Thursday, October 26, 2023

Billionare-Backed Network of Think Tankers Pushing AI Agenda

Here is more from Politico:

An organization backed by Silicon Valley billionaires and tied to leading artificial intelligence firms is funding the salaries of more than a dozen AI fellows in key congressional offices, across federal agencies and at influential think tanks.

The fellows funded by Open Philanthropy, which is financed primarily by billionaire Facebook co-founder and Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, are already involved in negotiations that will shape Capitol Hill’s accelerating plans to regulate AI. And they’re closely tied to a powerful influence network that’s pushing Washington to focus on the technology’s long-term risks — a focus critics fear will divert Congress from more immediate rules that would tie the hands of tech firms.

Acting through the little-known Horizon Institute for Public Service, a nonprofit that Open Philanthropy effectively created in 2022, the group is funding the salaries of tech fellows in key Senate offices, according to documents and interviews.

Current and former Horizon AI fellows with salaries funded by Open Philanthropy are now working at the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, as well as in the House Science Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, two crucial bodies in the development of AI rules. They also populate key think tanks shaping AI policy, including the RAND Corporation and Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, according to the Horizon web site. In 2022, Open Philanthropy set aside nearly $3 million to pay for what ultimately became the initial cohort of Horizon fellows.

Horizon is one piece of a sprawling web of AI influence that Open Philanthropy has built across Washington’s power centers. The organization — which is closely aligned with “effective altruism,” a movement made famous by disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried that emphasizes a data-driven approach to philanthropy — has also spent tens of millions of dollars on direct contributions to AI and biosecurity researchers at RAND, Georgetown’s CSET, the Center for a New American Security and other influential think tanks guiding Washington on AI.


Politico notes that RAND received a $5.5 million grant from Open Philanthropy in April to research “potential risks from advanced AI,” and another $10 million in May to study biosecurity.

It adds that both grants can be spent at the discretion of RAND CEO Jason Matheny, "a luminary in the effective altruist community who in September became one of five members on Anthropic's new Long-Term Benefit Trust."  Matheny, the founding director of CSET, is a former Biden Administration official.  CSET, notes Politico, is funded almost entirely by Open Philanthropy.