Re: SIAI: Donate Today and Tomorrow

From: Ralph Cerchione (
Date: Sat Oct 23 2004 - 16:18:18 MDT

"J. Andrew Rogers" <>wrote...
> This is also why millionaires don't jump in and fund popular existing
> projects. Most of them fund their own tangent precisely because there
> is a serious lack of perceivable comparative substance between the
> existing projects, regardless of nominal popularity, and choose to
> either sit out (not knowing enough to start their own project) or fork
> a new project that at least they will perceive as having some
> substance.
> Until there are obviously substantive ventures, the smart money won't
> be betting at all.
I tend to agree that much of the capital that could otherwise flow into this
field needs solid, specific projects to coalesce around. These would be
programs or innovations with a reasonable time horizon and logical plan for
their economic exploitation, because these investors need to know they'll be
getting something definable at the end of the rainbow -- and where the end
of that rainbow _is_, actually.

Please don't take this comment as an argument to halt projects like the
Singularity Institutes. It may be that going after the larger problem will
prove far more productive that working on it piecemeal. I suspect that the
piecemeal strategy will bring other benefits in terms of funding, attention,
and assembling talent.

Something Jim Collins wrote in either Built to Last or Good to Great is that
getting a company started is like pushing relentlessly on a giant flywheel
to get it moving. You push for days and days and _finally_ get it to move.
And then you keep pushing frantically to keep it moving. And eventually you
push it so far that you make a whole revolution, and then it gets a little
easier and then at last its own momentum kicks in and keeping it moving and
getting it to accelerate become much, much easier.

Well, he carries that analogy over to executives who make disastrous changes
of direction in either healthy or failing firms -- when you abruptly reverse
everything that the company has been doing for years, it's like you just
tried to reverse that massive flywheel. Instead of using all that momentum a
large company builds up over the years, you're trying to work against it.

I think that if someone like Mr. Yudkowsky were to reverse everything they
were committed to and shifted over to an entrepreneurial or academic game
plan, s/he might find themselves working against their past momentum
(including their existing skill sets, work practices, comfort/confidence
zones, stable of contacts, authority as a non-profit, and what-have-you). So
it's probably not something to do at a whim, any more than reversing that
flywheel. =)
> j. andrew rogers

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:49 MDT