We’re excited to announce that Open Philanthropy co-founder Alexander Berger has been promoted to co-CEO!
For some time now, Alexander has been the primary leader for most of our work on causes focused on maximizing verifiable impact within our lifetimes, while I have increasingly focused on causes directly aimed at affecting the very long-run future. I felt that Alexander should be promoted to recognize this reality and formalize the division of labor at Open Philanthropy. I am confident that he is an excellent fit for this role.
We are now using the term “Global Health and Wellbeing” rather than “near-termist” or “near-termism” to describe Alexander’s portfolio both because we felt “Global Health and Wellbeing” points at the sorts of outcomes this work is proximately trying to maximize, and because we felt “near-termism” gave the inaccurate impression that this work doesn’t value future generations. Instead, we’d summarize the key differences as follows:
The Global Health and Wellbeing team places greater weight on evidence, precedent, and track record in its giving; the longtermist team tends to focus on problems and interventions where evidence and track records are often quite thin. (That said, the Global Health and Wellbeing team does support a significant amount of low-probability but high-upside work like policy advocacy and scientific research.)
The longtermist team’s work could be hugely important, but it’s very hard to answer questions like “How will we know whether this work is on track to have an impact?” We can track intermediate impacts and learn to some degree, but some key premises likely won’t become very clear for decades or more. By contrast, we generally expect the work of the Global Health and Wellbeing team to be more likely to result in recognizable impact on a given ~10-year time frame, and to be more amenable to learning and changing course as we go.
While longtermist grants tend to be evaluated based on something like “How much this grant raises the probability of a very long-lasting, positive future,” Global Health and Wellbeing grants tend to be evaluated based on something like “How much this grant increases health (denominated in e.g. life-years) and/or wellbeing, worldwide.”
We now have a dual-CEO structure, with both of us reporting directly to the board. Our responsibilities and reporting lines are organized according to the “longtermism” – “Global Health and Wellbeing” distinction. This means that:
I will continue to oversee grantmaking, cause prioritization, and worldview investigations pertaining to our biosecurity and pandemic preparedness and potential risks from advanced AI portfolios, as well as efforts to grow the number of people seeking to safeguard the long-run future (including but not limited to members of the effective altruism community).
Alexander will oversee grantmaking in global health and development (including to GiveWell-recommended charities), scientific research, farm animal welfare, and criminal justice reform, among other causes. Alexander will also continue to lead the Research Fellow team tasked with selecting new high-impact Global Health and Wellbeing causes for us to expand into, with a goal of launching multiple searches for program officers in new causes this year.