Survival and Flourishing
.Fund

SFF-2020-H1 S-process Recommendations Announcement

In Q1-Q2 of this year (2020-H1), six people participated as “recommenders” in a single round of a grant-recommendation process for funders Jaan Tallinn (independent), Jed McCaleb (independent), and the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF; http://survivalandflourishing.fund/). The following recommenders in this round agreed to have their identities made public:

We were also joined by Hanna Tallinn as a volunteer observer.

How final grant amounts were determined: The “S-process”

We call the recommendation process used in this grant round the “S-process”, for “Simulation process”, because it involves allowing the recommenders and funders to simulate a large number of counterfactual delegation scenarios using a spreadsheet of marginal utility functions. Funders were free to assign different weights to different recommenders in the process; the weights were determined by marginal utility functions specified by the funders (Jaan Tallinn, Jed McCaleb, and SFF). In this round, the process also allowed the funders to make some final adjustments to decide on their final intended grant amounts.

The S-process spreadsheet system is still being developed for broader use.

Final recommendations

The final recommendations of this round of the S-process are listed below. These numbers have resulted from numerical inputs from both funders and recommenders, which represented estimates of the marginal utility of granting to each organization. Note that:

  1. Some of the grants below might not happen if they are logistically difficult or time-consuming for the funders to finalize for some reason.
  2. Some additional grants might also appear on this list later as more details about them become clear.
  3. Funders are free to make grants based on information they gain through participation in the process without listing those grants here.
  4. Some randomization may have been used to decide fairly between marginal grants that did not fit entirely within our budget.
Source Organization Amount Receiving Charity Purpose
SFF LessWrong

$290,000

Center for Applied Rationality General support of LessWrong
SFF Machine Intelligence Research Institute

$20,000

Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support
SFF Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute

$120,000

Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute General support
SFF 80,000 Hours

$120,000

Centre for Effective Altruism USA General support of 80,000 Hours
SFF Future of Life Institute

$100,000

Future of Life Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn LessWrong

$110,000

Center for Applied Rationality General support of LessWrong
Jaan Tallinn Machine Intelligence Research Institute

$280,000

Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute

$60,000

Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn 80,000 Hours

$30,000

Centre for Effective Altruism USA General support of 80,000 Hours
Jaan Tallinn The Future Society

$130,000

The Future Society, Inc. General support of The Future Society
Jaan Tallinn Future of Life Institute

$30,000

Future of Life Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn Global Catastrophic Risk Institute

$90,000

Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs General support of Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
Jaan Tallinn Leverage Research

$80,000

Leverage Research General support
Jaan Tallinn AI Impacts

$40,000

Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support of AI Impacts
Jaan Tallinn Milan Griffes to pursue an MHS in Mental Health

$30,000

Johns Hopkins University General support of Milan Griffes to pursue an MHS in Mental Health
Jaan Tallinn BERI/CSER Collaboration

$20,000

Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative General support of BERI/CSER Collaboration
Jaan Tallinn Metamorphic Group LLC

$10,000

Children, Families, and Communities General support of Metamorphic Group LLC
Jaan Tallinn Convergence Analysis

$10,000

Convergence Analysis General support
Jed McCaleb LessWrong

$30,000

Center for Applied Rationality General support of LessWrong
Jed McCaleb Machine Intelligence Research Institute

$40,000

Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support
Jed McCaleb Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute

$20,000

Quantified Uncertainty Research Institute General support
Jed McCaleb 80,000 Hours

$30,000

Centre for Effective Altruism USA General support of 80,000 Hours
Jed McCaleb The Future Society

$30,000

The Future Society, Inc. General support of The Future Society
Jed McCaleb Future of Life Institute

$10,000

Future of Life Institute General support
Jed McCaleb Global Catastrophic Risk Institute

$50,000

Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs General support of Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
Jed McCaleb AI Impacts

$20,000

Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support of AI Impacts
Jed McCaleb Metamorphic Group LLC

$10,000

Children, Families, and Communities General support of Metamorphic Group LLC
Jed McCaleb Future of Humanity Foundation

$10,000

Future of Humanity Foundation General support
-- -- -- -- --

Note that the S-process system is designed to generally favor funding things that at least one recommender is excited to fund, rather than things that every recommender is excited to fund. As such, the grant recommendations above do not especially represent the “average” opinion of the group in any sense.

(In past S-process rounds, recommenders had a unilateral ability to veto any organization from appearing in the final endorsed outputs of the S-process. In this round, the recommenders voted unanimously to remove this veto option from the process.)

SFF specifically will continue making all of the grants it makes eventually publicly visible on its homepage (http://survivalandflourishing.fund/), but if some of those grants are not recommended by an S-process round, they will not be listed as an S-process grant.

Freedoms compatible with the S-process

The S-process is designed to allow a lot of freedom and autonomy for the recommenders and the funders. Funders retain the right and freedom to make and/or recommend grants that the S-process, as a whole, did not endorse, based on information the funders learn from the S-process. As well, the recommenders and funders are free to communicate with each other as much as they want outside of the S-process structure. As such, while the S-process might be useful in helping the funders to learn about grant-making opportunities and opinions, the funders need not be limited by the outputs of the S-process in order for it to function.

Private sharing of input documents

Each recommender’s own input documents (both initial and final versions) are free for that recommender to share privately or publicly in any form and for any use-case, as long as they anonymize any other recommenders who have requested anonymity, and respect the privacy of the organizations who applied to the round. In particular, the S-process does not require recommenders to avoid sharing their own (appropriately anonymized) input documents, even when sharing some documents might make it somewhat easier in principle for an adversary to reverse-engineer the inputs of other recommenders. The spirit of the S-process is, however, to discourage this sort of intentionally adversarial de-anonymization, as it is disrespectful of the recommenders who volunteered their time and effort under the conditions of anonymity.