Is there an assurance-contract website in work?

post by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-20T06:14:00.633Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comment

This is a question post.


    19 stoat
    9 Raemon
    3 Mati_Roy
1 comment

I bet I'm not the only one who, after finishing inadequate equilibria, thought in excitement "Ok, so where's the KickStarter for better Nash equlibria?".

I didn't find any existing site that does something like it, but i wonder if maybe someone in this community is working on it.

If you know anything about it, I'd appreciate a hint ;)


answer by stoat · 2019-02-22T02:52:21.683Z · score: 19 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is CollAction kind of what you had in mind? Wikipedia also mentions PledgeBank which closed down in 2015 but still has a site with all the archived pledges at Not sure but I don't think either of these sites allow versions of assurance contracts that use financial contributions.

I wonder what a good binding mechanism might be for crowdaction sites in general, because once the quorum is reached you still have to get everybody to go ahead and perform the action. Any thoughts?

A site based on dominant assurance contracts would also be interesting. It might be a bit more like Kickstarter, in that maybe the entrepreneur initiating the DAC can market and popularize the action, and be responsible for the action happening when/if the quorum is reached.

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-22T06:25:16.775Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

WOW awesome! CollAction is very similar to what i had in mind (I thought of something with more functions).

It's amazing that i didn't find it with my search...

So, why don't rationalists use it? does it not suffice as a tool?

comment by Raemon · 2019-02-22T09:33:57.809Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't know about it until now. If it turns out to work well it might just need the right publicity.

(Poking around it still looks relatively minimalist and I'm not sure if there's more than 6 projects being used on it right now? It also doesn't let me filter by language which is a pretty big deal)

I also just get a kind of allergic reaction to many of the campaigns and get a vibe that "the site is not for me", since the campaigns look more like they're being used as advertisements than to solve a legitimate coordination problem.

(This doesn't preclude me from using it as a tool, just makes me feel a bit less excited about it. If someone has something they actually need coordinating on that's relevant to me I'd be interested in trying it out)

Two key features I think such a site site needs to really have teeth are:

  • Ability to enforce commitments. My first stab at this is something like "you put in a deposit, and you only get the deposit back if the people who created the campaign agrees you took the action." (i.e. you agree to show up at a protest if 10000 other people do. Everyone puts in $100. They get the $100 back if they show up at the protest and a protest organizer scans their QR code). This is more important for actions that are costly if people shirk their commitment.
  • Ability to filter who counts as a person who can join a campaign. I don't actually want 1,000,000 arbitrary people to quit FB and join some other platform. I want _my_friends_ to do so. If I'm trying to get the hospital I work at to change policies, I don't want 100 randos to sign a petition, I want the people who work at that hospital. Maybe there's an optional flag which is "the campaign manager has to manually approve people that they recognize."

(Both of the above require more trust between participants, and some kind of ongoing reputation)

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-22T11:55:40.854Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You took the words out of my mouth XD

Edit: I'll elaborate my ideas in a post

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-22T14:44:05.442Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Apparently someone has already mentioned it a year ago in a comment [LW(p) · GW(p)]to Moloch's toolbox, it didn't seem to progress one bit since, so i wouldn't count on it.

answer by Raemon · 2019-02-20T19:20:07.203Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone built the minimum-viable tool, but it was very bare bones and not well publicized.

(I think someone, maybe Eliezer? offered something on the order of $200 to build it, which was enough get the basic thing built but not fully invest in it. It does seem like something someone should offer more money and/or time to build. I think it requires an actual well-specified "inadequate equilibrium to escape" ("leave Facebook" doesn't solve anything you haven't coordinated on where you're all going next)

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-21T06:27:31.505Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quite bare-bone indeed.

Maybe we should do a KickStarter to roll it off :P

I've had many ideas myself for how to do it, but except a lot of time, i don't have much of the resources or skills needed to create such a thing.

comment by Leafcraft · 2019-02-21T10:15:06.236Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Looks like something of this sort could be easily implemented in an already existing platform like Augur, I actually wouldn't mind putting some effort in it if someone is interested

comment by stoat · 2019-02-22T03:07:20.901Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting, what's the connection here? Are you saying that assurance contracts could be implemented using a prediction market? Or were you thinking of something more along the lines of Augur's distributed voting system for decision outcomes? Anyway I'd be interested to hear what you're thinking here.

comment by Leafcraft · 2019-02-22T09:07:49.321Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess you could do that in a variety of ways. PM in general can be used to create rewards for events to happen. Take the following: "I agree to leave facebook if ten million other people agree to leave with me." could be implemented as "I bet $$ that 10M people will not leave FB within a month", people can then stake against it and leave FB to promote the event (and share the contract). PM are very flexible, the real limitation IMO is to create a community to bring liquidity to the market and then create a standard contract for people to follow for a specific type of market

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-21T09:59:47.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

could it be useful to someone if i make an idea-dump post?

comment by Raemon · 2019-02-21T21:39:23.770Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I'm most excited to put energy (technical and social) into such a platform if there's a clear use for it, and I think that might be the limiting factor. I created two more specific questions:

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-22T06:19:56.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i easily thought of more than a dozen possible coordinated actions that can be initiated. so at least in the platform i envision, i don't see it as THE limiting factor :)

comment by Raemon · 2019-02-22T07:53:10.962Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If so, can you post them as answers on the "what concrete inadequate equilibrium do you want to fix?"

comment by stoat · 2019-02-22T02:53:40.417Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please do!

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-03-08T17:13:10.720Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Done [LW(p) · GW(p)] :)

answer by Mati_Roy · 2020-04-16T21:51:25.832Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I created this Facebook group to for coordination and crowdfunding on EA and LW related projects:

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2020-04-18T08:04:20.128Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting. i don't use Facebook so i won't participate/follow the group, but this is a subject i'm still interested in and thinking on, so i would appreciate if you would inform of any major things that stem from there :)

comment by Mati_Roy (MathieuRoy) · 2020-04-18T17:59:56.892Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Facebook allows to get the ball rolling faster, and experiment more rapidly. But if this grows is something bigger, the Facebook group wouldn't be sustainable. I'm taking a mental note to report back anything I think is particularly interesting (which I might or might not forget).

comment by Yoav Ravid · 2020-04-27T12:55:18.856Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you, much appreciated

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comment by Yoav Ravid · 2019-02-21T13:52:26.271Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was previously talked about on LessWrong in this post [LW · GW](and maybe other places i haven't found), two simillar systems were presented (except from KickStarter) - thunderclap, "I agree for the system to automatically publish this post to my Facebook if X number of people do too", it was discontinued due to FB policy update. and we the people, a petitioning system of the white house, if enough people sign a petition it gets the white house's attention.

So - not in the scope of what i was thinking (or the linked post)