People and Things I Would Fund If I Were a Billionairecreated date: ; modified date: ; status: in progress
I would fund the development of new scientific tools, as many scientific discoveries arise from utilizing novel tools
- For a recent example of how this can be useful, see Open Philanthropy’s funding of Edward Boyden lab’s expansion microscopy, which was rejected by government funding bodies multiple times
I believe that one of the highest impact uses of money is to pay individuals to critically assess, summarize, systematize, and put into larger perspective new (and old) scientific knowledge. Examples are
I would also fund writing “good overviews of large, interesting sectors like logistics, fintech, ecommerce, etc.” and “State of X” papers
- edit: apparently, there’s CB Insights for that
- Related: A MIRI position for this in ML: “We would like to hire a person whose job it is to be a living library, a walking index into the current field of AI and ML“
- Sarah Constantin’s The Longevity Research Institute
- Bret Victor’s Dynamicland
- Throwing money at scientists and designers in search of vastly better teaching materials, as described in the Addendum on motivation of Michael Nielsen’s Reinventing explanation
- actually, I’m planning to try working on much better teaching materials myself
- Fund Gwern (his Patreon).
- Fund a friend who’s a first class economic historian but who works 9-5 because he needs money to do research full-time
- Fund a polymath friend who lives on the edge of poverty due to an executive function disorder
- Fund a friend who writes the best educational materials of all people I’ve ever known, who works 9-5 because he needs money to spend significantly more time writing educational materials
Note: if you want to fund any of my friends mentioned here, do message me
An Interlude on Important Problems and Where to Get Funding for Them
You could try to start working on something from these lists
and try to get the initial funding from these places
Thiel Fellowship: $100,000 for people under 23
Einstein Fellowship: “a fellowship for outstanding young thinkers who wish to pursue a project in a different field from that of their previous research. “
Do let me know if I can expand this section!
Speculative businesses / services
- Fund Twitter alternatives (since Mastodon sucks)
- Fund a Facebook alternative.
- Fund development of Visual History-like browser extension, which would provide browsing history as a directed-graph.
- Create the new ACLU
Translations from Russian
- Most of Andrei Movchan’s facebook posts (I translated one myself)
- Занимательная Греция, Михаил Гаспаров — this is the best book on Ancient Greece I’ve ever read
- И возвращается ветер, Владимир Буковский — an autobiography of a famous Soviet dissident. There is an English translation but for some reason it skips parts of the book.
- Pay someone to make Hugo generate TOC and render KaTeX simultaneously (right now it’s TOC with .md or KaTeX with .mmark)
- Randomly anonymously donate to people maintaining open source projects (not stating what the donation is for, so that not to mess up their incentives)
- Fund somebody to create a wearable compass à la North Paw / feelSpace
This is a list of proposals that I decided were bad, after thinking further.
- [mid 2018] I would try to poach mathematicians / physicists / other smart people to switch from bullshit jobs and bullshit disciplines to biology. That would require a lot of money to
- pay people adequate salary
- create new labs where they could carry out their own research (rather than be like bio PhD students working for 5 years on somebody else’s research)
- hire tutors so that people who don’t know any biology could get up to speed with modern research in several months.