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Over the last couple of months we have written a series of posts making the case for the Centre for Enabling EA Learning and Research (CEEALAR) and asking for funding - see herehere and here. We are very grateful to those who supported us during the fundraiser, however we did not reach our target and still have a very short runway. Despite these current difficulties, we want to take a moment in this post to outline a few of our achievements from 2023. We are proud of what we have achieved, and looking forward to working hard in 2024 to ensure an impactful future for CEEALAR. 
 

Highlights of 2023

  1. We hosted ALLFED’s team retreat in which they gathered their full team to set out their theory of change and strategy.
The ALLFED team outside CEEALAR
The ALLFED team outside CEEALAR

2. We also hosted Orthogonal, who launched their organisation and research agenda while here.  

                         

Orthogonal's logo
Orthogonal's logo

 

3. We appointed two new trustees, Dušan D. Nešic and Kyle Smith, and said goodbye to outgoing trustees Florent Berthet and Sasha Cooper.

Thank you to Florent and Sasha who have both been supporting CEEALAR since it began. We look forward to working with Dušan and Kyle, and drawing on their expertise in talent management and fundraising.

 Dušan (left) and Kyle (right)
 Dušan
Kyle


4. We updated our Theory of Change to explicitly focus on work supporting global catastrophic risks.

We believe this reflects the needs of the world, plus in recent months more than 95% of applicants have worked on GCRs.

CEEALAR's theory of change
CEEALAR's theory of change

5. We launched the CEEALAR Alumni Network, CAN, and reconnected with our alumni to begin understanding the impact CEEALAR had on their lives.

  

A word cloud showing what our alumni are doing now
A word cloud showing what our alumni are doing now


80% of respondents were working in EA, the majority of whom were doing AI safety work.

6. We made substantial improvements to the building that helped boost grantee productivity.

Including converting the attics into private studies, purchasing standing desks and creating a lounge area to relax.

A private study in the attic
A private study in the attic

 

7. We improved our application form to ensure we get the very best grantees, and hosted a total of 60 grantees, more than any of the past 3 years.

Grantees enjoying dinner together
Grantees enjoying dinner together

 

8. ~7.4% of our funding for 2023 came from guests and alumni, which we see as an endorsement - those closest to us believe we are an impactful option to donate to.

"The EA hotel" written in the sand on Blackpool beach
"The EA hotel" written in the sand on Blackpool beach

A huge thank you to all of our donors. 


9. We launched a new website.

Check it out here: www.ceealar.org 

Two Grantees, Onicah and Bryce, working together
Two grantees, Onicah and Bryce, working together

Thank you to grantees Onicah and Bryce, pictured above, who helped us with the design and photos for the website.

10. As always though, the achievements we want to celebrate most are those of our grantees.

To name a few from 2023…

A bird's eye view of CEEALAR, the sea and Blackpool Tower

In 2024 we are looking forward to running a targeted outreach campaign to reach high-quality grantees working on global catastrophic risks, hosting the first ML4Good UK bootcamp, and of course to fundraising and working on CEEALAR’s financial sustainability. 

Once again, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported CEEALAR. 

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:24 PM

In my observed experience there are lots of young people (many whom I know personally) who want to help with AI-alignment and are in my opinion capable of doing so, they just need to spend a year or two trying and learning things to get the necessary skills. 

These are people who usually lack prior achievement and therefore are not able to access various EA-adjacent grants to buy themselves the slack needed to put in the time and focus on a singular goal. When really what they need is not salary-sized grants but just a guarantee that they will have food, housing and a supportive environment and community, while they take a pause from formal education or jobs meant to keep them afloat.

I personally know one such person who got helped out of prior dependence through CEEALAR and has started to become productive. My own (and Orthogonals) stay at CEEALAR strongly positive as well.

Ive heard that grant makers are often operationally constrained on giving out smaller hit based grants to for example individuals. By giving to CEEALAR, grant makers would outsource this operational cost and would be able to bootstrap people doing AI-alignment, in a hits based manner for low cost compared to alternatives such as individual grants. Which I do think is one of the most cost effective ways to help with AI-alignment. Myself and many others I know doing good work in Alignment would not exist in the space if not for personal hit-based grants.

I'm very confused and sad that CEEALAR has not recieved more funding. Not only do I wish that CEEALAR could stay afloat and expand, but I also think we would STRONGLY benefit from similar institutions aimed at low cost housing for motivated, but potentially unproven individuals, at other geographical locations, say east and west coast in the US, as well as somewhere in Europe. If CEEALAR was able to consistently get funded, that would grant confidence for people to start similar organizations elsewhere.

From having been involved for several years, I can also say we were sufficiently funding constrained that seeking funding to stay afloat took a large proportion of the staff and trustee's time, and made planning for greater long term efficiency very hard. All of these achievements are despite that constant friction, so I really hope the new team get a chance to find out what a fully focused version of the project could do. 

Executive summary: CEEALAR, a center supporting EA talent, highlights 10 successes in 2023, including hosting organizations' retreats, appointing new trustees, updating their theory of change, launching an alumni network, improving their physical space, transitioning talented individuals into AI safety careers, and supporting impactful projects. However, they missed their 2022 fundraising target and have limited runway.

Key points:

  1. Hosted retreats and launches for ALLFED and Orthogonal
  2. Appointed 2 new trustees, said goodbye to 2 outgoing ones
  3. Updated theory of change to focus on global catastrophic risks
  4. Launched alumni network and surveyed alumni
  5. Improved physical space of center
  6. Refined application process and hosted 60 grantees
  7. ~7.4% of funding came from alumni and guests
  8. Launched new website
  9. Highlighted several grantee achievements in AI safety and ML
  10. Have short fundraising runway despite 2023 successes

 

 

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