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Centre for Effective Altruism — New Discretionary Fund

Organization Name 
Award Date 
3/2018
Grant Amount 
$5,000,000
Purpose 
To establish a new discretionary fund to be administered by Carl Shulman.
Topic (focus area) 

Grant investigator: Holden Karnofsky

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. CEA staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $5 million to the Centre for Effective Altruism USA (CEA) to create and seed a new discretionary fund that will be administered by Carl Shulman (Carl), who is a Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute and an advisor to the Open Philanthropy Project.

Based on our experience with Carl as an advisor, we believe he has the potential to source outstanding grants that we could not, and we are supporting this fund in order to experiment with this. The hypothesis is that Carl can regrant this first $5 million more effectively than we can grant out our last $5 million. We may experiment in the future with regranting by other people for whom the same could be said; we are starting with Carl because he has advised us extensively in the past and we have a particularly strong sense of his potential in this regard. This means CEA does not expect this new discretionary fund to be optimal for most individual donors.

Examples of the types of work Carl has signaled he might fund include:

  • Studies to help inform estimates regarding when transformative AI might be developed (e.g., economic modeling of the impacts of automating different aspects of AI development)
  • Improved predictive models for pharmaceutical and biotechnology innovation to better guide research investments
  • Improved characterization of effects of quantum computing on chemistry, computing, and nanotechnology

Note that we are simultaneously experimenting with an “external investigators” program with similar goals but a different setup, namely that grants recommended by external investigators go through our standard process where the reasoning and recommendation is discussed in detail with Open Philanthropy Project decision-makers. Carl is also part of the external investigators program.