Long-Term Future Fund: April 2019 grant recommendations
Skeptical about the cost effectiveness of several of these.
Ought - 50k. "Part of the aim of the grant is to show Ought as an example of the type of organization we are likely to fund in the future." Is that really your aim now, being a grant dispenser for random AI companies? What happened to saving lives?
"Our understanding is that hiring is currently more of a bottleneck for them than funding, so we are only making a small grant." If they have enough money and this is a token grant, why is it 50k? Why not reduce to 15-20k and spend the rest on something else?
Metaculus - 70k, Ozzie Gooen - 70k, Jacob Lagerros - 27k. These are small companies that need funding; why are you acting as grant-givers here rather than as special interest investors?
Robert Miles, video content on AI alignment - 39k. Isn't this something you guys and/or MIRI should be doing, and could do quickly, for a lot less money, without having to trust that someone else will do it well enough?
Fanfiction handouts - 28k. What's the cost breakdown here? And do you really think this will make you be taken more seriously? If you want to embrace this fanfic as a major propaganda tool, it certainly makes sense to get it thoroughly edited, especially before doing an expensive print run.
CFAR - 150k(!). If they're relying on grants like this to survive, you should absolutely insist that they downsize their staff. This funding definitely shouldn't be unrestricted.
Connor Flexman - 20k. "Techniques to facilitate skill transfer between experts in different domains" is very vague, as is "significant probability that this grant can help Connor develop into an excellent generalist researcher". I would define this grant much more concretely before giving it.
Lauren Lee - 20k. This is ridiculous, I'm sure she's a great person but please don't use the gift you received to provide sinecures to people "in the community".
Nikhil Kunapul's research - 30k and Lucius Caviola's postdoc - 50k. I know you guys probably want to go in a think-tanky direction but I'm still skeptical.
The large gift you received should be used to expand the influence of EA as an entity, not as a one-off. I think you should reconsider grants vs investment when dealing with small companies, the CFAR grant also concerns me, and of course in general I support de-emphasizing AI risk in favor of actual charity.