I personally think that’s quite explicit about the focus of the LTFF, and am not sure how to improve it further. Perhaps you think we shouldn’t mention pandemics in that sentence? Perhaps you think “especially” is not strong enough?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss pandemics in that first sentence. You’re saying the fund makes grants that “especially” address pandemics, and that doesn’t seem accurate. I looked at your spreadsheet (thank you!) and tried to do a quick classification. As best I can tell, AI has gotten over half the money the LTFF has granted, ~19x the amount granted to pandemics (5 grants for $114,000). Forecasting projects have received 2.5x as much money as pandemics, and rationality training has received >4x as much money. So historically, pandemics aren’t even that high among non-AI priorities.
If pandemics will be on equal footing with AI going forward, then that first sentence would be okay. But if that’s the plan, why is the management team skillset so heavily tilted toward AI?
An important reason why we don’t make more grants to prevent pandemics is that we only get few applications in that area. The page serves a dual purpose: it informs both applicants and donors. Emphasizing pandemics less could be good for donor transparency, but might further reduce the number of biorisk-related applications we receive. As Adam mentions here, he’s equally excited about AI safety and biosecurity at the margins, and I personally mostly agree with him on this.
I’m glad there’s interest in funding more biosecurity work going forward. I’m pretty skeptical that relying on applications is an effective way to source biosecurity proposals though, since relatively few EAs work in that area (at least compared to AI) and big biosecurity funding opportunities (like Open Phil grantees Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense) probably aren’t going to be applying for LTFF grants.
Regarding the page’s dual purpose, I’d say informing donors is much more important than informing applicants: it’s a bad look to misinform people who are investing money based on your information.
We prioritize AI roughly for the reasons that have been elaborated on at length by others in the EA community (see, e.g., Open Phil’s report), plus additional considerations regarding our comparative advantage. I agree it would be good to provide more transparency regarding high-level prioritization decisions; I personally would find it a good idea if each Fund communicated its overall strategy for the next two years, though this takes a lot of time. I hope we will have the resources to do this sometime soon.
There’s been plenty of discussion (including that Open Phil report) on why AI is a priority, but there’s been very little explicit discussion of why AI should be prioritized relative to other causes like biosecurity.
Open Phil prioritizes both AI and biosecurity. For every dollar Open Phil has spent on biosecurity, it’s spent ~$1.50 on AI. If the LTFF had a similar proportion, I’d say the fund page’s messaging would be fine. But for every dollar LTFF has spent on biosecurity, it’s spent ~$19 on AI. That degree of concentration warrants an explicit explanation, and shouldn’t be obscured by the fund’s messaging.
Thanks, I appreciate the detailed response, and agree with many of the points you made. I don’t have the time to engage much more (and can’t share everything), but we’re working on improving several of these things.
Thanks Jonas, glad to hear there are some related improvements in the works For whatever it’s worth, here’s an example of messaging that I think accurately captures what the fund has done, what it’s likely to do in the near term, and what it would ideally like to do:
The Long-Term Future Fund aims to positively influence the long-term trajectory of civilization by making grants that address global catastrophic risks or promote the adoption of longtermist thinking. While many grants so far have prioritized projects addressing risks posed by artificial intelligence (and the grantmakers expect to continue this at least in the short term), the Fund is open to funding, and welcomes applications from, a broader range of activities related to the long-term future.