Singularity Institute $100K Challenge Grant / 2009 Donations Reminder

post by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-30T00:36:19.627Z · score: 14 (21 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 18 comments

In case you missed the notice at the SIAI Blog, the Singularity Institute's next Challenge Grant is now running - $100,000 of matching funds for all donations until February 28th, 2010.  If you want your donation to be tax-deductible in the U.S. for 2009, donations postmarked by December 31st will be counted for this tax year.

18 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Rune · 2009-12-30T02:04:51.218Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think the Methuselah Foundation's credit card idea might also be a good way to receive donations without people actively donating money. Probably also buys more warm fuzzies per dollar, since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-30T15:23:50.056Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

I suspect that's not a good thing, not something an SIAI supporter deserves, and certainly not something that encourages rational decision-making which I'd prefer SIAI to encourage on general principle.

Having said that, if they did it I'd probably get one.

comment by Utilitarian · 2009-12-31T03:49:26.696Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. And I think it's important to consider just how small 1% really is. I doubt the fuzzies associated with using the credit card would actually be as small as 1% of the fuzzies associated with a 100% donation -- fuzzies just don't have high enough resolution. So I would fear, a la scope insensitivity, people getting more fuzzies from the credit card than are actually deserved from the donation. If that's necessary in order for the fuzzies to exceed a threshold for carrying out the donation, so be it; but usually the problem is in the other direction: People get too many fuzzies from doing too little and so end up not doing enough.

comment by Rain · 2009-12-31T18:48:58.511Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Having said that, if they did it I'd probably get one.

I would as well. I've been looking for ways to brand / affiliate myself with SIAI, and there does not seem to be much available beyond the t-shirt.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2009-12-30T16:10:57.837Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you expect the emotion to be appropriate to the truth of the situation, then it's a good thing to have that emotion.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-31T04:54:46.347Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My problem isn't in giving people fuzzies as a reward for them giving SIAI 1% of something.

My problem's with this adding to people's already super-stimulated-by-clever-marketers set of psychological rewards and excuses-to-self for running up enormous credit card bills buying stuff they don't need with money that could be put to better use by, say, giving SIAI more than 1% of something.

comment by Roko · 2010-01-01T16:14:40.847Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My problem's with this adding to people's already super-stimulated-by-clever-marketers set of psychological rewards and excuses-to-self for running up enormous credit card bills

This problem is about 50 orders of magnitude less important than just getting more money to utilitarian causes like SIAI. Let the marketers win their Pyhrric victory, concentrate on winning the singularity for humanity.

comment by Bo102010 · 2009-12-30T18:20:51.371Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It could also be seen as a kind of rational precommitment - if you know that you want to donate to the SIAI, but can never muster the effort to get it done, this would be a good thing to do. Feeling good after using your credit card is just a bonus.

comment by MichaelGR · 2009-12-30T20:48:20.959Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this would be the right way to think about it; as a willpower hack.

If you don't have a problem donating right now, better just donate the amount you want to give without things like credit cards and such. But if you want to donate but aren't doing it, this might help (though it would probably be best to work directly on the problem first).

comment by Wei_Dai · 2009-12-30T21:26:28.375Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Those confident in their willpower can get a credit card with 2% cash back rebate and just commit to donating the rebate. Methuselah Foundation's card only gives a 1% donation.

comment by Rain · 2009-12-31T18:34:06.020Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

An interesting corollary: you can use that credit card to donate to the SIAI and still receive the cash back, effectively making your donation 2% larger, or hacking your willpower in a similar way as that described by Bo102010, but this time by reducing the cost of your donation.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-30T13:07:33.977Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

I suspect that's a good thing, not something an SIAI supporter deserves, and certainly not something that encourages rational decision-making which I'd prefer SIAI to encourage on general principle.

Having said that, if they did it I'd probably get one.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-30T13:06:48.614Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

I suspect that's a good thing, not something an SIAI supporter deserves, and certainly not something that encourages rational decision-making which I'd prefer SIAI to encourage on general principle.

Having said that, if you did it I'd probably get one.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-30T12:30:04.529Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

I suspect that's a good thing, not something an SIAI supporter deserves, and certainly not something that encourages rational decision-making which I'd prefer SIAI to encourage on general principle.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2009-12-30T12:29:20.550Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

since you can feel good every time you use your credit card.

I suspect that's not be a good thing, not something an SIAI supporter deserves, and certainly not something that encourages rational decision-making which I'd prefer SIAI to encourage on general principle.

comment by Rain · 2009-12-31T18:30:07.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What grant project listed there will produce the most utilons?

My first guess would be the General Fund, as SIAI employees would then be free to choose the topics they feel are most effective at achieving their goals, and they benefit from the most motivation and knowledge of the topics at hand.

However, they have insider views, which may skew their interpretation of the value some projects will produce. It also appears they want to signal that they will accept guidance from outside in the form of donations to specific projects, or are attempting to solicit donations from people who otherwise would not have donated had they not known where their money was going.

The latter doesn't appear to be working very well considering the low dollar figure of donations outside the general fund, and may in fact prove discouraging to those few who attempted to fund their pet project. If this is true, then I would suggest only allowing donations to specific projects as a special case.

comment by Utilitarian · 2010-01-04T00:57:50.127Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am the kind of donor who is much more motivated to give by seeing what specific projects are on offer. The reason boils down to the fact that I have slightly different values (namely, hedonistic utilitarianism focused on suffering) than the average of the SIAI decision-makers and so want to impose those values as much as I can.

comment by dansmith · 2009-12-31T20:27:13.392Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding the last point, at the very least SIAI would be better off not advertising that several projects are partially funded to the tune of $5 out of thousands. It doesn't exactly motivate one to open up his own wallet for a similar small donation.

If you need to keep contributors updated on the extent to which their projects have received funding, perhaps do so privately by email on request?