Crypto is a lot of things- a store of value, a means of payment, a building block for other tools on the web. But while much of its value as a tool is yet to be realized, one big effect we see already is that it has made a lot of nerds very rich very young, even by the standards of tech and finance generally. These newly minted millionaires and billionaires have started giving their money away in very different ways than the traditional older philanthropists.
The latest, and I believe biggest example is the FTX Future Fund. It plans to give away at least $100 million this year, funded primarily by 30-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX. I recommend that everyone read their full list of the 35 types of projects that they’d like to fund, but I’ll highlight a few you wouldn’t see from older foundations:
Demonstrate the ability to rapidly scale food production in the case of nuclear winter
Biorisk and Recovery from Catastrophe
In addition to quickly killing hundreds of millions of people, a nuclear war could cause nuclear winter and stunt agricultural production due to blocking sunlight for years. We’re interested in funding demonstration projects that are part of an end-to-end operational plan for scaling backup food production and feed the world in the event of such a catastrophe. Thanks to Dave Denkenberger and ALLFED for inspiring this idea
We’re excited about new prediction market platforms that can acquire regulatory approval and widespread usage. We’re especially keen if these platforms include key questions relevant to our priority areas, such as questions about the future trajectory of AI development.
Critiquing our approach
Research That Can Help Us Improve
We’d love to fund research that changes our worldview—for example, by highlighting a billion-dollar cause area we are missing—or significantly narrows down our range of uncertainty. We’d also be excited to fund research that tries to identify mistakes in our reasoning or approach, or in the reasoning or approach of effective altruism or longtermism more generally.
They also seem to be borrowing some of Tyler Cowen’s approach to Fast Grants and Emergent Ventures- the application is relatively short and simple, and they promise response times that will be measured in weeks, rather than the months or years typical of large funders.
But they expect applicants to be fast too- this fund was just announced a few days ago, and applications are due March 21st. Economists will be natural fits for some of their project ideas, since their areas of interest include “economic growth” and “epistemic institutions”. I’ll be applying with my book project on why US health care spending is so high. But they are clearly casting a wide net to find the best ideas, so I encourage everyone to check it out and consider applying.