There are many reasons this wouldn’t be a good idea, some of which you identified. The first two:
It’s completely separate from GiveWell’s mission and brand; it has nothing to do with their work
It has nothing to do with effective altruism, and runs counter to many of the things EA tries to promote (we’re interested in careful reasoning, long-term thinking, and real-world impact; your use of terms like “pyramid scheme” and “peak euphoria” show why this side of the crypto market doesn’t represent those ideals)
In general, the EA movement aims to be exceedingly moral, transparent, and trustworthy, and to hold individuals/organizations in the movement to high standards. Creating speculative investment vehicles in order to take money from people who make foolish decisions just doesn’t fit EA at all.
While I don’t like this idea, I should emphasize that you didn’t do the wrong thing by sharing it here (rather than e.g. on Reddit, or by trying to implement it yourself without asking anyone first). It’s not a bad thing to consider unusual fundraising ideas: projects like EA Giving Tuesday have been quite successful despite not looking like standard fundraising. But if the outline of your idea sounds at all like “manipulating people into supporting charity” or “adding overhead cost and risk to a standard fundraiser” (which seem to be the two options for an “EA coin”), that’s not a good sign.
For what it’s worth, awareness of EA in the crypto community is quite high, largely thanks to the charitable giving of longtime community member Sam Bankman-Fried (founder of FTX).
No problem. I thought maybe if GiveWell was exceedingly straightforward and included something in their page about the crypto saying something like “Let us be very clear, this is a speculative investment with zero intrinsic investment value. More people will lose money than will gain money by investing in this coin. We advise you not to invest in it. However, if people are going to invest in speculative coins anyways, at least this one will save thousands of lives.” then it might be reasonable, but I understand if people are of the opinion that it has too many reputation downsides/risks for GiveWell.
Holy crap you guys, what a terrible idea to offhandedly reject and ignore. Spreadlove’s version of the idea isn’t exactly what I would propose, and the post’s formatting leaves something to be desired, but… look.
Today I was looking at top cryptocurrencies by market cap. XRP, in third place, stood out at $94 billion. There is a fixed amount of it, 100 billion tokens, of which the founders “gifted” 80 billion to their own company (and the rest, I assume, to themselves?). It’s set up to that whenever you buy it, you’re making the founders richer. I am considering buying some myself, despite the fact that I have no interest whatsoever in helping those founders earn billions of dollars.
If there was a cryptocurrency that enriched the poor instead of the wealthy, I’d hop on that train right now, today, and I think a lot of non-EAs would do that too. And here you are saying no, we shouldn’t do that?
Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, XRP is designed above all to facilitate transactions—to process transactions as quickly and efficiently as possible. This should make it better as a currency than Ethereum and (obviously) Bitcoin. I don’t know the technical details or the social details of the deals they’re making with financial institutions, but I do think cryptocurrency has some potential value as an efficient medium of exchange—a system in which transaction costs are secure and competitive. When I buy something with a credit card, I do so despite the fact that Visa and affiliates are most likely getting a cut of 2.5% or more.
If a cryptocurrency could be used to cut transaction costs to, say, 15 cents, that’s a genuinely valuable thing, not simply a “speculative investment vehicle”. 5 cents would be substantially better still. I’ve dreamed for as long as 20 years of being able to pay 10-20 cents to read an article / web page, or on the flip side, to charge 10-20 cents for my own blog posts (if I ever became popular), and still today I hate the subscription model because it centralizes power and says “well, you paid us $8/mo., you may as well get your money’s worth and get all your news from us”. 5 cent transactions would make my dream possible (though, yes, it doesn’t strictly need to be a distributed trustless blockchain system).
In addition, while speculation is rampant, the technology is young enough that it is still plausible to create a new system that is superior (in terms of cost, efficiency, security and human-centric safety) than most/all of the top 20 coins. In particular I think there is a very strong need for better trust systems. Simply put, we need a coin that is more easily safeguarded from theft, while simultaneously making it easier to avoid permanently losing one’s coins.
GiveWell doesn’t have the necessary expertise to build a best-in-class crypcur (can I call it crypcur? “Crypto” ought to refer to cryptography), but you know who I bet would have some good ideas about how to build an altruistic crypcur? Sam Bankman-Fried. Would love to hear his thoughts on this. And if he doesn’t have good ideas himself, he’s probably already hired some people who would. But, a negative-scoring post is likely to be immediately forgotten and Sam’s probably not going to notice this or comment.
But me, I imagine a ‘public benefit corporation’ or something, that would reserve the first $F per year of token sales for R&D costs, operating costs and marketing (where F is a floor amount such $1 million, plus maybe an amount proportional to the logarithm of the coin’s popularity), so that in the beginning the money raised would only be used to support the initial cost of development and so on, but as it becomes more popular, more and more money goes to effective charities.