the FAI guys get there. Then just enjoy the ride, cos if I've just been handed $10^13 I'm probably in a simulation. More so than usual.
presidents post Reagan are no longer killable
I am not sure that I could do more with $10T than with $1T, but by "do more" I mostly mean "bring about a friendly singularity faster". I'm pretty sure that even $30B would be enough to essentially max out the chance of a friendly singularity, but extra money up to $1T or so could almost definitely bring it about faster and save lives in the mean time. I'm not going to give my spending proposals in depth though, beyond what's already present in my paper "Corporate Cornucopia".
Not too different from the rest of this crowd: Fund a bunch of high risk, high reward scientific research projects.
To those who would destroy the money, I have to ask, how would that be possible? Money on that scale is not available in physical form to destroy
When it is not in physical form, it is usually in the form of a promise to pay. So, you just contact the counterparty (party who has promised) and tell them that you forgive the debt. So, it is possible to destroy $10**13.
Richard Hollerith, I thought of that -- as far as I can tell, it's equivalent to giving them the money.
I would use the 10 trillion dollars to give every person on earth access to a system that would be (as close as modern technology allows) equivalent to A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.
In today's terms, that might manifest itself as giving everyone free access to computers with high bandwidth internet connections, which they could use to access a YouTube-like website housing multimedia explanations of every topic imaginable, tailored to every target audience imaginable, combined with a sophisticated system that would create informational links (and/or allow users to create links) between every piece of media, such that another sophisticated system could propose a 'best route' to achieving deep understanding of any particular piece of knowledge.
After this had been done, all remaining money would be spent on a combination of incentivizing the world's best thinkers and educators to contribute (or continue contributing), research grants, and scholarships.
Cyan, I agree, it is equivalent. (And destroying dollar bills is like distributing the money to everyone else who holds dollars because those dollars become scarcer and consequently more valuable.)
Whereas for the US federal government, the question is "So if you owed $10 trillion, what would you do about it?"
That's about 15% of gross world product, by the way.
I would found a libertarian city state similar to singapore or monaco.
If libertarianism is right, these types of city states should eventually out-compete nations as they are much more efficient.
I'd like to see humanity return to city states as the tendency towards ever greater levels of centralization in government is clearly detrimental.
after that was up and running I'd retire to a harem that made the playboy mansion look like a church service.
What, nobody would set up prediction markets to determine how to best spend?
Mike, I'd certainly make some use of prediction markets. But I expect them generally to not create clear-cut recommendations. It's certainly possible that they would cause big changes in my plans, but I'm starting with the assumption that there's too much uncertainty to get more than a crudely educated guess from any approach to deciding how to spend the money.
I've posted how I'd allocate the money here.
Let us ignore where the money came from and the ripple effects it would have on world economy.
In the beginning I would park it with 10 - 100 different banks that are capable of handling such amounts.
The biggest problem I see is to find the right people to work for me. They are really hard to find.
I would create a small organisation whose job it is to initiate and control all the others that are about to be started. In general I would prefer to give to organisations that are already there and have proven their worth, but in a few cases there might be a lack of those.
So first I search for really good and competent people to help set up a place to steer all the other projects - I actually have a few in mind. But well. The security suggestions from other comment sound good as well.
Then I would do some short term things, but mostly concentrate on long term effects. Without destroying the spirits of those being helped So all plans are subject to revision from my advisory team.
give some amount in split increments along specific road marks to deGrey
fund other institutes for longevity research (including the GRG)
select a small island or country where I would subsidize effort to get the rate of accidents that lead to death to 0
fund a few projects I like, incl. sea-steading. and maybe just buying a place for a libertarian experiment.
fund research into systematically overlook areas in the sciences - I mean the finding and pointing out part, not necessarily the funding
support research that is useful, but not currently classy (ref: Seth Roberts)
fund Project Cassandra - a think tank that seeks and invites very bright people and allows them to work on whatever, including suggestion making for real life issues.
fund the search and eduction of prodigies. (people like him: http://www.worlddreambank.org/P/PRODODD.HTM)
identify common values that should and can be changed
support rationality dojo building
subsidize cryogenics till it has a decent amount of clients. Maybe 99% funding for the first sign-ups, and then continue with decreasing sums till it hits 100k or 1 million clients.
lots of public education efforts - not sure how to do them.
efficiency and creativity prices
pay for the basic services for the 3rd world that are relatively cheap and effect full: water, basic health, literacy (probably with gates foundation), the mosquito thing, inoculation where it is still missing - I would be super careful to not crush entrepreneurial spirits. That is a big problem with helping. Maybe have PR campaigns develop that change some local values.
spend time listening to bright people with suggestions.
start a fund for small funding of strange projects, using a simplified process.
Maybe just build my own university.
With $10 000 000 000 000, the first thing I would do was commission a $4 million study of effective philanthropy. At the same time, I'd have to establish some foundation to monitor corruption related to any further spending. (As soon as you're tossing money around, you have to watch out for people trying to siphon it off. Note: you have to monitor corruption in the foundation.)
I would donate $20 000 to the Krugman-Murphy debate fund over at The Point (http://krugmandebate.com/). And I'd like to assist similar ventures, such as pledging three million dollars to feed hungry children if Facebook would install a downvote button.
I'd fire off $1 000 000 salvos at the Ludwig von Mises Institute(http://mises.org/), the Singularity Institute(http://singinst.org/), the Seasteading Institute(http://seasteading.org/), Open Source Ecology(http://opensourceecology.org/), TOR(https://www.torproject.org/), The Electronic Frontier Foundation(http://www.eff.org/), Wikipedia(http://www.wikipedia.org/, as if you didn't know that already), and genius grants at Hans Rosling, Elizer Yudkowsky, Robin Hanson, Aubrey De Gray, Matt Ridley, and a number of others.
I'd hire a top-notch advertising agency to create some advertisements about rationality. (Debunking the stereotypical view of rationality could make for some pretty entertaining ads.)
My dad suggested offering to pay off half of the national debt if an amendment would be passed requiring a balanced budget, but I don't really feel like paying 7 trillion to the government. Competitive grants to countries based on their ability to clean up corruption would be pretty cool, however.
Purchasing the copyright to my favorite books, movies, and music and releasing them all under a creative commons licence is a cool idea (spreading my memeotype, in the process). It imaginably could spurn on some sort of creative work related to the works I like, but it's no guarantee. At least people could log on to a site of stuff I recommend and download everything I think is worthwhile. Buying out patents of drugs and inventions that aren't being fully employed because people are waiting for the patents to expire and releasing them in the same way would be another good use. I would also create a database of scientific journals that anyone can access for free, releasing them through Google Scholar or something.
I would create a number of prizes similar to the X-prize, first and foremost for the development of carbon nanotubes long enough to be useful in making a space elevator. The second prize might be to develop terraforming technology for making Mars habitable.
I'd also put out a standing call for acres of wilderness, with the ultimate goal of expanding nature preserves. For instance, nailing down 30% of the Amazon would be pretty cool.
Personally, I'd purchase every Frank Lloyd Wright building still standing, have them all fixed up to as good as new, and commission the construction of all of his unbuilt designs. (With the possible exception of the Illinois, pending a cost-analysis. I'll not be spending half of the ten trillion on one building... or at least not immediately.) I'd set up a trust fund for my family and my descendants. Further, I would have a lot of kids, clones, and perhaps wives. I would purchase Uncut, a fantastic magazine I'm a huge fan of(not to install myself as chief editor or anything, I'd just be glad to have it.) I'd frequently purchase all the rooms on a cruise ship and fill it with my friends, family, and any number of interesting people I'd like to meet. Further than meeting people, I'd like to facilitate the people I admire meeting one another in serendipitous ways, perhaps leading to interesting collaborations.
I'd create a university with a $50 000 000 000 endowment and cherrypick my favorite faculty from their present universities (I'm a big fan of GMU's econ faculty). I'd also found a music festival and try to book all my favorite bands. I'd have my hometown wired with high-speed wireless Internet.
Beyond that, I'd spend as the ideas came to me (I think there would be a great deal to work on beyond what I've listed here, like perhaps founding a charter city a la Paul Romer). I'd get to work on my entrepreneurial ideas, likely filling the rest of my life tinkering on projects with interesting people.