142 karmaJoined Nov 2021


Researcher at Sentience Institute.



Zdgroff - Advocacy for digital minds

I'm excited to see this proposal! Digital minds are our research focus at Sentience Institute. We published a couple papers on it (in Science and Engineering Ethics and Futures), and we're trying to help coordinate and support more research on this. Anyone is welcome to email us info@sentienceinstitute.org if it may be useful.


Thanks, Haven. Yes, it could be a distribution issue. As noted to Max, we get quite a bit of funding, but each hiring round SI receives a large pool of very strong researcher applicants, and we would love to hire more of them. Also, our approach isn't very well-established in the cause areas of either longtermism or animal advocacy, and it can be particularly challenging to fundraise at the intersection of cause areas (as noted by New Harvest here).


Thanks Max! We get a good amount of funding, but each hiring round we receive multiple very strong applicants (e.g., recently graduated PhDs in a very challenging academic job market who are vegetarian or care about MCE-ish issues and would love to unite their passion and their day job) that we would love to hire. We believe we can absorb additional funding to do so, but it can be challenging to fundraise since our work lies at the intersection of animal advocacy and longtermism, and there is also uncertainty with our increased focus on artificial sentience over the last year.

To your question on focusing more on artificial sentience, there are several reasons: when SI was founded in 2017 they didn't think they could get much funding if their focus was on artificial sentience; the farmed animal field, especially EAA and food technology, were in a period of a lot of uncertainty and growth, which seemed important to support; there were a lot of farmed animal research projects that were discussed but nobody was getting around to doing (e.g., social movement case studies, a nationally representative survey), and SI was well-positioned to do them; farmed animal research has taken off a lot since 2017 (e.g., ACE, Faunalytics, Rethink Priorities), and Utility Farm, Wild Animal Suffering Research, Animal Ethics, and now Wild Animal Initiative are doing great work building the field of welfare biology, but basically no organization had emerged to do field-building for artificial sentience, which SI seems well-positioned to do.