Consider Applying to the Future Fellowship at MIT

October 25th, 2022
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Update 2022-11-11: given the collapse of FTX and the resignation of the FTX Future Fund team this fellowship does not look like it's happening.

Are you interested in doing a PhD or Masters on something altruistic? The MIT Media Lab has a new fellowship funded by the FTX Future Fund for "ambitiously benevolent projects that could not be accomplished anywhere else". They give some examples:

  • creating works that expand our moral circle,
  • designing to cultivate wisdom,
  • developing new technologies to promote or safeguard wellbeing, or
  • directly improving the lives of current beings in ways anticipated to benefit future generations

If you're interested you would apply for admission to the MIT Media Lab for Fall 2023 (details) and also to the fellowship (details), deadline 2022-12-01. If accepted to both, the fellowship would cover your tuition and health insurance, pay you a stipend (~$45k/y), and cover $25k/y in additional research costs.

While the application requires you to say which research groups you're interested in joining, what it doesn't make clear is that this is, unusually for the US, a direct-admission system: each faculty member chooses individually who they would like to admit. This means it's definitely worth reaching out specifically to someone whose group you're interested in joining (though they may not respond—they get tons of email) and also thinking carefully about how your research interests intersect.

Unlike many programs, you can work on a very wide range of things: art, science, engineering, law, governance, economics, etc, and research that would be hard to do in a more traditional graduate program is especially welcome. If you have questions about what the Media Lab is like I'm happy to try to answer, though I've only been here a few months.

(Disclosure: I work at the NAO which is part of Kevin Esvelt's Sculpting Evolution group at the Media Lab, and Kevin asked if I might want to write something about this opportunity.)

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