Would Nonlinear win a libel suit against Lightcone or Ben Pace?
Dec 20

In September Ben Pace of Lightcone wrote a long article with allegations against Nonlinear. When Ben refused to give NL time to produce evidence that NL claimed would demonstrate some of these allegations were false, and NL threatened to sue both Ben and LC for libel. Does NL have a case?

Resolves YES if NL sues LC and/or Ben and wins a judgement or gets money in a settlement. Resolves NO if they sue and don't. Resolves N/A if NL has not filled suit by the resolution date or there is a confidential settlement. Will be extended if a suit is in progress on the resolution date.

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bought Ṁ300 of NO

@purple_cat any reason you made such a large bet?

bought Ṁ1,382 of YES

@jacksonpolack the actual malice standard is usually the biggest hurdle but lightcone staff have been describing their state of mind publicly in a way that clears it IMO

predicts YES

@purple_cat I thought the actual malice standard was only relevant for public figures, and NL and it's leadership probably don't count?

predicts NO

@JeffKaufman My guess is Emerson Spartz counts as a public figure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerson_Spartz

(His lawsuit with Adorian Deck was also a pretty substantial public controversy with dozens of news articles published about it)

predicts NO

want to bet? i'll (TENTATIVELY) put M$20k at 1:1 he isn't a (general) public figure, operationalized ... somehow

predicts YES

@JeffKaufman It's for limited and general purpose public figures. Almost certainly limited purpose public figures IMO, doubt they would be general purpose public figures.

(are people thinking the odds are this low without the actual malice standard??)

predicts YES

@OliverHabryka @purple_cat

Here are the comments I see on the EA Forum from lawyers here, though note that they're just talking informally:

[EDIT: Randally didn't say they were a lawyer, sorry!]

[After some arguing against reasons proposed for why Spartz would qualify as a general public figure] There's also the category of "limited purpose public figure". Spartz also probably (but not definitely) isn't one; all of the citations you gave- and probably almost all of his publicity, judging by his Wikipedia page- don't relate to Nonlinear or AI broadly, or their treatment of interns specifically. -- Randally

Are Nonlinear and its employees LPPFs here? I'm not opining beyond noting that is non-obvious to me. One could view this more as a dispute over, e.g., alleged non-provision of vegan food to staff, which doesn't strike me as a matter of public concern. - Jason (lawyer not giving a legal -- Jason

I don't see why the Nonlinear leadership would be limited purpose public figures with respect to the allegations in the Lightcone article. I could see that with, say, a news article that got its facts wrong around the Adorian Deck lawsuit, but the LC allegations are about treatment of employees at a minor charity they run. I found this article to be a pretty good overview (but what do I know?) of how LPFF status is determined.

predicts NO

(Not commenting on the whole issue, but I don't think Randaly is a lawyer, or at least I can't find any reference to this in their comments, though they do use legal terminology a bunch)

predicts YES

@OliverHabryka Sorry! I don't know why I thought Randaly was a lawyer (probably the way they were speaking, but I thought I'd seen something saying they were one and now I can't find anything like that). I've edited my comment above.

Base rates on libel lawsuits are poor for the plantiff (the person that launches the lawsuit). For example, one study found 90% of cases brought to court were lost (study here).

Can you define "gets a settlement"? In common parlance, gets implies a monetary settlement. AFAIK, the majority of these suits filed are settled, but often on a confidential basis. But that settlement could be "the case is dismissed, the plaintiff gets nothing except a promise that the defendant won't pursue a claim for attorney fees under an anti-SLAPP [strategic litigation against public participation] statute for having to defend the litigation." I'm not sure how many defamation settlements are of that sort, but it is a face-saving stratagem for a plaintiff who senses their case is losing momentum.

In my view, "gets a settlement" should require some sum of money to change hands from Lightcone or Ben, even $1; a confidential settlement should resolve as N/A if it cannot be determined that money was so involved.

bought Ṁ50 of YES

@Jason Good point! Changed to "gets money in a settlement" and excluded confidential settlements.


In general, the Nonlinear/Lightcone drama makes me quite sad, as I consider myself friends with many of the people involved (on all sides). I'm also hesitant to signal boost stuff that has such high heat to light ratio.

That said, I hope that this kind of prediction market proves useful for helping everyone get clarity on one of the key points (whether Ben's post would be ruled libelous), with fewer costs incurred than in an actual lawsuit.

@Austin I suspect this market will have poor accuracy:

1) It’s low-liquidity

2) It is traded by people with stakes or strong opinions on the matter

3) It's a keynesian beauty contest - I suspect in general these have poor accuracy
3a) i.e. It's 98% likely to resolve N/A, so there's really not much at stake from betting ininnacurately

predicts NO

@JeffKaufman If you want this market to provide value, can I suggest you add some amount (perhaps 500-1000 M$) in liquidity?

@ElliotDavies I've added M1k in liquidity!

bought Ṁ75 of YES


It's a keynesian beauty contest"

How so? A judge would not consider this market.

98% likely to resolve N/A

Are you talking about https://manifold.markets/gaurav/will-nonlinear-sue-lightcone-for-li ? Because that is only by the end of 2023.

predicts NO


> A judge would not consider this market.

As wiki would define: this idea is often applied in financial markets, whereby investors could profit more by buying whichever stocks they think other investors will buy, rather than the stocks that have fundamentally the best value. Because when other people buy a stock, they bid up the price, allowing an earlier investor to cash out with a profit, regardless of whether the price increases are supported by its fundamentals.

> Are you talking about https://manifold.markets/gaurav/will-nonlinear-sue-lightcone-for-li ? Because that is only by the end of 2023.

Good point! What are your odds that non-linear files a lawsuit? I would give a <10% chance

predicts YES

@ElliotDavies If you're right I think I missed something important about how Manifold works -- if this resolves NA do people who've closed out their positions keep their gains?

On the odds of this resolving non-N/A I'd say 30%? The thing where LC continues to insist that they acted correctly in going ahead with publication and many people in the community are saying they did not may make NL feel like (a) they would not have the normal negative social consequences of publicly suing LC and (b) they would be providing a valuable service in getting LC to stop doing this. Then add in that Kat and Emerson clearly feel seriously wronged and have had large professional consequences, and yeah, 30% feels about right to me. Somewhat higher than that (35%?) for filing the suit, and then a discount for the potential for a confidential resolution (which would normally be higher, but I think LC is likely to be strongly against that).

when you N/A a market every trade is undone, even profits from shares you've sold are clawed back. (because the money for people who currently hold positions has to come from somewhere)

predicts NO


> if this resolves NA do people who've closed out their positions keep their gains?

Yeah, pretty sure.

> 30%

Seems high to me! But even at those odds, I would say this market would be self-referential

predicts NO


> Yeah, pretty sure.

I think it was changed a few months ago, and now @jacksonpolack is correct (sadly for me, I always feel so smart betting on volatility)

From the FAQ:

- Any user who made a profit by selling shares before resolution will have that mana subtracted from their balance. This could lead to a negative balance in some cases.

predicts NO

@Lorenzo Thanks for flagging!

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