Mark Zuckerberg plans to give away 99% of his facebook wealth over his lifetime

post by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T00:28:01.254Z · score: 5 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 50 comments

Mark Zuckerberg annouced that he is going to give away 99% of his facebook wealth ($45 billion) over his lifetime.

He announced guiding questions:

Can you learn and experience 100 times more than we do today?
Can our generation cure disease so you live much longer and healthier lives?
Can we connect the world so you have access to every idea, person and opportunity?
Can we harness more clean energy so you can invent things we can't conceive of today while protecting the environment?
Can we cultivate entrepreneurship so you can build any business and solve any challenge to grow peace and prosperity?
Can our generation eliminate poverty and hunger?
Can we provide everyone with basic healthcare?
Can we build inclusive and welcoming communities?
Can we nurture peaceful and understanding relationships between people of all nations?
Can we truly empower everyone -- women, children, underrepresented minorities, immigrants and the unconnected?

It's interesting that "live much longer and healthier lives" is on the list. Larry Page seems to divert money inside Google into Calico for anti-aging tech. Under Cook Apple also invests into health.

The future seems looking good :)

50 comments

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comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-07T10:14:39.846Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard criticism that he's only doing it "for the publicity." My answer to that is "Who cares?" but this doesn't satisfy some people. As though you have to do the financial equivalent of self-flagellation to be sincerely altruistic.

EDIT for clarity: "Who cares" about why he's doing it, as long as he's doing it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T11:53:30.497Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The idea that Mark Zuckerberg has to engage in an action "for the publicity" is funny. Especially when it comes from journalists. Facebook is effectively the biggest media organ out there at the moment.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-07T11:55:03.908Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hadn't considered that, but you're correct. It's not like he needs publicity.

At any rate, even if he was simply tired of not seeing his name in the media enough, and thought this would be a sufficiently grand gesture...I don't mind at all, as long as he's being even moderately effective with his money.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T15:59:11.634Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Being famous doesn't necessarily mean that you have a good reputation, people tend to be wary of tech billionaires, so even them can use some publicity to improve their public image.

It seems that it worked in this case.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T16:34:24.821Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point wasn't that Zuckerberg was already famous, it was that Zuckerberg already has the world's most powerful publicity machine without needing any help from journalists.

(I'm not convinced by the argument, though. 1. Even if Zuckerberg has a better way of getting his chosen message out to people, he still needs a message to get out, and "I'm giving away a ton of money" is a pretty effective message whatever channels it's broadcast on. 2. Many people's reaction to seeing positive coverage of Mark Zuckerberg might be a little more suspicious if the place where they see it is Facebook.)

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T16:37:29.387Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point wasn't that Zuckerberg was already famous, it was that Zuckerberg already has the world's most powerful publicity machine without needing any help from journalists.

Has he? If he just programmed Facebook to spam on everybody's feed "Mark Zuckerberg is awesome!!!" I doubt he would have obtained the intended effect.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-07T18:56:23.444Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If he just programmed Facebook to spam on everybody's feed "Mark Zuckerberg is awesome!!!"

That looks entirely like straw.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T17:46:03.689Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was pretty much point 2 in my second paragraph.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-08T18:39:41.262Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Has he? If he just programmed Facebook to spam on everybody's feed "Mark Zuckerberg is awesome!!!" I doubt he would have obtained the intended effect.

Have you heard of tsu.co? I hadn't either.

Point being that you don't need to write the content, if you can control which content gets shown.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-08T19:41:13.610Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, but that's a negative action, he can't overtly use Facebook for positive self-promotion.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-08T20:31:23.099Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Negative action is one of those slippery words that I'm not convinced means anything outside of individual views (ie, if I change the frame of reference, suddenly a negative action looks like a positive one.)

In this instance, let's take the following scenario. Zuckerberg goes to his team and asks them to tweak their newsfeed sentiment algorithm so that it only applies to articles about him, and to set it so that 60% of the articles about him that get through are positive.

From the perspective of him going through and telling his team to do something to the facebook algorithm, that seems like a positive action. From the perspective of him preventing other people's articles from being shown (or causing them to be shown more) that seems like a positive action.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-08T23:32:56.049Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By "negative action" I mean that he can suppress content he doesn't want people to see.

He can also plaster Facebook with his face, in a more or less subtle way by tweaking the newsfeed algorithm, but ultimately if he wants to gain positive reputation, he needs some really newsworthy and moving thing about himself to happen, not just "7 awesome facts about Mark Zuckerberg" clickbait trash.

Reputation isn't just a zero sum game.

comment by brazil84 · 2015-12-09T16:11:14.515Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a bit surprising that anyone is arguing over this issue. Clearly if Zuckerberg can convince people that he is giving 99% of his fortune to (worthy) charity, it will enhance his reputation and status. This is obvious to anyone, and therefore it opens up the reasonable possibility that his primary motivation is in fact to enhance his reputation and status.

Maybe the problem is that people are getting hung up on the word "publicity." When people say "He's doing it for the publicity," the charitable interpretation is "he is doing it to enhance his reputation and status."

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-09T16:25:16.572Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a bit surprising that anyone is arguing over this issue. [...]the charitable interpretation

If a debate is obvious with the charitable interpretation it makes sense to have the debate about the actual reasons why people take the positions they take.

The underlying battle is about what Zizek calls liberal communism. The steelman is: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n07/slavoj-zizek/nobody-has-to-be-vile It's about whether a person should be applauded for doing earning-to-give or whether earning-to-give should simply be seen as a way to "enhance his reputation and status". Those cultural norms matter. Having the wrong cultural norms make people die who would otherwise be saved.

If it's in your morality to pratice charitable reading at the cost of human lives, feel free to live with that moral decision.

comment by brazil84 · 2015-12-09T21:44:42.438Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If a debate is obvious with the charitable interpretation it makes sense to have the debate about the actual reasons why people take the positions they take.

I'm not sure what your point is here but it sounds like you agree with me. The real question to discuss is how much it matters if Zuckerberg is doing this primarily to enhance his reputation and status.

If it's in your morality to pratice charitable reading at the cost of human lives, feel free to live with that moral decision.

I have no idea what your point is here.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-09T22:50:49.287Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what your point is here but it sounds like you agree with me.

If I misunderstood you and we agree that's great.

I have no idea what your point is here.

The critical media reaction to Zuckerberg announcement likely cost more lives through reduced donations than lifes were lost in Paris during the recent attacks.

comment by brazil84 · 2015-12-09T23:58:24.615Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If I misunderstood you and we agree that's great.

Well what did you think I was saying?

The critical media reaction to Zuckerberg announcement likely cost more lives through reduced donations than lifes were lost in Paris during the recent attacks.

And in what way did the media "practice charitable reading"?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-10T00:15:30.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well what did you think I was saying?

That it's right of the media to say that Zuckerberg made the donation to increase his own reputation and status.

comment by brazil84 · 2015-12-10T01:11:32.320Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That it's right of the media to say that Zuckerberg made the donation to increase his own reputation and status.

I didn't say any such thing. Please read what I say carefully before responding.

And please answer my other question:

In what way did the media "practice charitable reading"?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-10T01:30:47.079Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't say any such thing. Please read what I say carefully before responding.

I already said that I might have misunderstood you. You suggested that further explanation is helpful. What do you expect to gain from another answer?

comment by brazil84 · 2015-12-10T02:50:58.118Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I already said that I might have misunderstood you. You suggested that further explanation is helpful. What do you expect to gain for another answer

I'm trying to understand YOUR point now. Regardless of whether you misunderstood me, you said something and I am trying to understand it.

Here's what you said:

If it's in your morality to pratice charitable reading at the cost of human lives, feel free to live with that moral decision.

So you were talking about someone practicing charitable reading at the cost of human lives. When I stated that I did not understand your point, you said this:

The critical media reaction to Zuckerberg announcement likely cost more lives through reduced donations than lifes were lost in Paris during the recent attacks.

So apparently your point is that the media (or some part of the media) "practiced charitable reading" which cost human lives.

So how exactly did the media "practice charitable reading"? It's not a very complicated question.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-10T17:05:43.653Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's about whether a person should be applauded for doing earning-to-give or whether earning-to-give should simply be seen as a way to "enhance his reputation and status". Those cultural norms matter. Having the wrong cultural norms make people die who would otherwise be saved.

I'd say it's more about a public figure who transfers billions worth of stocks to a for-profit company that they own while making a big show of it should be applauded or we should be wary of their intentions.

It's also about why EAs all fell head over heels the moment they heard the word "give" in connection with some transhumanist dog whistles such as "advancing human potential" and "live much longer and healthier lives", contravening to their own stated core principle that charitable donations should be done in a way that produces measurable benefits to people, not warm fuzzies.

And yes, finally it's also about this so-called liberal communism thing, which I prefer to call modern aristocracy:
should we, as a society, encourage or discourage a system where basic services depend on the grace and benevolence of few elites who can grant or withdraw them of their own accord, without democratic oversight? Should we encourage or discourage overt political lobbying by private organizations with billion dollars worth of endowment controlled by elite interests? Whether you agree with Zuckerberg's object-level political positions, such as the Startup Visa Act, isn't political advocacy by very large scale lobbying something to be worried about?

There are also issues of perverse incentives. If, say, the school system becomes dependent on a steady stream of donations that come from the dividends paid by Facebook stocks, then school employers and users alike will have a massive vested interest in Facebook's continued profitability, creating a whole new level of "too big to fail".
The day that Google finally manages to make a buzz/g+/whatever that works, or that some guy in their basement comes up with a disruptive idea that makes Facebook-style social networks obsolete the way that cars made horses obsolete, who will the government, teachers trade unions, parents organizations, etc. side with?
Sure, Google can play Facebook's corporate charity trick too, and so can Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, etc. The guy in the basement with a bright idea can't. Should we resign to a future of corporate neo-feudalism?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-11T11:29:47.933Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

contravening to their own stated core principle that charitable donations should be done in a way that produces measurable benefits to people,

Nothing in the announcement indicates that Zuckerberg won't use his money in a way that produces measurable benefits.

Whether you agree with Zuckerberg's object-level political positions, such as the Startup Visa Act, isn't political advocacy by very large scale lobbying something to be worried about?

There's no society without political lobbying. An organisation like Amnesty International requires private donations. If all money spent for the public interest is money raised by the government through taxes there's no room for Amnesty International.

Societies with don't have strong civil society organisations like Amnesty International who aren't relying on government money don't have functioning liberal democracies.

Without organisations with competing agendas you get problematic monocultures.

We likely wouldn't have LessWrong without the billionaire Peter Thiel funding the Singularity Institute and now MIRI. Now a lot of money comes from Musk into FAI research. Governments don't fund that research.

Last month we had a post on LW about Steve Goodman and John Ioannidis METRICS. Given their role of critizing the scientific community it's useful for them to have funding that's independent from the government and given because a billionaire believes in their course.

There are also issues of perverse incentives. If, say, the school system becomes dependent on a steady stream of donations that come from the dividends paid by Facebook stocks, then school employers and users alike will have a massive vested interest in Facebook's continued profitability, creating a whole new level of "too big to fail".

If all money spent for eduction would be payed by Zuckerberg that would be a problem. I don't think he should control the majority of the money spent on eduction and this proposal doesn't look like it would have that effect.

I think it's good to have for-profit companies, not profited oriented organization like the Zuckerberg initiative and government involved.

Sure, Google can play Facebook's corporate charity trick too, and so can Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, etc. The guy in the basement with a bright idea can't. Should we resign to a future of corporate neo-feudalism?

I don't think it makes sense to equate Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook or Mircosoft with Bill Gates but as far as the debate goes Bill Gates already funds eduction.

The guy in the basement with a bright idea can't. Should we resign to a future of corporate neo-feudalism?

Actually you find one of the points of Zuckerberg's list is: Can we cultivate entrepreneurship so you can build any business and solve any challenge to grow peace and prosperity? Presently the education system is very bad at telling people how to work on their bright ideas in a basement. Focusing on targeting school to do that is opposed by teachers trade unions etc.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T19:04:48.714Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Has he? If he just programmed Facebook to spam on everybody's feed "Mark Zuckerberg is awesome!!!" I doubt he would have obtained the intended effect.

Facebook doesn't have to control the exact words. It can control whether a specific meme goes viral by controlling how many of your friends get shown an article when you share it on facebook.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T19:07:56.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Being famous doesn't necessarily mean that you have a good reputation

The charge is that he seeks publicity not that he seeks to build a good reputation.

comment by Autodidact420 · 2015-12-10T20:02:00.563Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard other criticisms that he is just going to give it to a charity fund in a similar manner to other billionaires who place their children at control of the charity and then use it as a way to pass on wealth to their kids without any taxation. Not entirely sure of the credibility of the claim that Mark is doing it, but I do know that this scheme has been tried and worked for others before.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-12-07T11:44:55.996Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Effective altruists care. I'm not even into EA myself but I can see that it's important to know where the money goes and how effectively it's used.

On a more cynical note, I'd say this looks utopian. Here's some less optimistic articles.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T13:39:43.116Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Effective altruists care.

Effective altruists care about effectiveness. If the claim we're assessing is "Zuckerberg is only pretending that this money will be used to do good; actually it's a pure tax-avoidance scam and it'll all end up being spent on his family" then sure, effective altruists care. But if it's "Zuckerberg really is putting all this money into trying to improve the world, but his motive for doing so is that he wants to look good" then no, effective altruists shouldn't care why he's doing it, only what he's doing.

... But: our visibility of "what he's doing" probably isn't very good, so our estimates of "why he's doing it" may actually factor into our guesses about what will actually end up being done with the money. (E.g., if what he mostly cares about is looking good for giving away a lot of money, he doesn't have much incentive to make sure it really does have good effects. On the other hand, if he cares about looking good for saving lots of lives, he has the incentive.) So to that extent the critics may have a point.

Here's some less optimistic articles.

I remark that the last one is from the Daily Mail. If the Mail printed a story saying that the sky is blue, I'd look out the window to check it hadn't actually turned green. (The Atlantic has a better reputation. I know nothing at all about the Irish Examiner.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T15:02:15.979Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... But: our visibility of "what he's doing" probably isn't very good, so our estimates of "why he's doing it" may actually factor into our guesses about what will actually end up being done with the money.

Our reaction to his donation isn't only about guesses about what will actually end up being done with the money is also about shapping cultural values. If the press reacts negatively to billionaires giving away their wealth that disincentivies further donations from billionaires.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T15:43:57.804Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. (And, in the other direction but I think probably much less important, if the press responds with uncritical adulation when a billionaire gives the impression that he's giving away lots of money, without anyone checking what he's actually doing with it and whether it'll do any good, that incentivizes donating billionaires not to bother making their donations actually do much good.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T16:36:18.100Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

without anyone checking what he's actually doing with it

The articles that were linked above don't do that. If you would want to do that you would look at Mark Zuckerberg's past record with his donations towards education. That would need actual work on the part of the journalists. It's much easier to do the kind of criticism where you focus on the future and speak about possible future problems.

It worthwhile for journalists to check in a year what the Chen Zuckerberg Initiative actually did but now it's time to celebrate.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T17:47:36.253Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The article that were linked above don't do that.

Neither did I claim they did.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-07T17:10:57.873Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The first article definitely mentions his past education donations.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2015-12-07T20:28:40.460Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Effective Altruists & Consequentalists tend to be vain with plausible deniability, always making a show of their set of beliefs, coming into the room loudly and attracting attention always repeating "effectiveness" "consequences". It gets annoying. I wish some would have taste.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-07T21:46:27.374Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds as if you're complaining about something someone's written in this thread, but I'm having trouble working out what (and what you dislike about it, other than maybe a more general grievance against consequentialism or EAism). Would you care to clarify?

On the face of it your complaint is that EAs are attention-seeking and try to hijack other discussions onto their favoured hobby-horse. But I don't see that that happened here. helldalgo mentioned a common criticism of Zuckerberg's recent actions and disagreed with it, no part of which seems unreasonable; LessWrong introduced the topic of EA but doesn't identify as an EA so nothing s/he wrote can possibly be an example of what you describe; I corrected what looked to me like a wrong statement about EAs, which seems like an obviously unobjectionable thing to do.

What am I missing?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-07T11:51:45.578Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand why EAs would care about his motives, provided his money was spent with maximum possible utility. Or, even if SOME of it was spent with maximum possible utility.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T12:27:49.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not even into EA myself but I can see that it's important to know where the money goes and how effectively it's used.

That sentiment comes for not being in EA, for a real Effective Altruism it's not important to know that Mark Zuckerberg spends it's money effectively. It's important whether or not he spends his money effectively which happens to be a different issue. Don't project your own aversions on EA's.

The EA position as articulated by William MacAskill (80,000 hours/Given What We Can/ author of Doing Good Better) is:

Zuckerberg and Chan deserve enormous respect for this decision [...] Their letter about the gift suggests that they have exactly the right goal in mind, and could have been a mission statement for the social movement called “effective altruism”

On the other hand the article to which you refer are not by people of the EA movement. Those letter likely result in the loss of many lifes due to discouraging donations by wealthy people.

I would estimate education dollars invested by Zuckerberg to have a higher return than eduction dollar invested by the department of education. If Zuckerberg pays less taxes I don't think that's a problem when he spends it in good areas. If you are a teachers union who doesn't want change in the educational system but protect the status quo, Zuckerbergs announcement looks like a problem.

As far as Mark Zuckerberg wanting to engage in policy debates, it depends on your politics if you believe that's a good thing. It might raise the chances that the Startup Visa act gets passed. If you are a xenophobe and against immigration than Zuckerberg plans to shape policy debates to among other things build inclusive and welcoming communities is a bad thing.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T15:56:01.181Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So apparently transferring your stocks to a limited liability company in Delaware owned by yourself, with vague do-good objectives and in particular with no mechanisms to monitor how much these objectives are being fulfilled, is now called "effective altruism".

I would estimate education dollars invested by Zuckerberg to have a higher return than eduction dollar invested by the department of education.

Why? It seems to me that the department of education has better incentives.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T16:40:25.337Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So apparently transferring your stocks to a limited liability company in Delaware owned by yourself, with vague do-good objectives and in particular with no mechanisms to monitor how much these objectives are being fulfilled, is now called "effective altruism".

Yes, pledging future charity donations without specific mechanisms about achieving objectives is part of what the "Giving What We Can Pledge" is about. Applauding people for pledging to give effectively is a key EA value.

Why? It seems to me that the department of education has better incentives.

What incentives do burocrats at the department of education have in your opinion? In my view those burocrats have incentives to try to centralize educational policy. Otherwise they have incentives to protect the status quo instead of innovating.

Radical innovation seldom happens at the place where people are invested in the status quo. Plurality is very important for society to work well.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T16:54:03.311Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Applauding people for pledging to give effectively is a key EA value.

If I understanding correctly, he just pledged to donate to himself, in the form of a for-profit company set up in the closest thing to tax haven you can find in the US.

Where is "effective" part? Where is the "giving" part?

What incentives do burocrats at the department of education have in your opinion?

They have an incentive to appease the elected officers who put them in that position, who in turn have an incentive to appease their electorate. Not terribly strong incentives, but that's what keeps democracy up and running.

What incentives does a billionaire without accountably to the users of the school system have?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T19:16:03.137Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They have an incentive to appease the elected officials who put them in that position

Do you think that an official in the department of eduction get's promotions based on whether what he's doing is prefered by congress? It's likely much more problematic to cross the teachers unions.

I think civil society is an important part of functioning democracy. That means it's good when there are indepent well-founded players who aren't maximizing their profits.

What incentives does a billionaire have?

Mark has an incentive that when Max is old enough to read the letter himself and critcally evualte it, he doesn't think his father is an asshole. Legacy is important.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T21:00:23.358Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that an official in the department of eduction get's promotions based on whether what he's doing is prefered by congress? It's likely much more problematic to cross the teachers unions.

Aren't school boards elected at a local level in the US?

Anyway, you seem to objection is overly general. Yes, the principal-agent problem exists in the government, but unless Zuckerberg is planning to personally oversee each individual grant given to each individual school or teacher, then he is going to hire some bureaucrats to do it, and he the principal-agent problem will occur again, with the difference that elected officials have some accountability to their constituents who substantially overlap with the users of the school system, while Zuckerberg is accountable only to himself.

I think civil society is an important part of functioning democracy. That means it's good when there are indepent well-founded players who aren't maximizing their profits.

I think that making public services such as education dependent on the benevolence of rich people with significant political interests is a step towards aristocracy and away from liberal democracy, but whatever floats your boat.

Mark has an incentive that when Max is old enough to read the letter himself

herself

critcally evualte it, he doesn't think his father is an asshole. Legacy is important.

Legacy is warm fuzzies. And politicians seek it too, in fact even more than billionaires, since they lack billion dollars to leave to their children.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-07T21:19:51.456Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Aren't school boards elected at a local level in the US?

I don't see how that's supposed to argument for the department of education being well-funded. The department of education does happen to be a federal agency.

but unless Zuckerberg is planning to personally oversee each individual grant given to each individual school or teacher,

I think that sentence illustrates a core bias of the current system. The current system will try to fund schools or teachers while bringing the field forward might also need a lot of investment into elearning.

I think that making public services such as education dependent on the benevolence of rich people with significant political interests

I'm not saying that there should be no government spending in eduction. I'm advocating plurality. Some spending by the government and some by private hands.

Legacy is warm fuzzies. And politicians seek it too, in fact even more than billionaire

Politicians also seek legacy but they are heavily constrained by realpolitik. Mark can give out money to optimize for leaving a legacy in a way that politicians can't.

Masters in education have been shown to be worthless when it comes to teacher performance. Performance metrics on the other hand seem to work.

Currently due to the power of teachers unions people with a masters in eduction get unfairly payed more money. Most schools don't pay well performing teacher more. If you leave it to the department of education that likely won't change. When Mark however gives out grants he's quite free to finance performance-based teacher pay.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-07T18:52:57.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They have an incentive to appease the elected officers who put them in that position

No, they don't. They only have an incentive not to screw up so greatly as to get fired. You overestimate the influence that elected officials have over civil servants.

Not terribly strong incentives

More importantly, you can just look at the outcomes. They are... not great.

What incentives does a billionaire without accountably to the users of the school system have?

Legacy.

And if by "users of the school system" you mean the kids or the parents, no one is accountable to them. Their only effective choice of influencing the system is Exit.

comment by V_V · 2015-12-07T21:06:46.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, they don't. They only have an incentive not to screw up so greatly as to get fired. You overestimate the influence that elected officials have over civil servants.

Why would people hired by Mark Zuckerberg to fix the school system do any better? It's not like they are making him any money.
Their incentive is just to spend the money allocated to them while pretending to be doing something useful. Civil servants have similar incentives, but at least civil servants need to please elected official who in turn answer to the populace, while Zuckerberg's employees only need to please their employer who answers to no one.

More importantly, you can just look at the outcomes. They are... not great.

As opposed to the outcomes of charity-funded school systems?

And if by "users of the school system" you mean the kids or the parents, no one is accountable to them. Their only effective choice of influencing the system is Exit.

Aren't school boards elective in the US?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-07T21:13:41.990Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why would people hired by Mark Zuckerberg to fix the school system be any better

Because he, presumably, would select them by different criteria and because he can fire them much much easier than a politician can fire a union-entrenched educrat.

while Zuckerberg's employees only need to please their employer

This is precisely what creates an opportunity for him to be effective.

As opposed to the outcomes of charity-funded school systems?

So do tell, what do you think is the problem?

comment by Fluttershy · 2015-12-07T01:23:27.097Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's interesting that "live much longer and healthier lives" is on the list.

Squee! Reading this made my day a bit better, thanks.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-12-11T15:00:29.686Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What is this, "Knots"?

If people think you did a good thing
Then you did it to make people think you did a good thing
So you did a bad thing.

ETA: this is directed at some of the comments here, not the OP.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-11T15:46:50.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think some people here just really dislike Zuckerberg (or maybe all super-rich in general) and let their mood affiliation run, damn the torpedoes.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-11T02:44:44.651Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's triggering "resistance to domination" circuits in monkey brains. People really don't like one dude deciding on how this many resources are to be spent.