Jaan Tallinn donations made to Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative

This is an online portal with information on donations that were announced publicly (or have been shared with permission) that were of interest to Vipul Naik. The git repository with the code for this portal, as well as all the underlying data, is available on GitHub. All payment amounts are in current United States dollars (USD). The repository of donations is being seeded with an initial collation by Issa Rice as well as continued contributions from him (see his commits and the contract work page listing all financially compensated contributions to the site) but all responsibility for errors and inaccuracies belongs to Vipul Naik. Current data is preliminary and has not been completely vetted and normalized; if sharing a link to this site or any page on this site, please include the caveat that the data is preliminary (if you want to share without including caveats, please check with Vipul Naik). We expect to have completed the first round of development by the end of March 2023. See the about page for more details. Also of interest: pageview data on analytics.vipulnaik.com, tutorial in README, request for feedback to EA Forum.

Table of contents

Basic donor information

ItemValue
Country United States
Affiliated organizations (current or former; restricted to potential donees or others relevant to donation decisions)Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
Wikipedia pagehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaan_Tallinn
Best overview URLhttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/
Facebook username jaan.tallinn
Websitehttps://jaan.online/
Donations URLhttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/
LessWrong usernamejaan
Regularity with which donor updates donations dataannual refresh
Regularity with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)irregular
Lag with which donor updates donations datamonths
Lag with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)months
Data entry method on Donations List WebsiteManual (no scripts used)
Org Watch pagehttps://orgwatch.issarice.com/?person=Jaan+Tallinn

Brief history: Tallinn is a co-founder of Skype and Kazaa and one of the earlier wealthy supporters of organizations working in AI safety, along with Peter Thiel. In 2011, he had a conversation with Holden Karnofsky sharing his thoughts on AI safetyand in particular the work of the Singularity Institute (SI), the former name of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. See https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/givewell/conversations/topics/287 and https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/6SGqkCgHuNr7d4yJm/thoughts-on-the-singularity-institute-si (GW, IR) for details. Tallinn played a significant role in financing the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI)'s grantmaking operations, and later funding the Survival and Flourising Fund (SFF). In 2020, Tallinn prepared a philanthropy pledge https://jaan.online/philanthropy/ for his grantmaking for the next five years, and also indicated a plan to switch more to making direct grants using SFF's S-process, rather than giving funds to organizations such as BERI and SFF.

Brief notes on broad donor philosophy and major focus areas: https://jaan.online/philanthropy/ says: "the primary purpose of my philanthropy is to reduce existential risks to humanity from advanced technologies, such as AI. i currently believe that this cause scores the highest according to the framework used in effective altruism: (1) importance [...] (2) tractability [...] (3) neglectedness. [...] i'm likely to pass on all other opportunities — especially popular ones, like supporting education, healthcare, arts, and various social causes. [...] i'm considering (as of 2020) a few exceptions — eg, donating to more neglected climate interventions [...] i should also mention that i'm especially fond of software projects as philanthropic targets [...]"

Notes on grant decision logistics: Tallinn plans to use the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF)'s S-process (simulation process) to direct most of his grantmaking, as described e.g. at http://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2019-q4-recommendations and other grant rounds. He may also make one-off direct grants (at most $100,000 per grant) for funding needs that are time-sensitive but encourages grantees to also apply for the next SFF grant round. Tallinn has historically donated money to BERI and SFF for regranting, but does not expect to make similar donations for regranting in the future. Tallinn may also engage in small amounts of individual regranting and individual gifts.

Notes on grant financing: Tallinn donates his own money, but not always directly; in most cases (particularly when donating to US-based nonprofits) he donates money via (donor-advised funds managed by) Founders Pledge or Silicon Valley Community Foundation. He has also made direct gifts in cryptocurrency when not donating to US nonprofits.

Full donor page for donor Jaan Tallinn

Basic donee information

ItemValue
Country United States
Websitehttp://existence.org/
Donate pagehttp://existence.org/donating/
Timelines wiki pagehttps://timelines.issarice.com/wiki/Timeline_of_Berkeley_Existential_Risk_Initiative
Org Watch pagehttps://orgwatch.issarice.com/?organization=Berkeley+Existential+Risk+Initiative
Key peopleAndrew Critch|Gina Stuessy|Michael Keenan
Launch date2017-02
NotesLaunched to provide fast-moving support to existing existential risk organizations. Works closely with Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Center for Human-Compatible AI, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and Future of Humanity Institute. People working at it are closely involved with MIRI and the Center for Applied Rationality

This entity is also a donor.

Full donee page for donee Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative

Donor–donee relationship

Item Value

Donor–donee donation statistics

Cause areaCountMedianMeanMinimum10th percentile 20th percentile 30th percentile 40th percentile 50th percentile 60th percentile 70th percentile 80th percentile 90th percentile Maximum
Overall 8 248,000 1,045,375 20,000 20,000 37,000 247,000 248,000 248,000 333,000 478,000 2,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000
Gobal catastrophic risks 1 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000
Global catastrophic risks 4 247,000 273,750 37,000 37,000 37,000 247,000 247,000 247,000 333,000 333,000 478,000 478,000 478,000
AI safety 3 2,000,000 2,416,000 248,000 248,000 248,000 248,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000

Donation amounts by cause area and year

If you hover over a cell for a given cause area and year, you will get a tooltip with the number of donees and the number of donations.

Note: Cause area classification used here may not match that used by donor for all cases.

Cause area Number of donations Total 2021 2020 2017
AI safety (filter this donor) 3 7,248,000.00 248,000.00 0.00 7,000,000.00
Global catastrophic risks (filter this donor) 4 1,095,000.00 1,095,000.00 0.00 0.00
Gobal catastrophic risks (filter this donor) 1 20,000.00 0.00 20,000.00 0.00
Total 8 8,363,000.00 1,343,000.00 20,000.00 7,000,000.00

Graph of spending by cause area and year (incremental, not cumulative)

Graph of spending should have loaded here

Graph of spending by cause area and year (cumulative)

Graph of spending should have loaded here

Full list of documents in reverse chronological order (2 documents)

Title (URL linked)Publication dateAuthorPublisherAffected donorsAffected doneesAffected influencersDocument scopeCause areaNotes
Zvi’s Thoughts on the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF) (GW, IR)2021-12-14Zvi Mowshowitz LessWrongSurvival and Flourishing Fund Jaan Tallinn Jed McCaleb The Casey and Family Foundation Effective Altruism Funds:Long-Term Future Fund Center on Long-Term Risk Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters The Centre for Long-Term Resilience Lightcone Infrastructure Effective Altruism Funds: Infrastructure Fund Centre for the Governance of AI Ought New Science Research Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative AI Objectives Institute Topos Institute Emergent Ventures India European Biostasis Foundation Laboratory for Social Minds PrivateARPA Charter Cities Institute Survival and Flourishing Fund Beth Barnes Oliver Habryka Zvi Mowshowitz Miscellaneous commentaryLongtermism|AI safety|Global catastrophic risksIn this lengthy post, Zvi Mowshowitz, who was one of the recommenders for the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H2 grant round based on the S-process, describes his experience with the process, his impressions of several of the grantees, and implications for what kinds of grant applications are most likely to succeed. Zvi says that the grant round suffered from the problem of Too Much Money (TMM); there was way more money than any individual recommender felt comfortable granting, and just about enough money for the combined preferences of all recommenders, which meant that any recommender could unilaterally push a particular grantee through. The post has several other observations and attracts several comments.
The Future of Grant-making Funded by Jaan Tallinn at BERI2019-08-25Board of Directors Berkeley Existential Risk InitiativeBerkeley Existential Risk Initiative Jaan Tallinn Broad donor strategyIn the blog post, BERI announces that it is no longer going to be handling grantmaking for Jaan Tallinn. The grantmaking is being handed to "one or more other teams and/or processes that are separate from BERI." Andrew Critch will be working on the handoff. BERI will complete administration of grants already committed to.

Full list of donations in reverse chronological order (8 donations)

Graph of all donations, showing the timeframe of donations

Graph of donations and their timeframes
Amount (current USD)Amount rank (out of 8)Donation dateCause areaURLInfluencerNotes
248,000.0052021-10AI safetyhttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2021-h2-recommendationsSurvival and Flourishing Fund Beth Barnes Oliver Habryka Zvi Mowshowitz Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H2 grants based on the S-process (simulation process) that "involves allowing the Recommenders and funders to simulate a large number of counterfactual delegation scenarios using a table 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] 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." https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/kuDKtwwbsksAW4BG2/zvi-s-thoughts-on-the-survival-and-flourishing-fund-sff (GW, IR) explains the process from a recommender's perspective.

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the BERI-CHAI collaboration, This is BERI's collaboration with the Center for Human-Compatible AI (CHAI). See https://existence.org/collaborations/ for BERI's full list of collaborations.

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this is SFF's sixth grant round and the fourth with grants to the grantee. It is the first round with a grant specifically for this collaboration.

Other notes: Jed McCaleb makes a $250,000 grant to BERI in this grant round for the same collaboration (BERI-CHAI). The Casey and Family Foundation, that also participates as a funder in this grant round, does not make any grants to BERI. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 2.80%; announced: 2021-11-20.
478,000.0032021-04Global catastrophic riskshttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2021-h1-recommendationsSurvival and Flourishing Fund Ben Hoskin Katja Grace Oliver Habryka Adam Marblestone Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H1 grants based on the S-process (simulation process) that "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."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the BERI-FHI collaboration, This is BERI's collaboration with the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI). See https://existence.org/collaborations/ for BERI's full list of collaborations.

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this is SFF's fifth grant round and the third with grants to the grantee. It is the first round with a grant specifically for this collaboration.

Other notes: The grant round includes grants from Tallinn for two other BERI collaborations (with SERI and CSER) as well as grants from Jed McCaleb for the collaborations with FHI and SERI. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 5.02%.
333,000.0042021-04Global catastrophic riskshttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2021-h1-recommendationsSurvival and Flourishing Fund Ben Hoskin Katja Grace Oliver Habryka Adam Marblestone Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H1 grants based on the S-process (simulation process) that "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."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the BERI-SERI collaboration, This is BERI's collaboration with the Stanford Existential Risk Institute (SERI). See https://existence.org/collaborations/ for BERI's full list of collaborations.

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this is SFF's fifth grant round and the third with grants to the grantee. It is the first round with a grant specifically for this collaboration.

Other notes: The grant round includes grants from Tallinn for two other BERI collaborations (with FHI and CSER) as well as grants from Jed McCaleb for the collaborations with FHI and SERI. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 3.50%.
37,000.0072021-04Global catastrophic riskshttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2021-h1-recommendationsSurvival and Flourishing Fund Ben Hoskin Katja Grace Oliver Habryka Adam Marblestone Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H1 grants based on the S-process (simulation process) that "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."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the BERI-CSER collaboration, This is BERI's collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER). See https://existence.org/collaborations/ for BERI's full list of collaborations.

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this is SFF's fifth grant round and the third with grants to the grantee. It is the second round with a grant specifically for this collaboration.

Other notes: The grant round includes grants from Tallinn for two other BERI collaborations (with FHI and SERI) as well as grants from Jed McCaleb for the collaborations with FHI and SERI. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 0.39%.
247,000.0062021-01-05Global catastrophic riskshttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/donations.htmlSurvival and Flourishing Fund Oliver Habryka Eric Rogstad Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2020 H2 grants https://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2020-h2-recommendations based on the S-process (simulation process) that "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."

Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this is SFF's fourth grant round and the second with grants to this grantee.

Other notes: Although the Survival and Flourishing Fund and Jed McCaleb also participate in this grant round as funders, neither of them makes any grants to this grantee. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 2.74%.
20,000.0082020-06-11Gobal catastrophic riskshttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/donations.htmlSurvival and Flourishing Fund Alex Zhu Andrew Critch Jed McCaleb Oliver Habryka Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2020 H1 grants https://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2020-h1-recommendations based on the S-process (simulation process). A request for grants was made at https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wQk3nrGTJZHfsPHb6/survival-and-flourishing-grant-applications-open-until-march (GW, IR) and open till 2020-03-07. The S-process "involves allowing the recommenders and funders to simulate a large number of counterfactual delegation scenarios using a spreadsheet of marginal utility functions. Funders were free to assign different weights to different recommenders in the process; the weights were determined by marginal utility functions specified by the funders (Jaan Tallinn, Jed McCaleb, and SFF). In this round, the process also allowed the funders to make some final adjustments to decide on their final intended grant amounts."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the BERI-CSER collaboration, This is BERI's collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER). See https://existence.org/collaborations/ for BERI's full list of collaborations.

Donor reason for selecting the donee: Zvi Mowshowitz, one of the recommenders in the grant round, writes in https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/kuDKtwwbsksAW4BG2/zvi-s-thoughts-on-the-survival-and-flourishing-fund-sff#AI_Safety_Paper_Production (GW, IR) "I consider AI Safety and related existential risks to be by far the most important ‘cause area,’ that’s even more true given the focus of SFF, and I am confident Jaan feels the same way. [...] It’s hard to find things that might possibly work in the AI Safety space, as opposed to plans to look around for something that might possibly work. [...] CHAI@BERI also seemed clearly worthwhile, and they got a large grant as well."

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this 2020 H1 round of grants is SFF's third round and the first with a grant to BERI.

Other notes: Although the Survival and Flourishing Fund and Jed McCaleb also participate as funders in this grant round, neither of them makes a grant to the grantee. SFF itself is a descendant of BERI's now-ended grantmaking, which is distinct from BERI's academic collaboration work that is still ongoing and being funded by this grant. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 2.18%.
5,000,000.0012017-12AI safetyhttp://existence.org/2018/01/11/activity-update-december-2017.html-- Donation amount approximate.
2,000,000.0022017AI safetyhttp://existence.org/grants--