Hide table of contents

The FTX Foundation's Future Fund is a philanthropic fund making grants and investments to ambitious projects in order to improve humanity's long-term prospects.

We have a longlist of project ideas that we’d be excited to help launch. 

We’re now announcing a prize for new project ideas to add to this longlist. If you submit an idea, and we like it enough to add to the website, we’ll pay you a prize of $5,000 (or more in exceptional cases). We’ll also attribute the idea to you on the website (unless you prefer to be anonymous). 

All submissions must be received in the next week, i.e. by Monday, March 7, 2022. 

We are excited about this prize for two main reasons:

  • We would love to add great ideas to our list of projects.
  • We are excited about experimenting with prizes to jumpstart creative ideas.

To participate, you can either

  • Add your proposal as a comment to this post (one proposal per comment, please), or
  • Fill in this form

Please write your project idea in the same format as the project ideas on our website. Here’s an example:

Early detection center

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophes

By the time we find out about novel pathogens, they’ve already spread far and wide, as we saw with Covid-19. Earlier detection would increase the amount of time we have to respond to biothreats. Moreover, existing systems are almost exclusively focused on known pathogens—we could do a lot better by creating pathogen-agnostic systems that can detect unknown pathogens. We’d like to see a system that collects samples from wastewater or travelers, for example, and then performs a full metagenomic scan for anything that could be dangerous

You can also provide further explanation, if you think the case for including your project idea will not be obvious to us on its face.

Some rules and fine print:

  • You may submit refinements of ideas already on our website, but these might receive only a portion of the full prize.
  • At our discretion, we will award partial prizes for submissions that are proposed by multiple people, or require additional work for us to make viable.
  • At our discretion, we will award larger prizes for submissions that we really like.
  • Prizes will be awarded at the sole discretion of the Future Fund.

We’re happy to answer questions, though it might take us a few days to respond due to other programs and content we're launching right now.

We’re excited to see what you come up with!

(Thanks to Owen Cotton-Barratt for helpful discussion and feedback.)

Comments731
Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings
[anonymous]11
0
0

Acquire and repurpose new AI startups for AI safety

Artificial intelligence

As ML performance has recently improved there is a new wave of startups coming. Some are composed of top talent, carefully engineered infrastructure, a promising product, well-coordinated teams, with existing workflows and management capacity. All of these are bottlenecks for AI safety R&D.

It should be possible to acquire some appropriate startups and middle-sized companies. Examples include HuggingFace, AI21, Cohere, and smaller, newer startups. The idea is to repurpose the mission of some select companies to align them more closely with socially beneficial and safety-oriented R&D. This is sometimes feasible since their missions are often broad, still in flux, and their product could benefit from improving safety and alignment.

Trying this could have very high information value. If it works, it has enormous potential upside as many new AI startups are being created now that could be acquired in the future. It could potentially  more than double the size of the AI alignment R&D.

Paying existing employees to do safety R&D seems easier than paying academics. Academics often like to follow the... (read more)

2
MaxRa
Thanks, I think that's a really interesting and potentially great idea. I'd encourage you to post it as a short stand-alone post, I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts.

High-quality human data

Artificial Intelligence

Most proposals for aligning advanced AI require collecting high-quality human data on complex tasks such as evaluating whether a critique of an argument was good, breaking a difficult question into easier subquestions, or examining the outputs of interpretability tools. Collecting high-quality human data is also necessary for many current alignment research projects. 

We’d like to see a human data startup that prioritizes data quality over financial cost. It would follow complex instructions, ensure high data quality and reliability, and operate with a fast feedback loop that’s optimized for researchers’ workflow. Having access to this service would make it quicker and easier for safety teams to iterate on different alignment approaches

Some alignment research teams currently manage their own contractors because existing services (such as surgehq.ai and scale.ai) don’t fully address their needs; a competent human data startup could free up considerable amounts of time for top researchers.

Such an organization could also practice and build capacity for things that might be needed at ‘crunch time’ – i.e., rapidly producing moderately la... (read more)

Thanks for running this competition, looks like there are plenty of great ideas to choose from!
I submitted my entry on improving human intelligence through non-invasive brain stimulation through the Google form, it said my entry was recorded but I got no email confirmation.

Has anyone else submitted through the Google Form, and did they also get no email confirmation?

Does anyone know when the winners of the competition will be announced? 

Just came to stay that this ideas competition really turned me on - I loved it. I hope this becomes an ongoing community ‘suggestion box’, perhaps monitored once a month.

I understand that one could write a blog post with an idea, but I think this is an even better low barrier way of getting ideas quickly.

Personally, this competition helped me realize that I have a different lens that many EAs, and that my ideas and skills could be valued. Thank you.

We see now that dictatorships slow down the progress of humanity and  can plausibly threaten large-scale nuclear wars. Dictatorships are often toppled from inside with public protests (e.g. Poland 1988-1989, Tunisia 2011) but public protests face the coordination problem. There are many people willing to protest in dictatorships (e.g. Russia), but protesting in large groups is both  more efficient and less risky because law enforcement has the cap on the number of detained.  Idea: develop an app to sign-up for a prospective protest in advanc... (read more)

1
DC
I've thought about this space a good deal. I think this is really dangerous stuff. It must be aligned with the good. Don't call up what you can't put down. "Coordination is also collusion." - Alex Tabarrok

Sad that I missed this! Only saw this the day after it closed.

Language models for detecting bad scholarship 

Epistemic institutions

Anyone who has done desk research carefully knows that many citations don't  support the claim they're cited for - usually in a subtle way, but sometimes a total nonsequitur. Here's a fun list of 13 features we need to protect ourselves.

This seems to be a side effect of academia scaling so much in recent decades - it's not that scientists are more dishonest than other groups, it's that they don't have time to carefully read everything in their sub-sub-field (... while maintaining their current arms-race publication tempo). 

Take some claim P which is below the threshold of obviousness that warrants a citation. 

It seems relatively easy, given current tech, to answer: (1) "Does the cited article say P?" This question is closely related to document summarisation - not a solved task, but the state of the art is workable. Having a reliable estimate of even this weak kind of citation quality would make reading research much easier - but under the above assumption of unread sources, it would also stop many bad citations from being written in the first place.

It is very hard to answer (2) "Is the cited ar... (read more)

A service/consultancy that calculates the value of information of research projects

Epistemic Institutions, Research That Can Help Us Improve

When undertaking any research or investigations, we want to know whether it's worth spending money or time on it. There are a lot of research-type projects in EA and the best way to  evaluate and prioritise them is to calculate their value of information (VOI). However, VoI calculations can be complex and we need to build a team of experts that can form a VoI consultancy or service provider.

Examples of use cases:
1... (read more)

Potential Test Case for AGI

Attempt to simulate an artificial general intelligence using Ouijably

Low-odds it works, but I thought if you could put enough people on a spirit board it might exhibit behaviour similar to an oracle-type AGI. This implementation(https://github.com/ably-labs/ouija) means it wouldn't take much organising to attempt. Maybe tweak so participants are predicting the direction the planchette will move rather than relying on the ideomotor effect. I thought the idea would be outside of the rationalist's window of consideration as somethin... (read more)

Situational Analysis Agency

Epistemics

When events of great global importance occur, they often have a bearing on EA projects. Sometimes EAs will want to do something in response. Take for example, the invasion of Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic and supply chains. At the moment, most of the investigation of these issues is conducted on the side by EAs who are busy with other projects. It would be great to have some researchers available to investigate these issues on short notice so that we are better able to navigate these situations.

Effective Altruism Promotional Materials

Effective Altruism

We are looking to invest in the production of high-quality materials for promoting Effective Altruism and Effective Altruism cause areas including posters, brochures and booklets. Effective Altruism is heavily focused on the fidelity of transmission, so these materials should be designed to avoid low-quality transmission. This could be achieved by distributing materials that promote opportunities for deeper engagement or by designing materials very carefully. Such an organisation would likely conduct studies and focus groups to understand the effectiveness of the material being distributed and whether it is maintaining its fidelty.

A center applying epistemic best practices to predicting & evaluating AI progress

Artificial  Intelligence and  Epistemic Institutions

Forecasting and evaluating AI progress is difficult and important. Current work in this area is distributed  across multiple organizations or individual researchers, not all of whom possess (a) the technical expertise, (b) knowledge & skill in applying epistemic best practices,  and (c) institutional legitimacy  (or otherwise suffer from cultural constraints). Activities of the center could include providing services to AI groups (e.g. offering superforecasting training or prediction services), producing bottom-line reports on "How capable is AI system X?", hosting adversarial collaborations, pointing out deficiencies in academic AI evaluations, and generally pioneering "analytic tradecraft" for AI progress.

Historical investigation on the relation between incremental improvements and paradigm shifts

Artificial Intelligence

One major question that heavily influences the choice of alignment research directions is the degree to which incremental improvements are necessary for major paradigm shifts. As the field of alignment is largely preparadigmatic, there is a high chance that we may require a paradigm shift before we can make substantial progress towards aligning superhuman AI systems, rather than merely incremental improvements. The answer to this question det... (read more)

Funds for study efficient logistic or run a logistic company

We can see logistics is one of the bottlenecks for goods and services. It makes uneven distribution of resources. Especially in pandemic and lockdowns, not enough delivery guys leads to shortage of foods. In outbreak area, there's food shortages while a surplus in other regions. Digitalisation can help information transfer in a speedy and cheap way. But what about real products delivery? It's something more than autonomous vehicles. Human beings is a fragile part of the procedure. Now, in hk,... (read more)

EA from the ground up

Effective Altruism

Intellectual movements tend to develop by building upon the work of the previous generation and rejecting some of its foundational assumptions. We'd be keen to see an experiment to accelerate this. We'd suggest that the first step would be to identify the assumptions that are underlying EA or specific EA cause areas or specific EA strategies and try to figure out when these break. The project would then focus on those that are most likely to be false, particularly those which would be high impact if false. Efforts wou... (read more)

EA Hotel / CEEALAR except at EA Hubs

Effective Altruism

CEEALAR is currently located in Blackpool, UK. It would be a lot more attractive if it were in e.g. Oxford, the Bay Area, or London. This would allow guests to network with local EAs (as well as other smart people, of which there are plenty in all of the above cities). In as far as budget is less of a constraint now and in as far as EA funders are already financing trips to such cities for select individuals (for conferences and otherwise), it seems an EA Hotel would similarly be justified on the same grounds. (E.g. intercontinental flights can sometimes be more expensive than one month's rent in those cities)

Happy Altruist Hotel

I have submitted this idea: creating a Happy Altruist Hotel.
My project idea focusses on improving the wellbeing of effective altruists by creating a center for that. I am thinking of a physical location, preferably in a nature environment. I will call it (for now) " Happy Altruist Hotel". The way I see it, the happy altruist hotel is a place where all kinds of programs, workshops, retreats and trainings will be organized for (aspiring) effective altruists.

The happy altruist hotel will be a place where EA's come together for inspiration,... (read more)

An EA Space Agency

Effective Altruism, Space Governance

Let’s build an organization which formulates and implements space programs, missions, and systems, which are aimed at the highest-priority things that humanity can be doing in space. There is currently no space organization, public or private, which formulates and implements programs and missions aligned solely with doing the most good, in an impartial and longtermist sense. There are many organizations which do some or much good, such as NASA, ESA, SpaceX, and others, but there is no example today whic... (read more)

Improving Critical Infrastructure

Effective Altruism

Some dams are at risk of collapse, potentially killing hundreds of thousands. The grid system is very vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attack. Infrastructural upgrades could prevent sudden catastrophes from failure of critical systems our civilization runs on.

Legalization of MDMA & psychedelics to reduce trauma and cluster headaches

Values and Reflective Processes, Empowering Exceptional People

Millions of people have PTSD that causes massive suffering. 

MDMA and psychedelics are being legalized in the U.S., and there are both non-profit and for-profit organizations working in this space. Making sure everyone who wants it has access, via more legalization, and subsidization, would reduce the amount of trauma, which could have knock-on benefits not just for them but the people they interact with.

... (read more)

Build an intranet for the effective altruism community 

Effective Altruism, Empowering Exceptional People

If effective altruism is going to be "the last social movement the world needs" it will need to operate differently from past movements in order to last longer and reach more people. Given that coordination is a crucial element for success within a distributed global network, a movement intranet could improve coordination on projects, funding and research and build a greater sense of community. An intranet would also help the movement (1) consolidat... (read more)

4
Chris Leong
What's the advantage of an intranet vs. a website with registration?
3
barkbellowroar
 (short answer) more security, more features and the consolidation of a lot of existing but disconnected infrastructure tools... which could strengthen movement coordination, increase collaboration and calibration and sustain longterm engagement with the community.  Just like you can't catch rain with a sieve, you can miss a lot of value with a fragmented ecosystem. (longer answer)  An intranet would subsume under one platform a lot of current tools like... event sign-ons, the forum, EA hub's directory, facebook groups, job/internship boards, the Wiki, various communication channels (twitter, discords, slacks, email etc), surveys and polls, chapter sites, separate application forms, the librarian project and organization newsletters. An intranet can also provide a greater array of features that do not currently exist in the ecosystem including (but not limited to) spaces for sub-group discussions, tiered engagement levels, guided on-boarding for new members, greater analytics and much more. I think the biggest benefit of all is concentrating the online activity of the movement in one place versus the present state of having to check a disorganized collection of websites, blogs, sign-ons and social accounts in order to keep up with what is going on with the community. The majority of our time should be spent on our work and collaboration - not trying to track down important or relevant information, trying to figure out how to get involved and meet people in the movement, and figuring out how to learn, grow and develop as an effective altruist. Given the recent sunsetting of the EA Hub - and their comments that implied CEA may be attempting to develop a larger platform - this idea may be in progress. However, I still wanted to share and spark more discussion on the need for an intranet because I believe it would greatly improve movement coordination and strengthen the sense of community while significantly reducing the workload for meta organizations so they can
3
Chris Leong
If you write a post on this I would read it. Two minor comments: * It's possible to create a central hub platform without making it an intranet * I'm skeptical of the security benefits given how open EA is (vs. a normal company)

Build an Infrastructure Organization for The EA Movement (TEAM) 

Effective Altruism, Empowering Exceptional People

Many high impact organizations in effective altruism have expressed issues with sourcing operations talent which takes time away from the key programs these charities provide, reducing overall impact. An infrastructure organization could provide operational support and build valuable tools that would alleviate the burden from these meta charities and streamline processes across organizations to improve movement coordination. This organizati... (read more)

Research into Goodhart’s Law

Artificial Intelligence, Epistemic Institutions, Values and Reflective Processes, Economic Growth, Space Governance, Effective Altruism, Research That Can Help Us Improve

Goodhart’s Law states: “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”, or more simply, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

The problem of ‘Goodharting’ seems to crop up in many relevant places, including alignment of artificial intelligence and the social and economic... (read more)

Reframe U.S. college EA chapters as an alternative to Greek life

Values and Reflective Processes, Empowering Exceptional People, Effective Altruism

Following the model of Alpha Phi Omega, the largest coed service fraternity in the U.S. with ~335 chapters and 400,000 alumni, reframing EA chapters as social organizations may help with recruitment and retention. It could also encourage a broader range of activities for chapters to run throughout the year including things like hosting workshops for other students on how to think about careers, hosting film scree... (read more)

Publish an EA-inspired magazine like Time Magazine's "Time for Kids" (TFK)

Empowering Exceptional People, Values and Reflective Processes,  Effective Altruism

Time for Kids has almost 2 million subscribers and has been used by educators for over 25 years to introduce elementary students to issues in science, history and civic engagement, while empowering students to take action and have a positive impact on the world. An EA-oriented magazine could do something similar by introducing students to topics like current pressing issues, relevant career pathwa... (read more)

Antarctic Colony as Civilizational Backup

Recovery from Catastrophe

Antarctica could be a good candidate for a survival colony. It is isolated, making it more likely to survive a nuclear war, pandemic, or roving band of automated killer drones. It is tough, making it easier to double up as a practice space for a Mars colony. Attempting to build and live there at a larger scale than has been done may spur some innovations. One bottleneck here that may likely need resolving is how to get cheaper transportation to Antarctica, which currently relies on flying there or a limited number of specialized boats.

Research into the dual-use risks of asteroid safety

Space Governance

There is a small base rate of asteroids/comets hitting the Earth naturally. There are efforts out there to deflect/destroy asteroids if they were about to hit Earth. However, based on the relative risk of anthropogenic vs natural risk, we think that getting better at manipulating space objects is dual-use as it would allow malevolent actors to weaponize asteroids, and that this risk could be orders of magnitudes larger. We want to see research on what kinds of asteroid defense techniques ar... (read more)

Creating a giving what we can for volunteering time and bequesting (last minute)

Given the success of GWWC we would like to see organisation emerge to seek pledges and build communities around the effective use of resources , but in different ways (e.g., time rather than mone or by bequesting rather than donating) [inspired by this].

[fairly unsure, would be interested in thoughts]

Facilitate global cooperation via economic relationships and shared ownership

Values and Reflective Processes

We live in an economically connected world that is characterized by mutually beneficial trades. On top of that, countries are generally heavily invested in diverse financial securities of other countries. This way, economic progress in one country is generally to the benefit of the whole international community. Consequently there are strong incentives for peaceful coexistence, internalization of proble... (read more)

Making significant improvements to the EA wiki (last minute submission)

See this for a range of ideas for improving the EA wiki which could be funded. I'd suggest that all changes made to the wiki should also be replicated and linked across the EA ecosystem and onto normal Wikipedia. 

Creating materials for alignment onboarding

Artificial Intelligence

At present, the pipeline from AI capabilities researcher to AI alignment researcher is not very user friendly. While there are a few people like Rob Miles and Richard Ngo who have produced excellent onboarding materials, this niche is still fairly underserved compared to onboarding in many other fields. Creating more materials for a field has the advantage that because there are different formats that different people find more helpful, having more increases the likelihood that something wor... (read more)

An EA insurance and finance fund to make it easier for people to fund and take significant personal risk for important social benefits, e.g., due to early career change, founding a startup etc.
Movement building & Helping exceptional people

Risk avoidance is a major reason why people don't change careers or take risks relating to having greater impact. We'd therefore like to see more attempts to establish financial services which can help to reduce risk and promote more rapid and impactful impact amongst exceptional individuals. We note that there may be advantages in combining long term investing initiatives for patient philanthropy with insurance offerings.

Getting former hiring managers from quant firms to help with alignment hiring

Artificial Intelligence, Empowering Exceptional People

Despite having lots of funding, alignment seems to not have been very successful at attracting top talent to date. Quant firms, on the other hand, have become known for very successfully acquiring talent and putting them to work on difficult conceptual and engineering problems. Although buy-in to alignment before one can contribute is often cited as a reason, this is, if anything, even more of a problem for quant firms, since very few people are inherently interested in quant trading as an end. As such, importing some of this know how could help substantially improve alignment hiring and onboarding efficiency.

A living 'cause prioritisation flowchart' /Better visualisation template or graphic design copy for EA communicators (quick submission)
[Inspired by this comment]

EA has many aims and a complex causal logic behind these aims. Visualisation helps to explain this better. Flow charts are one established way we do this. These could be used effectively in many communication settings but there is a coordination problem as most individual actors who need such a chart also lack sufficient expected ROI or experience to create one. We would therefore welcome more work... (read more)

Research on Competitive Sovereignties

Governance, New Institutions, Economic Growth

The current world order is locked in stasis and status quo bias. Enabling the creation of new jurisdictions, whether via charter cities, special economic zones, or outright creation of new lands such as seasteading, could allow more competition between countries to attract subscriber-citizens, increasing welfare.

It would also behoove us to think about standards for international interoperability in a world where '1000 nations bloom'. Greater decentralization of power could in... (read more)

Decentralized incentives for resilient public goods after global catastrophic risk

Recovery from Catastrophe

Using cryptoeconomics to bootstrap the incentivization of a resilient grid via which further cryptoeconomic incentives induce the bottom-up production of survival bunkers and other post-catastrophe public goods that could survive GCRs such as nuclear war. Figuring out how to reward people for preparing themselves, moreso if they help others or build critical infrastructure that lasts. 

A Facebook comment I wrote that I am copy-pasting, I will like... (read more)

Research on how to minimize the risk of false alarm nuclear launches

Effective Altruism

Preventing false alarm nuclear launches (as Petrov did) via research on the relevant game theory, technological improvements, and organization theory, and disseminating and implementing this research, could potentially be very impactful.

On malevolence: How exactly does power corrupt?

Artificial Intelligence / Values and Reflective Processes

How does it happen, if it happens? Some plausible stories:

  • Backwards causation: People who are “corrupted” by power always had a lust for power but deluded others and maybe even themselves about their integrity;
     
  • Being a good ruler (of any sort) is hard and at times very unpleasant, even the nicest people will try to cover up their faults, covering up causes more problems... and at some point it is very hard to admit that you were incompetent ruler all along.
     
  • Power changes your incentives so much that it corrupts all but the strongest. The difference with the last one is that value drift is almost immediate upon getting power.
     
  • A mix of the last two would be: you get more and more adverse incentives with every rise in power.
     
  • It might also be the case that most idealist people come into power under very stressful circumstances, which forces them to make decisions favouring consolidation of power (kinda instrumental convergence).
     
  • See also this on the personalities of US presidents and their darknesses.
     
2
MaxRa
Yes, that's interesting and plausibly very useful to understand better. Might also affect some EAs at some point. The hedonic treadmill might be  part of it. You get used to the personal perks quickly, so you still feel motivated & justified to still put ~90% of your energy into problems that affect you personally -> removing threats to your rule, marginal status-improvements, getting along with people close to you And some discussion about the backwards causation idea is here in an oldie from Yudkowsky: Why Does Power Corrupt?

Evaluating large foundations

Effective Altruism

Givewell looks at actors: object-level charities, people who do stuff. But logically, it's even more worth scrutinising megadonors (assuming that they care about impact or public opinion about their operations, and thus that our analysis could actually have some effect on them).

For instance, we've seen claims that the Global Fund, who spend $4B per year, meet a 2x GiveDirectly bar but not a Givewell Top Charity bar.

This matters because most charity - and even most good charity - is still not by EAs or run on EA lines. Also, even big cautious foundations can risk waste / harm, as arguably happened with the Gates Foundation and IHME - it's important to understand the base rate of conservative giving failing, so that we can compare hits-based giving. And you only have to persuade a couple of people in a foundation before you're redirecting massive amounts.

More Insight Timelines

In 2018, the Median Group produced  an impressive timeline of all of the insights required for current AI, stretching back to China's Han Dynasty(!)

The obvious extension is to alignment insights. Along with some judgment calls about relative importance, this would help any effort to estimate / forecast progress, and things like the importance of academia and non-EAs to AI alignment. (See our past work for an example of something in dire need of an exhaustive weighted insight list.)

Another set in need of collection are more general breakthroughs - engineering records broken, paradigms invented, art styles inaugurated - to help us answer giant vague questions about e.g. slowdowns in physics, perverse equilibria in academic production, and "Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?"
 

Our World in Base Rates

Epistemic Institutions

Our World In Data are excellent; they provide world-class data and analysis on a bunch of subjects. Their COVID coverage made it obvious that this is a very great public good. 

So far, they haven't included data on base rates; but from Tetlock we know that base rates are the king of judgmental forecasting (EAs generally agree). Making them easily available can thus help people think better about the future. Here's a cool corporate example. 

e.g. 

85% of big data projects fail”; 
10% of people refuse to be vaccinated because of fearing needles (pre-COVID so you can compare to the COVID hesitancy)”; 
"11% of ballot initiatives pass"
“7% of Emergent Ventures applications are granted”; 
“50% of applicants get 80k advice”; 
“x% of applicants get to the 3rd round of OpenPhil hiring”, "which takes y months"; 
“x% of graduates from country [y] start a business”.

MVP:

  • come up with hundreds of baserates relevant to EA causes
  • scrape Wikidata for them, or diffbot.com
  • recurse: get people to forecast the true value, or later value (put them in a private competition on Foretold,  index them on metaforecast.org)


Later, Q... (read more)

I think this is neat. 

Perhaps-minor note: if you'd do it at scale, I imagine you'd want something more sophisticated than coarse base rates. More like, "For a project that has these parameters, our model estimates that you have a 85% chance of failure."

I of course see this as basically a bunch of estimation functions, but you get the idea.

[anonymous]10
0
0

Biorisk and information hazard workshops for iGEM competitors

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe, Empowering Exceptional People

iGEM competitions are interdisciplinary synthetic biology competitions for students. They bring together the best and brightest university students with a considerable interest in synthetic biology. They already have knowledge and skills in bioengineering and many of them will likely choose it as a career path and will be very good at it. Educating them on biorisks and especially information hazards would therefore be a great contribution to safeguarding. They could also be introduced to EA ideas and rationalist approaches in general, bringing talented young people on board.

2
Tessa
You might be interested to know that iGEM (disclosure: my employer) just published a blog post about infohazards. We currently offer biorisk workshops for teams; this year we plan to offer a general workshop on risk awareness, a workshop specifically on dual-use, and potentially some others. We don't have anything on general EA / rationality, though we do share biosecurity job and training opportunities with our alumni network.
[anonymous]6
0
0

Accident reporting in biology research labs

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe

Currently, accident reporting is framed as an unpleasant and largely unimportant chore, even though there’s evidence of lab leaks causing massive harm. Encouraging research groups to report their accidents in a fast and thorough way could therefore be very impactful. We could build a reporting system in a variety of ways, this research in itself would be a good thing to fund. A potential system could be to implement insurance policies that require efficient and honest documenta... (read more)

2
Alex D
To some degree these already exists (eg here's a description of Canada's system), but I'm certain they could be drastically expanded, standardized, synthesized, and otherwise improved.

Organising/sponsoring Hackathons

Epistemic institutions, empowering exceptional people

Many highly skilled programmers are lured into the private sector either to work for prestigious companies or found a startup, often with little positive impact. We’d like to see these people instead working for or starting their own EA aligned organisations.

To encourage this, we’d be excited to fund an organisation that involves themselves with programming hackathons, to scout for highly creative and skilled individuals and groups. This could mean sponsoring existing hackathons or running their own.

Evaluating powerful political groups and people (political parties/activists/…)

values and reflective processes

Currently GiveWell provides people with a guide for effective giving. We could apply a similar model to provide a guide for effective voting and advocacy.

We’d like to see an organisation that evaluates particularly powerful political individuals/groups/parties and advocates for those that align with EA values.

We could evaluate them on things like:

Commitment to using evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to maximise good (particularly long-... (read more)

Prestigious forecasting tournaments for students

Epistemic institutions, empowering exceptional people

To scale up forecasting efforts, we will need a large body of excellent forecasters to recruit from. Forecasting is a skill that improves over time, and it takes time to build a track record to distinguish excellent forecasters from the rest - particularly on long-term questions. Additionally, forecasting builds generally useful research and rationality skills, and supports model-building and detailed understanding of question topics. Therefore, getting stu... (read more)

Align university careers advising incentives with impact

Effective altruism

Students at top universities often have lots of exposure to a limited set of career paths, such as consulting and finance. Many graduates who would be well-suited to high-impact work don’t consider it because they are just unaware of it. Universities have little incentive to improve this state of affairs, as the eventual social impact of graduates is hard to evaluate and has little effect on their alma mater (with some notable exceptions). We would therefore be excited to fund effort... (read more)

EA Founders Camp

Effective altruism, empowering exceptional people

The EA community is scaling up, and funding ambitious new projects. To support continued growth of new organisations and projects, we would be excited to fund an organisation to run EA Founders Camps. These events would provide an exciting, sparky environment for (1) Potential founders to meet co-founders, (2) Founders to hear about and generate great ideas for impactful projects and organisations, (3) Founders to get key training tailored to their project area, (4) Founders to build a support network of other new and existing founders, (5) Founders to connect with funders and advisers.

Find promising candidates for “Cause X” with an iterative forecast-guided thinktank

Epistemic institutions

How likely is it that the EA community is neglecting a cause area that is more pressing than current candidates? We are fairly confident in the importance of the community’s current community areas, but we think it’s still important to keep searching for more candidates. 

We’d be excited to fund organisations attacking this problem in a structured, rigorous way, to reduce the chance that the EA community is missing huge opportunities. 

We propos... (read more)

Help high impact academics spend more time doing research

Empowering exceptional people

Top academic researchers are key drivers of progress in priority areas like biorisk, global priorities research and AI research. Yet even top academics are often unable to spend as much time as they want to on their research. 

We’d be excited to fund an organisation providing centralised services to maximise research time for top academics, while minimising the overheads of setting up these systems for academics. It might focus on:

(1) Funding and negotiating teaching ... (read more)

Space's preferences and objectives research

Space Governance, Artificial Intelligence, Epistemic Institutions, Values and Reflective Processes, Great Power Relations, Research That Can Help Us Improve

In order to govern space well, one needs to understand its preferences and objectives: for example, that of dark energy and dark matter. These can be then weighted by an AI approved under the veil of ignorance by all entities, and solutions that maximize the weighted sum, while centralizing wellbeing and systemic stability, selected, and supported by any space ... (read more)

Systemic change marginal cost-effectiveness program estimation and evaluation

Effective Altruism, Research That Can Help Us Improve, Artificial Intelligence

Instead of focusing on single, the ones which are measurable and highlighted by academia, outcomes, one can focus on advancing systemic change (institutionalizing safe positive systems) by selecting programs with the highest (and lowest) marginal cost-effectiveness, considering impact costs development. Then, impact can be increased by 1) advising resource shifts from low to high cost-effectiveness progr... (read more)

Machine olfaction for disease detection

Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe

Dogs can be trained to recognize the smell of Covid-19 and many other diseases. However, this takes a lot of time. It might be possible in the very near future to build robotic noses (machine olfaction), that work as well as a dog's. This would mean that once one neural net has been trained to recognize a new pathogen, the software could easily be distributed around the globe. Sensors in public places could then pick up in real time whether someone infectious was close by. This wou... (read more)

Research institute focused on civilizational lock-in

Values and Reflective Processes, Economic Growth, Space Governance, Effective Altruism

One source of long-term risks and potential levers to positively shape the future is the possibility that certain values or social structures get locked in, such as via global totalitarianism, self-replicating colonies, or widespread dominance of a single set of values. Though organizations exist dedicated to work on risks of human extinction, we would like to see an academic or independent institute focused on other events that could have an impact on the order of millions of years or more. Are such events plausible, and which ones should be of most interest and concern? Such an institute might be similar in structure to FHI, GPI, or CSER, drawing on the social sciences, history, philosophy, and mathematics.

Consulting on best practices around info hazards

Epistemic Institutions, Effective Altruism, Research That Can Help Us Improve

Information about ways to influence the long-term future can in some cases give rise to information hazards, where true information can cause harm. Typical examples concern research into existential risks, such as around potential powerful weapons or algorithms prone to misuse. Other risks exist, however, and may also be especially important for longtermists. For example, better understanding of ways social structures and values can get locked in may help powerful actors achieve deeply misguided objectives. 

We would like to support an organization that can develop a set of best practices and consult with important institutions, companies, and longtermist organizations on how best to manage information hazards. We would like to see work to help organizations think about the tradeoffs in sharing information. How common are info hazards? Are there ways to eliminate or minimize downsides? Is it typically the case that the downsides to information sharing are much smaller than upsides or vice versa?

Modern Public Forums

Values and Reflective Processes, Epistemic Institutions, Effective Altruism

Violence begins when conversations stop. We'd love to see a renaissance of ancient Greek agoras or Roman fora which offered their citizens a public space where they could gather, study and discuss current events as well as everything else that is timelessly important for the future of humanity. In modern times, such places have become increasingly scarce and social media do not constitute a suitable replacement since many critical layers of human communicati... (read more)

Comprehensive, personalized, open source simulation engine for public policy reforms

Epistemic Institutions, Economic Growth, Values and Reflective Processes

Policy researchers apply quantitative modeling to estimate the impacts of immigration reform on GDP, child benefits on fertility, safety net reform on poverty, carbon pricing on emissions, and other policies. But these analyses are typically narrow, impersonal, inflexible, and closed-source, and the public can rarely access the models that produce them.

We'd like to see a general simulation engine—built with open source code and freely available to researchers and the public—to estimate the impact of a wide variety of public policy reforms on a wide variety of outcomes, using a wide variety of customizable parameters and assumptions. Such a simulation engine could power analyses like those above, while opening up policy analysis to more intricate reforms, presented as a technology product that estimates impacts on society and one's own household.

A common technology layer for public policy analysis would promote empiricism across institutions from government to think tanks to the media. Exposing households to society-wide and pers... (read more)

Tradable impact certificates

Effective Altruism, Research That Can Help Us Improve, Economic Growth

Issuing and trading impact certificates can popularize and normalize impact investment and profitable strategic research among the world's economic influencers. Then, economic growth will have an approximately good direction, only the relative popularization of impact certificates management/incentivization would remain.

Commercial marketing analysis

Artificial Intelligence, Epistemic Institutions, Economic Growth

What tricks to manipulate humans does AI use? For example, why are the glossy balls used increasingly more often in unrelated advertisement? The color gradients to captivate attention (day&night), physical or mental space intrusion narrated as giving one power to defend themselves from such issues or offend others, racial and gender hierarchical power stereotypes in conjunction with images that narrate positive relationships, etc. AI would love it, since analys... (read more)

EA community's trading bot

Artificial Intelligence, Effective Altruism

If you have the capital to invest while being able to influence the market and you are just aligned with EA, why would you not get a trading bot. EAs who are the world's top experts on AI can code it, possibly using the knowledge of their respective institutions, and of course impact is generated. It saves time just think about it.

Effects of humanitarian development on peace and conflict

Great Power Relations, Values and Reflective Processes, Effective Altruism, Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe

Is it not that conflict stems from suboptimal institutions, such as those which value aggression and disregard, for the lack of better alternatives known, so can be prevented by general humanitarian development? It can be that when people are more able to contribute and benefit from others' upskilling rather than competing for scarce resources because it is challenging to increase efficien... (read more)

Wellbeing determinants' understanding

Research That Will Help Us Improve

Without understanding the fundamentals of individuals' wellbeing, you cannot build institutions based in and optimizing for wellbeing, even if you have a lot of attention and prediction capacity: you do not know what to advocate for or research. So, you should fund a team of neuroscientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, to provide an interdisciplinary interperspective understanding of what, fundamentally, makes individuals happy. This should be understood fundamentally (e. g. safe... (read more)

Just looked at the website and the following probably fits under talent-search / innovative educational experiments. Apologies for the formatting (this is from a private doc of ideas some time ago, and I currently don't have the time to reformat it / I'm also travelling with spotty internet).

Project 1

Title:

Longtermist movement building via "cash transfers" (i.e. grants/fellowships) to talented (high-school) students (from developing countries) to support them to work on the world's most pressing problems.

Idea:

Identify talented (e.g. top 0.01%) high ... (read more)

2
PeterSlattery
I like this! I had a similar idea about curating exceptional people in Third World countries and connecting them to training, resources and networks so that they could create marketplaces that would help to enrich their home countries by creating employment and reduce poverty/inequality.

Yes this sounds plausible. I'm generally excited to think about ways humanity can survive and/or flourish after civilizational collapse and other large-scale disasters.

EA storytelling

Research That Can Help Us Improve, Values and Reflective Processes, Effective Altruism

The stronger the stories that EA tells are, the more people will be convinced to do something about EA in their own lives. We’re interested in funding people with a proven track record in storytelling, including generating viral content, to create EA stories that could reach millions of people.

(Potentially extends existing Project Ideas ‘A fund for movies and documentaries’ and 'Critiquing our approach'.)

Project ideas from this page that are relevant to this idea:

EA-themed Superhero Graphic Novel / Shounen Anime / K Drama (jknowak)

Solving institutional dysfunction

Values and Reflective Processes

Thousands of institutions have potential to do more good, but are hampered by dysfunctions such as excess bureaucracy, internal politics, and misalignment of the values they and their employees hold with their actions. Often these dysfunctions are well-known by their employees, but still persist.

We're excited to fund proposals to study institutional dysfunction and investigate solutions, as well as tools to monitor dysfunctions that lead to poor EA outcomes, and to empower employees to solve t... (read more)

Research into why people don't like EA

Research That Can Help Us Improve

Many people have heard of EA and weren’t convinced. We want to understand why, so that we can find approaches to convince them. If we can win more people over to EA, we can directly increase the impact that EA has in the world.

We’re excited to fund proposals to research why people do and don’t like EA, and the approaches that are most effective in winning people over to EA.

(Potentially extends existing Project Idea 'Critiquing our approach'.)

2
PeterSlattery
I have had similar ideas about this. Your idea also potentially relates/work well with my 'EA brand assessment/public survey idea.

AI Safety Academic Conference

Technical AI Safety

The idea is to fund and provide logistical/admin support for a reasonably large AI safety conference along the lines of Neurips etc. Academic conferences provide several benefits: 1) Potentially increasing the prestige of an area and boosting the career capital of  people who get accepted papers. 2) Networking and sharing ideas, 3)  Providing feedback on submitted papers and highlighting important/useful papers.  This conference would be unusual in that the work submitted shares approximately t... (read more)

9
MaxRa
As Gavin mentioned somewhere here, one significant downside would be to silo AI Safety work from the broader AI community.

Promote ways that suppress status seeking

Great Power Relations, Economic Growth

Status seeking is associated with massive economic inefficiencies (waste production, economic inequality,..). The zero sum game nature of status seeking also puts a toll on individual well being and consequently on suboptimal ways the societies function.

In the political domain, status seeking can lead to wars (as the recent developments illustrate).

The EA community should invest into institutions/research/solutions leading to diverting from status seeking.

Screen and record all DNA synthesis 
Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe

Screening all DNA synthesis orders for potentially serious hazards would reduce the risk that a dangerous biological agent is engineered and released. Robustly recording what DNA is synthesized (necessarily in an encrypted fashion) would allow labs to prove that they had not engineered an agent causing an outbreak. We are interested in funding work to solve technical, political and incentive problems related to securing DNA synthesis.

 

Meta note: there are already some cool EA-aligned projects related to this, such as SecureDNA from the MIT Media Lab and Common Mechanism to Prevent Illicit Gene Synthesis from NTI/IBBIS. Also, this one is not an original idea of mine to an even greater extent than the others I've posted.

The Billionaire Nice List

Philanthropy

A regularly updated list of how much impact we estimate billionaires have created. Billionaires care about their public image, people like checking lists. Let's attempt to create a list which can be sorted by different moral weights and incentivises billionaires to do more good. 

9
PeterSlattery
I really like this. I had a similar idea focused on trying to change the incentive landscape for billionaires to make it as high status as possible to be as high impact as possible. I think that lists and awards could be a good start. Would be especially good to have the involvement of some aligned ultrawealthy people who might have a good understanding of what will be effective.
3
Nathan Young
Yeah, I would love those of us who know or are billionaires to give a sense of what motivates them.

Group psychology in space

Space governance

When human colonies are established in outer space, their relationship with Earth will be very important for their well-being. Initially, they’re likely to be dependent on Earth. Like settler colonies on Earth, they may grow to desire independence over time. Drawing on history and research on social group identities from social psychology, researchers should attempt to understand the kind of group identities likely to arise in independent colonies. As colonies grow they’ll inevitably form independent group identities, but depending on relationships with social groups back home, these identities could support links with Earth or create antagonistic relationships with them. Attitudes on Earth might also vary from supportive, exclusionary, or even prejudiced. Better understanding intergroup relations between Earth powers and their settler colonies off-world could help us develop equitable governance structures that promote peace and cooperation between groups.

4
Alex D
Would mostly apply to bunkers too!

Fund publicization of scientific datasets

Epistemic institutions
 

Scientific research has made huge strides in the last 10 years towards more openness and data sharing. But it is still common for scientists to keep some data proprietary for some length of time, particularly large datasets that cost millions of dollars to collect like, for instance, fMRI datasets in neuroscience. More funding for open science could pay scientists when their data is actually used by third parties, further incentivizing them to make data not only accessible but useable. Op... (read more)

Research raising sanity waterline

It seems that teaching the general public rationality tools may cause more polarisations. That is because many ideas seem to be used primarily for argument-winning instead of truth-seeking.

There is a risk that some ideas will make people less rational when teaching rationality. For example, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote an article Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People

Scott Alexander uses the term Symmetric and Asymmetric Weapons for a similar idea: Some thinking-tools are more useful for winning arguments tha... (read more)

Create an organization doing literature reviews and research on demand

Values and Reflective Processes,  Effective Altruism

Create a research organization that will offer literature reviews and research to other EA organizations. They will focus on questions that are not theory-heavy and can be approached by a generalists without previous deep knowledge of the field. Previous examples of such research are publications of AI Impacts or literature reviews by Luke Muehlhauser.
Besides research itself, this is useful also for:
- it frees up the time of senior researchers
- It can be a good training place for junior researchers.
- it may enable a larger infusion of valuable ideas from academia.

4
PeterSlattery
I think that this is a good idea and something that READI could be interested in supporting. We have extensive experience doing reviews as research consultant  and in providing related training (both as volunteers and professionals). One related idea that some of us are exploring, is developing a sort of 'micro-course and credential' to i) train EAs to do reviews and ii) curate teams of credential junior researcher who can to support the undertaking of literature reviews under the supervision an expert.
3
Jakob
Would this be another organization like Rethink Priorities, or is it different from what they are doing? (Note: I don't think this space is crowded yet, so even if it is another organization doing the same things, it could still be very helpful!)

Research differential technological progress and trajectory changes
Research That Can Help Us Improve, Values and Reflective Processes

The idea of Differential technological progress (DTP) may be a crucial consideration for many at-first-glance good ideas like:

- improving scientific publishing

- increasing GDP

- increasing average intelligence

 

But given its importance, there hasn`t been much research and publications on GTP.

Central question for research is how to use DTP to prioritize interventions. Examples of subquestion to research are:

- when in the past there were intentional trajectory changes.

- what subgoals seem to be good when DTP is considered.

- and so on.

Find good ways to distribute books to people with high potential

Epistemic Institutions, Effective Altruism

This project has two parts:
1) find people with high potential, especially students.
2) find a good way to distribute books on world problems to them.

Ad 1: Examples:
- students in low and medium income countries may have a higher demand for English books
- participants on STEM olympiads
- people with SAT scores > x
- students in selective schools

Ad 2: It is important to do it in a nice, non-preaching way.
One possible implementation is a book club that sends out a book every two months, with regular online meetups for its readers.

Create and curate educational materials on EA-related topics

 Effective Altruism

EA Fellowship and EA Handbook took existing resources and curated them into a good introduction to EA. Do something similar with different formats and subjects.
I.e., create: 
- Fellowships
- Reading lists.
- record existing courses in academia
- and so on

With a goals to:
- make it easy to take up new fields.

In fields like:
- Rationality
- Bioweapons
- Forecasting
- and so on.

Buying and building products and services that influence culture

Movement building

Mass media producers such as news services, computer games and books and movies studios, etc, heavily influence culture. Culture in turn creates and influences norms for collective values (e.g., trust in various groups and institutions) and behaviours (e.g., prosocial or antisocial behaviour). Collective values and behaviour then influence social outcomes. We'd therefore welcome work to build or acquire mass media producers and use these to promote relevant values and behaviou... (read more)

Advocacy for digital minds

Artificial Intelligence, Values and Reflective Processes, Effective Altruism

Digital sentience is likely to be widespread in the most important future scenarios. It may be possible to shape the development and deployment of artificially sentient beings in various ways, e.g. through corporate outreach and lobbying. For example, constitutions can be drafted or revised to grant personhood on the basis of sentience; corporate charters can include responsibilities to sentient subroutines; and laws regarding safe artificial intelligence can be tailored to consider the interests of a sentient system. We would like to see an organization dedicated to identifying and pursuing opportunities to protect the interests of digital minds. There could be one or multiple organizations. We expect foundational research to be crucial here; a successful effort would hinge on thorough research into potential policies and the best ways of identifying digital suffering.

Lobbying architects of the future

Values and Reflective Processes, Effective Altruism

Advocacy often focuses on changing politics, but the most important decisions about the future of civilization may be made in domains that receive relatively less attention. Examples include the reward functions of generally intelligent algorithms that eventually get scaled up, the design of the first space colonies, and the structure of virtual reality. We would like to see one or more organizations focused on getting the right values considered by influential decision-makers at institutions like NASA and Google. We would be excited about targeted outreach to promote consideration of aligned artificial intelligence, existential risks, the interests of future generations, and nonhuman (both animal and digital) minds. The nature of this work could take various forms, but some potential strategies are prestigious conferences in important industries, retreats including a small number of highly-influential professionals, or shareholder activism.

Assessment companies

Epistemic Institutions, Empowering Exceptional People

Most certification processes (e.g schools & universities) require going through their teaching process in order to be certified. Due to either bad incentives or central planning, their tests are also often very bad at accurately assessing the skills of the assessed. This creates a situation where most certifications (e.g high school diplomas & degrees) aren't as credible and reliable as they should be, and yet people have to go through years of studying to get them because the

... (read more)

Much better narratives of the future and understanding of “Utopia”

Many efforts to discuss “utopia” are unproductive, and often the word is disliked. This is despite most people caring deeply about the future and how it is shaped. Improving communication of the future is important for practical reasons, like improving public understanding of longtermist projects. Also, limited understanding of preferences over even the medium term future could unduly influence work and limit progress toward better outcomes more broadly. This project includes research and de... (read more)

2
Charles He
Credit to this existing content and also this existing content for the idea.

Cheap, lifesaving treatments

Epistemic institutions; Artificial Intelligence; Economic Growth; Effective Altruism; Research That Will Help Us Improve

Hundreds of existing, low-cost, and widely available generic drugs could be repurposed as effective treatments for additional indications. Yet this major opportunity to improve outcomes for patients suffering from cancer and other diseases while lowering healthcare costs is being ignored due to a market failure. We are interested in funding innovative solutions for bringing repurposed generic drugs to widesprea... (read more)

Materials Informatics

For centuries, we have identified some of the most important materials in modern society by chance. Some of these materials include steel, copper, rubber, etc.

With the current grand challenges of today's world, the discovery and scaling of new advanced materials are necessary to create the impact. (After all, everything around us is materials).

I'd like to see more funding on materials informatics and guidance/regulation in materials informatics so we're not creating any advanced materials or nanomaterials that could cause a catastrophe.

High Quality Outward-Facing Communications Organization

This creates a new communications organization that deeply understands outside media and attitudes, and reports events to the community. The organization will expertly provide content and services tailored to EAs and their projects on demand. This organization is a servant, an expression of the community and respects Truth. Carefully created, this organization should be invaluable as EA grows many times and into new domains and competencies.

Imagine a new megaproject. How do we talk about a giant n... (read more)

2
Charles He
Background/context: Early in EA, some events created lasting adverse narratives, such as those around earning to give. It seems like these narratives started by small, initial, events and could have been avoided. More recently, there have been several articles and minor media events that have presented narratives against EA or certain values in EA. Some people have expressed that their work has been made more difficult by them.  If you believe these narratives represent real issues, they should be investigated and acted on. If you don’t, a high quality communication strategy should be implemented (including inaction). Insufficient competence in communications harms projects and people. Media events tend to be lumpy and unpredictable. It’s unclear what will happen as many more projects and efforts are made by EAs. It seems like several senior EAs serve as ad-hoc comms or PR leaders. In some sense, this is great and the ideal. But reliance on a few people is bad. These leaders have other skills and it’s unlikely  outside communications is their comparative advantage. Future events could create much more pressure and complexity and burnout seems possible. Expert services, subordinate to these efforts, would be good (the same EA you like now would "front-woman", but be supported by a team).

Facilitate interdisciplinarity in governmental applications of social science

Values and Reflective Processes, Economic Growth

At the moment, governmental applications of social science (where, for example, economists who use the paradigm of methodological individualism are disproportionately represented) could benefit from drawing on other fields of social science that can fill potential blind spots. The theory of social norms is a particularly relevant example. Also, behavioral scientists and psychologists could potentially be very helpful in improving the... (read more)

Training Course for Professional AI Ethicists on Longterm Impacts

Artifical Intelligence

Most AI Ethicists focus on the short-term impacts of AI rather than the longer term impacts. Many might be interested in a free professional development course covering this topic. Such a course should cover a variety of perspectives, including that of prominent AI Safety skeptics.

4
MaxRa
Cool idea. I have some worry that a majority of AI ethicists have sufficiently bad epistemics (sth. like fairly strong views, relatively weak understanding of the world outside their discipline, and little skill at honestly/curiously/patiently exploring disagreements) that this would end up being regretable. Would be interested in updates here.  Maybe it's similar to the [bioethicists issue](https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/JwDfKNnmrAcmxtAfJ/the-bioethicists-are-mostly-alright) and I got my impression only from public discussions, & maybe a selection of the weakest ideas? 

EA Berkeley Hostel

Effective Altruism

Every week, EAs pass through Berkeley and someone needs to pay around $200 a night to house them or scramble to find a couch they can crash on. This becomes increasingly complicated when someone finds a trial run offer and needs to stay another week than expected or even find a job offer and suddenly need to rush to find housing. Currently, there exists NO hostel (or even a hotel room that costs less than a couple hundred bucks) even close to Berkeley, much less an EA hostel. A hostel in Berkeley would allow flexibility ... (read more)

EA services consultancy network or organisation (early draft)
Movement building and resolving coordination problems


Considerable need for support for small projects on tech, design etc. Many effective charities lacking key ingredients for improvements. Many good ideas never get off the ground due to lack of technical expertise. Can do surveys of movement leaders and also scale up as needed when there is more demand. Incl:
Tech support organisation
Associated media and PR services for EA organisations to publicise work via media
Content creation for SEO and medi... (read more)

4
Chris Leong
Altruistic Agency cover the tech portion of this, but providing other services could be valuable as well.
2
PeterSlattery
Yes, I agree. I think that they and similar organisation should be well funded once validated as being useful. Right now, Altruistic Agency  are helping READI to build a new website. I also have several other EA projects that I am going to ask for help with.

EA Micro Schools

Effective Altruism

We would be excited to fund projects that make it easier to start up an EA-aligned, accredited private school.

As EA matures, there will be more and more parents. Kids of self-identified EAs are likely to be smart and neurodivergent, and may struggle with the default schooling system. They're also likely to grow into future adult EAs. Remote work options will free up location choice, and there could be major community-building gains if parents can easily find their ideal school in an EA hub.

Variation: develop an EA stream o... (read more)

Using the EA survey to answer key research questions. 
Research & movement building

We would like to support work by EA researchers to preregister hypothesises and measures to test (with ethics approval) i) in the EA survey (maybe as a non-mandatory final section) and ii) with the public to compare the results. For instance, this could to explore how different demographics, personality types and identities (e.g., identification as social justice activist/climate change activist) interact with different moral views or arguments for key EA behaviours ... (read more)

A replication lab or project to replicate and expand key EA research
Movement building & conceptual dissemination

EA outreach and strategy is supported by a growing pool of social psychology research exploring EA related topics (e.g.,  appeals to change dietary or donation choice, understand moral views or related interventions etc). However, much social psychology research doesn’t replicate or varies depending on audience when retested. It's therefore possible that some key findings and theories that guide EA are more or less valid or robust than c... (read more)

EA movement building evaluation support
Movement building

Effective social movement building requires us to understand what is working well and why. However, there is very limited information on how to track EA groups performance, and on how different approached perform on in achieving key outcomes. We would like to support work to address this, for instance, to help with standardisation of EA group metrics and the creation of simple tracking systems (e.g., distribution of a single sheet and related data visualisation program for tracking attendees across all groups). 
 

An annual reports on cryptocurrency activity and philanthropy
Public influence & attention economy

Lots of money has been invested in cryptocurrency, and it seems likely that this will continue to be the case. The growth in the market has led to many new millionaires, some of whom are quite atypical and young relative to high wealth individuals in other areas. Cryptocurrency philanthropic norms appear to differ from the main population of donors and are not as well established. Thus, identifying, and publicising key trends and opportunities in this area ... (read more)

Bountied Rationality Website

Effective Altruism

Oftentimes great ideas fail to find funding through a grant because those who come up with a great proposal are not the right people to complete the proposal. An inducement prize platform separates who comes up with ideas (proposers) and those who complete the ideas (bounty hunters), thereby allowing the best ideas to be elevated based on the quality of the idea itself. It also makes it easier to find others working on the same project because there can be a "competitors and collaborators" tab that shows who el... (read more)

Better understanding the needs of organisational leaders
Coincidence of wants problems

In EA, organisational leaders and potential workers often don't have good information about each other’s needs and offerings (See EA needs consultancies). The same is true for researchers who might like to do research for organisations but don't know what to do. We would like to fund work to help to resolve this. This could involve collecting advanced market commitments for funders (e.g., org group x would pay up to x for y hours of design time next year, on average).  It could involved identifying unknowns for key decision makers in EA in relevant areas (e.g., instructional decision-making, longtermism, or animal welfare) which could be used to develop a research agendas and kickstart research.
 

Understanding public awareness and opinion of key EA values, the EA movement, and/or key organisations
Movement building & conceptual dissemination 

What the public thinks of EA is quite relevant to many key outcomes, including movement building. We would therefore like to fund work to understand public trends on topics such as key values (e.g., longtermism, cosmopolitanism or resource maximisation), attitudes towards activist movement 'brands' (e.g., EA, vegan activism, extinction rebellion), and awareness and attitude towards key EA organisations ... (read more)

Better understanding the role of behaviour science and systems thinking in producing key EA outcomes
Social change and movement building

Behaviour and systems change are core to all EA outcomes. We would therefore like to support research to provide a better understanding of the causes of EA relevant behaviour (e.g., career change, donation, involvement in EA or social movement), at both psychological and structural levels. 

---

See this for some examples of ideas potentially relevant to AI governance or safety

Better understanding social movements
Movement building & Conceptual dissemination 

People involved with social movements are important collaborators for the EA movement. However, there is relatively little high quality survey work to understand how these groups differ and overlap. We would therefore like to fund research to regularly survey members of social movements to better understand them. For instance, this could involve understanding i) aggregations of behaviours and attitudes (e.g., what different identities, demographics/geographies/groups... (read more)

Creating more EA relevant credentials
Movement building

EA wants to equip young people with knowledge and motivation to improve the long-term future by providing high quality online educational resources for anyone in the world to learn about effective altruism and longtermism. Most young people follow established education paths (e.g., school, university, and professional courses) and seek related credentials during this time. There are relatively few credentialed courses or activities which provide exposure to EA ideals and core capabilities. We would therefore like to fund more of these. For instance, these might include talent based scholarships (e.g., a ‘rising social impact star award’), cause related Olympiads (e.g.,  AI safety), MOOCs/university courses (e.g., on causes or, key skill sets, with an EA tie-in), and EA themed essay writing competitions (.e.g., asking high school students to write about 'the most effective ways to improve the world’ and giving awards to 

the best ones).

Create EA focused communication initiatives
Movement building & Conceptual dissemination 

Optimising EA Movement building and coordination requires confident and effective communicators for compelling and high fidelity conceptual dissemination. To help to improve communication across member of the EA community, we would welcome applications for courses focused on helping EAs to communicate better, for instance, modelled on the toastmasters program or the Dale Carnegie course.


 

Converting key EA research outputs into academic publications

Conceptual dissemination


Academic publications are considered to be significantly more credible than other types of publications. However, many EA aligned organisations such as Rethink Priorities produce valuable research that is never published. To help address this, we would like to fund academic publication support organisations, to help organisation which are unaffiliated with universities to get ethics approval, write grants, produce academic research outputs etc. 

Creating EA aligned research labs
Conceptual dissemination 

Academic publications are considered to be significantly more credible than other types of publications. Many academics with outsized impacts lead publication labs. These hire many junior researchers to help maximise the return on the knowledge and experience of a more senior researcher. We would like to support attempts to found and scale up academic research labs aligned with relevant cause areas. 

Creating more EA aligned journals or conferences
Movement building 

Academic publications are considered to be significantly more credible than other types of publications. However, the academic publication system is highly misaligned with key EA values (e.g., efficiency and intellectual novelty/impartiality). We would therefore like to encourage initiatives to start, influence or acquire influential academic journals or conferences to enable EA to have better academic impacts towards our desired outcomes.


Just FYI,  here is copy explaining a relate... (read more)

1
monadica
Hi Peter, very awesome idea, I am working on this kind of project, it would be nice to talk with you

Supporting Longitudinal studies of Effective Altruists
Movement building

One significant part of the EA movement is helping individuals to have maximal impact across their lifecycle. However, EA lacks evidence for how different choices, circumstances and lifestyles affect individual impacts. To address this we would like to support longitudinal studies to understand, for instance, how important factors such as age, career, happiness, mental health and actions (e.g., taking pledges, attending events, undergoing career changes etc) interact and change perceived impacts and EA involvements over lifespans and how these differ between current, and former EAs etc.

New EA incubation and scaling funds and organisations
Movement building, coordination, coincidence of wants problems, & scaling

Charity entrepreneurship, Y Combinator, Rocket Internet and similar have had notable and disproportionate economic and social impacts and accelerated the dissemination of innovative ideas. The EA community has also called for more founders. We would therefore like to support EA and social impact funds that initiate, or scale relevant initiatives such as charities (e.g., tax-deductible EA charity funds,  long term future fund equivalents or research institutes) 

Collective financing for  EA products
Movement building, coordination, coincidence of wants problems

As shown by crowdfunding platforms, collective financing has many benefits. For instance, it allows individuals to collectively fund projects that they could not fund as individuals and for projects to start and scale when they would not otherwise exist. We would therefore like to fund projects to support collective financing with the EA community. For instance, this could involve allowing individuals to commit to providing a project or service (e.g., a ... (read more)