The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $403,890 to the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) to support BERI’s work with the Center for Human-Compatible AI (CHAI) at UC Berkeley. This grant falls within Open Philanthropy's work on potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence.
BERI is a nonprofit organization that identifies technologies that may pose significant risks to human civilization, and promotes and provides support for research and other activities aimed at reducing those risks. This funding is intended to help BERI hire contractors and part-time employees who will assist CHAI in a variety of ways; for example, BERI has previously provided CHAI with web development and event coordination support, and in the future BERI may hire or contract, e.g., research engineers, software developers, or research illustrators. This funding is also intended to help support BERI’s core staff, who oversee BERI’s efforts at hiring and liaising with CHAI (and possibly with other “clients” in the future).
Open Philanthropy's impression is that it is often difficult for academic institutions to flexibly spend funds on technical, administrative, and other support services. Open Philanthropy currently sees BERI as valuable insofar as it can provide CHAI with these types of services, and think it’s plausible that BERI will be able to provide similar help to other academic institutions in the future.