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pengvado comments on 2012 Winter Fundraiser for the Singularity Institute - Less Wrong

31 Post author: lukeprog 06 December 2012 10:41PM

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Comment author: pengvado 07 December 2012 02:46:21AM *  100 points [-]

I donated 20,000$ now, in addition to 110,000$ earlier this year.

Comment author: lukeprog 07 December 2012 12:41:09PM 8 points [-]

Thanks very much!!

Comment author: MixedNuts 08 December 2012 05:59:37PM 8 points [-]

Holy pickled waffles on a pogo stick. Thanks, dude.

Is there anything you're willing to say about how you acquired that dough? My model of you has earned less in a lifetime.

Comment author: pengvado 08 December 2012 09:51:53PM *  22 points [-]

I value my free time far too much to work for a living. So your model is correct on that count. I had planned to be mostly unemployed with occasional freelance programming jobs, and generally keep costs down.

But then a couple years ago my hobby accidentally turned into a business, and it's doing well. "Accidentally" because it started with companies contacting me and saying "We know you're giving it away for free, but free isn't good enough for us. We want to buy a bunch of copies." And because my co-founder took charge of the negotiations and other non-programming bits, so it still feels like a hobby to me.

Both my non-motivation to work and my willingness to donate a large fraction of my income have a common cause, namely thinking of money in far-mode, i.e. not alieving The Unit of Caring on either side of the scale.

Comment author: MixedNuts 08 December 2012 11:14:51PM 3 points [-]

Yeah, I know exactly who you are, I just didn't want to bust privacy or drop creepy hints. I didn't know that VideoLAN projects were financially independent of each other, so that explains where profit comes from. It's just that I didn't expect two guys in a basement to make that much, and you're too young (and didn't have much income before anyway) to have significant savings. So they're more money in successful codecs than I guessed.

Comment author: pengvado 09 December 2012 03:32:38AM *  10 points [-]

you're too young (and didn't have much income before anyway) to have significant savings.

Err, I haven't yet earned as much from the lazy entrepreneur route as I would have if I had taken a standard programming job for the past 7 years (though I'll pass that point within a few months at the current rate). So don't go blaming my cohort's age if they haven't saved and/or donated as much as me. I'm with Rain in spluttering at how people can have an income and not have money.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 December 2012 11:54:26AM 1 point [-]

i.e. not alieving The Unit of Caring on either side of the scale

I don't, either -- possibly because I've never been in real economic hardships; I think if I had grown up in a poorer family I probably would. (I do try to be frugal because so far I've lived almost exclusively on my parents' income and it seems unfair towards them to waste their money, though.)

Comment author: Kawoomba 07 December 2012 01:05:36PM 7 points [-]

(At the time of this comment) 27 karma for a $20k donation, 13 karma for $250, 9 karma for $20 (and a joke) ... something's amiss with the karma-$ currency exchange rate!

Comment author: AlexMennen 07 December 2012 05:26:37PM 7 points [-]

Under the assumption that being rewarded with karma can motivate someone to make a donation, but if they make a donation, they do not respond to karma as an incentive when deciding how much to donate, then upvoting any donation is the best policy for maximizing money to SI. I'm not sure how realistic that model is, but it seems intuitive to me.

Comment author: Kindly 08 December 2012 01:05:11AM 6 points [-]

It might motivate someone to donate $20 rather than $5 if there is a karma difference; probably not $20000 rather than $20, though.

Comment author: Kindly 07 December 2012 04:21:27PM *  7 points [-]

What do you expect to happen? We don't have enough users giving karma for donation to sustain a linear exchange rate in the [$20, $20000] range. Unless, I suppose, we give up any attempt at fine resolution over the [$1, $500] range.

In practice, what most people are probably doing is picking a threshold (possibly $0) beyond which they give karma for a donation. This could be improved: you could pick a large threshold beyond which you give 1 karma, and give fractional karma (by flipping a biased coin) below that threshold. However, if the large threshold were anywhere close to $20000, and your fractional karma scales linearly, then you would pretty much never give karma to the other donations.

Edit: after doing some simulations, I'm no longer sure the fractional approach is an improvement. It gives interesting graphs, though!

If we knew the Singularity Institute's approximate budget, we could fix this by assuming log-utility in money, but this is complicated.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 December 2012 02:40:46PM *  1 point [-]

Reversed scope insensitivity?

Comment author: CronoDAS 07 December 2012 02:53:32AM 6 points [-]


Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 08 December 2012 01:35:02AM 22 points [-]


Comment author: CronoDAS 08 December 2012 11:01:43PM 8 points [-]


Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 07 December 2012 03:05:49AM *  26 points [-]

"No, she wouldn't say anything to me about Lucius afterwards, except to stay away from him. So during the Incident at the Potions Shop, while Professor McGonagall was busy yelling at the shopkeeper and trying to get everything under control, I grabbed one of the customers and asked them about Lucius."

Draco's eyes were wide again. "Did you really?"

Harry gave Draco a puzzled look. "If I lied the first time, I'm not going to tell you the truth just because you ask twice."

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 December 2012 11:14:56PM 16 points [-]

Nice quote.

"Really?" is more polite to say than "I find that hard to believe, can you provide confirming evidence" or "[citation needed]", though. Also, sometimes people actually will say "No, I was kidding" if you ask them.

Comment author: Kindly 08 December 2012 11:53:06PM 5 points [-]

Also, sometimes people actually will say "No, I was kidding" if you ask them.

Or "Oops, I accidentally typed an extra zero. Twice."

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 09 December 2012 07:40:20AM 0 points [-]

That is unlikely owing to the placement of the commas.

Comment author: Kindly 09 December 2012 03:23:17PM 2 points [-]

No, that just makes it worse, because 20,00$ could be referring to donating 20 dollars.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 09 December 2012 09:28:03PM *  2 points [-]

Ah, right. I had forgotten that some people use commas where I would expect periods. Adding an extra zero twice is still somewhat unlikely, though. My current hypotheses about the distribution of LW users make it more plausible that the tail of high income can afford fairly large donations.

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Comment author: Alicorn 08 December 2012 01:59:29AM 8 points [-]

There is a largely innocuous conversation below this comment which has been banned in its entirety. Who did this? Why?

Comment deleted 08 December 2012 12:09:58PM *  [-]
Comment author: NancyLebovitz 08 December 2012 12:43:04PM 13 points [-]

In general, I'd say that people's desire to be anonymous should be respected unless there's a very good reason to override it, and solving a puzzle is not a very good reason.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 December 2012 11:50:52AM 0 points [-]

Anyway, he pretty much admitted who he is now.