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Money disbursed through EA prize platform

In an effective altruist forum post, I (Matthew Barnett) proposed a design for facilitating small inducement prizes. Inducement prizes are prizes awarded to individuals or teams for accomplishing some feat, specified ahead of time.

Despite their long history, inducement prizes are currently much less popular than grants as a method for funding basic science. Yet, some economists have argued that they provide advantages over these traditional funding sources, as they can more efficiently solve the principal agent problem for research.

If a small inducement prize platform is created for effective altruists, how many dollars of prize money will be disbursed within a year?

For the purpose of this question, assume that a public platform with the following characteristics is created at some point, and is announced on the Effective Altruist Forum. In order to count, the platform must,

  • Allow users to pose an open research problem and provide a prize for anyone who can provide at least a partial solution to the problem.

  • Provide a system of escrow and arbitration, mirroring the suggestion given in Matthew Barnett's EA Forum post. More specifically, the platform must offer (1) a means of holding inducement prize money in reserve, and disbursing the money to participants who satisfied the conditions specified in the inducement prize contest (2) a means of appointing a trusted arbitrator with the power to resolve disputes arising in regards to who is disbursed money and in what amounts.

Assume that approximately one year after the launch of this platform is announced on the Effective Altruism Forum, the administrators of the platform reveal the total amount of prize money disbursed on the platform since the announcement. This question will then resolve as the number of US dollars disbursed as prizes, before fees and taxes, since the announcement of the platform on the Effective Altruist Forum.

In case some precursor to the platform is launched or announced, but does not include at least one of the necessary conditions outlined above, the platform is not said to have been launched yet.


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