We are open to a very wide range of approaches to making the world better. That said:
- We care about long–term outcomes as much as short-term outcomes,
- we think the future is very large (in expectation),
- we think that benefits to twice as many people are about twice as good,
- and we think that activities today have a meaningful impact on society’s long-term trajectory.
So while we will consider any project that makes the world better, we will compare projects primarily based on their very long-term impacts. (See Nick Beckstead’s thesis for an elaboration of this view.)
In general, we are most interested in work which tries to improve our collective understanding, capabilities, institutions, or benevolence; or in work which addresses potential existential catastrophes, events which would permanentaly and irreversibly reduce society’s potential. We are less interested in work focused exclusively on improving quality of life or reducing suffering today.
When evaluating broad social improvements and capabilities, we are most interested in changes in society’s future ability to confront global challenges.
We are open to essentially any project, though we may not be able to effectively evaluate some projects (and so may only be willing to offer unreasonably low prices).
We’re happy to pay for anything from blog posts to research papers to organized events to published code to useful ideas. If you’re uncertain about whether we’d be willing to pay for something, we encourage you to submit an application anyway (or ask us).
The most serious restriction is on collaborative projects: if many people contributed to a project then we will probably not fund it (unless they apply jointly or have agreed publicly to an unusually explicit allocation of causal responsibility, but we don’t expect this to be common).
Here are some examples of work that we would have been happy to fund. (Being cited here obviously implies no endorsement of or connection with the impact purchase.)
We do not know what our offer price will be for any of these projects. Prices will depend completely on what offers we will receive, via the auction mechanism. We recommend setting your reservation price by thinking about replacement costs.
These examples are chosen based on ready availability rather than giving optimal coverage of the space of possibilities. The relative impacts of these projects vary widely, as do their costs. Many of these would push our budget significantly (or we would need to buy a very small fraction).
- Many of the individual research projects, research papers, articles, and blog posts published by Nick Beckstead, Carl Shulman, Nick Bostrom, Ben Kuhn, gwern, …
- The Open Philanthropy Project’s cause investigations, or the case studies published as part of their history of philanthropy project.
- Most academic research, particularly in the social sciences, although our estimated impact will vary widely with the details of the case. This includes academic work that would not normally be rewarded, such as attempted replications or work at the periphery of contemporary social science.
We are more than happy to fund much smaller projects, not-explicitly-effective-altruist projects, and projects from left field.