- Sam Bankman-Fried’s mother, a Stanford law professor, once wrote an article titled “Beyond Guilt.”
- Barbara Fried asked what would happen if the focus was on fixing problems and not on blaming.
- His son Sam Bankman-Fried co-founded FTX, which last week filed for bankruptcy.
A series of essays written by the mother of Sam Bankman-Fried have surfaced following the collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he co-founded.
FTX filed for bankruptcy last week and Bankman-Fried says it is struggling to raise $8 billion to pay off clients and FTX’s many creditors.
His mother is Barbara Fried, a former lawyer who has taught at Stanford Law School since 1987.
He has written articles for the Boston Review, a quarterly political and literary magazine, arguing that attributing “personal blame” in times of crisis had “wrecked criminal justice and economic policy”, suggesting that it was “time to put the blame behind us”.
“The fact that we have received so little in exchange for blame at least opens up the possibility that people will be receptive to a new approach,” he wrote in 2013.
“The next time something goes terribly wrong, suppose instead of immediately asking who is to blame, we asked: How can we fix this problem?”
Fried declined to comment when contacted by Insider for this article.
In a recent Twitter DM exchange with Vox reporter Kelsey Piper, Bankman-Fried suggested that her calls for crypto market regulation were publicity stunts and that she did not believe her own rhetoric about the need to behave ethically.
And when asked by Vox if his colleague Nishad Singh’s reported guilt over losing depositors’ money explained Singh’s remorse, Bankman-Fried responded: “The world is never so black and white. I feel bad for those he screwed over.”
In another 2013 essay for the Boston Review titled “The Limits of Personal Responsibility,” Fried argued that a better world could be achieved “if only we could stop arguing over whose fault it is that we ran into each other.”
The academic defended the idea of risk in a world where personal responsibility has its limitations, saying that “a world in which everyone is most risk averse is a world in which none of us want to live.”
“Instead of trying to change the public understanding of personal responsibility, we can try to change the subject of the collective benefits (in this case, economic prosperity) that could be derived from solving the problems we face,” Fried wrote.
Speaking of emotional empathy, he suggested: “Intuition may well have a constructive role to play in the political sphere, particularly when we think rational decision-making tools are unreliable.
“But until people learn to think more systematically and holistically about the consequences of different courses of action, even just the consequences for themselves, we will continue to invest in the wrong policies.”
Fried’s writing ties into his family’s belief in “effective altruism,” a movement that uses calculations to understand how people can use their time, money, and resources to better help others, with a focus on ends. of an individual’s actions justifying the means of getting there.
Its detractors argue that effective altruism can overlook the harmful results of such action.
Some wondered if Bankman-Fried somehow prioritized FTX’s expansion, given his belief in the benefits of cryptocurrency, above all other considerations.
In fact, in her exchanges with Piper, Bankman-Fried viewed her downfall through the lens of a calculation, where their efforts added up to bring the company down: “Each individual decision seemed good, and I didn’t realize how big was their sum.” until the end.”
It is understood that the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Department of Justice are investigating FTX for possible mishandling of client funds. The SEC is also said to be investigating Bankman-Fried himself.
Prior to the FTX collapse, the crypto exchange reportedly transferred billions of dollars in client funds to Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research.
FTX’s new CEO, John Ray, gave a scathing assessment of the company under Bankman-Fried, describing “a complete failure of corporate controls,” underscoring a divergence in the former CEO’s thinking that may have contributed to his downfall.
“A month ago, I was one of the best fundraisers in the world. Now I’m one of the fallen remnants,” Bankman-Fried told Vox.
“But there’s one thing about being down: there are people who know what it’s like and want to do for someone else what no one else has done for them.”