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comment by gwern · 2024-04-01T21:16:03.662Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After looking through that post, it seems pretty straightforward that the Vespers thing is not legally binding, did not affect the OA fund in any way, had nothing to do with Altman, and is just dumb tricks by a scammer way out of his depth and/or possibly a schizophrenic (and if OP really takes that seriously to the hyperventilating extent they do, they need to touch grass until they get some real evidence).

On the topic of the OA fund, they apparently finally got around to transferring the fund itself out of Altman's name, incidentally. (I guess that one was a little too embarrassing. Also, we know how much Altman deeply cares about conflicts of interest for OA board members, like he now is again.)

Replies from: bhauth
comment by bhauth · 2024-04-01T22:30:27.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

response from author

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2024-04-01T23:55:42.659Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meh. His argument seems to be that "they wouldn't've let him file those papers if they weren't real!"

The issue I'm having is - regardless of what this person is able to concoct with ChatGPT or other methods - they shouldn't have been able to insert themselves and their Vespers "creation" into OpenAI Startup Fund I GP LLC's CA filings even if they wanted to.

One could argue they either needed to "hack" into the CA filing to insert themselves as Manager/CEO or someone at OpenAI allowed it happen (knowingly or unknowingly is tbd).

But of course they would! Filings are nothing but pieces of paper with some easily-written shapes of ink on them. How the heck does the State of California know anything about who runs the fund but what the 'fund' tells them in a piece of paper? A PGP message encrypted to their public key on the blockchain...?

Half the world's systems run on an honor system, or more precisely, a 'trust but verify' system - where it works because if you screw around with it, sooner or later, it'll catch up with you and destroy you. No one will check your sworn statements to the IRS on your Form 990; you can say whatever you want in your filings to the SEC; you just have to be crazy and not mind that 10 years later, you may be bankrupt and go to jail, is all. Other than that, it's easy. (You ever see Lawrence of Arabia? The trick to pinching out a candle with your bare fingers without it hurting, is to simply be crazy enough to not mind that it hurts.)

This is a running theme in con man stories like Anna Sorokin*: everyone thinks that "oh, X must have checked" and "well, he wouldn't do Y because there's no way he'd cover it up and he would go to jail", and sure enough, it turns out that X did not check, and he really did do Y, and 10 years later he's in jail - he's just not there yet. I've got what must be at least 20 of these in . The 'social laddering' strategy exploiting information cascades is as old as time for letting you 'fake it until you make it'. Everyone wants to social-loaf; no one wants to check or gossip.

patio11 and Matt Levine write a lot about this sort of thing. To give a recent example from Levine's newsletters: you can just... go and send a press release announcing that you are doing a hostile takeover of some random S&P 500 multinational like Uber, and... that's allowed. No one will stop you. PRNewswire will send it out just like a real press release. It'll get reported on and move the stock. No one checks that you have a billion dollars in the bank first. You can just go and send it out. (But that's frigging security fraud and don't be surprised if a year later the SEC subpoenas you pursuant to filing charges for pump-and-dumping or other crimes. Of course, by the point, who remembers?) And you can push it a remarkable way sometimes. Look at squatters, sovereign citizens, or other classics of 'vexatious litigants'.

* if you were wondering, AFAICT Sorokin's present status is that she was released on parole but then put under house arrest as she continues to fight deportation back to Russia. (As she is a felon, I believe that would make her deportation effectively irrevocable and she would never be allowed back into the USA, which is why she would fight it so hard.) If you're thinking that she's been fighting that since 2021 or something, you're right - courts, never fast, slowed down massively during COVID. I continue to be surprised by some of the darknet market cases which only now are winding to closes, frequently having been prolonged a good 3 or 4 years by COVID.