Timeline of Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative

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This is a timeline of Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative. Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) is a non-profit organization that provides support to other organizations that work to reduce existential risks (e.g. providing technical and administrative support to academics working on AI alignment).

Big picture

Time period Development summary More details
2017 Founding and growth BERI is founded and establishes a grants program and a computing grants program. It begins awarding its first grants. BERI also outlines a plan for organizational growth.

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
2017 January 7 Technical BERI's domain, existence.org, is possibly purchased around this date.[1]
2017 February Legal BERI is incorporated.[2]
2017 February 2 Philosophy On his blog, Andrew Critch (who is at this time or would become the executive director of BERI) publishes the post "Deserving Trust / Grokking Newcomb's Problem", which explains his concept of "deserving trust" using Newcomb's problem (and its variant with transparent boxes).[3] This concept would later—in an October blog post—be incorporated into BERI's push toward ethics and transparency.
2017 March 17 Technical The first snapshot of BERI's website on the Internet Archive is from this day.[4]
2017 April 20 Financial A post on the Effective Altruism Forum announces a grant from the Long-Term Future Fund (one of the EA Funds) to BERI worth $14,838.02.[5] This is part of a $50,000 grant (the rest being made from other funding sources).[6]
2017 May 20 Philosophy On his blog, Andrew Critch publishes the post "Deserving Trust, II: It's not about reputation". The post gives a less mathematical explanation of what he means by "deserving trust". The post closes with: "I'm trying to do work that has some fairly broad-sweeping consequences, and I want to know, for myself, that we're operating in a way that is deserving of the implicit trust of the societies and institutions that have already empowered us to have those consequences."[7]
2017 July Financial BERI receives a grant of $403,890 from the Open Philanthropy Project to "support BERI core staff and collaboration between BERI and CHAI [the Center for Human-Compatible AI]".[8]
2017 September 12 Technical The BERI blog is created around this time. (This is the date of the first blog post.)[9]
2017 September 25 Financial BERI announces its grants program as well as the program's first two grants: $100,000 each to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and the Future of Life Institute.[10]
2017 October Financial BERI makes a grant of $50,000 to Future of Life Institute.[11]
2017 October 19 Philosophy Andrew Critch publishes a post on the BERI blog detailing BERI's thoughts on growth, ethics, and responsiveness. The section on ethics refers to two posts Critch wrote on his personal blog about deserving trust.[12]
2017 November BERI holds two "meet-and-greet" events, one offline in Berkeley (November 13) and one online (November 16).[11][13]
2017 November Financial BERI's grants program approves a $20,000 grant to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence for the conference Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society.[14]
2017 December 1 Financial BERI announces its experimental Computing Grants program.[15]
2017 December Financial Jaan Tallinn makes a donation of about $5 million to BERI's Grants Program. BERI also receives two unrestricted donations of $100,000 each, from an anonymous donor and the Casey and Family Foundation.[16]
2017 December Technical BERI commissions Michael Keenan to begin working on a tool to convert Google Docs documents to Markdown format for use on blogs that require Markdown.[16] The tool is an add-on for Google Docs and is a fork of an existing tool named Gabriel.[17][18]
2017 December Financial BERI awards the Machine Intelligence Research Institute $100,000 during the latter's end-of-the-year fundraiser.[19] BERI also grants $100,000 to the Center for Applied Rationality.[16]
2018 January Financial BERI's grants program awards $800,000 to the Center for Applied Rationality for general support (to help CFAR buy a permanent venue).[20]
2018 January Legal The BERI Support Fund is incorporated. The BERI Support Fund creates more oversight of grant making (how?).[20][21]

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by Issa Rice.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

Feedback and comments

Feedback for the timeline can be provided at the following places:

What the timeline is still missing

Unclear; most public information should be covered.

Timeline update strategy

Unfortunately BERI doesn't have a lot of external coverage, so its blog and reports are the main sources of information.

See also

External links


  1. "Showing results for: EXISTENCE.ORG". Retrieved February 8, 2018. Updated Date: 2017-01-07T06:13:04Z 
  2. "The Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative's Semi-Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  3. "Deserving Trust / Grokking Newcomb's Problem | Andrew Critch". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  4. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative". Archived from the original on March 17, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  5. "Update on Effective Altruism Funds - Effective Altruism Forum". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  6. "Fund Payout Report". Retrieved February 9, 2018. I did not provide the full $50,000 from the Long-Term Future Fund because I didn't have enough funding yet. I provided all the funding I had at the time. The remainder of the funding was provided by the EA Giving Group and some funds held in a personal DAF. 
  7. "Deserving Trust, II: It's not about reputation | Andrew Critch". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  8. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) — Core Support and CHAI Collaboration". Open Philanthropy Project. December 15, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  9. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | BERI's semi-annual report, August 2017". Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  10. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Announcing BERI's first grants program". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Activity Update - October 2017". Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  12. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | What we're thinking about as we grow - ethics, oversight, and getting things done". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  13. "BERI Online Meet and Greet". Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  14. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Activity Update - November 2017". Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  15. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Announcing BERI Computing Grants". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Activity Update - December 2017". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  17. "Gabriel - Keenan fork - Google Docs add-on". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  18. "Gabriel by thiscouldbejd". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  19. "Fundraising success! - Machine Intelligence Research Institute". Machine Intelligence Research Institute. January 10, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | Activity Update - January 2018". Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  21. "Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative | The BERI Support Fund". Archived from the original on February 9, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2018.