MIRI has a new COO: Malo Bourgon

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Malo BourgonI’m happy to announce that Malo Bourgon, formerly a program management analyst at MIRI, has taken on a new leadership role as our chief operating officer.

As MIRI’s second-in-command, Malo will be taking over a lot of the hands-on work of coordinating our day-to-day activities: supervising our ops team, planning events, managing our finances, and overseeing internal systems. He’ll also be assisting me in organizational strategy and outreach work.

Prior to joining MIRI, Malo studied electrical, software, and systems engineering at the University of Guelph in Ontario. His professional interests included climate change mitigation, and during his master’s, he worked on a project to reduce waste through online detection of inefficient electric motors. Malo started working for us shortly after completing his master’s in early 2012, which makes him MIRI’s longest-standing team member next to Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Until now, I’ve generally thought of Malo as our secret weapon — a smart, practical efficiency savant. While Luke Muehlhauser (our previous executive director) provided the vision and planning that transformed us into a mature research organization, Malo was largely responsible for the implementation. Behind the scenes, nearly every system or piece of software MIRI uses has been put together by Malo, or in a joint effort by Malo and Alex Vermeer — a close friend of Malo’s from the University of Guelph who now works as a MIRI program management analyst. Malo’s past achievements at MIRI include:

  • coordinating MIRI’s first research workshops and establishing our current recruitment pipeline.
  • establishing MIRI’s immigration workflow, allowing us to hire Benya Fallenstein, Katja Grace, and a number of other overseas researchers and administrators.
  • running MIRI’s (presently inactive) volunteer program.
  • standardizing MIRI’s document production workflow.
  • developing and leading the execution of our 2014 SV Gives strategy. This resulted in MIRI receiving $171,575 in donations and prizes (at least $61,330 of which came from outside our usual donor pool) over a 24-hour span.
  • designing MIRI’s fundraising infrastructure, including our live graphs.

More recently, Malo has begun representing MIRI in meetings with philanthropic organizations, government agencies, and for-profit AI groups.

Malo has been an invaluable asset to MIRI, and I’m thrilled to have him take on more responsibilities here. As one positive consequence, this will free up more of my time to work on strategy, recruiting, fundraising, and research.

In other news, MIRI’s head of communications, Rob Bensinger, has been promoted to the role of research communications manager. He continues to be the best person to contact at MIRI if you have general questions about our work and mission.

Lastly, Katja Grace, the primary contributor to the AI Impacts project, has been promoted to our list of research staff. (Katja is not part of our core research team, and works on questions related to AI strategy and forecasting rather than on our technical research agenda.)

My thanks and heartfelt congratulations to Malo, Rob, and Katja for all the work they’ve done, and all they continue to do.