Dear Foresight friends,
For this year’s Giving Tuesday, we’re glad to announce that we have a generous $45K Challenge Grant running until Dec 31. Help us reach the threshold! Every dollar, stock, or cryptocurrency you donate will be automatically doubled!
At Foresight we acknowledge that the future and its technologies are undiscovered territory – so it’s the capacity to coordinate amongst relevant entities and technologies that will determine our fate. We try hard to create cross-organizational, cross-technological spaces for people to transcend their cognitive niches, think hard about the grand picture and long-term view, and join forces to increase the likelihood of positive futures.
Rather than reacting to the futures we’ll have, let’s create the futures we want.
To strive for futures that are neither impossible nor boring, we focus on:
1/ Modeling desirable futures of Existential Hopes rather than Existential Angst
2/ Coordinating the relevant changemakers for technology
3/ Selectively advancing those technologies that actually make a positive difference
2018 was an exceptional year at Foresight: See below for a summary of our work on those three areas and our hopes for 2019. Hopes come with price tags – you decide which of those projects we can realize.
The guiding theme of our work is to leverage world-changing technologies to work toward futures of existential hope. To inspire and educate people on what those positive futures could look like, we started Existentialhope.com, a curated selection of global projects that work toward futures worth living for. The website is in its infancy but is collaborative: everyone can make their voice heard.
In 2019, we want to ramp up our work: we want to turn Existential Hope into a collaborative manifesto inspiring coordinated action toward better futures. $20K would make a significant difference to covering website, content creation and community building efforts.
Strengthening Civilization Salon Series
In 2018 we launched a series of monthly educational salons on using technology to strengthen civilization (video channel). These salons are donation-based, open to the public, and highly popular – they often “sell out” within hours. We’re working hard to start conversations that would otherwise not be had on the past, present, and desirable future of civilization with speakers like Anders Sandberg, Robin Hanson, David Pearce, Paul Christiano, David Eagleman, Joon Yun, and many others.
Those salons started as prototypes and really exceeded our and your expectations, e.g. as a participant put it, they became “the forefront of the conversation that shapes our collective future.” Currently, we’re losing money on them but we’d love to continue to keep them accessible in the current donation-based style. We operate on a small budget: for $20K only you could – in one go – allow us to host 10 salons in 2019 and thereby create a monthly gathering point for this community. Perhaps you’d also like to suggest a salon idea?
While there is much promising work on AI safety, coordination among AI and AI safety efforts is still neglected. To make progress on this meta-problem, Foresight is hosting an annual meeting, bringing together main AI safety organizations like OpenAI, Google Brain, EFF, with Asian actors and government experts. The meetings were rated as “one of the top events on AI Safety in the world” by participants and the BDCC is now dedicating a Special Issue to the AI Coordination, guest-edited by workshop participants. Find the workshop report here, and The Executive Briefing on AI safety at the 2018 O’Reilly AI Conference by Foresight’s Allison Duettmann here.
Uniting individuals from different ideological, geographical, disciplinary backgrounds (rather than Bay Area-restricted) around safety matters. This becomes especially important to the goal of fostering a tight group of international experts with shared trust and capacity to coordinate quickly if necessary in the future.
$30K would go a long way to cover the cost of such transnational workshops and set us up for progress on AI coordination. As sponsor, you get to join the invitation-only 2019 AGI strategy meeting.
Selectively Advancing Beneficial Technologies
Molecular Nanotechnology: Not only did Sir Fraser Stoddart (2007 Foresight Feynman Prize, 2016 Nobel Prize in 2016) serve as the Honorary Chair of our 2018 Molecular Machines workshop, he also gave this review of our work that encourages us to keep pushing.
AI & Molecular Nanotechnology: In one of our most interdisciplinary workshops so far, Ben Goertzel and Chris Schafmeister envisioned a proposal to leverage AI to make much needed progress in nanotechnology. Read the proposal AI for Nanoscale Design here.
Longevity: Our recent workshop Atomic Precision for Healthspan mapped the main bottlenecks in longevity to cutting edge research in other scientific disciplines to generate project proposals. Reports, videos, and Aubrey de Grey’s evening address coming soon!
We’d love to host two workshops in 2019 to:
1) Work toward the ambitious but neglected goal of creating Molecular Machines, and
2) Generate nanotechnology inspired solutions to fight pollution and heal the planet
Our workshops are result-oriented with multidisciplinary teams competing with project proposal to solve specific problems in a given technological field. For $50K we can generate a variety of novel project proposals.
But these workshops are just incubators: realizing proposals beyond them is dependent on available funding. If you’re interested in incentivizing progress on healing the planet and progress toward molecular machines in 2019 by setting a Prize Money from $1K- $10K for workshop winners, please get in touch and join us as judge at the invitation-only workshops with distinguished scientists and technologists.
Funding all those efforts would add up to $190K!
This is a significant sum but much less than other non-profits in this space operate on. So if you want to maximize your impact, consider donating – your marginal donation matters a lot to us. We’re a small organization with a lot on our plate and big plans. You really have a say in which of our hopes we can make reality next year.
Again, every dollar, stock, or cryptocurrency donated will be automatically doubled via our Challenge Grant!
We look forward to your thoughts, and if you’d like to have a phone call to discuss our 2019 plans, just let us know.
In deep gratitude,
Christine Peterson, Co-Founder
Steve Burgess, President
Allison Duettmann, Researcher & next President
Lou Viquerat, Director of Development