Last updated: December 2016
The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) is committed to being as transparent as possible about its activities and learning from its mistakes. This page gathers relevant information related to transparency.
History and purpose
FRI was founded in July 2013. FRI conducts foundational research to identify effective and cooperative strategies to reduce involuntary suffering.1 Please consult this page to learn more about our mission and philosophy.
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We are committed to making the most effective use of donations to FRI, and many of our staff members are voluntarily working for low salaries. For example, in 2016, the estimated total payroll cost including social insurance amounted to $125,000. We expect to have 5.6 full-time equivalents over the year, resulting in an average annual salary of $22,100.
Total planned expenses: $362,000.
Our projected expenses for 2016 amount to $193,180, with more than two thirds going into research. Our projected income is $194,411, most of which comes from unrestricted donations to the Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF).
FRI’s activities in 2015 were implemented by GBS Switzerland and Effective Altruism Switzerland (EACH), EAF’s predecessors. Their financial reports are available on the EAF website.
In 2014, FRI’s expenses amounted to $28,422.
FRI was founded in July 2013 but had no expenses as all of FRI’s activities were performed by volunteers on a pro bono basis.
Earmarking and fungibility
FRI’s expenses are paid for by the Effective Altruism Foundation (EAF) but FRI and EAF are legally distinct organizations. Donations can’t be strictly earmarked for FRI because FRI shares funding with other EAF projects. FRI benefits from this sharing of funds because this improves the efficiency of FRI’s operations significantly and increases financial liquidity and security through diversification. Even though strict earmarking is not possible, donations for FRI will encourage us to expand FRI in the future because it will be more clear that there’s a donor base to support its activities. Earmarking might also be possible for large projects that we wouldn’t have done counterfactually. Feel free to contact us if you would like to explore this type of earmarking for a large donation or are interested in additional information with respect to earmarking and fungibility.
- FRI’s constitution states its purpose as follows:
"Article 2: Purpose
1. FRI aims to improve the world as much as possible. It seeks to identify and investigate crucial considerations for reducing suffering in the future, including but not limited to artificial intelligence, technological risks, neuroscience, cosmology, anthropic reasoning, and political/economic/social trajectories.
2. FRI uses philosophy, science and general rationality to reason about goals and how to achieve them most cost-effectively.
3. FRI pursues no commercial interests and seeks no profit." (back)