We have renamed our research project, the Foundational Research Institute (FRI), to the Center on Long-Term Risk (CLR). The CLR will become the project to carry out most of our activities. It will operate under the domain longtermrisk.org with the following logo:
We are renaming for the following reasons:
- Change of strategy. We now focus on building a research community working on reducing risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks). Our change of strategy entailed several changes to our organization. In addition to rebranding, we made the following changes over the past year:
- We moved to London (Primrose Hill) to better attract and retain staff and collaborate with other researchers in London and Oxford.
- We hired a new Research Director: Jesse Clifton.
- We published a new research agenda and are hiring talented researchers interested in our topics.
- For more background, see Effective Altruism Foundation: Plans for 2020.
- Renaming FRI. We perceive the FRI brand as confusing and grandiose given the scope and nature of our activities. We also received feedback from others to this effect in the past. The term “institute” is protected in the UK and does not appear adequate given the small size of our research group. It also suggests we mainly focus on academic publications, whereas we also make grants through our fund, host workshops, and advise people on their careers. Additionally, we work in areas where academic publications are less common, such as grantmaking research and macrostrategy.
- Handing off community building. We originally chose the EAF brand (German: “Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus”) to coordinate the effective altruism (EA) community in the German-speaking area, but we handed off our community-building activities in 2018. The EAF name does not describe our activities well anymore and can be easily confused with the Centre for Effective Altruism, especially after our move to the UK. However, to reduce the effort from rebranding, we will continue to use EAF as the name of our legal entities.
Process for renaming
- We started out defining desiderata for the new name: it should be descriptive, flexible with respect to our future activities, intuitively understandable, respectable (including in academia), short, easy to pronounce and understand, unique, appealing, and memorable.
- We brainstormed an initial list of over 600 ideas with community members and shortened it iteratively. We also thought carefully about abbreviations or possible short forms. The winning name idea was generated during a brainstorming session with our core team.
- We decided to highlight our focus on reducing suffering in the tagline and mission statement rather than in the name itself. Based on feedback and our own experience, we believe academics and other non-EA audiences tend to associate the word “suffering” with direct charity or activism in near-term cause areas. A more neutral name works better for these audiences. We think the emphasis on “risk” still intuitively conveys our focus on preventing negative outcomes to some degree.
- Overall, we think the new name is more descriptive of our work, more modest, easier to understand, while still being compatible with potential future changes to our focus and strategy.
We would like to thank the many people in our networks who helped us with their ideas and feedback. We are excited about the new name and design, and hope you are, too!