Will we fund "Curiosity Fellowship"?
Resolved
NO

Will the project "Curiosity Fellowship" receive receive any funding from the Clearer Thinking Regranting program run by ClearerThinking.org?

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Below, you can find some selected quotes from the public copy of the application. The text beneath each heading was written by the applicant. Alternatively, you can click here to see the entire public portion of their application.

Why the applicant thinks we should fund this project

Funding this project will help increase the pipeline of high-impact individuals from emerging nations who are interested in exploring longtermism and EA-meta ideas and projects.

Project Activities


The project will involve one week of on-site orientation program at the beginning of the Fellowship, five months of remote learning, where fellows engage in a full range of learnings, conversations and exploration associated with longtermism and EA meta ideas, based on their areas of expertise and interest and one final week of on-site retreat to close their participation in the fellowship

What this applicant would get done in 6 months if given $30,000

Conclude on onboarding advisors and experts for the fellowship

Hire one - two people to help with program logistics, outreach etc

Call for application for the fellowship and distribute the open call widely

Review applications, invite fellows to first physical orientation in one of the countries - preferably one of the existing EA mini-hubs.

By the end of six months, fellows should have gained clarity of what they want to explore and should be exploring ideas in those areas.

Here you can review the entire public portion of the application (which contains a lot more information about the applicant and their project):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15Axuwxx85maxlkBfaDOcnxhhpa10XVp7f5AP3CLTFMk/edit

Sep 20, 3:31pm:

Sep 20, 3:49pm:

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EmmaRolls avatar

Obviously SERI and CERI are run at Stanford and Cambridge, with a lot of benefits of institutional support, such as mentorship from academics. If this was pro-offered by an established team with a good track record at a similar institution and students to prop up membership it would be a yes, but from an individual guaranteeing none of that surely it has to be a no. How would the project supervise participants’ work in any meaningful way?

RinaRazh avatar
Rina Razh
bought Ṁ10 of YES

I don't think this proposal was well written (very informal language, runs very optimistic in some cases, few details) and I'm generally more skeptical of one man shows than projects done in collaboration. It's also hard to say much without some of the redacted portions or with more info on previous experience.

At the same time, insofar as this can be read as 'let's have a CERI/SERI/CHERI style longtermism fellowship for people in the Global South", I'm for it.

I don't think I'd support a high buy-in if I was a funder, I think it's more sensible to support a lower amount for a trial run of this with fewer cohort members, shorter duration and less travel. With a clearer plan of activities and deliverables. From the 5th project specific question it also seems to be there might be other possible suitable funders that are well matched. I would almost prefer to have a few different funders involved, given that (at least from my experienced) EA aligned funders often come with some degree of availability to consult/support/refer you to other people. For a fellowship this sounds relevant.

Currently, running this for 6 months sounds a lot to me and somehow simultaneously, the topics covered seem to few and not proportional to the time.

A lot of points within this app warrant elaboration and at this moment I don't think it's worth going every single thing in a comment but it seems to me that there are lots of fail and harm scenarios worth considering.

At the same time, I do think these fellowships can increase deep alignment with EA, help people upskill, learn, collaborate, do meaningful research. There are fewer opps outside of the main EA hubs too. I know of many really successful stories from CERI and SERI and it sounds to me that more closely following those models for trial runs would be a safer bet.

GregJustice avatar
Greg Justice
bought Ṁ20 of NO

Agree with @jbeshir and @EliLifland, hard to evaluate without the redacted portions of the app. The main worry for me is that we can't evaluate the person and their network, which is central to their strategy for recruiting people. Recruiting highly qualified individuals from developing countries to join a fellowship sounds absurdly difficult, you need to find untapped pools of talent in foreign countries, convince them that your specific fellowship is worthwhile for them, and filter out a lot of unqualified applicants. I would personally be worthless at it. The individual hasn't done work on this before, and their ability to get a "high quality advisory board" and "high impact professionals" on board with them is dependent on their network and track record, neither of which we can assess. For something so central to the viability of the project, its odd to me that they haven't gotten those individuals on board, and redacted the information we'd use to assess their ability to do it.

jbeshir avatar
John Beshir
is predicting YES at 16%

Like the idea, it looks like there's a bunch of work I'd consider related under "past projects" that seems like it could be promising so not too worried about the previous "no".

I have the general impression that getting a trial programme funded via a smaller grantor and then pitching to bigger ones to continue it once successful is fairly common. If it expects to continue relying on grants I'd also expect it to be a non-profit rather than a for-profit? I might be off-base there and this could readily just be a function of what's easiest to incorporate in their jurisdiction.

I think in my read it comes down to the content of the redacted sections- don't know how much they're asking for, although the "if given $30k" description sounds good if it isn't too optimistic- can't check on their prior experience, and projects, and I think for this that matters a lot- can't check whether there's a regional reason for incorporating this as a for-profit.

So in general I have high uncertainty on this one and think Clearer Thinking will mostly rely on their assessment of these things. It is a tough one to bring outside evidence to- maybe someone could look into how any comparable projects went in general?

EliLifland avatar
Eli Lifland
sold Ṁ365 of NO

@jbeshir Fair points. Agree a lot depends on redacted portions

EliLifland avatar
Eli Lifland
is predicting NO at 50%

Like the idea in theory but:

  • In general, the project-specific answers in the application form doesn't strike me as particularly high-quality

  • "Have you done any work in a field related to this project that it would be possible to share or report on?" was answered as "No", this is quite concerning to me for something this ambitious

  • "Can you please explain the most likely way that you plan to get this program funded on an ongoing basis (since it sounds like it would require considerable funding to operate)?" was answered via primarily big EA funders like OP and FTXFF. Seems like if the initial funding should ideally go through these big EA funders as well?

  • Also, why would this be a "A socially beneficial for-profit" rather than a nonprofit???