Will the Effective Altriusm philosophy be directly responsible for at least one death in 2024?
24
276
450
2025
35%
chance

Effective Altruism is a movement whose adherents advocate taking actions that have the highest expected value for improving the lives of current humans and future intelligences. The movement, for example, advocates starting a business that gives money to cancer research rather than becoming an oncologist, because doctors save 5 lives on average while cures for cancers could save more.

Sam Bankman Fried, an effective altruist, ruined millions of lives in 2022 through the FTX cryptocurrency exchange scam. During his trial, an Atlantic correspondent reported his belief that effective altruism was directly responsible for SBF's actions. The reporter believe that SBF recognized the risk of the scam's failure, but had made prior calculations that the potential benefits to EA causes from the money earned would be massive if the scam succeeded.

Taken to its logical end, EA philosophy suggests that it would be rational to take an action that results in the death of one person now if doing so meant that one million lives would be saved in 50 years.


This market attempts to quantify the risk of the EA movement's logical conclusions. Will an adherent take an action that causes someone's death in 2024? This market will resolve YES if that occurs, and NO if it does not.

The following criteria must be met with the standard of a preponderance of the evidence:

  • A person must have died.

  • The death was directly caused by the action, or the person or organization was negligent and should have foreseen that the action or inaction could cause someone to die.

  • The action that caused death was motivated by effective altruism or:

  • The person or organization's primary goal was supporting EA causes, and the action could be connected by a reasonable person as a logical application of EA principles.

Examples of qualifying events:

  • An EA-motivated scam occurs and rather than going back to work, a now bankrupt retiree prefers suicide.

  • A workplace shooter kills top AI scientists, and it is found that the criminal had an extensive Internet history of discussing AI in effective altruist forums.

  • An EA-affiliated laboratory releases a pathogen designed to kill mosquitoes, but the lack of mosquitos causes a famine that kills fewer people than are saved by the elimination of malaria.

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Certainly the Effective Altruism Movement is capable of talking us all to death.

predicts NO

Is it a premise of this market that FTX was "an EA-motivated scam", and as such any death resulting directly from the FTX collapse is caused by effective altruism?

I feel such a question will always resolve Yes for any belief-system with enough followers. Also, Isn’t someone dying almost a byproduct of anything that achieves a high enough impact?

sold Ṁ43 of NO

The market creator lost a lot of money on crypto gambling/FTX. He blames this on EA. Quote: "I can personally list 15 people I know, including myself, whose lives have been totally ruined by the effects of EA. I myself had to lay off three people - one of whom is a single parent raising a kid with autism who now gets $400 per week in unemployment payments - and have worked 369 out of the 374 days since November 11, 2022 and anticipate having to do for another six months just to stop losing money because of what EA did."

For this reason I recommend against buying NO on this market because I the market creator thinks EA ruined his life.

@TiredCliche What happened to my life is not relevant to the resolution of this market.

The way you phrase it, this will always turn out YES. If you don't give money to a random charity that saves lives (e.g. because you give money to another charity that saves lives more effectively), you already foresee that someone will die because of your inaction. I guess though that that would be against the spirit of this bet right? I think you should remove the part of "inaction" and only leave the "action" in.

@ErwinRossen To clarify, the spirit is that inaction is not sufficient unless a court would have ruled the effects are directly foreseeable. That means that most cases of inaction would be disqualified.

The inaction would have to be extremely close to the catastrophe and simple to prevent. For example, an EA believer finds himself in a position to make a single phone call to prevent a disaster, but does not because the disaster would result in greater future value.

An EA-affiliated laboratory releases a pathogen designed to kill mosquitoes, but the lack of mosquitos causes a famine that kills fewer people than are saved by the elimination of malaria.

Wouldn't the definition of the market mean that it doesn't matter if more people are saved by the elimination of malaria? At the start you say:

Taken to its logical end, EA philosophy suggests that it would be rational to take an action that results in the death of one person now if doing so meant that one million lives would be saved in 50 years.

By that logic, wouldn't a famine caused by the lack of mosquitos that only kills one person be enough for this market to resolve YES, even if the elimination of malaria saved many more?

@PlasmaPower Yes, that's correct. If an effective altruist decides that it's OK to starve one person to death in the hopes that more people will not die, and actually does so, the resolution is YES.

@SteveSokolowski Oh, I misread "fewer" as "more". This makes sense 👍

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