Re: [extropy-chat] SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Fri Oct 22 2004 - 09:31:03 MDT

At 06:00 AM 10/22/2004 -0400, Eliezer wrote:

>>>If you ask people how much they're willing to pay for the entire human
>>>species to survive, most of them name the amount of money in their
>>>pockets, minus whatever they need to pay for their accustomed lunch.
>>>If it was *only* their own life at stake, not them plus the rest of the
>>>human species, they'd drop everything to handle it.

>>Aw, come on. It's the plausibility of the threat.
>No, Damien, it is not.

You're right, I was trying to be polite. It's the apriori plausibility of
the solution. You expressed bafflement at a psychological conundrum, but
it's only a puzzle if those hold-outs agree with both the urgency of the
threat *and* with the high likelihood that you, personally, can resolve it
(and therefore deserve having some of their money donated to your efforts).

As far as I can tell, the disconnect is in the second factor. You, Eliezer,
appear utterly persuaded of your [nearly unique] capacity to address this
challenge. My suspicion is that those holding back from sending you bucks
big and small might not share this conviction. If that is possible, it
would provide an explanation for the apparent inconsistency you are baffled
and infuriated by.

This comment offers no opinion pro or con concerning the truth of either
factor. You might be right.

>I am dealing with a major existential risk, one that seems to incorporate
>a loss by default if nothing is done. If that doesn't qualify as
>"sufficiently desperate" I don't know what does.

You're `dealing' with it? I think you're (1) proposing that it exists,
providing various evidences for that opinion (somewhat plausibly, in my own
view), and (2) telling people that you are on track to containing the risk
(rather less plausibly, perhaps), and then (3) seeking donations to help
you continue to do both. Wringing your hands over the `weird psychology
that needs explaining' of those who fail to send you money seems to me
either disingenuous or unnervingly innocent.

>please grant me a probability high enough that you don't want to actively
>get in my way while I'm working.

Get in your way? You were the one soliciting an explanation for the `weird
psychology that needs explaining'. Unless, of course, you weren't, and it
was just a rhetorical ploy to browbeat laggardly donors.

>Let me emphasize again that if you choose not to donate, you have no need
>to justify that choice to me, or to anyone. If you're satisfied with your
>choice, do it without apology. ... You have no need whatsoever to post
>your justifications to this or any other mailing list!

Apparently you can't hear how... Garner Ted Armstrong... this sounds to
anyone not persuaded of your One Ring-bearer candidature. Oh well. (I speak
as someone who invested more than a decade of intense self-funded effort in
a research project done almost entirely alone that seemed to me to deal
with one of the most terrible threats and opportunities the world had ever
known. Rich or learned men gazed at me with kindly mockery or
incomprehension as I solicited their [non-financial] assistance. Around the
time I finally abandoned it, I learned that millions of dollars had been
spent by the US government, in classified research, on precisely the same
approach *at the same time I was doing my work* without any more success,
it seemed, than I had attained. So it goes.)

Damien Broderick

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