Apply to the new Open Philanthropy Technology Policy Fellowship!

post by lukeprog · 2021-07-20T18:41:46.759Z · EA · GW · 6 comments

Contents

  What is the fellowship?
  Who should apply?
  What does success look like?
None
6 comments

We are excited to announce the new Open Philanthropy Technology Policy Fellowship. You can apply here until September 15th. This post will provide some background on the fellowship program and details on who we’d be excited to receive applications from.

Other resources for prospective applicants:

What is the fellowship?

The fellowship aims to help grow the community of people working at the intersection of US policy and Open Philanthropy’s longtermism-motivated[1] work, especially in AI and biosecurity. It provides selected applicants with policy-focused training and mentorship, and supports them in matching with a host organization for a full-time, fully-funded fellowship based in the Washington, DC area. Potential host organizations include executive branch offices, Congressional offices, and think tank programs.

Fellowship placements are expected to begin in early or mid-2022 and to last 6 or 12 months (depending on the fellowship category), with potential renewal for a second term (for a maximum duration of 12 or 24 months).

More details about the program can be found on the application page.

Such fellowship programs are fairly common in Washington, DC. To learn more about the model and partly analogous programs, you can check out AAAS’s Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (for executive branch and congressional fellowships), the RWJ Foundation’s Health Policy Fellowship (for executive branch and congressional fellowships), TechCongress (for congressional fellowships), CFR’s International Affairs Fellowship (for executive branch and think tank fellowships), and Scoville (for think tank junior fellowships).

Who should apply?

The fellowship program was designed to accommodate a broad talent pool. Opportunities are available for both entry-level and mid-career applicants, for technical and non-technical people, and for people both with and without prior policy experience.

Besides the appropriate level of seniority, we will largely be looking for (a) sufficient alignment with Open Phil's longtermist interests and priorities, (b) evidence of “fit” for applied policy work, and (c) some expertise or experience relevant to emerging technology (broadly defined). What does this mean in practice?

When in doubt about your eligibility or fit, we encourage you to apply! We welcome explicit mention of particular concerns/questions in your application materials. You can also ask us questions about eligibility and fit at any time during the application process, and during our information sessions and the EA Forum AMA (see top of this post).

We aim to build a diverse cohort, and strongly encourage individuals with backgrounds and experiences underrepresented in science and technology policy to apply, especially women and people of color.

What does success look like?

We hope some of the fellows will continue doing policy work in some capacity, whether directly in government or at other organizations in Washington, DC. Fellows will be provided with mentorship and professional development opportunities explicitly aimed at helping them secure policy jobs, including introductions to helpful contacts and tailored workshops on job application cycles and norms across various institutions.

Some fellows will learn that working in government is not the right “fit” for them. For this group, we nonetheless think that the fellowship will serve as a useful learning experience. For example, some fellows may decide to pursue AI governance work at tech firms or EA organizations after their fellowship instead of continuing direct government work. We expect this type of work to benefit significantly from fellows having developed better models of the US policymaking process and the influence of various policy stakeholders. Continuing social ties will also play an important role here.[3]

More generally, we believe longtermist strategy and policy would benefit from having more “translators” who can bridge different communities (EA and non-EA, research and policy, technical and non-technical, etc.). Moving between different types of employers and cultures every few years is an excellent way to develop translation skills and cross-pollinate ideas. Even if you’re not sure you want to spend your entire career in the US government — or even if you’re pretty sure that you don’t — we still very much encourage you to apply to the fellowship.


  1. We expect readers on the EA Forum to be familiar with these concepts and won’t elaborate on them here, but see e.g. here and here for more details. Note that we welcome applicants who previously have not worked directly within longtermist cause areas, as long as they are interested in working on longtermist-related issues in the future. ↩︎

  2. See e.g. the lists of alumni of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program (which places people in executive branch offices) and the RWJ Health Policy Fellowship (Congress or executive branch), which include many people with 10-20 years of professional experience. ↩︎

  3. See e.g. here [EA · GW] (point #2) for more thinking along these lines. ↩︎

6 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Neel Nanda · 2021-07-22T12:19:18.723Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This seems like a great initiative, I'm excited to see where this goes!

Do people need to be US citizens (or green card holders etc) to apply for this?

Replies from: Flodorner
comment by Flodorner · 2021-07-23T07:25:20.941Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The job posting states: 

"All participants must be eligible to work in the United States and willing to live in Washington, DC, for the duration of their fellowship. We are not able to sponsor US employment visas for participants; US permanent residents (green card holders) are eligible to apply, but fellows who are not US citizens may be ineligible for placements that require a security clearance."

So my impression would be that it would be pretty difficult to participate for non-US citizens who do not already live in the US. 

comment by quinn · 2021-07-22T20:26:16.225Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi Luke, could you describe a candidate that would inspire you to flex the bachelor's requirement for Think Tank Jr. Fellow? I took time off credentialed institutions to do lambda school and work (didn't realize I want to be a researcher until I was already in industry), but I think my overall CS/ML experience is higher than a ton of the applicants you're going to get (I worked on cooperative AI at AI Safety Camp 5 and I'm currently working on multi-multi delegation, hence my interest in AI governance). If possible, I'd like to hear from you how you're thinking about the college requirement before I invest the time into writing a cumulative 1400 words. 

Replies from: quinn
comment by quinn · 2021-07-22T20:54:01.523Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Ah, just saw techpolicyfellowship@openphilanthropy.org at the bottom of the page. Sorry, will direct my question to there! 

Replies from: quinn
comment by quinn · 2021-07-22T21:07:59.390Z · EA(p) · GW(p)


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Replies from: lukeprog
comment by lukeprog · 2021-07-22T21:47:48.745Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Oops! Should be fixed now.