This post is part of our monthly activity update series. Each activity update briefly describes what we’ve been up to in the last month and, hopefully, helps to shed light on how our priorities shift over time. Note that some of our time each month will be spent investigating future project opportunities that may not be covered in these posts until our plans are more solid.


  • We published a list of questions usable in prediction markets for thinking about AI timelines:

  • In collaboration with the Center for Human-Compatible AI (CHAI), we…

    • Interviewed 6 candidates for the Machine Learning Research Engineer position and completed a work trial with one candidate.

    • Issued a BERI debit card that may be used by CHAI staff in a BERI volunteer capacity to speed up BERI’s purchases made in support of CHAI’s activities. We also added core CHAI staff to BERI’s Uber for Business account.

    • Purchased computing equipment for new staff and purchased stickers with the CHAI logo for equipment labelling.

    • Renewed CHAI’s web domain and upgraded the website set-up.

    • Financially supported an event to watch the results of OpenAI’s DOTA research.

    • Officially recorded the nature of our partnership with CHAI.

  • In collaboration with the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), we hired a contractor to work with Professor Allan Dafoe on research into legal and governance questions around the development of transformative artificial intelligence.

  • In collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), we extended our support of Simon Beard’s work with Patrick Kaczmarek to enable the completion of several papers on the ethical considerations of extinction and the long-term future.

  • We developed an “Organizational Service Request Form” and “Organizational Service Agreement Form” to make it easier for us to evaluate requests from collaborating organizations.

  • We made the following grants:

    • A $300k general support grant to the Center for Applied Rationality. We expect the grant will be used for core organizational improvements, new strategic projects, and workshop subsidies.

    • A $50k grant to Theiss Research. We expect the grant will be used to support Carrick Flynn’s research with Prof. Allan DaFoe at the Future of Humanity Institute.

    • A $400k unrestricted gift to the UC Berkeley Foundation. We expect the gift will be used to support the work of Dr. Andrew Critch at the Center for Human-compatible AI (but will not go towards his salary). This grant was decided on by BERI’s board, with Andrew Critch recused.

    • A $50k general support grant to the Institute for Philosophical Research (IPR). We are currently investigating IPR for a larger grant. However, because IPR is significantly behind in its fundraising efforts, and is a sufficiently promising grantee in expectation at this point, we wish to provide them IPR stop-gap support while it continues to participate in our grant investigation process.

    • A $150k grant to the Center for Applied Rationality for the support of activities to develop and improve the website LessWrong 2.0.

  • We finalized our budget for the next 12 months. We plan to use this budget in our upcoming fundraising efforts.

Mistakes & setbacks

In this section, we may briefly highlight significant mistakes that we feel capable of communicating publicly about. It is not meant to imply that these are the only mistakes BERI makes (far from it!), nor that these are the only substantial mistakes BERI makes. (For example, we might exclude substantial mistakes if they occur on projects that are confidential, or if it is challenging to accurately discuss how the mistake occurred, due to many contributing factors.)

  • The form that we sent out to references when requesting feedback on our round one Project Grants applicants was confusing. In the future, we plan to clarify the type of information we are seeking from references.

  • We’ve advertised for a Machine Learning (Research) Engineer position for ~1 year, and we have not been able to fill the role on a permanent basis. We’re increasing our focus on this shortcoming by spending more time and effort on recruitment and hiring a contractor to provide feedback and help attract candidates. We think filling this role is one of the most valuable things we can potentially do for our CHAI collaboration.

  • While creating our budget, we realized that our finances were not as in order as we felt they ought to be at this stage in our development. As a result, we are beginning a search for outside CFO services to advise on improving, scaling up, and implementing new systems for our financial management and accounting.

Works in Progress

We are…

  • Hiring! We are seeking a Machine Learning Research Engineer interested in working with CHAI:

  • Exploring the possibility of setting up a travel abroad program for x-risk relevant activities.

  • Wrapping up our Round One Project Grants program—grantees have been selected and notified, and we are now in the process of sending out funds.

  • Investigating six organizations for possible grants from BERI.

Other notes