Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future #2: Effective Altruism + Blockchain

This document is a text supplement to my podcast (Youtube, Soundcloud, iTunes). I hope this can be a community resource for anyone working on Effective Altruism, especially in the blockchain/tech space — if you’d like to contribute, please comment on the google doc here.

It is the second episode in my podcast “Creating a Humanist Blockchain Future” where I explore the intersection between Effective Altruism, Universal Basic Income, the Attention Economy, and Blockchain.

Please reach out with your thoughts — thanks! -Rhys

Topics to Explore in Later Podcasts

Possible Mindset Shifts in Effective Altruism

  1. Delta > Magnitude? We currently emphasize QALY magnitude rather than delta. But concentrating on the delta is a way to optimize for system-level resiliency, and therefore long-term QALY magnitude. e.g. We put more emphasis on long-term (ASI) rather than short-term impacts of AI.
  2. Means > Ends? We currently emphasize short-term consequentialism and neglect means (which negatively affects long-term outcomes). e.g. What how should we think about “non-honest” means like using AdBlock or astroturfing? We should think more about “AI means” not just AI goal-setting. e.g. We can use blockchain-based cryptocurrency incentives to create a new language to allow AIs to communicate to us about their deep learning (their means). (See topic #4 here.)
  3. Cost-of-Delay for Cause Selection? We should consider Cost-of-Delay as a 4th part of 80,000 Hours cause selection.
  4. Negative Externalities of Effective Altruism? We should more explicitly consider the negative externalities of Effective Altruism.

Blockchain x Effective Altruism

  1. Using John Rawls’ “Original Position” as the Gradient. In the long-term, blockchains allow us to move our One Metric That Matters (OMTM) from QALY’s to John Rawls’ Original Position and “Generational Inertia”.
  2. Transparent Profiles as a Moral Persona MVP. We can leverage the transparency of blockchain-based identities to incentivize effective giving. e.g. profiles are transparent about whether the money is being donated. Later, we can imagine a uPort “Moral Persona” (based on Effective Altruism or other frameworks), possibly similar to China’s controversial Social Credit System.
  3. EffectiveAltruismCoin. There is lots of experimentation with ClimateChangeCoins (see below for a list). We can imagine an “ASIMitigationCoin” that one receives for work at OpenAI, etc. Then, we can imagine both of those coins as a “subset” of EffectiveAltruismCoin, with the exchange rate being defined by prioritized cause selection.
  4. HappinessCoin. Right now, companies are optimized for profit, not happiness, but this de-weights the importance of low-income customers (because they can pay less money per point of happiness). We can imagine a HappinessCoin as a way to optimize for happiness/QALY’s not profit.
  5. Disintermediation of Charity by AI-run Charity DAOs. Instead of GivingWhatWeCan running an EAFund, the AI-run DAO maximizes outcomes using RCTs and prediction markets in a Futarchy-esque way. (See Rhodri Davies’s work with CAF, specifically this podcast.)
  6. Scarce Capital. Disintermediation of venture capital through blockchain-based ICOs and P2P financial inclusion
  7. Scarce Attention. Emphasizing TimeWellSpent in the context of career planning and the Future of Work (see point #3 here). Imagine 80,000 Hours but for the gig economy (like Fiverr/EthLance), not career choices. Also, on the consumption side, push for aligned incentives/skin in the game (see Maciej Olpinski’s work with UserFeeds).

William Macaskgill’s “Projects I’d Like to See”

(See this EAForum post and his announcement at EAGlobal.)

  1. Impact Investing. Right now, some people are pushing for ICOs to give to Ethereum Foundation, like a Pledge 1% for ICOs.
  2. Politics. We might see a blockchain-based disintermediation of nation-states, which leads to worries around resiliency and what governments do when they lose power quickly.
  3. A Single Go-To Introduction to an EA Topic. We will be able to use scaffold and curation markets for this soon.

Projects to Interview in Future Podcasts

Tech for Social Good Aggregators


Currently Trading (ordered by market cap):


Blockchain for Social Good:

Thanks to Colin Wielga, Harry Lindmark, John Lindmark, Veronica Stamats, Jacob Zax, Katie Powell, Jonathan Isaac, Ramsay Devereux, Kenji Williams, David Long, Scott Levi, Peter Rodgers, Kenzie Jacobs, Jon Frechin and Kash Dhanda for supporting me on Patreon!

About Me: My name is Rhys Lindmark and I’m creating a humanist blockchain future by writing, speaking, and advising at the intersection of Effective Altruism, UBI, the Attention Economy, and Blockchain. In other words, I work with blockchain and social good tech companies. I lead the Colorado chapters of Effective Altruism and the Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition. I’m an alumnus of Techstars Boulder 2015. Please reach out if you’d like to connect or have feedback! I’m curious about what you’re working on. You can support me on Patreon, follow me on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: I own less than $100 of any given cryptocurrency, so my monetary incentive is not directly aligned with Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.