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An NFT That Saves Lives (paulgraham.com)
137 points by prtkgpt 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 203 comments





I had hoped PG would write an essay on crypto/NFTs, as he seems enthused by them and is good at explaining things.

But he explains nothing here. Noora seems good, but that’s a feature of Noora, not NFTs.

As for what is going on, I looked at Noora’s post, it seems PG has placed the sole bid on the NFT, valued at $2.6 million at current market prices of ETH.

In return he will get a token that says he did it.

One part I’m unclear on: if someone outbids him, do only they get the token and pg pays nothing, or do both pay and are the contributions etched into the NFT?

> But the higher the price of this NFT goes, the more lives will be saved. What a sentence to be able to write.

Noora sounds like a good charity but what is different here from simply saying “the more people donate to Noora, the more lives will be saved”

Since Noora knows their ROI they should be able to calculate lives saved from a donation whether it is a normal donation or an NFT purchase.

If so, what does the NFT do?

Many smart people I follow, who are ordinarily good explainers, are inordinately enthused about crypto. And yet on this single topic none of them have produced any public writing explaining the reasons for their enthusiasm.

It is maddening. There may well be something there. But if there is it ought, in principle, to be explainable.

———-

I should also note you can’t take this and say “NFTs contributed $2.6 million”. You have to consider opportunity costs. The closest alternative to this post would be PG writing exactly the same essay except stating “I donated $2.6 million to Noora and you should too!” with a donate now button.

This post hit the HN frontpage, so surely many would have donated. Whereas nobody has donated other than PG.

Measured against this alternative, the NFT vs a normal funding mechanism has plausibly cost lives. Not to mention the money that Noora will take out of its funds to do a carbon offset.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding how this works, but if I have understood it properly and PG would have done an essay either way this might have cost lives.


> I had hoped PG would write an essay on crypto/NFTs, as he seems enthused by them and is good at explaining things.

What is there to explain? People who are invested in cryptocurrencies are hyping the equivalent of digital trading cards because it has the downstream effect of increasing the hype on cryptocurrency.


I don’t know what there is to explain, but I’m always open to the possibility that I’ve missed something. Ethereum, in particular, is at least capable of interesting things.

That doesn’t mean it will change the world. But I’m always interested in hearing from intelligent people who differ on why they think it will.


I appreciate this as I'm also trying to keep an open mind and understand what this means for the future.

So far there are only two arguments that I understand:

1. Libertarianism: The world will be better if we remove the government and other 3rd parties from interfering in transactions between individuals.

2. Decentralization of Money (Crypto), like the decentralization of information (The internet) will unlock technologies and opportunities that we cannot appreciate now.

Those are logical arguments, but I'm still missing the "so what" answer. How does the lack of government oversight change my life? My next bank account may be decentralized, so what? Does that mean I get better service? Lower Fees?

I understand that plenty of people were unimpressed with the internet when it first came out, but I was not one of those people. I got it and was online in 1995, I bought GOOG in 2005, and TSLA in 2014. So I'm not your typical technological naysayer. Maybe Bitcoin isn't just an accidental Ponzi scheme, but as far as I can tell that is what it will be when we look back in 10 years.


Some degree of it has to just be the grown resentment of established banking. So this is a view of a certain cohort of sentiment, not necessarily exclusive to cryptocurrencies and all that.

These days a bank account will cost you money. Any savings account available to most people offers interest rates at or below inflation, if they're not 0% and charge fees (making those ones functionally offering negative interest). Even more glaring is being charged fees for not having a high enough balance in your account.

When you're young and poor and you look to a bank to help you grow out of that state, and you're offered the above, you can understand why it would appear the game is just plain broken. And that's just talking private bank accounts, not the larger economic sphere.

To me, it's no wonder that people are trying out different things, even if they don't work. It's better than just accepting the thing that's already not working for you.


Well put, and another aspect beyond currency is a move against centralised control of enterprise. Centralised legal systems governing contracts, centralised ownership and rewards, centralised risk, etc. Some people looked at how the world is run and thought they could make a more efficient and secure way of doing things with more freedom for anyone that can swing an IDE to create fairer reward systems.

At least one of the implications of systems like ethereum is that they enable autonomous contracts that are decentralised and at least in theory don't require any separate and typically centralised governing body to execute and enforce, which could in turn lead to a range of new models of business and human interaction.

It remains to be seen what will happen, the technology is still young (the Web took about a decade to start catching on in the mainstream as perhaps being something more than a flash in the pan) and lofty ideas are being thrown at the wall as the new concepts are explored in both good and bad ways.

Having seen the ups and downs of the online revolution I have a hunch at least some of it will stick, and whether this moment goes down as some great proletarian revolution or becomes just another tool in the billionaires belt seems up in the air to me, but at the very least it is disruptive and we may be seeing the birth of the next generation of crypto barons.

Or anything could happen, like by some unlikely turn of events we solve prime factorisation and the whole thing fizzles into history as a big oops moment, or jackbooted forces raid homes and data centres to destroy all crypto-related hardware and knowledge.

I feel the outcome will be somewhere between the two extremes of utopia and dystopia, it just seems to be how things turn out, but as you say at least people are trying things. Disrupting the status quo is how society moves forward, humanity never seems too comfortable sitting on its haunches (for better or worse).


I think the problem is you're looking at cryptocurrency with the wrong perspective, so you're missing the fundamental ways it can rewrite the entire world of finance. I imagine you're looking at this from a consumer perspective, and you trust your bank, have a stable government fiat currency to use, and a credit card to make easy transactions with, so you have little use for cryptocurrency. Yet with the internet you likely saw the immediate ways you could make use of it, or how Google or Tesla would change the world with better search or better cars.

Cryptocurrency at the core is about solving trust issues and human coordination issues. Just because you don't have these issues in your life doesn't mean they aren't extremely important for the world. Part of the problem is that at times crypto has been sold as a consumer technology, remember before Bitcoin was digital gold it was going to be the microtransaction currency of the internet, which excited a lot of people looking through the consumer lens. But in the bigger picture of how revolutionary the technology is, microtransaction are the least interesting thing it could do.

This is a brand new technology that can solve trust problems and allow global business and trade to work more efficiently. It can allow humans to organize more efficiently and create brand new kinds of institutions (DAOs). Take Uniswap as an example. It's a decentralized exchange running on the Ethereum blockchain that has at times done as much daily trading volume as Coinbase. Now here's the kicker, they have two orders of magnitude less employees than coinbase (15 vs 1500). So not only are they vastly more efficient than legacy exchange technology, they also solve the trust problem because there is no third party taking custody of your funds, it's all done on the blockchain.

Another interesting example I've been pondering lately is automated insurance policies that run on the Ethereum blockchain and payout based on decentralized oracle data feeds from Chainlink. Imagine a farmer in Africa who doesn't have access to crop insurance, but needs to smooth out his year to year risk so that he doesn't go bust during a drought year if his crop fails. You can now write a smart contract that takes data from a decentralized oracle network providing rainfall data. A user can then pay into this contract and he will automatically be paid out if the rainfall during the growing season is below a certain threshold. So the farmer gets a slightly lower but much more predictable income stream. Someone else (who's better capitalized) can take the other side of the bet to collateralize the insurance policy, and earn a higher but more volatile payout.

This kind of efficiency per employee was never possible prior to blockchain. It's like how software and the internet allowed greater human coordination and orders of magnitude efficiency gains over legacy business organization, just applied to the world of finance. In the same way those massive gains in efficiency are allowing software to eat the world, crypto will eat the world of finance. This is a deep back end technology, and it's likely that by the time you're using it you won't even be aware of it as centralized institutions will adopt it on the backend while still providing you with a familiar user experience.


You are right, I am in country where there are enforceable laws and regulations. Maybe some developing countries can skip some of the legal and regulatory infrastructure and use software to solve those problems, similarly to how those countries skipped the wired telephone infrastructure and went directly to cell phones.

Spot on with the analogy of leapfrogging the land line technology. Also, just because you live in a country of law and order doesn't mean crypto doesn't have value there. Imagine missing the value proposition of the internet when it came out because you felt you lived in a country where you could trust the publishing and news industries to provide you with the best information!

Just as the internet unchained information from government and industry powers, cryptocurrency breaks the world of finance out of institutional control. This has the massive benefit of allowing bottom-up innovation, which is extremely valuable no matter which country you live in.


> I imagine you're looking at this from a consumer perspective, and you trust your bank, have a stable government fiat currency to use, and a credit card to make easy transactions with, so you have little use for cryptocurrency.

You're right - I do live in America :)


Chainlink sounds interesting. But how can you be sure about the data and the link?

Insurers have sizeable fraud departments. If a system is unreversible and exists in a place without enforceable contracts, wouldn’t that allow for a large gaming opportunity?


It's probably best to read their whitepaper, as I don't know all the details off the top of my head, but they have a number of ways to prevent gaming the system. Of course, nothing is 100% sure, even Bitcoin can be attacked with enough power. It's about putting in place the economic incentives, such that the game theoretic best approach is to provide value to the network rather than trying to harm it.

So in the case of Chainlink the idea would be that it's much more profitable to be an honest data provider than a dishonest one, and each data source uses a number of independent data providers. If you act dishonestly you will lose out on the value you could have gained by acting honestly and also be penalized in the reputation system.


Cool I’ll have a look sometime. I can definitely get the sense there seems like there could be something there with Ethereum, and if there is something there it could be very very big.

What remains unknown for me is whether that something actually exists.


I think if you take some time to familiarize yourself with the latest developments in DeFi on Ethereum, you'll see that it already exists. Lending/borrowing, exchange, derivatives, insurance, prediction markets, and a host of other use cases have been live for a while now and platforms are doing billions in volume. Essentially the building blocks of a modern financial system all built without reliance on a trusted third party institution. During the last boom in 2017 there were a lot of big promises, and many teams failed to deliver or scammed users, but what we're seeing now is the legitimate projects coming to life after years of work during the last bear market.

Oh, all of that seems less interesting to me, at present, than chain link. The defi applications are interesting but it isn’t clear how any of it affects the real economy. It seems to be a lot of intra-crypto speculation and money moving.

That would also apply to the stock market etc but ultimately traditional finance does allocate capital to businesses and actually produces things in the economy.

However, if Chainlink etc can link all of that Defi stuff to real activities, it could be powerful.

I’m still on the fence as I haven’t seen too many practical examples, but it definitely seems to be the space to produce one if they can be made to happen.


> One part I’m unclear on: if someone outbids him, do only they get the token and pg pays nothing, or do both pay and are the contributions etched into the NFT?

No, only the person who wins the bid gets the token.

I typically defend the tech behind NFTs but this just seems like it's riding the hype of NFTs more than anything.


> riding the hype of NFTs more than

Good on them for doing that. Their mission is to save as many lives as they can and if riding a hype train lets them do that, then the overall outcome is still very positive. The environmental externality is bad but trivial compared to the benefit of lives saved if this auction goes through.


And if someone else bids more, is that the only money that goes to Noora? i.e. PG’s bid is voided

Yes, only the winning bid would go to Noora. However, there would be a record of any other bidders' intent.

With a bit more of creativity/effort, someone could have created a smart contract for keeping track of all the donations and only releasing them once they reach a certain threshold, then giving a token back representing a "life saved" to donors if they truly wanted, but I get capitalizing on NFTs' hype right now.


Most charities already give you pdf certificates recording how many lives you saved with your donation. What's the point in having an NFT instead of just a pdf?

> What's the point in having an NFT

> > > it's riding the hype of NFTs more than anything.

The point is hype-based advertising. As people have been repeatedly pointing out all over the thread.


Perhaps he wrote the essay so that other people will find out about it and out bid him for the NFT.

You get press for being the good guy and don’t have to spend a dime. What a great thing to be able to achieve.


That’s possible. Assuming he donates the $2.6 million regardless, this could be a high risk, high reward campaign.

So while saying “please donate” might get say $100,000-$1,000,000 more, even a single bid from a other investor/founder who wanted bragging rights for beating PG will dwarf that.

If so it presents an interesting mechanism to elicit donations in rich social circles.


NFTs will effectively do nothing in this case.

People are 'enthused' because they have a lottery ticket that could go to the moon and are want others in on the action.

The charity is trying to hop on the bandwagon of 'money appearing out of nowhere'.

We are clearly headed into a fairly inflationary situation, I'm curious as to how we will look at this time 20 or 40 years into the future.


People have been able to raise non-insignificant amounts of money selling NFTs for charities.

Snowden - Freedom of Press Foundation 5.4m https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/16/22388548/edward-snowden-n...

pplpleasr - Stand with Asians 550k https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/99615/uniswap-v3-nft-sol...


How is this different or better than normal donations? If anything, isn't it worse due to the NFT overhead?

It's "better" in the sense that they can piggyback on the hype train for all things cryptocurrency related.

Some crypto/NFT millionaire who would normally never donate might well well be coaxed into donating once they see that "NFT" or "blockchain" is attached to the prospect.


If you go from 5% to 10% overhead but collect 10 times as much because of the hype you still end up with more money.

Exactly, same goes for when you donate with the 1-1 matching. Your X amount is 2x now, and 10% of 2x is stil 1.5x more of just X.

>If so, what does the NFT do?

My take - it's like a prize result. If you run some race there's a big incentive to be the #1 winner even if there's no prize money or trophy. It's just the general agreement that Joe Bloggs was the winner of the whatever race. Still people dedicate their lives towards achieving such things.

Likewise with PGs NFT someone will be able to say I was the winner of that auction and the world will agree and it is something that will be with you forever.


I mostly agree, but I don't think a PG post about him donating to Noora would make the front page of HN. In this case the NFT is providing value by bringing eyeballs due to how much hype NFTs have. I know I wouldn't have clicked through his post if he was just donating a bunch of money to them.

If that’s the only reason this is interesting, we’re talking about digital fashion. It’s isomorphic to a celebrity endorsing a product.

“Is this person an expert in using this product? No? But it’s selling like hotcakes because this person is a celebrity, and people find them interesting almost solely because other people find them interesting.”

So taking a donation and wrapping it in an NFT feels like taking a product and getting a celebrity to endorse it. The NFT itself really adds nothing to the idea of donating to this charity.


I'm not sure why this is an NFT other than trying to capitalize on the current craze. NFT or not, a charity should still "issue a public report tracking how this specific tranche of money is spent, and estimating the number of lives saved as a result". Having decent reporting on how efficient your charity is feels like it should be basic table-stakes in order to raise more money in the future.

Is this really any different than a charity asking for donations?

Edit: asking for one very large charitable donation.


> I'm not sure why this is an NFT

That's what I've said about every existing NFT.


Ever seen a programmer creating programs in Brainfuck? I don't think I'll never understand Brainfuck, but I do have some understanding of why you'd wanna write a program in it.

Ever seen these abstract paintings that go for millions of dollars? How dare they? I don't understand anything of it, it's weird as fuck, but it doesn't really hurt anybody more than anything else so why care?

I feel like NFTs fall into a similar category. I understand them, I just don't want them. But I do understand that the same people who would collect baseball cards or whatever (I also never understood that) could see something in NFTs. Same with the art-crowd who been struggling with funding for individual artists, I don't want it myself, but I kind of see why others would somehow.


I don't see any brain fuck programmer trying to convince us that bf is the future. nobody is trying to convince someone else to code in bf.

same with the abstract art. someone did it, it happened, people appreciated. but they knew that's all about it. no artist telling us to do it.

And nft isn't even comparable, it's just become another term for cypto coin. Two years ago this would an ICO. coin to save lifes.


> I don't see any brain fuck programmer trying to convince us that bf is the future.

You forgot the comment thread you were on... we aren't arguing that NFT is the future, but that some people can see a use out of it, just like BF.


I understand why somebody would buy a baseball card, even if I would never want to. I understand why someone would right-click and download a jpg of a baseball card, or screenshot one, even if I would never want to.

But when you add "pay $100 in etherium for a reference to a publically jpg hosted on some website" you completely lose me.


Lots of folks buy NFTs as an investment vehicle expecting them to increase in value in the future. What is the value proposition of this as an NFT? Why would anyone want to buy this NFT from PG? If the price of this NFT were to go up & a new investor wanted to buy it, they would just buy a receipt that PG paid 2.5 million for this NFT. How does this benefit the investor or the charity?(Noora Health)

The more I learn about NFTs the less I understand.


It really isn’t. It’s just a fancy receipt that also happens to be particularly harmful to the environment. There is nothing preventing a shady charity from embezzling the funds. As with everything blockchain related, trust stops every time there needs to be an interaction with the real world.

It would make more sense to sell this as an NFT if it were paired with a thematically related artwork. A wealthy buyer would be able to display the NFT in their home and brag about all the lives they saved when they bought it.

How do you display an NFT? Isn’t it literally just a hex code, with actual asset hosted somewhere else, which is publicly accessible by everyone? I’m serious. Isn’t that all it is? A pointer to some other resource, without access control at all?

At least when I bought a beanie baby, I got beanie baby. NFTs always felt like paying money, then printing up the first picture of a beanie baby from a Google image search, and then trying to convince yourself that had the only one.


Currently I see NFTs as a new status symbol, but without a way to display them (ie: flex your status/wealth). However, if you think the world will move further towards the digital realm where people will spend large portions of their lives in shared virtual worlds, this problem goes away.

There will be virtual worlds where only the true owner of the NFT (can prove with digital signature) can display their artwork. It's not so different from people flexing with their skins in various games, so I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine a virtual world where people have virtual properties, houses, businesses, etc. where they display their NFT artwork. Have a look at Decentraland for an idea of where this might be heading.


I believe in a digital world future but have a hard time believing there would be DRM on images that would prevent me from displaying this gif in my house if I wanted to

No, there won't be DRM that would prevent you from printing the digital image of an NFT and displaying it in your house. The DRM will be inside your virtual house or virtual museum. The creator of said virtual world can require proof via digital signature that you are the owner of the NFT.

Whatever the NFT contains/links to, anyone can make another NFT with the same content, and prove they own that NFT.

Exactly. The whole “rarity” of NFTs is laughingly absurd. The idea of scarcity of digital artifacts was always a joke, and was dramatically disproved more than 20 years ago.

Agreed. If you don't acquire the rights to the contents of the NFT when you buy it, it's not very clear what you are buying. If you do acquire the rights (including cash flow) then buying an NFT has very real meaning.

Yes.

Good idea, and one I hope yet another decent charity uses. And frankly its waaaay more PR friendly than 'a report on our spending effectiveness'.


I just deleted my comment wondering the same thing. I don't understand why something like opencollective couldn't be used. Give money to org, see how money is spent. The NFT is completely unnecessary.

Consider paulg looks to be the only bid (so far, maybe that could change), this kind of looks like trading a $2.5M donation (that likely would have been made anyways) for a feel-good news article pumping a use-case for NFTs as a whole.

This is a charity auction, a common way for charities to get donations. The purchase can make sense for the buyer because they get the good will of the donation, and they get an NFT potentially they could resell later that could be valuable because it is saving lives. The only thing the NFT directly does is mathematically prove to some future buyer that this NFT is the original and not a forgery. And it makes sense for Noora because of all the hype and money being spent on NFTs. If they were auctioning off a signed physical binder of the same report it would probably sell for a lot less even though it is effectively the same thing.

I thought they would create 100k tokens at $25 so everyone could donate, but also the value of the tokens could go up in the future. That would've been cool.

But... no. It's a single token worth millions of dollars, so no one an actually participate, except PaulG himself


If it is $25 a token with 100k of them, these are not exactly non-fungible, isn't it :)

well, some NFTs do have thousands copies, etc. — they're not always unique, but I get your point haha. Maybe they should have done it as a ICO / social coin instead :P

> well, some NFTs do have thousands copies, etc. — they're not always unique

What? No. They are unique and not the same as the others, that's what makes them NFTs in the first place.

A NFT that has thousands of copies is just a cryptocurrency... You might mean that there are "collections" of NFTs, where the artwork happens to be the same and the author is the same. But each individual piece of that is it's own NFT and not a copy.


You're just being extremely pedantic around the use of the word "copy" to try to make your point. If you have thousands of things where the artwork is the same and the author is the same, we have a word for that: "copies".

Putting an ID on each one doesn't make them any less "copies"; they're just numbered copies. Sure, you can call that a "collection" if you want, but they are a bunch of instances of the "same thing".


Well, without being pedantic about the use of "copy", we might as well use "NFT" and "cryptocurrency" interchangeably, but it's useful to make the distinction between as they are different.

If you pipe /dev/random to 100 different files and hash them, the content are "the same" in the sense that they are all filled with garbage. But if you hashed the content, you'll get different hashes. Use those as Global IDs, and you have something like a NFT. The same, but also not the same as they are unique.


I used to run the tech side for a couple of UK-based aid organisations (just out of college - basically database management and home brewed campaign work.)

We had terrible marketing response once we left a core base of existing donors - getting new donors in the door for a non-profit was (at least for us) a constant challenge. However, once some external event (sadly some horrific disaster) occurred we would see a spike in willing donors.

So this looks like a non-horrific external event - something that might make (at 2 million dollars very rich) rich donors dig deep and contribute.

Great - taking money from the wealthy and putting it to good use is a perfect use of anyone's time and effort, I hope they raise twice what they expect.

Whatever you think of NFTs, I don't care - take advantage of any opportunity to increase your donor base - its tough enough out there :-)


Has your past employer perchance switched from a "give what you can" to a subscription "pay X per month" model? The latter has proven to be remarkably unpopular with the public.

This was the best part of 30 years ago - they are still all in existence but I cannot comment on their detailed fundraising techniques :-(

I'm only doing anonymous donations these days. Too many places do not respect your request to not be contacted in the future.

We donated to the EDF once; the sheer volume of junk mail they and their data broker sent us enraged us so much that we’ve sworn off ever giving them money again.

I don't think anyone understands that this is purely a "fun" thing to raise money. Yes, it's exactly like a donation drive.

Except for that it uses technology that harms the environment. I don't think this trend is "fun" compared to a normal donation drive when it has these negative side effects.

Plus it gives credibility to what is effectively a scam. People will be able to point to this and say "look, they're being used to do good" and others will take that as social proof that there is actually something legit to an NFT (and the rest of the various "crypto" scams going on).

The environmental harm of a single ethereum transaction is very low. Lower than a fundraising dinner. Please take your nitpicking elsewhere.

They're literally aiming at saving thousands of lives and the comments are all focused on how bad NFTs are. Give me a break, talk about missing the point.


>The environmental harm of a single ethereum transaction is very low.

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible" ~ Stanisław Jerzy Lec

No transaction individually harms the environment. The collection of all transactions harms the environment. This one transaction is part of that collection and it has potential to help attract people to the platform which will encourage more transactions in the future.


Because doing this as an NFT is utterly nonsensical. The NFT is involved for absolutely no reason. The only results of involving an NFT are (1) legitimizing a ridiculous scam and (2) causing extra environmental damage alongside the donation.

Just donate the money, using a fraction of the carbon cost, and if you want to generate hype, do a match.

What a waste of time and energy.


> Because doing this as an NFT is utterly nonsensical. The NFT is involved for absolutely no reason.

It's not nonsensical from the perspective of their mission if it increases the amount of money that they're able to raise.

> What a waste of time and energy.

They're emitting ~90 kilograms of CO2 to save 2000 lives, which is a good trade-off if they wouldn't have been able to raise that much through traditional channels.


They clearly did it to capitalize on the hype around NFTs and draw attention to the fund raising event. Given we're talking about it, that looks successful, not nonsensical. Welcome to the world of marketing.

Throwing an empty can into the river has a miniscule effect on the environment. You do more damage when you ride the bus to work.

> The environmental harm of a single ethereum transaction is very low. Lower than a fundraising dinner. Please take your nitpicking elsewhere.

Source? I'm curious to see exactly how the environmental harm of a fundraising dinner is quantified.

edit:

When I google "ethereum transaction energy cost" the Google featured snippet says 50kwH for a single transaction. I find it hard to believe that it would take 50kWH to cook a single dinner. If you're referring to multiple dinners, then you would have to subtract the cost to eat in general as eating is a human necessity - hence me asking your source since I'm genuinely curious.


With the NFT minting, several bids, sale, and transfer of ownership, it's an average of 340 kWh for a successful NFT, according to https://memoakten.medium.com/the-unreasonable-ecological-cos... which has sources and methodology etc. That seems pretty high even for a fundraising dinner, and at least that includes food.

Think about all the energy costs involved in everyone driving to the dinner, the air conditioning or heating for the venue, etc. It would depend on the number of guests which is more costly to the environment. For a dinner where you aim to raise 2.5 million, I think the dinner is going to have a bigger impact.

But again, I want to reiterate that focusing on the environmental impact here is totally missing the point. It's like saying the outside of the hospital is painted a jarring color.


this is a really disingenuous comparison. again you'd have to subtract the costs that would've already been incurred anyway. would someone invited to a fundraiser dinner not eat otherwise? or drive? or have AC?

also, given that it's already very easy to send money to any non-profit talking about the potentially unnecessary environment costs doesn't seem unreasonable. the only reason people bring it up is because there's an alternative that doesn't incur the same costs but achieve the same thing.


> this is a really disingenuous comparison.

Neither of us put up numbers, but I didn't call you disingenuous. I stand by what I said until I see math to the contrary.


You're the one who made the claim to begin with - so there's nothing to stand on, it's just a baseless claim since you didn't really provide any information on how much energy is required for a "fundraiser dinner" to begin with that wouldn't have been used anyway.

And you followed with a baseless rebuttal. Don't waste your breath.

> Except for that it uses technology that harms the environment.

Apparently it's on Ethereum. Ethereum is already using an hybrid PoW / PoS (proof of stake) chain and at some point the PoS chain should be the only one. It PoS works, the impact on the environment should be a rounding error.


Great, get back to us when it actually happens, right now it is an environmental disaster.

Check out Ploygon(MATIC) they have an Ethereum L2 PoS network that is fully functional and works.

At this point people are voluntarily using an expensive and wasteful mainnet on Ethereum, and it is better to promote the the existing solutions rather than spread FUD that they do not exist.


Haven't people been saying this for at least 4 years?

No, people have not been saying that ethereum is already partially on proof of stake for 4 years. I realize that isn't what you meant, but what you meant seems to be missing the point that it's actually happening recently.

Maybe, but as of now the ETH2 beacon chain is running with > $14B of ETH locked in it, not launching honestly seems unlikely at this point.

For those who, like me, are not knee-deep in crypto stuff, $14B of ETH appears to be about 3.7% of the total market cap.

Does government backed fiat harm the environment? Do the militaries of the nations protecting their government backed fiat have a net positive or negative impact on the environment? Does the infrastructure required by central banks, retail banking have a net positive or negative impact on the environment?

I am not arguing blockchain in various implementations do not harm the environment, only that there are many external costs and collateral damage by the current systems which is often ignored. What is a "normal donation drive" after all? Is it a bunch of celebrities and musicians jumping on private airplanes? Is it a $10,000 per plate filet mignon dinner indirectly supporting bigAG and bigAG animal farming? What external costs have you contributed to just to make a post, are there plastics in your device, was coal burned somewhere or fossil fuel burned to supply parts to your device or charge your device?

Certainly this NFT is not saving lives, the entity behind it was saving lives before the NFT, and certainly they would have continued to save lives without the NFT, but if the NFT generates $2.5M and they can save 1 life with every ~$1,200, then there is a number. Maybe someone who really believes in the argument that saving 1,000 lives is good but not at the expense of the environment which will result in killing us all can step up and pay this entity double ($5M) not to do it, sure its a number reserved for the 1% but its also a number that means nothing to the 1%.


Look, you'll be hard pressed finding someone who hates the government more than me; even I can tell you that yes, the government wastes a lot of resources and pollutes the environment - but both government and central banking are much more efficient in managing money.

You can't solve a political problem with technology. PoW is incredibly inefficient and wasteful. BTC is slow and wastes a lot of energy, just to maintain consensus.

I'd rather see a system with decentralised nodes I can trust (imagine tons of trustworthy corporations running these instead of the duopoly of Mastercard / Visa) which can process transactions without worrying about consensus and without wasting energy.

Looking forward to PoS, which could bring us closer to that reality.

Even with BTC (or a crypto with PoS) the problems with the governments won't disappear, I'm sure they'll find a way to keep ruining our lives and extracting money from us, even with cryptocurrencies.


"We plan to make a significant carbon offset to mitigate the environmental impact of this NFT. Within one week of the closing of this auction we will update this page with details of the steps we took."

Every action we take has tradeoffs. Everyone acts hoping that they can bring more good to the world than bad. Thats not to say we shouldn't be critical of decisions people make, but the moral panic around nfts is overblown imo. There are solutions being worked on [1] and the upside to addressing coordination problems[2] is huge.

Or, as the saying goes, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"

[1]https://our.status.im/ethereum-is-green/ [2]https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/


> Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

But in the case of NFTs, there's no baby in the bathwater.


> Everyone acts hoping that they can bring more good to the world than bad.

Not so sure about that one


> Everyone acts hoping that they can bring more good to the world than bad.

I want to live in that world.

Those are some seriously potent rose colored glasses you've got going on there.

I think it's true that many people think and act that way, but I don't know what percentage of people are basically good like that.


Will PG be committing tax fraud when he writes off this 'donation'?

He is receiving in exchange a token when notionally has the same value as his 'donation'. Being able to resell a 'donation' to someone else to recover part of the cost seems weird and like it could confuse tax treatment.


Back when YC experimented with application through the community, or "Apply YC:", I deployed a YCCoin on Ethereum and applied. Basically decentralized Karma. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15226688

There was one comment "why would I use this?" Rightly or wrongly it seems that is still the question everyone has for NFTs.

At the same time in 2017 I had simultaneously built out redditco.in, igco.in, and facebookco.in. If you follow NFTs you might be familiar with the Tweet NFTs and Jack's first tweet getting a multimillion dollar bid, right as that was occurring I got a cease and desist/trademark infringement letter from FB. In a responsive letter I encouraged FB to allow me to auction Zuckerberg's first FB post as an NFT along side Jack's Tweet and with that I would gladly transfer them the domain names. It sounds dumb at best, tinfoil conspiracy at worst, but that is exactly when the bids on Jack's Tweet and all the media surrounding it stopped, and I never got a reply to my response to the TM infringement letter.

From there the NFT rabbit hole only got deeper as I began receiving quid pro quos, or pay to play requests for invitations to join an "exclusive" NFT marketplace, even getting a retweet from one of the anonymous NFT collectors on Twitter that has spent millions on NFTs as proof the quid pro quo requests were legit. The Twitter account I was using literally had 1 follower, but was being retweeted by an anonymous NFT collector spending millions (I think even bought one of Grimes' NFTs for about $750K).

I will say this for pg's essay, this NFT, and bid...at least pg and company did not create an anonymous or fake persona or personality and pg openly placed the initial bid. However, unless this results in so much backlash no one wants to touch it, my guess is consistent with the entire NFT space, the ultimate bid for this NFT will end up being some anonymous NFT collector with a record of spending millions "collecting" NFTs.


If the ~$1000 per life figure is accurate, the GiveWell[1] guys will be all over this.

[1] http://givewell.org


I'm on a poor Internet connection and can't read the page but a search indicates that GiveWell is aware of Noora:

https://www.givewell.org/research/incubation-grants/charity-...

It would be interesting to read about how it compares to GiveWell's recommended charities.


One thing when considering effective giving is that cost-effectiveness does not scale linearly with the investment - this figure may well be accurate for the investments they've received, but that doesn't mean that additional investments will be effective to the same degree.

For example, in this case, educating mothers about how to take care of their babies will be very effective until most of the population is educated - from that point on, there may only need to be ongoing low investment to keep that level of education.

In general, effective giving would try to keep highly-effective charities well-funded, but not have them store excess investments - if not all of the donations can be "activated", the charity becomes less effective per dollar.


The NFT here seems to be a publicity stunt to both raise money directly from the auction and also to raise awareness about the charity. I had never heard of this charity before this stunt, and I probably would not have heard of them without it. It certainly seems plausible that "using an NFT" here is a net good, even if there is some carbon cost.

You could argue against the stunt, but it requires more work that just stating "carbon costs." You'd have to check whether valueOfSavedLife * moneyRaised / 1235 + carbonCost < 0. And it looks like the auction is structured so that moneyRaised will be at least 2.5M, so the carbonCost would need to be pretty negative to make the sum negative. What is carbonCost?


Setting aside the environmental responsibility offset that Noora is planning to embark on, I still don't see why this is a viable strategy for an NGO raising funds for on ground impact. Noora operates in a country with strict financial regulation for foreign donations, but still allows funding to come in full (no tax for the NGO). In this case, assuming that the purchase is getting "cashed" out outside India, wouldn't there be quite a bit lost in fees and taxes?

Another thought that comes to mind is strategy in holding crypto assets by a non-profit - if an asset appreciates, is it profiting and subject to taxes when converted to fiat? If so, is it better to convert immediately, or take the risk in holding crypto for a chance at improving the value of the donation? If you're holding (closest equivalent I can think of for nonprofits in Inida is generating returns on an FD made on the corpus), is the donation really doing anything?


Isn't this just a receipt? like when I donate shirts to goodwill?

Yes. Except this way you get to pretend your receipt for money given away (ostensibly out of the kindness of your heart) has magically become an “asset”.

Leveraging manias for social good sounds appropriately disruptive ..

Is there a way to short NFTs? I wish I could proactively sell people's regret to them.


Shorting low-liquidity assets is a very bad idea.

If you short an NFT with only 1 token, you effectively just owe whoever holds it an infinite amount of money.


As Matt Levine would say, the way to do that is to mint and sell your own NFT. That way you are on the opposite side of the trade as the bulls who you believe are wrong.

If you mint an NFT and fail to sell it, you'll lose the minting fee. You'd do better to hold off on minting it until it has already been sold. And to actually sell some, you need to market them as something that people would want (like "saving lives") or, if you're short on ideas, crowdsource that task. At which point you're basically running an NFT platform. And you'll make more money the longer the NFT craze runs, which isn't really opposite to the bulls...

The proper way to bet on NFTs being passé soon is probably to invest in something that's not an NFT.


Sure you can short some NFTs.

Has Mr. Graham done an honest calculation of how many lives will be lost to the environmental impacts of NFTs if they become mainstream?

I don't think Mr. Graham is under any moral obligation to consider this issue unless it remotely plausible that NFTs issued for charitable purposes (or just NFTs, period) will "go mainstream" to the extent that they have any noticable environmental impact.

Is Ethereum anything like bitcoin in terms of power utilization/environmental impact?

Today, Ethereum uses about 1/6 energy consumption of bitcoin, while providing much more utility. But will change later this year as it transitions to proof-of-stake, at which point Ethereum's energy consumption will be negligible.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/blockchain-cryptocurrency-en....


Why in HN of all places do people constantly have years-old takes on crypto?

Ethereum is moving to proof-of-stake. Most other chains use some form of proof-of-stake.

It's not like these projects are unaware of your criticisms, nor have they stood still since you stopped paying attention in 2017.


> Most other chains use some form of proof-of-stake.

I don't think this matters unless you weigh these chains by something like popularity or market cap - who cares if a blockchain used by a few hundred people is using PoS? Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two big ones and neither use PoS (yet)[1]. Also, we have new blockchains like Chia that have found novel ways to waste resources that don't involve PoW.

[1] People have been saying that Ethereum is "moving to proof-of-stake" for years. Here's an article saying it's going to happen in Dec 2020 after a Jan 2020 deadline was missed: https://www.exodus.com/blog/ethereum-proof-of-stake-date/ Is this time different? I don't know. But saying Ethereum is moving to proof of stake is like saying "the market is going to crash". Yes, maybe, but when?


It's currently got PoS working alongside PoW - so it's already happening

Why in HN of all places? Because engineers are more resistant to bullshit hype. Proof-of-stake has not been proven at a large distributed scale.

I'm not sure why everyone is tripping here. He's about to save some fucking lives and you suddenly care about the enviroment for sending a mere 100 ETH?

Even if we are to look at the big picture, don't tell me you believe PG will be the sole reason everyone is going to pick up NFT donations now? It was going to happen regardless.


It's great that PG is donating to a good cause, and anyone who donates that much money is welcome to brag about it, but that doesn't make the explanation any less baffling. Imagine a very slight modification of this scenario:

> I'm going to donate millions of dollars to a life-saving charity, and in return they're going to manufacture and ship me a barrel of low-grade hazardous waste. Anyone who likes is welcome to try and outbid me for the barrel in order to raise even more money. Of course, I'll pay a bit extra to build a vault to safely store the barrel and minimize the risk of leakage into the environment. Afterward, we can calculate how many ounces of toxic chemicals it took to save each human life.

> Isn't it great how technology can help make a difference in people's lives? I'm looking forward to seeing what barrels of toxic waste can help us accomplish in the future.

EDIT:

> Oh, by the way, this has nothing to do with the fact that I have a lot of money invested in a company that makes and transports barrels.


I'm planning on donating 100k packets of chewing gum to starving children.

If Paul Graham had donated $2.5 million dollars to Noora and written a brief article about it, he probably could have convinced some percentage of his readers to also donate to Noora

As is, there's a chance that someone will bid more than $2.5 million for this NFT, but the delta between Paul's bid and the winning bid will have to be greater than the sum of other non-winner take all donations for this to be a more effective way to raise money

On the other hand, if this wasn't an NFT, Paul probably wouldn't have put up $2.5 million and written an article about it at all, so I guess Noora's already better at this than I am


Maybe i'm just an idiot, but this:

>For this NFT, they're going to issue a public report tracking how this specific tranche of money is spent, and estimating the number of lives saved as a result.

In my opinion, that is vital.

Many donations to non-profits are used for many various reasons (some justifiable, some definitely NOT).

This actually allows tracking on that money. So isn't this a good thing? People can easily manipulate stats on documents without having to worry about someone else double checking the work.

With the ability to track the NFT's currency transactions is good, no?


> People can easily manipulate stats on documents without having to worry about someone else double checking the work.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding how this all works. How is the “report” that will be issued any different from a regular document? Just because it will be an NFT doesn’t mean it will be more accurate does it? Someone will still write whatever they want on the document itself and there’s no mechanism that will make this document more accurate than any other document.


The latest NFT craze is primarily for one-of-a-kind items. I'd rather see an org like Noora Health sell unlimited NFTs.

What's exciting is the capability for decentralized apps to interact with NFTs. For example, other ethereum-based games are able to detect and interact with cryptokitty NFTs without the permission of the cryptokitty designer. As a blockchain token proof of donating to charity, you can imagine apps that encourage more donations by recognizing donaters in special ways to help build social capital.


Automatic membership to services based on total amount of donations to any charity on the blockchain could be a cool thing.

Like, 'to stream this movie, you must have donated $100 to any charity within the last 24 hours'.


This is no better than uploading a PDF report on the NGO's website. An NFT does not bring any additional guarantees, adds a ton of complexity and most definitely doesn't save lives.

While the calculation of $1,235 to save a life is very good, donating blood is arguably the most efficient way to save a life since it is free.

Is there an under-supply of blood in rich countries to the point where people are dying as a result? If 1 regular donor stopped donating, how many additional people will die?

There's lack of supply of some rare blood types[1]. Also relevant to point out, if you go donating blood don't just go after some disaster hits. It's a common occurrence that tons of people show up for blood donations after some tragedy hits but blood can only be stored a limited amount of time and it tends to be wasted. If you want to donate, go regularly.

[1]https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/the-donor-magazin...


While I never understood the value of most NFTs yet. I'm still not sure if I'm too smart and too stupid. But either way, Donation NFT sounds better than the Fart NFT I read about the other day. But I'm still not sure what the NFT is for and how exactly it will save any life..People seem lost in abstractions and fictional stories..

NFT, much like most Crypto doesn't 'do' anything here.

It's not a financial instrument that creates value.

'Private Corporations' enable people to group capital together to make useful stuff, that wouldn't happen otherwise.

'Public Exchanges' allow more transparency and broader classes of investors to participate in markets.

Investment Banks 'make markets' for financial instruments so companies can trade things like risk, among other things.

There's a lot of net value creation going on there even when it's fuzzy.

If NFTs can encourage people to give to a charity, that's great, but of course that shouldn't be necessary. Crypto that can't effectively be used as currency is not a value creator, at least not until they are exchanged as such.

This is frothy, bubble-ish kind of stuff that in my life I have seen implode twice, this time 'it may be different' in that it may not crash, but the value creation still isn't there. We should probably strive to do better than moving around deck chairs, even if it's with fancy math or AI.


Actually, I'm glad that this happened.

Now everyone can see the essence of NFT scams.

Basically, he made an investment asset from a donation, with an ability to gain more later.

How this can be called a donation, if you are going to make more money from a single fact of it, FOR YOURSELF?

Hypocrisy maxed out.


There is 1 bidder, paulg1

Is the donation still tax-deductible if you do it through a NFT?

I've suspected that the point of NFTs is to transfer cryptocurrency into an asset with a different volatility proifle without "realizing gains," or even use them as loss makers to offset capital gains, so indirectly, maybe?

Are purchases from charities tax deductible? I thought it was only donations

The amountyou pay in excess of the market value, is deductible as a donation. This is how charity auctions of commodities work. What's the market value of the NFT? Who knows?

The market value is whatever somebody is willing to pay. If PG will pay $2.6 million for the NFT, that's its market value.

I imagine @pleasrdao might be bidding on this.

A nice example of what global settlement layers and co-ordination tools can be (and should be) used for.


Seems like even PG is succumbing to the hype of NFTs. I don't understand how this will be any better than just doing a donation drive and it could possibly be worse for the planet.

This is generally the problem with idolizing people. PG is a human. Humans do stupid stuff.

Why do you think it's stupid? He is legitimizing blockchains with the hope that the price will grow (infinitely) and he will be at the top of this human pyramid.

Ah, and what about saved lives? Pyramid supporters don't give a sh*t about lower levels of the pyramid. That's the main point of building it.


Sure, I should have said that humans fail to live up to the lofty standards that people expect of their idols. But "people are stupid" rolls off the toungue, as it were

Can PG sell it later for more?

I'm not sure from this blog post what this company has to do with NFTs, or how these NFTs are intended to generate revenue for this organization, or why the tokens being sold can't be fungible, or what they're for.

(Aside: The HTTPs Everywhere extension takes a bit of an issue with pg's 199x-vintage website. :)


Seems fairly clearly just jumping on the bandwagon. Clearly people right now spend lots of money on NFTs for whatever reasons, so sell one and get money the buyer probably wouldn't have donated otherwise.

I believe, this is a great example to raise funds with the NFT models. Crypto to save human life.

This + the NFTs will make for truly excellent virtue signaling.

This NFT will be great for Noora Health. And maybe even N more organizations.

Then, as happened many times in the past, similar organizations will start optimizing the wrong metric and their actions will slowly diverge from their mission.


I don't get it. A non-profit is inherently a centralized entity. What's the point of using a blockchain in this scenario?

> non-profit is inherently a centralized entity.

I would have actually said the opposite, if there is one inherently decentralized type of entity that is officially recognized by central authorities it is a non-profit.

Yes, non-profits exist because of centralized authorities, if they have exempt status for purposes of taxes that determination comes from a centralized tax authority, but a non-profit itself has no owners and is generally governed by the members. The members generally elect a board of directors but that is just representative of the collective decentralized members and should serve at their collective discretion through vote, the board as the official representatives appoints the Officers that manage the day to day business of the entity. There are arguments to be made, and not all non-profits are structured identically, but inherent in all of them is no ownership, so should a non-profit be dissolved and have assets, those assets are not distributed to any ownership class but must be distributed to other non-profits. Based on the lack of profits and ownership, non-profits are more decentralized in nature than many organizations claiming to be DAOs most of which are organized around the concept of an ownership class and profits.


Verifiable donations, fully transparent reporting/auditing, no restrictions on who can donate, NFTs tied to donations that can be used for virtue signaling online, etc.

A blockchain isn't necessary for any of these things, though.

Might not be "necessary", but sure as heck makes all that a lot easier. Sure, one could design their own system that accomplishes all of those features, but why if there's an existing infrastructure layer that anyone can build on that already offers it? Especially a non-profit that likely lacks the technical expertise and resources?

I don't understand your point - are you suggesting a non-profit will find blockchain easier than a regular ledger? Any organization that accepts donations now can already do all of the things you originally mentioned, for free, by simply signing the donation receipts.

> are you suggesting a non-profit will find blockchain easier than a regular ledger?

For the features outlined before ("Verifiable donations, fully transparent reporting/auditing, no restrictions on who can donate"), for sure!

First you have to come up with a ledger you can run on your server, but that visitors should be able to verify that what your server responds, is actually the values, and that you haven't manipulated those values in any way. How do you even do that? Since you are running the software, you can modify it, either on the machine itself, or in transit.

Secondly, you need to come up with a way of avoiding AML/KYC since that or similar exists in most countries. You might need to hire a lawyer just in order to write the user-stories for your sprint.

Or, use existing software and boom, thing done. Publish and then circle jerk on Twitter.


It works very well for all of them though.

A PDF of my Watsi donation and credit card statement is just as good without any blockchain Rube Goldberg mechanizations. By all means, digitally sign the PDF [1] if you want to be fancy and hip, but you don't need a blockchain, nor is it going to tell you if the healthcare donated towards was actually delivered.

If the argument is, "It's on the blockchain for trust purposes!" my retort is, "Do you not trust the nonprofit? And if you don't, why are you giving them money?"

Please, do donate to non profits that align with your philanthropy interests, but don't get caught up in hype.

[1] https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/certificate-based-sign...


Watsi seems to offer donations via credit cards and Paypal, neither which I think supports $2.4 Mil donations, but I'm unsure, never tried it myself. Watsi overall don't seem to fit the "no restrictions on who can donate" part either, as they are an American non-profit (subject to US laws, including embargoes).

Can you name a non profit not governed by nation state monetary and financial regulation policy you'd donate to? I cannot.

If I was going to donate a substantial sum to Watsi, I would wire it to them and have the wire receipt as proof of money transmittal.


Destroying the environment I guess. And surfing on the sad hype that the NFT buzzword have.

Except that there are more power-efficient ways to build a blockchain than the Bitcoin approach. There's nothing inherent about NFTs that means they must destroy the earth.

There is nothing inherent about NFTs.

You got that right.


This is interesting but a gofundme or regular fundraising event could achieve the same thing, without paying high miner fees too.

These days

HN commentor = hate computer science


awesome, this is great, a good way to show off NFT's

Just put up a donation link, please.


Seeing pg peddle NFTs after a16z did it just a few weeks ago is kind of depressing. I guess Silicon Valley VCs must be really stinging about missing out on Bitcoin a few years ago. Not to mention that disguising what's essentially a money-making scheme as a benevolent donation is morally murky at best.

Giant assumption that Silicon Valley VCs missed out on Bitcoin. YC invested in Coinbase in 2012. Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures invested in 2013. You don't think their partners bought at least a bit of Bitcoin then as well?

> You don't think their partners bought at least a bit of Bitcoin then as well?

I have no way of knowing but I'd wager probably not; VCs invest in highly-speculative moonshot ideas all the time. Back then, crypto was mostly naïve zealotry. And these days, it's mostly greed. It seems people forgot BitTorrent circa 1999-2003 -- it's history literally repeating itself.


Marc Andreessen was publicly speaking of Bitcoin as an important technology in 2014 [1]. He sounded like a true believer then, not a moonshot speculator.

I remember Sam Altman (then YC president) tweeting about him and other YC partners trading Bitcoin in about 2014 too. And I heard of Peter Thiel having big Bitcoin investments several years ago.

It’s not so true that VC’s “invest in highly-speculative moonshot ideas”. YC does as their business model is to bet on a huge pool to catch the outliers. But traditional VCs have to defend their investments to LPs so have to be more prudent. Any VC investing in Bitcoin companies in 2013 was doing so because they personally believed Bitcoin had huge potential.

[1] https://www.econtalk.org/marc-andreessen-on-venture-capital-...


They absolutely didn't miss bitcoin. Thiel gave Vitalik a scholorship to drop out of university and work on ethereum. a16z have been massive supporters of cryptocurrency startups, as have YC (isnt coinbase their best investment?). Naval, Balajis, Alexis Ohanian. The common thread is crypto.

It seems like it is just the HN commenters that don't seem to understand why and still talk about Tulips. Meanwhile reddit is working on community tokens, ebay working on nft listings...


The common sentiment on HN with regards to crypto is baffling to me. It's like they stopped paying attention in 2017.

Great, now pg is deep into the Ponzi scheme.

This is peak absurdism. Why not simply donate the money? How is this better than a Kickstarter?

How many lives could pg have saved by donating the billable time it took him to write this post?

It gets even better, from the NFT article:

> • What about the environmental costs?

> We plan to make a significant carbon offset to mitigate the environmental impact of this NFT. Within one week of the closing of this auction we will update this page with details of the steps we took.

pg giveth, pg taketh. If you agree that carbon emissions kill, you'd basically donate for a good cause through an absurdly convoluted money laundering scheme called NFT, and cause massive environmental harm on the other side of the planet, killing even more people, again.

I might even draw several trolley problem comics, but the fact this is from pg himself makes me question his sanity and everything he's ever written.

It's the same feeling of betrayal like when Signal turned around and decided to implement a payment token after several of us went ahead and invested time to convert family members away from WhatsApp.

Profit over reason. Pyramid schemes disguised as benevolent startups saving lives.

Startup culture needs a reboot.


Please don't post in the flamewar style to HN. It degrades discussion, so we should all avoid it.

Thoughtful critique is welcome, but name-calling, fulmination, and denunciatory rhetoric are not. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.


> This is peak absurdism. Why not simply donate the money? How is this better than a Kickstarter?

This reminds me of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

Does pouring a bucket of ice water over one's head cure ALS? Obviously not.

Did creating a trend that went viral help take strides towards curing ALS? Yeah! According to Wikipedia[1] this meme brought $220 million to ALS research.

So I'm not sure you can simply say "why not donate the money instead of buying NFTs" since NFTs are what people are interested in now!

Maybe this is an instance of meeting your customer where they're at.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Bucket_Challenge


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wasn't the ALS Light A Tire On Fire challenge.

I guess you could say there's value in riding any flavor of the month. However, I think there are plenty of fads that responsible organisations should shy away from. The fact that something is gaining popularity is not an excuse, imo.

Would that $220M have gone somewhere else equally valuable is Ice Bucket didn't become a trend?

Attention is a finite resource.


Dumping a bucket of ice water over your head doesn’t cause severe environmental damage. This does.

Also, everyone likes weird videos of bad things happening to people. NFTs don’t have widespread public interest, nor do they have an viral sharing feature. Videos do.


> nor do they have an viral sharing feature.

yet here we are...


...talking about NFTs in general rather than the nonprofit[0] or how to donate to them.

[0] I already have forgotten their name.


«This is peak absurdism»

Pros of making this whole thing an NFT:

• Capitalizes on a craze to save lives. Consequently, this will almost assuredly be more successful at raising money than if this had been organized as a traditional campaign with donations through credit cards or PayPal.

• Very low friction. Any of the many lucky crypto millionaires can bid in seconds. No need to convert crypto to fiat and all associated hassles.

• The highest bidder will own cryptographic proof of his donation to Noora Health. Other bidders will have proof of their intent.

• This may motivate other non-profit to seek donations through NFTs.

Downsides:

• Contributes to increasing the NFT craze ?

• ???

There are many things you can criticize about cryptocurrency, but this Noora Health NFT probably ain't one of them.


Marketing is effective and NOVEL marketing is very effective. Would we be talking about a spam post PG made begging for more money to be donated to another charity? We are here doing just that right now precisely because he involved the NFT angle.

Yes. PG essays reliably hit the front page. I can’t think of a single exception.

Obviously he can’t constantly ask for donations but the first ask certainly would have hit the front page.

As far as I can tell, no one has added more to the NFT. Maybe that will change with time.


I agree with novel marketing, but I'm rather less convinced by the long run implications of what this purports to actually do

The purpose of an NFT, after all, is to create some sort of symbolic representation of something you've paid for, and allow other parties to buy that representation from you without involving any third parties. It doesn't really have any other appeal except as signalling; in this case it supposedly signals your generosity.

Or more specifically, it enables someone to signal that they have donated a lot of money to Noora Health and then try to recover that cash by selling it to someone else who wants to signal that they have donated to Noora Health without the inconvenience of actually donating to Noora Health.

The actual recipient of donations doesn't sound like the sort of entity which needs to be disintermediated from donation signalling, and I'm not sure long run philanthropic expenditure is going to be increased by the notion that you get that money back from some other guy who wants to look like a philanthropist donating to you instead of the cause...


>This is peak absurdism. Why not simply donate the money?

You must not have heard of TITS coin.

https://titscoin.io/


> Why not simply donate the money? How is this better than a Kickstarter?

Because if you're PG and you do it this way you can have the money be added to the topline revenue numbers for a company you have invested in:

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/opensea/company_fina...

This is marketing for a YC company.


> We plan to make a significant carbon offset to mitigate the environmental impact of this NFT. Within one week of the closing of this auction we will update this page with details of the steps we took.

So this is less efficient than a normal donation of the same amount, since we've now introduced a secondary overhead in that you need to waste a portion of the money combating the environmental cost.

Feels a little weird to praise the charity for having the lowest cost-per-life number that you've ever seen, and then to breathlessly announce that you're making that number worse.

Is the cost of the carbon offset going to be lower than the cost would be to commission a very nice, unique physical plaque or trophy that could be actually displayed by the donor?


> Why not simply donate the money?

Tax deductible email receipts are nice, but an exclusive digital asset that says "I donated to this cause" gets people's emotional and social gears working in ways a "share with Twitter" button does not.


I don't think it's fair to say that 'massive environmental harm...killing even more people' is a likely outcome. The carbon offsetting will fix that up, but even so the environmental impact of proof-of-work has likely been overstated in online discourse.

Of course, it is indeed a somewhat ridiculous moral money laundering scheme. I guess the main argument for it would be that NFTs are hot right now, and thus might attract more donations? That seems less than likely.


Aren’t there NFT marketplaces built on top of (minorly esoteric) proof-of-stake block chains now? If they’re even going to humor the environmental cost, why not just use one those? Am I missing anything?

All the liquidity and capital is on Bitcoin and Ethereum (~$1.5T in capital). Ethereum is in the late stages of migrating to proof-of-stake. It will happen in the next 9 months.

Smaller chains have less economic security and less integrations, so it makes sense if they are expecting large donations to use something well established that is very unlikely to suffer a reorg attack and that is easily accepted worldwide.

And as others have said, 1 nft makes no difference to block production. and for the long term energy efficient solutions are in testing now (for likely deployment in Q4): https://rayonism.io/


There are NFTs on those, but they suffer the problem that the currencies of the blockchains in question aren't very convertible from actualmoney. ETH is relatively convertible and can run NFTs, so they tend to happen there.

It's weird seeing a website that so vehemently defends artificial speculation in housing markets get so worked up about digital raffle tickets


My bad, the stakes are high. I'll work to cool it next time.

It's an internet forum. The stakes are not that high.

I mean with the housing stuff and the economics. A lot of people in my life are stressed lately about housing. So I have strong feelings about it.

Ah, I see. Yes indeed. I hope the stress eases soon.

Charity = good

Cryptoscams = bad

Want to contribute money? Write a check. Don't sully charitable operations by trying to glue a cryptoscam onto them.

It seems rude to flag a link to paulgraham.com on Hacker News, but I'm going to do it anyway. Down with cryptoscams, even ones promoted by Graham.


Amazing how short sighted HN is when it comes to NFTs. Blindly accepting the "bad for climate" tripe and showing utter ignorance to the upcoming transition away from energy guzzling proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake world. Sad to see this community act so willfully ignorant to all things crypto.

> upcoming transition away from

Read: Not here yet, so still doing the whole energy guzzling proof-of-work thing.

NFTs are a dumb fad that's likely to die out before the always-around-the-corner move away from PoW.




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