Holden Karnofsky is Leaving Open Phil for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

I have bittersweet news to announce: Holden Karnofsky, who cofounded Open Philanthropy and helped to run it through July 2023, is leaving to become a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, effective today.

At Carnegie, Holden will continue his work to reduce risks from artificial intelligence. In his own words: “In the short term, I will focus on (a) what AI capabilities might increase the risk of a global catastrophe; (b) how we can catch early warning signs of these capabilities; and (c) what protective measures (for example, strong information security) are important for safely handling such capabilities. This is a continuation of the work I’ve been doing over the last ~year.”

As a manager, a mentor, and the author of countless blog posts, Holden has done far more than any other individual to establish Open Phil’s culture, values, voice, and institutional views. Listing Holden’s contributions would entail writing a full history of Open Phil, but a few big ones include:

  • Co-founding GiveWell, without which Open Phil never would have come to exist.
  • Launching GiveWell Labs, the initiative at GiveWell that later developed into Open Phil.
  • Learning from the history of philanthropy and overseeing much of our original work for selecting what causes to work in.
  • Setting out many ideas that remain central to how we approach cause selection and grantmaking — including worldview diversificationradical empathy, and hits-based giving.
  • Changing his mind and leading Open Philanthropy to place substantially more weight on avoiding global catastrophic risks than we had initially.
  • Growing the organization from a handful of people to many tens, and along the way recruiting and training a generation of OP leaders, while also growing our grantmaking from single digit millions to many hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

I’ll miss Holden’s presence around the office, but I’m excited to continue to follow his work at Carnegie!