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.


Staff

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Adriano Mannino
Executive Director
Adriano has co-founded the EA projects Raising for Effective Giving and Sentience Politics as well as their umbrella organization, the Effective Altruism Foundation, which also supports the Foundational Research Institute. He's a philosopher and author with main interests in meta-ethics, philosophy of mind, population ethics, machine ethics and moral psychology.

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

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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 he has an MSc in economics with highest distinction from University of Gothenburg. Simon is currently the only paid staff at FRI. Personal website.

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.

David Althaus
Director of Strategy
David communicates with new potential researchers and improves the effectiveness and efficiency of FRI's operations and outreach programs. He also works for the Effective Altruism Foundation. David studied mathematics and psychology in Munich, Innsbruck and Basel and received his MSc in decision psychology from the University of Basel.

Kaj Sotala
Research Associate
Kaj studied at the University of Helsinki, graduating with a BA in Cognitive Science and an MSc in Computer Science. He has previously worked for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and has publications in the areas of AI safety, AI timeline forecasting, and consciousness research.


Advisors

Photo by Jan-Olof Yxell
Olle Häggström
Olle is a Professor of Mathematical Statistics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and the author of “Here Be Dragons: Science, Technology and the Future of Humanity”. He is an associated researcher at the Stockholm-based Institute for Future Studies, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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Adrian Hutter
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. For FRI, he does unpaid advisory work in various technical areas.

Lucius Caviola
Lucius Caviola is a PhD candidate in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford and is the executive director of the Effective Altruism Foundation. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Basel and an MSc from the University of Oxford. His research interests focus on questions at the intersection of psychology, ethics and rationality.

Bengt Brülde
Bengt Brülde
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
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.

Board

Lucius Caviola Chair
Lukas Gloor
Adriano Mannino
Brian Tomasik

Notable Volunteers

Janko Prester
Andrei Pöhlmann
Ewelina Tur
Matīss Apinis