Replacing Karma with Good Heart Tokens (Worth $1!)

Starting today, we’re replacing karma with Good Heart Tokens which can be exchanged for 1 USD each.

We’ve been thinking very creatively about metrics of things we care about, and we’ve discovered that karma is highly correlated with value.

Therefore, we’re creating a token that quantifies the goodness of the people writing, and whether in their hearts they care about rationality and saving the world.

We’re calling these new tokens Good Heart Tokens. And in partnership with our EA funders, we’ll be paying users $1 for each token that they earn.

“The essence of any religion is a good heart [token].”
— The Dalai Lama[1]

Voting, Leaderboards and Payment Info

Comments and posts now show you how many Good Heart Tokens they have.

(This solely applies to all new content on the site.)

At the top of LessWrong, there is now a leaderboard to show the measurement of who has the Goodest Heart. It looks like this. (No, self-votes are not counted!)

The usernames of our Goodest Hearts will be given a colorful flair throughout the entirety of their posts and comments on LessWrong.

To receive your funds, please log in and enter your payment info at​payments/​account.

While the form suggests using a PayPal address, you may also add an Ethereum address, or the name of a charity that you’d like us to donate it to.

Why are we doing this?

On this very day last year, we were in a dire spot.

We really, really needed the money.

To fund our ever-increasing costs, we were forced to move to Substack and monetize most of our content.

Several generous users subscribed at the price of 1 BTC/​month, for which we will always be grateful. It turns out that Bitcoin was valued a little higher than the $13.2 we had assumed, and this funding quickly allowed us to return the site to its previous state.

Once we restored the site, we still had a huge pile of money, and we’ve spent the last year desperately trying to get rid of it.

In our intellectual circles, Robin Hanson has suggested making challenge coins, and Paul Christiano has suggested making impact certificates. Both are tokens that can later be exchanged for money, and whose value correlates with something we care about.

Inspired by that, we finally cracked it, and this is our plan.

...We’re also hoping that this is an initial prototype that larger EA funders will jump on board to scale up!

The EA Funding Ecosystem Wants To Fund Megaprojects

“A good heart [token] is worth gold.”
— King Henry IV, William Shakespeare[2]

Effective altruism has always been core to our hearts, and this is our big step to fully bring to bear the principles of effective altruism on making LessWrong great.

The new FTX Future Fund has said:

We’re interested in directly funding blogs, Substacks, or channels on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

They’ve also said:

We’re particularly interested in funding massively scalable projects: projects that could scale up to productively spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

We are the best of both worlds: A blog that FTX and other funders can just pour money into. Right now we’re trading $1 per Good Heart Token, but in the future we could 10x or 100x this number and possibly see linear returns in quality content!

Paul Christiano has said:

I have a general read of history where trend extrapolation works extraordinarily well relative to other kinds of forecasting, to the extent that the best first-pass heuristic for whether a prediction is likely to be accurate is whether it’s a trend extrapolation and how far in the future it is.

We agree with this position. So here is our trend-extrapolation argument, which we think has been true for many years and so will continue to be true for at least a few years.

The blue line is the observed trend, the yellow dotted line is the extrapolation.

So far it seems like higher-karma posts have been responsible for better insights about rationality and existential risk. The natural extrapolation suggests it will increase if people produce more content that gets high karma scores. Other trends are possible, but they’re not probable. The prior should be that the trend continues!

However, epistemic modesty does compel me to take into account the possibility that we are wrong on this simple trend extrapolation. To remove any remaining likelihood of karma and intellectual progress becoming decoupled, we would like to ask all users participating in the Good Hearts Project to really try hard to not be swayed by any unaligned incentives (e.g. the desire to give your friends money).

Yes, We Have Taken User Feedback (GPT-10 Simulated)

We care about hearing arguments for and against our decision, so we consulted with a proprietary beta version of GPT-10 to infer what several LessWrong users would say about the potential downsides of this project. Here are some of the responses.

Eliezer Yudkowsky: “To see your own creation have its soul turned into a monster before your eyes is a curious experience.”

Anna Salamon: “I can imagine a world where earnest and honest young people learn what’s rewarded in this community is the most pointed nitpick possible under a post and that this might be a key factor in our inability to coordinate on preventing existential risk”.

Kaj Sotala: “I am worried it would lead to the total collapse of an ecosystem I’ve poured my heart and soul into in the past decade”.

Scott Garrabrant: “Now I can get more Good Heart tokens than Abram Demski! This is exactly what I come to LessWrong for.”

Clippy: “What’s the exchange rate between these tokens and paperclips?”

Quirinus Quirrell: “A thousand of your measly tokens pale in comparison to a single Quirrell point.”

Zvi Mowshowitz: “I would never sell my soul for such a low price. LessWrong delenda est.” (Then my computer burst into flame, which is why this post was two hours late.)

(Of course, this is only what our beta-GPT-10 simulations of these users said. The users are welcome to give their actual replies in the comment section below.)

O​ur EA funders have reviewed these concerns, and agree that there are risks, but think that, in the absence of anything better to do with money, it’s worth trying to scale this system.

A Final Note on Why

I think the work on LessWrong matters a lot, and I’d like to see a world where these people and other people like them can devote themselves full-time to producing such work, and be financially supported when doing so.

Future Enhancement with Machine Learning

We’re hoping to enhance this in the future by using machine learning on users’ content to predict the karma you will get. Right now you only get Good Heart tokens after your content has been voted on, but with the right training, we expect our systems will be able to predict how many tokens you’ll receive in advance.

This will initially look like people getting the money for their post at the moment of publishing. Then it will look like people getting the money when they’ve opened their draft and entered the title. Eventually, we hope to start paying people the moment they create their accounts.

For example, Terence Tao will create a LessWrong account, receive $10 million within seconds, and immediately retire from academia.

Good Hearts Laws

  • While we’re rolling it out, only votes from existing accounts will count, and only votes on new content will count. No, self-votes will not count.

  • There is currently a cap of 600 Good Heart Tokens per user while we are rolling out the system.

  • The minimum number of tokens to be exchanged is 25. If you don’t make that many tokens, we will not take the time to process your request. (Go big or go home.)

“Together, people with good hearts [tokens] and fine minds can move the world.”
— Bill Clinton[3]

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