We are excited to announce Future Forum, an experimental 4-day conference taking place Aug 4-7 in San Francisco. We want to gather promising people from across communities interested in the long-term future of humanity, introduce them to each other, reflect on transformative technologies and their far-reaching consequences (upside and downside risks), and then we hope to generate new promising and thoughtful projects across this cross-community ecosystem. We expect around 250 attendees.
We’re putting special emphasis on mingling EA and Silicon Valley tech. We think that Silicon Valley contains promising talent that does or could work on pressing problems with agency and ambition, but that it could also benefit from EA-inspired thoughtfulness about impact and downside risks of working on transformative technologies. On the flip side, we believe EA could generally benefit from more agency and ambition (judicious ambition). We think agency and ambition are best fostered by curated exposure to high-agency individuals, ideally resulting in not just acute inspiration but also more long-term influences on personal trajectories, such as inspiring friends or mentors.
Other communities which will be represented or somewhat involved include Emergent Ventures, Rationalism, Longevity, Crypto, Space, among others.
Generally, Future Forum will be an in-person-only event, with no virtual component and no talks being recorded.
While the vast majority of the event is explicitly focused on 1-1s and small group conversations, we have a few speakers who will hold brief talks (~30min max) about topics they care about and give participants common topics to talk about with others. We’ve gotten strong buy-in from many of the communities we hope to bring together for Future Forum, and our current speaker line-up is:
- Holden Karnofsky from Open Philanthropy
- Anders Sandberg from FHI
- Daniela Amodei from Anthropic
- Patrick Collison from Stripe
- Ed Boyden from MIT/HHMI
- Tamara Winter from Stripe Press
- Jason Crawford from Roots of Progress
- Grant Sanderson (3Blue1Brown)
- Allison Duettmann from Foresight Institute
- Sam Altman from OpenAI
- Celine Halioua from Loyal
(Please be aware that this line-up is likely to evolve further, with more additions from across communities.)
Future Forum runs from August 4th-7th, which is the weekend after EAG San Francisco (EAG’s applications close on July 14th). In addition to EAG SF, there are some other major events and a general concentration of EAs happening in this 2-week time span in the Bay Area, so it might be generally good to come to the Bay around this time.
What we hope to do
We want to positively influence the trajectory of transformative technologies by:
- Identifying promising individuals in adjacent communities and providing resources for them to work on important issues
- With a focus on the tenet that a disproportionate part of positive progress is driven by few outsized-impact individuals, and thus focussing on potential outsized-impact individuals at the main event and their following career trajectories - e.g. here, or as a principle not dissimilar to hit-based philanthropy.
- An example of a community we want to be more in touch with: Many Emergent Ventures grantees seem very promising to do impactful work but might have not interacted with the conventional EA ecosystem by both not having been exposed to the ideas and people much.
- A specific example of what it might look like to find a promising individual and accelerate them towards working on a thoughtful, impactful project - ideally one with fairly asymmetric robust high upside and low downside potential (Asymmetry): the search for civilizational refuges project leads. After identifying a promising, agentic, and thoughtful individual with a good fit for the project, we want to unbottleneck them, accelerate their trajectory by e.g. putting them in touch with people working on similar projects, and then deferring further mentorship and career development to relevant organizations and events (here e.g. SHELTER).
- This might also take very different forms, e.g. two participants connecting and becoming co-founders for a promising non-profit or start-up.
- Encouraging a focus on concrete impact instead of e.g. profit or status.
- Encouraging thought about the long-term potential of humanity - both its immense worth and its fragility, especially given the risks of transformative technologies which may often be underlooked in Silicon Valley.
- Connecting communities focused on shaping technologies to cause cross-pollination of valuable characteristics:
- Disproportionately ambitious and agentic people could encourage others to become more ambitious and agentic.
- Disproportionately thoughtful and altruistic people could encourage others to become more thoughtful and altruistic.
- Cross-pollinating knowledge and experience from experienced senior people who take their areas and ideas very seriously and act on them with more junior “undiscovered” talent, partially through talks, but also with mentorship models, ultimately providing high value to both sides of such an interaction. This is partially ensured by Future Forum’s selectivity (see below).
We will achieve this through curated talks, workshops, fireside chats, and one-on-ones - see our website for more information.
By explicitly being a non-EA event we want to 1) mitigate risks to EA as a movement and 2) build a novel, adjacent cross-community/meta-community as a collaborator across movements.
Who should apply
We’re excited to fill up our remaining spots with open applications. We are especially excited about people working on existential risks and longtermist cause areas applying to the conference. But if any aspect of the event resonates with you, even if you think you’re not a good fit, we encourage you to apply!
We’re looking for two clusters of people:
- Talented people looking to re-orient their careers, undiscovered talent, adjacent community members. Generally promising applicants who we think are a good fit for Future Forum and might do impactful projects in the future. Here, we are considering applicants from across the globe and across diverse age groups, from ambitious 17-year-old high-schoolers to e.g. 45-year-old mid-career professionals looking for their next project.
- Mentors, funders, community-organization representatives - generally with an already established track record, who are willing to invest time during Future Forum to talk to promising participants and provide resources/support/ideas.
Given the small size of the event and it being a first-time experimental run, we generally expect to be fairly more selective than an EAG and significantly more selective than an EAGx.
If you’re accepted, the event is free to attend. There is a limited pot for travel and accommodation funding available for funding-constrained individuals, on a case-by-case basis.
Please apply here. Our primary deadline is July 17th. We encourage you to apply sooner though, given that August is coming soon. The application form should take just around 30 minutes.
We’re looking forward to Future Forum!
More information: futureforum.foundation
Which other events are happening around that time?
A non-comprehensive list of events, to my knowledge: EAG SF, MLAB, many socials open to EAs (announced e.g. the Bay Area EA Facebook), apply-only or invite-only retreats, like GCP's X-Risk summits.
(I wouldn't be surprised if there were 2x more events than listed here.)
I hope this is helpful.
There's also a retreat being run for ACX and rationality meetup organizers (https://www.rationalitymeetups.org/new-page-4) July 21 - 24, and a lot of pre-events and after parties planned for EAG SF. (I can send people GDocs with lists if anyone is interested.. I'm not sure if the organizers want them shared publicly).
I've had the pleasure of meeting Isaak in person, and it's clear that thoughtfulness and agency are both values that he not only espouses, but also embodies. (Ask him sometime about his experience starting a utilitarian student movement -- before ever having heard of "effective altruism"!)
The Future Forum looks incredibly exciting and I would highly encourage you to apply~
Thank you, Austin!
When can applicants expect to hear by? Will we hear whether we’re accepted or denied? I originally applied a few weeks ago and thought I would hear by the following week, but then the deadline was extended.
You cant apply without a Google account? That's pretty lame.
EDIT: to highlight how ridiculously lame this is note how I cant apply now without doing something as ridiculous as making a new Google account only for this event. I am working remotely from another continent. I cannot log into my gmail account (an account I don't use I might add) because it has 2FA enabled and I cannot get the code because it sends it to my phone number which does not work while I am travelling remotely.
There should be other options for 2FA you can setup going forward, like authenticator or using the Gmail app on your phone. Some cell providers allow calls / SMS over wifi now, too. There's also might be a way to use backup codes.
I use FIDO2 security keys for 2FA wherever I can and recommend them to everyone. I just don't have it set up for my Google account since I just don't use said account so never got round to it. But you are right to encourage me regardless - I should get round to it since I very likely will be forced to use a Google account again in the future and when that happens I might again be travelling.
I'm sorry this has been roadblocking you - if it's helpful, you can email your application to the team: email@example.com
So just to be clear: the roadblock here is that without a Google account I cannot even view the application questions. So I still wouldn't have been able to email firstname.lastname@example.org my application. The application is just not publicly viewable without a Google account. There should be a way to configure Google Forms where a Google account sign in is not required but optional. I have set up Google Forms like this in the past for my University group where some students used other email providers. However, I'm aware Google has changed significantly in 6-8 years so maybe now it is required.
Regardless, I ended up just using some other G account of mine for it that I usually wouldn't. So problem resolved. Note that I expressed annoyance, but I acknowledge I'm an edge case so I'll understand if this will just not be seen as an important enough issue to fix. That said, restricting applications to only people with Google accounts is still... odd, so I guess I'd still recommend that future Future Forum applications not have this issue.
I think every EA or EA-adjacent org I have filled out half a million forms for at this point always use Typeform. This, I think, is why I've never ran into this problem before, despite not using my Google account for years at this point. So it might be a good idea to use Typeform instead of Google Forms in the future.