The Machine Intelligence Research Institute has published a list of their top contributors, naming Vitalik Buterin as a key donor.

The cryptocurrency developer and founder of Ethereum donated $802,000, making him the second highest donor since December. The highest contributor was named as The Open Philanthropy Project, who reportedly gave an impressive $1.7m.

The Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) is a research nonprofit studying the mathematical implications of intelligent artificial behavior. According to their website, the institute fully expects artificial intelligence to outperform human beings on most thinking tasks in the next century. In light of this they are both researching and opening a conversation regarding the potential impact of intelligent machines upon human society. Their goal is to maximize the safety and reliability of AI in our future, which will likely be trusted with highly complex and important systems. Potential risks are broad, and not solely the science-fiction scenario of machines gaining sentience and taking control. Our own limitations could result in superintelligent machines producing effects that we were unable to foresee.  Stuart Russell, MIRI research adviser and co-author of the leading textbook on artificial intelligence raises this concern:

“The danger is that you give it something that isn’t actually what you really want — because you’re not very good at expressing what you really want, or even knowing what you really want — until it’s too late and you see that you don’t like it.”

Vitalik’s donation represents yet another incident of cryptocurrency philanthropy – one of a growing number cases of cryptocurrency users supporting charities working for the betterment of humanity. Earlier this year Vitalik donated $93,000 to the Internet Archive – a digital library and online activist organisation, and he also gifted SRF (a medical organisation working to fight age related diseases) a staggering $2.4m. The developer has not been alone in his generosity – The Pineapple Fund has made headlines multiple times in recent months. Started by an anonymous early Bitcoin investor, the fund has pledged to donate $86m to worthy charities. Most recently the fund gave $200,00 to KDE, an open source software collaborative. Charities including the The Free Software Foundation and GiveDirectly, a group working to end poverty in Kenya with Basic Income have also recently received funds – $1m and $5m respectively.

Supporting charities with cryptocurrency is on the rise, with MIRI announcing that two thirds of all recent donations came in the form of virtual coins. This can only be positive news, both for the charities receiving the funds and also the wider public image of cryptocurrencies themselves. Where Bitcoin was previously known as the criminal currency of the dark web, Vitalik, The Pineapple Fund and other generous contributors are introducing the world to a whole new paradigm.