Home Tech OpenAI-Backed Nonprofits Have Walked Back on Transparency Promises

OpenAI-Backed Nonprofits Have Walked Back on Transparency Promises

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OpenAI-Backed Nonprofits Have Walked Back on Transparency Promises

Neither database requires or generally contains updated versions of the records that UBI Charitable and OpenResearch have said they have provided in the past.

YC Research’s original conflict of interest policy that Das shared requires that company insiders be candid about transactions in which their impartiality could be questioned and that the board decide how to proceed.

Das says the policy “may have been modified since OpenResearch’s policies changed (including when YC Research was renamed), but the core elements remain the same.”

No website

UBI Charitable launched in 2020 with $10 million donated from OpenAI. as TechCrunch first reported last year. UBI Charitable’s goal, according to its government documents, is to allocate the more than $31 million it received by the end of 2022 to support initiatives that try to offset “the social impacts” of new technologies and ensure that no one is left behind. He has donated heavily to CitySquare in Dallas and Heartland Alliance in Chicago, both of which work on a variety of projects to fight poverty.

UBI Charitable does not appear to have a website, but it shares a San Francisco address with OpenResearch and OpenAI, and OpenAI staff are listed in UBI Charitable’s government documentation. Its three Form 990 filings since its launch indicate that all records, including governing documents, financial statements and a conflict of interest policy, were available upon request.

Rick Cohen, director of operations and communications for the National Council of Nonprofits, an advocacy group, says “available upon request” is a standard answer accounting firms provide. OpenAI, OpenResearch and UBI Charitable have always shared the same San Francisco accounting firm, Fontanello Duffield & Otake, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Lack of communication or poor oversight could lead to the standard response about accessing records being sent, “even if the organization did not intend to make them available,” Cohen says.

The disclosure question ended up on what is known as Form 990 as part of an effort in 2008 to help the increasingly complex world of nonprofits show their adherence to best governance practices, at least as implied by the IRS, says Kevin Doyle, senior director of finance and accountability at Charity Navigator, which evaluates nonprofit organizations to help guide donors’ giving decisions. “Having that kind of transparency story is a way to signal to donors that their money will be used responsibly,” Doyle says.

OpenResearch solicits donations on its website, and UBI Charitable stated in its most recent IRS filing that it had received more than $27 million in public support. Doyle says Charity Navigator data shows that donations tend to flow to organizations it rates higher, with transparency among the factors measured.

It is certainly not unusual for organizations to share a wide range of records. Charity Navigator has found that most of the roughly 900 largest U.S. nonprofits that rely on individual donors post financial statements on their websites. It does not track disclosure of conflict of interest statutes or policies.

Charity Navigator publishes its own audited financial statements and maintains at least eight non-standard policies, including those on how long it retains documents, how it deals with whistleblower complaints, and what gifts staff can accept. “Donors can look at what we’re doing and make their own judgment instead of us operating as a black box, saying, ‘Please give us money, but don’t ask questions,’” ​​Doyle says.

Cohen, of the National Council of Nonprofits, warns that excessive disclosure could create vulnerabilities. Publishing a disaster recovery plan, for example, could provide a roadmap to hackers. He adds that just because organizations have a written policy doesn’t mean they follow it. But knowing what they were supposed to do to assess a potential conflict of interest could still allow for greater public accountability than would otherwise be possible, and if AI could have as many consequences as Altman envisions, scrutiny may very well be necessary. .

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