Open Philanthropy Project non-grant funding

Last substantive revision: 2017-04-02

Introduction

This page lists publicly-available non-grant funding information of the Open Philanthropy Project. By “non-grant funding”, I mean the funding provided by Open Phil that is not included in their grants database. There is some funding, like the investment to Impossible Foods, that is not called a “grant” but is still included in the grants database; I have excluded these. I also excluded full-time employees, who are all listed on the team page, unless they started out as consultants. As of April 2017 I am not aware of any central location for this information (other than this page).

Consultants

For consultants, the exact payment amount is not public. Using public information, I cannot rule out a situation where some consultants are not paid.

Carl Shulman has stated that he does “significant consulting for Open Phil”. Carl seems good about disclosing this information when he weighs in on Open Phil-related topics in public comments, but details of this contract work have not been publicly disclosed (as far as I am aware). I am aware of one conversation PDF, but the PDF introduces Carl as “Research Associate, Future of Humanity Institute”, so it is not clear to me whether the conversation was done as part of his consulting work or as part of his work for FHI or neither or both.

Ben Soskis’s work on the history of philanthropy is financially covered (fully? partly?) by Open Phil; see the history of philanthropy page and the footnote:

This work is structured as part of Ben’s consulting for us rather than as a grant, which is why it does not appear in our grants database.

Suzanne Kahn also works or worked as a consultant for Open Phil:

Suzanne Kahn, a consultant who has been working with us as part of our History of Philanthropy project

David Roodman used to be an independent consultant for Open Phil, but “He became an employee in 2015”.

Chris Somerville now works for Open Phil, but used to consult for it:

Chris was previously consulting on a part-time basis.

Steven Phillips consults or consulted for Open Phil:

As part of our work on GiveWell Labs, we retained Dr. Steven Phillips as a consultant to source giving opportunities in malaria control/elimination.

Karl Smith is/was a consultant for Open Phil.

Steve Teles is/was a consultant for Open Phil:

PAJ was recommended to us by Steve Teles, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins who has written about the philanthropic origins of the conservative legal movement and has been working for us as a consultant.

Stephan Guyenet is/was a consultant for Open Phil.

Consultants whose identities are unknown or may overlap with known consultants

From “GiveWell Labs Update”: “Two consultants were retained to look into this area [drug policy reform]”. See this post by Cari Tuna; the consultants are probably Matt Stoller and Aaron Swartz.

From “Geoengineering Research”: “We are currently experimenting with working with a consultant (who has a substantial relevant background) to make more progress on this cause.”

From “Open Philanthropy Project Update” (published September 2015):

We are not sure whether it is necessary to make a full-time hire for macroeconomic policy, though we currently have a consultant who could potentially play that role advising us.

Other contract work

Julia Galef’s Update Project is financially covered by Open Phil (no public confirmation from Open Phil on this as far as I am aware):

My time and expenses for this project are covered by a contract with the Open Philanthropy Project.

Technical advisors

Open Phil has on several occasions mentioned technical advisors. Using public information, it is unclear whether they received financial compensation.

Dario Amodei and Paul Christiano:

OpenAI researchers Dario Amodei and Paul Christiano are both technical advisors to Open Philanthropy and live in the same house as Holden. In addition, Holden is engaged to Dario’s sister Daniela.

From MIRI grant writeup: Paul Christiano, Jacob Steinhardt, Christopher Olah, and Dario Amodei.

Kevin Esvelt, scientific advisor.


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