State of EA organizations

Below is a small document I prepared to summarize the current slate of organizations that are strongly related to effective altruismThere is a bit of arbitrariness about what to include.  There are some organizations that are strongly aligned with EA principles even if they do not endorse that name or the full philosophy.I am not including cause-level organization for mainstream causes, e.g. developing world health like Innovations for Poverty Action. I am including all existential risk organizations, since these are so unusual and potentially important for EA. a  . (A Google doc is available here, which can be exported to many other formats.) If I made a mistake please comment below or email me. Please feel free to take this document and build on it, especially if you would like to expand the highlights section.

By Category

Charity Evaluation

Existential risk

Meta

Former names

“Effective Fundraising” → Charity Science (Greatest Good Foundation)
“Singularity Institute” → Machine Intelligence Research Institute
“Effective Animal Activism” → Animal Charity Evaluators

Organizational relationships

FHI and CEA share office space at Oxford.  CEA is essentially an umbrella organization.  It contains GWWC and 80k, and formerly contained TLYCS and ACE.  Now the latter two organizations operate independently.

MIRI and CFAR currently share office space in Berkeley and collaborate from time to time. A few people have been volunteers for both organizations.

GiveWell Labs is a name given to work done by GiveWell personnel on more speculative causes.  It operates closely with, receives substantial funding from, and advises Good Ventures.  GiveWell Labs will likely break off from GiveWell in the medium-term future and adopt a new name.

Geographic Location

 

San Fransisco

  • Good Ventures
  • GiveWell
  • AidGrade
  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
  • Center For Applied Rationality (CFAR)
  • Leverage Research

Oxford

  • Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)
  • Giving What We Can (GWWC)
  • 80,000 Hours (80k)

San Diego

  • Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE)

Boston

  • Future of Life Institute (FLI)

Cambridge

  • Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)

Vancouver

  • Charity Science

[Decentralized]

  • Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (GCRI)
  • The Life You Can Save (TLYCS)

Notable funders

Jaan Tallinn:

  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
  • Leverage Research
  • Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)
  • Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
  • Future of Life Institute (FLI)
  • Center For Applied Rationality (CFAR) [indirectly]
  • 80,000 Hours

Peter Thiel:

  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
  • Leverage Research

Dustin Moskovitz:

  • Good Ventures
  • GiveWell

Influential People

Peter Singer (Princeton Philosopher, effective altruism)

  • The Life You Can Save

Toby Ord (Giving What We Can founder, effective altruism)

  • Giving What We Can (GWWC)

Holden Karnofsky & Elie Hassenfeld (GiveWell co-founders, charity evaluation)

  • GiveWell (with GiveWell labs)
  • GoodVentures

Nick Bostrom (Oxford Philosopher, existential risk)

  • Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)
  • Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
  • Future of Life Institute (FLI)

Eliezer Yudkowsky (MIRI researcher, Existential Risk)

  • Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
  • Center For Applied Rationality (CFAR)

Jaan Tallinn (Skype founder, funder)

Recent Highlights

The traditional arm of GiveWell moved over $3 million through its website, surpassing both Charity Navigator and GuideStar.  This fall GiveWell had removed the Against Malaria Foundation from its top charities list due to limited room for more funding, but expressed optimism that AMF’s recent agreement to distribute bednets in the Congo is strong progress toward their reinstatement.  Good Ventures and GiveWell Labs have set a shared goal to make substantial commitments to investigating US policy and global catastrophic risks as causes in 2014.  In the medium to long term, GiveWell intends to cleave off GiveWell Labs under a new name in order to cleanly separate the robust evaluation of direct-impact charities from the speculative research about high-risk opportunities. [More: Money moved and web traffic. AMF finalizes distribution. General plans for 2014.]

“Effective Animal Activism” has rebranded as Animal Charity Evaluators and has recently completed a study to evaluate the impact of leafleting.  Their present work now focuses on the effectiveness of humane education, frameworks for defining animal welfare, the history and sociology of social movements, and the continuing evaluation of animal welfare organizations. [More: Leafleting study analysis. Planned research.]

Eva Vivalt of AidGrade has started a postdoc in New York at the Development Research Institute at NYU.  She and collaborators will be continuing work on analyzing the extent to which impact studies in developmental economics can be expected to have general validity. [More: Do RCTs engage in less specification searching? ]

Several months ago, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk failed in the final round to have its highly ranked, million-plus Euro grant proposal funded by the European Research Council.  Nonetheless, CSER has attained sufficient financial support to launch, and has delivered some lectures while making several appearances in the media.  Future success is dependent on increased support. [More: Funding update: New sponsors. Media coverage. ]

The Future of Humanity Institute has achieved significant media exposure, hosted and attended several conferences, and started the Global Priorities Project with the Centre for Effective Altruism.  Nick Bostrom’s anticipated book on superintelligences is available for pre-order, and Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh gave a talk at Belgium’s TEDx UHasselt Conference. [More: Global Priorities Project. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.]

The Global Catastrophic Risk Institute has published, presented and held an online lecture series. Director Seth Baum, recently the feature of a biography on the Scientific American blog, announced that he will be co-editor for an upcoming special issue devoted to catastrophic risks in the academic journal Futures. [More: March-April 2014 Newsletter. Evaluating the Risk of Events That Could End Civilization.]

After dropping its former title “Singularity Institute” in early 2013, the rebranded Machine Intelligence Research Institute shifted away from public outreach and movement building, and toward core research in artificial intelligence.  The full-time research staff of three is still very small and, despite lacking a track record of academic publications, has ambitious goals for catalyzing future research in AI safety. In the past year they have given talks at a handful of top universities, released several white papers and interviews, and held five separate workshops at MIRI attracting over 40 different researchers. [More: 2013 Review of operations.]

The Future of Life Institute has recently formed from a slate of very prestigious supporters from Academia and elsewhere. With the new interest sparked by the movie Transcendence, Hawking, Tegmark, Wilczek, and Russel wrote in the Huffington Post about the dangers of complacency regarding artificial intelligence.  Their official launch event is scheduled for May 24th at MIT. [More: Founders and advisory board. Transcending Complacency on Superintelligent Machines.]

Giving What We Can has been focusing on growing its core of members who take its giving pledge.  In its most recent progress report, it has exceeded its goals and estimates it has added $30 million of pledged donations.  Founder Toby Ord has been advocating the organization’s ideas at the upper levels of the British government, including 10 Downing St., and also recently gave a TEDx talk at Cambridge. [More: Six month progress review. How to Save Hundreds of Lives.]

The Life You Can Save has has moved over half a million dollars in donations this year on the heels of Peter Singer’s TED talk in July. In agreement with Giving What We Can, but in contrast to GiveWell, the Life You Can Save has emphasized their continued support for the Against Malaria Foundation now that AMF has secured an agreement to disperse more than 600k bednets in the Congo. [More: 2013 Impact report. AMF: Future distributions.]

After a disappointing experiment in grant writing, “Effective Fundraising” has rebranded to Charity Science and has started to explore other alternative methods, including fundraising from high net-worth individuals. [More: Charity Science: operation details Six month review. (dead) Next six month plan. (dead)]

2013 was The Center for Applied Rationality’s first full year in existence.  CFAR has delivered workshops more frequently, including six 4-day workshops in the Bay area, and ran their second annual SPARC (Summer Program on Applied Rationality and Cognition), a week-long summer camp for mathematically gifted high-schoolers. CFAR instructor Andrew Critch contributed to course materials for Saul Perlmutter’s UC Berkeley class on scientific reasoning and biases. CFAR realized it’s goals of $150k for this year’s major winter fundraiser. [More: Why CFAR? 2013 Fundraiser report.]

80,000 Hours has moved away from providing personalize career advice to a large number of applicants, and shifted toward performing in-depth case-studies on a smaller number of effective altruists.  There was also substantial growth in traffic to their online content, and 80k officers held meetings with the Copenhagen Consensus and 10 Downing Street.  [More: Summary business plan. Six month evaluation summary. Case study method.]

[This document was built from an outline produced by Ryan Carey, which contains a more thorough collection of links to summary reports, (although not as recently prepared).]

 

Footnotes

(↵ returns to text)

  1. There is a bit of arbitrariness about what to include.  There are some organizations that are strongly aligned with EA principles even if they do not endorse that name or the full philosophy.
    I am not including cause-level organization for mainstream causes, e.g. developing world health like Innovations for Poverty Action. I am including all existential risk organizations, since these are so unusual and potentially important for EA.
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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post!

    Two errors of note:

    1.) The Greatest Good Foundation is based in Vancouver, not decentralized.
    2.) His name is Ryan Carey, not Carey Ryan.

  2. Which personnel are shared by MIRI and CFAR? We occasionally consult for each other, and some people are volunteers for both organizations, but I don’t think we’re sharing any personnel currently.

    • My mistake. I was sloppy in using “personnel” when I didn’t know the full extent of their involvement or whether they were paid. The new text is “MIRI and CFAR currently share office space in Berkeley and collaborate from time to time. A few people have been volunteers for both organizations.” Thanks much. Please let me know if anything else is incorrect.

  3. Animal Charity Evaluators now runs out of San Diego, CA.

  4. The Greatest Good Foundation is the legal name of the managing organization behind the scenes, but the brand publicly put forward is ‘Charity Science’:
    http://www.charityscience.com/

    This is similar to how Givewell operates under the name of ‘The Clear Fund’. Not that either of those names is relevant to this summary, and the name to be put forward should be Charity Science, or Givewell.

    • Thanks Evan. In my defense, I don’t believe the Charity Science brand existed publicly at the time I wrote this post and, unlike the Clear Fund, the Greatest Good Foundation has its own website content and blog (although now much of that has been ported to the Charity Science website). But I am happy to update the post to reflect this.

      Incidentally, the effectivefundraising.net website has died, taking with it the links to progress reports. However, it looks like many of the other blog posts not directly related to the Effective Fundraising organization have been moved to charityscience.com.

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