To clarify, these two areas already have two separate funds designated to each of them, and thus far both have happened to share a single manager. While I’m not too concerned Nick made grants to the CEA and 80,000 Hours as a trustee of the CEA himself, as that has been transparently disclosed since the the funds’ inception, I find it concerning both CEA and 80k received grants from both funds. I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest, since I’ve faith Nick earnestly believes that’s best. Yet since CEA and 80k just happen to share priorities of both EA movement-building and x-risk reduction, for a single grant manager to make grants to both organizations from two different funds seems to blur the lines for the criteria for the two funds. In theory, grants from each fund should be optimized for different criteria based on the area it pertains to.
At best, as it stands, mixed signals are sent. For example, EA organizations may be unclear if the CEA is indifferent or not to EA movement-building activities which don’t give a prominent place to the building up a long-term future focus in EA. That could distort things by attracting projects which aren’t that as effective but receive undue favour for signaling a long-term future focus. Projects which aren’t as explicitly about the long-term future in EA, nor obviously/immediately benefit long-term future-focused projects in EA, but nonetheless would effectively build the movement, get overlooked.
Nick himself has responded above he thinks it would ultimately probably be better if someone with more time and less redundancy with a higher-priority role could manage one or both of these funds (in addition or instead of him?). Like Benito also responded, the problem is there appears to be few people who are qualified. On the other hand, ‘nascent high-context intellectual movement non-profit grant manager’ is an abstract role that doesn’t exactly exist in the broader world. And nobody has addressed the possibility Nick isn’t literally the only person in the entire EA movement qualified the manage either of these funds. So I’m optimistic there is a discussion to be had there among effective altruists on what or how someone would qualify for that role, though I don’t know how that conversation should be had.
I agree with the benefits you cited. Regarding potential costs:
While it’s certainly possible there could be tension between one or more fund managers for each of these funds, it seems mechanisms could be designed to avoid that. Even barring that, I don’t have a reference class for the rate at which tensions between managers of a single fund would develop, so I don’t see strong reason to expect that would be the default outcome. Indeed, we haven’t considered the possibility the fund managers would be cooperative rather than competitive, complement each other’s perspectives, largely agree, and merely cover each other’s blindspots. Regarding the possibility of tensions within the community based on the EA Funds, it would appear there is a lot of tension right now with only one fund manager for two EA Funds. There are potential downsides to having multiple fund managers for multiple EA Funds, but that’s not been tried. We know what’s been tried so far has been inadequate, so that’s not evidence against trying something new.
Regarding no single fund manager having enough money for bigger grants, this precludes the possibility multiple fund managers will have significant overlaps in their worldview, or would not have another way to adjudicate between bigger grants. So it’s possible the likeliest outcome for the biggest grants, multiple fund managers would converge on the same conclusion. If not, it’s not my impression any of the EA Funds except for the Global Health & Development Fund has made a grant to date over $500k. Since the EA Funds haven’t been used thus far for these especially big grants in question, and may not in the future, this may be a moot point.
I’m confused as to why this would increase the chance harmful projects are funded. I guess if someone was much more confident in one fund manager’s judgement over another, in comparison grants from the other fund manager might be net negative in expectation. Or their judgement could be directly negative in that they fund projects that do nothing for the movement or the long-term future, or harm their trajectories. I’ve not seen anyone make the argument the judgement of some hypothetical, single grant manager would be irreproachable relative to literally anyone else. Problems with finding qualified fund managers, and what that means, have been brought up. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed. And everyone so far agrees it would be a good thing if the EA community can work together to figure that out. Nick Beckstead himself already said if someone with more time to look at these funds could be found, ultimately that would be better. So the idea multiple fund managers would increase the chance harmful projects strikes me as strange. This is especially in light of the fact the grantees’ from the EA Community and Long-Term Future Funds are projects the donors counterfactually would have either donated to those grantees, or emerging projects/organizations in EA, which is what donors to these funds were initially led to believe would be the case. It’s not clear in the last year the EA Community and Long-Term Future Funds improved upon at all how those donations would otherwise have been allocated. So unless the expected value of having multiple fund managers is literally less than zero, I’m not sure how it’s worse in expectation than the EA Funds for the last year, counterfactually, being a wash.
In summary, based on what we’ve observed so far, and not knowing those costs would come to fruition with multiple fund managers, I don’t understand how the costs could compare to the potential benefits. I think this should no longer be an idle consideration. I don’t see why this shouldn’t be one if not the primary way to improve the EA Community and Long-Term Future Funds going forward.