Survival and Flourishing
.Fund (SFF)

SFF versus SAF: SFF facilitates grants to existing charities; for smaller grants and service contracts for long-termist projects that don't yet have an institutional home, visit SAF.

SFF-2020-H2 S-process Recommendations Announcement

In the second half of this year (2020-H2), six people participated as “Recommenders” in a single round of a grant-recommendation process for the funders Jaan Tallinn (independent), Jed McCaleb (independent) and the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF). The following Recommenders in this round agreed to have their identities made public:

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. Recommenders specified marginal utility functions for funding each application, and adjusted those functions through discussions with each other as the round progressed. Similarly, funders specified and adjusted different utility functions for deferring to each Recommender. 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

Most of the final endorsed 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 (Jaan Tallinn, Jed McCaleb, SFF) to finalize for some reason.
  2. Some additional grants might also appear on this list later as more details about them become clear.
  3. Some grants might be made as a result of the information shared in this S-process round that will not be counted as fully endorsed by the round, because each Recommender in the round had the unilateral ability to veto the group’s official endorsement of any particular grant. Grants not officially endorsed in this way will not appear on the list below.
Source Organization Amount Receiving Charity Purpose
SFF Future of Life Institute $23,000 Future of Life Institute General support
SFF Center for Applied Rationality $212,000 Center for Applied Rationality General support
SFF Future of Humanity Institute, Research Scholars Programme $218,000 University of Oxford General support of the Research Scholars Programme at Future of Humanity Institute
SFF Center for Innovative Governance Research $58,000 Center for Innovative Governance Research General support
SFF The Center for Election Science $44,000 The Center for Election Science General support
SFF The Future Society, Inc. $37,000 The Future Society, Inc. General support
SFF Generation Pledge $37,000 Centre for Effective Altruism General support of Generation Pledge at the Centre for Effective Altruism
SFF Center for Applied Utilitarianism $21,000 Centre for Effective Altruism General support of Center for Applied Utilitarianism
Jed McCaleb Topos Institute $144,000 Topos Institute Conditional support
Jed McCaleb Center for Applied Rationality $23,000 Center for Applied Rationality General support
Jed McCaleb Stanford Existential Risks Initiative $56,000 Stanford University General support of Stanford Existential Risks Initiative
Jed McCaleb RadicalxChange Foundation Ltd. $13,000 RadicalxChange Foundation Ltd. General support
Jed McCaleb The Roots of Progress $14,000 Mercatus Center Inc General support of The Roots of Progress
Jaan Tallinn Center for Human-Compatible AI $779,000 UC Berkeley Foundation General support of Center for Human-Compatible AI
Jaan Tallinn Machine Intelligence Research Institute $543,000 Machine Intelligence Research Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn Future of Life Institute $347,000 Future of Life Institute General support
Jaan Tallinn Topos Institute $151,000 Topos Institute Conditional support
Jaan Tallinn Center for Applied Rationality $19,000 Center for Applied Rationality General support
Jaan Tallinn Future of Humanity Institute: Research Scholars Programme $30,000 University of Oxford General support of the Research Scholars Programme at Future of Humanity Institute
Jaan Tallinn Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative $247,000 Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative General support
Jaan Tallinn Global Catastrophic Risk Institute $209,000 Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs General support of Global Catastrophic Risk Institute
Jaan Tallinn Stanford Existential Risks Initiative $69,000 Stanford University General support of Stanford Existential Risks Initiative
Jaan Tallinn Median Group $98,000 Median Foundation General support of Median Group
Jaan Tallinn Modeling Cooperation $74,000 Convergence Analysis General support of Modeling Cooperation
Jaan Tallinn Rethink Priorities $57,000 Rethink Priorities General support
Jaan Tallinn RadicalxChange Foundation Ltd. $26,000 RadicalxChange Foundation Ltd. General support
Jaan Tallinn The Roots of Progress $21,000 Mercatus Center Inc General support of The Roots of Progress
Jaan Tallinn AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Society $20,000 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence General support of AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Jaan Tallinn Effective Thesis $15,000 N/A 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. On the other hand, as described above, each Recommender participating in this round of the S-process had the unilateral ability to veto any organization from appearing in the final endorsed outputs of the process appearing here. As such, there in principle could be organizations that one or more Recommenders were excited to fund, and that one or more funders decided to fund as a result of this round, but that do not appear on this list because public endorsement of the grant by the S-process was vetoed.

SFF specifically will still continue making all of the grants it makes eventually publicly visible on its homepage, but if some of those grants are not endorsed 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.