FTX collapse raises hard questions about the ‘effective altruism’ movement

Should charity be driven by the head or the heart? FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried believes that making vast sums of money is noble if it is used for a greater good.

In the aftermath of the FTX debacle, awkward questions are being asked about the "effective altruism" movement. PHOTO: AFP
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The collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX into bankruptcy and the resignation of its high-profile chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried earlier in November put the spotlight on an already wobbly cryptocurrency industry. However, there is another, quite different aspect to the exchange’s implosion as well – its unsalutary effect on philanthropies and non-profit organisations.

This is because the young tech entrepreneur was a card-carrying proponent of what is called “effective altruism” (EA) – where making vast sums of money is seen as noble if it is to be used for a greater good. (Mr Bankman-Fried had set up a philanthropic infrastructure through FTX which promised a certain percentage of its crypto exchange fees would be donated to charities.)

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