About

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The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) explores how to reduce and avoid suffering by all sentient beings in the near and far future. We write essays and academic articles, and advise individuals and policymakers. We focus on scenarios that have the potential to be worst from the perspective of avoiding suffering, such as risks of astronomical future suffering, wild-animal suffering, and risks from artificial intelligence (AI). Our scope ranges from foundational questions about consciousness and ethics, such as which entities can suffer and how we should act when we are unsure, to policy implications about AI safety, global cooperation, animal advocacy, and how to think about charity cost-effectiveness.

Founded in 2013, FRI is a nonprofit research organization based in Basel, Switzerland, with staff and advisors located in Switzerland, the US, Germany, Sweden, and the UK. Our aim is to make the alleviation and prevention of severe suffering a top global priority, to increase humanity’s knowledge about how to best reduce suffering, and to have practical impact through advice to policymakers, donors, and activists. Our vision for FRI is that we will be a global community of researchers and altruists, and the leading center for ideas related to the reduction of suffering.


Paid staff

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Simon Knutsson
Researcher
Simon has chaired the board of Animal Charity Evaluators and of the political party for animals in Sweden, spent several years at an investment company, and worked as a Research Analyst at GiveWell. He has studied philosophy at the master’s level at New York University and University of Gothenburg, and he has an MSc in economics with highest distinction from University of Gothenburg. Personal website.

Volunteers

Brian Tomasik
Researcher
Brian is a software engineer who has worked at Microsoft and FlyHomes as a data scientist and web developer. He is the author of over 100 pieces on his website, “Essays on Reducing Suffering,” as well as several published papers. He studied computer science, mathematics, and statistics at Swarthmore College.

Lukas Gloor
Researcher
Lukas works for the Effective Altruism Foundation, where he is also a board member, and he writes for the Crucial Considerations blog. He studied philosophy and biology at Zurich University and has experience as a semi-professional poker player. His research interests include metaethics, population ethics, and artificial intelligence.

Caspar Oesterheld
Researcher
Caspar studies computer science at the University of Bremen. In middle and high school, he completed a year’s worth of university-level courses in mathematics at the University of Hamburg. He has published in the journal Synthese, and he is especially interested in theoretical computer science, ethics, and artificial intelligence.

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Adriano Mannino
Board member and co-founder
Adriano has co-founded several organizations including Raising for Effective Giving, Sentience Politics and the Effective Altruism Foundation, where he currently serves as Co-President. He has studied philosophy at the University of Bern and has published in ethics and moral psychology. He is particularly interested in population ethics, machine ethics, and animal ethics.

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Adrian Hutter
Advisor
Adrian is a Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Basel, where he also earned his PhD in theoretical physics, graduating summa cum laude. He has several publications in the fields of quantum physics and quantum computation.

Bengt Brülde
Bengt Brülde
Advisor
Bengt is Professor of Practical Philosophy at University of Gothenburg and University West in Sweden. He has done research on health, happiness, suffering, bioethics, and other areas. He is one of the most prominent figures in Sweden in his field and he appears frequently in the media.

David Pearce - Transhumanist Philosopher
David Pearce
Advisor
David is author of “The Hedonistic Imperative,” which calls for the use of biotechnology to phase out the biology of suffering throughout the living world. He co-founded the World Transhumanist Association (now called Humanity+), and he is currently Director at the Neuroethics Foundation.