Future of Life Institute to Launch Vitalik Buterin Fellowships Centered on AI Safety Research

The institute studies ways artificial intelligence can help mankind.

Sep 24, 2021 at 5:37 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 24, 2021 at 2:33 p.m. UTC

The Future of Life Institute, a charity and outreach organization, is launching two fellowship programs named after Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.

The Vitalik Buterin Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowships are centered on “existential safety research” in artificial intelligence (AI), the institute announced Tuesday.

Funding for the Ph.D. fellowship provides up to $40,000 a year for five years (with the possibility of extensions), and will cover tuition fees and a stipend. An additional $10,000 will be provided for research-related expenses including travel and computing, according to the announcement.

Fellows will also be able to interact with other researchers in workshops. The institute is “working to ensure that tomorrow’s most powerful technologies are beneficial for humanity,” its website reads. Specifically, the Future of Life Institute focuses on keeping artificial intelligence “beneficial,” while exploring ways of reducing risks from nuclear weapons and biotechnology.

The Vitalik Buterin Postdoctoral Fellowship in AI Existential Safety is for postdoctoral appointments starting next fall.

Funding is for three years subject to annual renewals based on satisfactory progress reports. The fellowship includes an annual $80,000 stipend and a fund of up to $10,000 that can be used for research-related expenses such as travel and computing.

Buterin is a Russian-Canadian programmer and crypto heavyweight. In 2015, Buterin, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood and others launched the Ethereum blockchain – a platform on which users can create decentralized apps.

The program is targeted at students applying to start their Ph.D. in 2022. Applications for the Ph.D. fellowship close on Oct. 29, while applications for the postdoctoral fellowship close on Nov. 5.

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Sebastian Sinclair is a CoinDesk news reporter based in Australia.