The RAND Corporation think tank had a major role in drafting President Joe Biden’s executive order in October on artificial intelligence, according to an AI researcher and a recording of an internal RAND meeting obtained by Politico.

The executive order included numerous reporting requirements for the most powerful AI systems, which are meant to lessen the catastrophic risks of the technology.

Those requirements are very similar to the policy priorities sought by Open Philanthropy, an organization that gave more than $15 million to RAND this year.

Open Philanthropy, which is financed by billionaire Facebook co-founder and Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, is a major funder of causes connected to  “effective altruism” — an ideology that stresses a data-driven approach to philanthropy.


Advocates of this ideology focus much of their efforts on AI and are increasingly influencing Washington to address the technology’s apocalyptic potential, including the risk that advanced AIs could eventually be used to develop bioweapons.


Critics say that this focus by effective altruists serves the interests of top tech companies by distracting policymakers from the existing harms of AI, including its tendency to promote racial bias or undermine copyright protections, according to Politico.


At RAND, both CEO Jason Matheny and senior information scientist Jeff Alstott are well-known effective altruists, and both worked together beforehand at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council.


RAND spokesperson Jeffrey Hiday acknowledged that RAND personnel participated in drafting the reporting requirements and other parts of the AI executive order, stating that  think tank exists to “[conduct] research and analysis on critical topics of the day, [and] then [share] that research, analysis and expertise with policymakers.”


RAND’s increasing influence on the Biden administration’s AI policy comes as its employees have raised concerns.


One employee expressed concern at an all-hands meeting of RAND employees in October, an audio recording of which was obtained by Politico, that the think tank’s connection with Open Philanthropy could undermine its “rigorous and objective” reputation and replace it with advancing “the effective altruism agenda.”


Brian Freeman | [email protected]

Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.


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