The deaths of effective altruism

The deaths of effective altruism

Leif Wenar writes:

I’m fond of effective altruists. When you meet one, ask them how many people they’ve killed.

Effective altruism is the philosophy of Sam Bankman-Fried, the crypto wunderkind now sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud and money laundering. Elon Musk has said that EA is close to what he believes. Facebook mogul Dustin Moskovitz and Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn have spent mega-millions on its causes, and EAs have made major moves to influence American politics. In 2021, EA boasted of $46 billion in funding—comparable to what it’s estimated the Saudis spent over decades to spread Islamic fundamentalism around the world.

Effective altruism pitches itself as a hyperrational method of using any resource for the maximum good of the world. Here in Silicon Valley, EA has become a secular religion of the elites. Effective altruists filled the board of OpenAI, the $80 billion tech company that invented ChatGPT (until the day in November when they nearly crashed the company). EA is also heavily recruiting young people across rich universities like Stanford, where I work. Money is flowing from EA headquarters to entice students at Yale, Columbia, Berkeley, Penn, Swarthmore—if you went to a wealthy school, you’ll find EAs all over your alma mater.

Before the fall of SBF, the philosophers who founded EA glowed in his glory. Then SBF’s crypto empire crumbled, and his EA employees turned witness against him. The philosopher-founders of EA scrambled to frame Bankman-Fried as a sinner who strayed from their faith.

Yet Sam Bankman-Fried is the perfect prophet of EA, the epitome of its moral bankruptcy. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.