Thanks a lot to Scott for working with us on this! I've been a longtime fan of the concept of impact certs (I think my friends are fed up hearing about me pitch them on "THE solution to public goods funding"); it's a huge privilege to be able to help kickstart this ecosystem. Let me know if you have any questions about the Manifund platform~

Fun fact: Manifund is the *second* site I've built that was originally a proposal by Paul Christiano -- his post https://sideways-view.com/2019/10/27/prediction-markets-for-internet-points/ predates the existence of Manifold by 2 years~

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Here's hoping this is the first step on the road to impact certificates taking off! Awesome stuff, Scott.

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"We’ll try to buy impact certificates of the projects they value most." Should "they" be "we"?

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023

"On this model, altruistic work receives some or all of its funding after completion rather than beforehand. Once an individual or organization completes work with a positive social impact, they can apply for a certificate of impact. They can then sell this certificate to another organization or individual. Following the sale, the new certificate holder can claim credit for the impact of the project, and the organization that carried out the project must acknowledge that they have sold its impact."

Two things strike me about this:

(1) It would seem to work best for projects that don't need the money. If I'm looking for a grant of $5,000 to set up everything for my project of teaching inner-city women to make lace when can then be sold to fashion houses, then I need that $5,000 to rent premises and buy supplies and all the rest of it. I can't wait until after we've made and sold the lace, because I need the money to make the lace. No money, no lace; no lace, no social impact; no social impact, no certificate; no certificate, no grant.

(2) This is re-inventing buying indulgences 😁 Good-doers A do the good work and get the credit, moneybags B can have that credit applied to wipe away the temporal punishment for sin thanks to the treasury of merits - I mean, they can raise their social credit score by purchasing the social credit of another. Though to be fair, carbon offsets probably are the new version of indulgences, our government seems to be trying to get remission of its sins the new modern way:


"THE GOVERNMENT IS due to buy up almost €3 million worth of carbon credits from Slovakia ahead of an EU deadline for emission target compliance.

Environment Minister, Eamon Ryan, received Cabinet approval today to buy the credits to help comply with 2020 emission targets, with the deadline for compliance being 17 February.

The agreement will see Ireland purchase over 4.1 million credits from Slovakia to help meet the 2020 target, at a cost of €2.9 million."

We commit the sin of carbon emissions, Slovakia's merits cover our misdoings in the eyes of the Judge of Ages, the EU.

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If you are interested in a partner with over 30 years of software development experience for your forecasting project, please contact me. ben.michelson@gmail.com - I don't do machine learning.

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I had actually thought of something like an end to welfare - a very basic minimum income, along with tokens that could be used in prediction markets with real payouts.

If nothing else, we ought to be able to get some empirical evidence regarding market efficiency.

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So this is just gambling on whether charities will meet their targets?

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>Suppose that one project is really excellent and we value it at $70,000, another project is also excellent and worth $20,000, and the third is still pretty good, and worth $10,000. The ratio is 7:2:1, so we’ll pay $14,000 for the impact certificate for the first, $4,000 for the second, and $2,000 for the third.

How does Scott decide the values of projects? What if his valuation of a project causes an investor to lose money (for example, the investor in the third project might have invested $3000, but gets only $2000 from Scott)?

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I think it would help if you said more about what kinds of projects fall under the scope of the grant ("forecasting projects" is kind of ambiguous)

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I think sadly that far too many (most?) people are too ideologically blinded to understand impact markets and why they should be expected to be a more effective model of charity. Even on this blog, where the commenters are supposed to be especially switched on, we see the same foolish objections each and every time Scott posts about this topic. Hopefully the people who can't grasp it are the ones who don't need to understand and support it for it to have a chance of succeeding.

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To all who have responded to me about impact markets, rather than doing this for every one of you individually:

Thank you for the full and frank exchange of views. Were this another site on the web, or were I of a different political disposition, this is the moment I would loudly fling about recriminations about dogpiling and the general faults of all, then flounce off in a huff slamming the door behind me.

Well tough, lady doggesses, you don't get rid of me that easily! 😁

I love this place because it is one of the very few online where we can have a good old ding-dong, people mostly don't get *too* precious about their fee-fees, and the benevolently dictatorial aura of the True Caliph and his Reign of Terror mean we broadly stay within the confines of civility.

Love and kisses to one and all, even if I remain unconvinced about the "more effective model of charity". You need to think in the long term, like two hundred years, about what this will evolve into. See the history of almshouses:



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I'm going to sound awfully miserly here but it needs to be said. Robin Hanson, inventor of prediction markets and one of the smartest people in the world, believes that the next step for PMs is a single dramatic demonstration to people in positions of power: specifically his "fire the CEO" market, which requires a million dollars. Which is a lot, and is annoying, but I think he's right that that's what it'll take to get PMs some mainstream recognition. I think a single, big, boring project is needed, not lots of little interesting ones.

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Seems sad that this has gotten no traction, while I don't buy the idea entirely I think it's rather interesting and has potential.

For what it's worth it doesn't help that, as far as I could tell, when this was announced, manifunds accredited investors flow didn't seem to work... might be partially related.

Might be worth making it simpler and cutting the investor, instead approving projects people value at a certain $ for their time, and paying the profits to those.

Seems boring enough that I wouldn't participate myself *but* potentially quite useful for a more college -studenty demographic.

Also selecting markets at a certain worth e.g. 15k cap and only allowing shares in those would heavily incentivise investors.

No idea though, just my two cents

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A few questions about the retrofunding thought process (realizing that these details may intentionally be left open-ended):

"1. On September 1, we’ll look at all of the projects that got funded and try to value all of them."

Will the evaluation focus on impact the projects have demonstrated up to September 1, potential for future impact, or both?

"2. We’ll try to buy impact certificates of the projects we value most."

How many of the top-valued projects would you expect to buy impact certificates for? Supposing 15 projects get funded, and you think 10 of them are at least somewhat impactful, would you offer to buy the impact certificates of all 10 in proportion to the valuations you've assigned, or only offer for the top few projects?

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Mar 7, 2023·edited Mar 7, 2023

Hi Scott. Seems like it's time to put my money where my mouth was [1]! I've just went through the accredited investor flow and should hopefully be buying up impact certificates shortly. (And yes, it took me two weeks to find the free time to actually make an account, etc.)

Can you clarify the judging process? In particular, what is the judging criteria: is it something about how useful these projects will be for forecasting, or how likely Scott and his friends are to think they're good projects, or what? For example, one project I'm looking at seems very Scott-friendly, very cool, and good "ROI" in terms of potential world impact... but I'm not sure how likely it is going to be to improve the state of the art in forecasting specifically. Would that be a "good" investment, or a "bad" one?

(I might invest in that project anyway as a charitable donation, but, I'd still like a general sense of what projects are most likely to get the potentially-3x returns.)

[1]: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/impact-markets-the-annoying-details/comment/7755694

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