I’m not a big fan of philanthropy, and I’ve major disagreements with effective altruism. 1) It’s very hard to do philanthropy really well. 2) We don’t know much about the moral status of the people we help. 3) Philanthropy rarely supports unusual projects which are truly great. 4) Philanthropy isn’t usually intended to help victims of injustice. But in August, I came across Pioneer, an attempt to find the lost Einsteins of the world. If you’re a young person working on an ambitious project, Pioneer gives you the opportunity to get funding, and learn from the world’s experts. Two days ago, Tyler Cowen announced a new project, Emergent Ventures, to fund unusual projects. I think this is a sign we are living in exciting times. Spread the word as widely as you can, if you love this idea as much as I do. If you’re wealthy, donate as much as you can. Trust my personal judgment here.
Imagine you are the next Satoshi, trying to invent “the next Bitcoin.” Or say you are a budding public intellectual, seeking the reach and influence of Jordan Peterson, by building your social media presence. Or an 18-year-old social science prodigy, hoping to fly to Boston to meet a potential mentor. What about moving to Sacramento to write a quality blog covering California state government? I very much hope you will apply for a grant at Emergent Ventures. Most of all, I hope you are applying with ideas that we haven’t thought of yet.
Think of the goal of Emergent Ventures as supporting new ideas and projects that are too difficult, too hard to measure, too unusual, too foreign, too small, or…too something to make their way through the usual foundation and philanthropic process.
If you wish, you also can think of Emergent Ventures as a bet on my own personal judgment. For some time to come, I will be devoting significant time to Emergent Ventures every single day (with a few exceptions, mostly travel-related). Most applications will be processed promptly.
If you are interested, as a donor, in supporting Emergent Ventures, please write to my email. It is a tax-deductible contribution. Within a short period of time we expect to have a total of $4 million lined up, from a very brilliant set of donors, but we hope to do more.
Here’s another philanthropic venture I support.