There are now many organizations in field of Existential Risk from Artificial General Intelligence. I wonder which can make the most effective use of small donations.

My priority is on mathematical or engineering research aimed at XRisk from superhuman AGI.

My donations go to MIRI, and for now it looks best to me, but I will appreciate thoughtful assessment.

Are there others?

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Quick thought: I expect that the most effective donation would be to organizations funding independent researchers, notably the LTFF.

Note that I'm an independent researcher funded by the LTFF (and Beth Barnes), but even if you told me that the money would never go to me, I would still think that.

  • Grants by organizations like that have a good track record for producing valuable research, as at least two people I think are among the most interesting thinkers on the topic (John S. Wentworth and Steve Byrnes) have gotten grants from sources like that (Steve is technically funded by Beth Barnes with money from the donor lottery), and others I'm really excited about (like Alex Turner) were helped by LTFF grants.
  • Such grants allow researchers to both bootstrap their careers, and also explore less incentivized subjects related to alignment at the start of their career.
  • They are cheaper than funding a hire for somewhere like MIRI, ARC or CHAI.

Thank you. Can you link to some of the better publications by Wentworth, Turner, and yourself? I've found mentions of each of you online but I'm not finding a canonical source for the recommended items.


For a bit more funding information:

You may be interested in Lark's AI Alignment charity reviews. The only organization I would add is the Qualia Research Institute, which is my personal speculative pick for the highest impact organization, even though they don't do alignment research. (They're trying to develop a mathematical theory of consciousness and qualia.)

Thank you! That is  valuable. I'd love to get also educated opinions on the quality of the research of some of these, with a focus on foundational  or engineering research aimed at superhuman-AGI XRIsk (done mostly, I think, in MIRI, FHI, and by  Christiano), but that article is great.

There may be many people working for top orgs (in the donor's judgment) who are able to convert additional money to productivity effectively. This seems especially likely in academic orgs where the org probably faces strict restrictions on salaries. (But I won't be surprised if it's similarly the case for other orgs). So a private donor could solicit applications (with minimal form filling) from such people, and then distribute the donation between those who applied.

Gonna +1 the other comments that name the LTFF and Larks' annual reviews. Though if I were to donate myself I'd probably go with a donor lottery. (The CEA donor lottery is not currently up alas.)

I agree that there are multiple types of basic research we might want to see, and maybe not all of them are getting done. I therefore actually put a somewhat decent effect size on traditional academic grants from places like FLI, even though most of its grants aren't useful, because it seems like a way to actually get engineers to work on problems we haven't thought of yet. This is the grant-disbursing process as an active ingredient, not just as filler. I am skeptical if this effect size is bigger on the margin than just increasing CHAI's funding, but presumably we want some amount of diversification.

Thank you. Can you point me to a page on FLI's latest grants? What I found was from a few years back. Is there another organizations whose grants are worthy of attention?

I actually haven't heard anything out of them in the last few years either. My knowledge of grantmaking organizations is limited - I think similar organizations like Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative, or the Long-Term Future Fund, tend to be less about academic grantmaking and more about funding individuals and existing organizations (not that this isn't also valuable).

Right on time, turns out there's more grants - but now I'm not sure if these are academic-style or not (I guess we might see the recipients later).