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MIRI's Winter 2013 Matching Challenge

Well, if it's a stable income then there's nothing wrong with a little celebration. Could be worth it for the boost in self-esteem from being able to contribute to something one feels is genuinely good and special.

MIRI's Winter 2013 Matching Challenge

What about CFAR this year? Should I consider donating to their 2013 Winter Matching Fundraiser instead of to MIRI?

Last year I remember someone (Eliezer?) wrote a somewhat confusing recommendation as to which one one should donate to.

A quick glance at their progress reveals that the MIRI one has almost reached its goal of $250k whereas CFAR has only gotten $8k so far (but also has another two weeks to go).

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

Yes, but there can be long delays between a donation happening and updates. Coordinating donations can be non-trivial, especially when flash crowds appear (e.g. sob story on reddit).

Also, such a randomized approach is not necessary if one can just donate small amounts to multiple projects instead (i.e. if transaction fees are not a problem).

Ethics of piracy

There's also government contracting, which is a similar situation, but with lowest bidder instead.

Ethics of piracy

Well some would do it that way. But consider the possibility of cooperation instead of competition. Completely non-crippled software exists today already (open source). Crippling your software to make it scarce means it has to beat the competition by a larger margin. People must decide if the inconvenience is worth it. There's also the risk of a culture that detests crippling develops that "frees" your software, despite attempts at crippling (e.g. cracking games).

Also, societies unwilling to accept the zero-cost of copying will still have piracy, but at a cost of less trust in the legal system.

Not to mention societies embracing "piracy" would have to divert less resources to discussing it...

Ethics of piracy

There's a basic information asymmetry there which I'd expect to make people averse -- and justifiably so -- to letting go their money.

What asymmetry?

I can think of two problems (context being writers and books):

  • first book by a new writer pretty much has to be free. No one trusts him.
  • a famous (trusted) writer writes crap book or no book, but gets money anyway. He loses trust. ("Trust" becomes new world currency?)

In a way, the relationship writer - readers becomes more similar to that of employee - employer.

Ethics of piracy

The computer together with the Internet may be the most amazing invention in human history. We now have the means to allow all human beings access to all information of our entire race! No matter if you're a (not too) poor farmer in Africa or a bank executive, the only thing you need is a computer and Internet access, and it costs nothing more (well there's electricity). Yet we choose to limit this fantastic invention and deny the poor farmer access.

If food was free would we then limit it, for fear that there might not be enough new dishes invented? Surely we could come up with ways to cope with living in a world were food was truly abundant? And surely we would choose a better option than starting to charge for that which is free? Fake scarcity can't be the only solution.

"Piracy" is but a natural reaction to copyright. I suggest we discuss how one could better allocate resources than pretending software is a physical "product" that can be sold.

Ethics of piracy

What would making piracy legal really imply? (I.e. assume there are no IP rights/restrictions/monopolies.) How would a company like Adobe make money that way? This is something worth considering.

How might programmers make money? The people who buy the software (e.g. a database for a warehouse) still needs it, and would still be willing to pay for someone to make it. The company may also try to keep it local and secret, if the warehouse database is a strategic advantage. Or they might share it if they care more about e.g. the better quality that naturally comes from more users (e.g. more bug reports and developers -> fewer bugs).

What about Adobe? They might have to sell the first copy of their software, i.e. setting a price that people pool together to meet before they will release the new version, after which anyone can copy it freely of course (anyone with a computer). This is a very different business model from earning money from the software continuously (i.e. from each copy), and might generate less funds. I don't know if any area uses this business model already?

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

Improving after practicing in a simulation doesn't sound that far-fetched to me. Especially not considering that they probably already have plenty of experience to base their simulation on.

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

Perhaps a better idea would be to spend money on education of women in poor areas, something that is known to reduce the fertility rate. By reducing the fertility rate we also reduce the number of poor, starving, dying in HIV etc children born into this world.

I think that simply measuring the number of dead children may be useful as a simplification, but it's too simplistic. Really, to me it seems like it's just something that people believing in axiomatic morals are having problems dealing with. "But, think of the children!"

If the answer to "is it better to spend this money on saving a kids life?" is always yes, I'd say you have a problem with your value system.

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