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Kelsey Piper

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Kelsey Piper
Piper in 2019
EducationStanford University (Symbolic Systems, 2016)
Notable workFuture Perfect

Kelsey Piper is an American journalist who is a staff writer at Vox, where she writes for the column Future Perfect, which covers a variety of topics from an effective altruism perspective. While attending Stanford University, she founded and ran the Stanford Effective Altruism student organization. Piper blogs at The Unit of Caring.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Around 2010, while in high school, Piper developed an interest in the rationalist and effective altruism movements.[2] She later studied at Stanford University, where she majored in Symbolic Systems.[3] At Stanford she became a member of Giving What We Can, pledging to donate 30% of her lifetime income to charity, as well as founding the student organization Stanford Effective Altruism.[4] After graduating from Stanford in 2016,[3] Piper worked as the head of the writing team at Triplebyte, until she left to join Vox as a staff writer.[5]

Future Perfect[edit]

Since 2018, Piper has written for the Vox column Future Perfect,[6] which covers "the most critical issues of the day through the lens of effective altruism".[7] Piper is concerned about global catastrophic risks, and treats journalism as a way to popularize these risks and how to mitigate them,[1] aligning with effective altruism's broader concern of identifying the most effective interventions to improve the world.[8] Piper argued that the 21st century may be the most pivotal in human history, due to unprecedented existential risks, such as from advanced artificial intelligence and engineered pandemics. She discussed what implications it holds for effective altruism and her own journalism.[8][9]

Piper was an early responder to the COVID-19 pandemic, discussing the risk of a serious global pandemic in February 2020[10] and recommending measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing in March of the same year.[11][12] Since then, she has discussed the societal risk posed by inaccurate study preprints[13] and analyzed the impact of the pandemic on the historical scale, deeming it one of the ten deadliest in human history.[14]

In May 2024, Piper reported on OpenAI's practice of requiring departing employees to sign lifelong agreement forbidding them from criticizing OpenAI, or even acknowledging the existence of the agreement. According to Piper, OpenAI threatened to cancel departing employees' vested equity (or to prevent them from selling it) if they refused to sign the agreement. OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, claimed that he was unaware of the provision about equity cancellation.[15] Piper later published leaked documents and emails challenging this claim.[16]


  1. ^ a b Wiblin, Robert; Harris, Keiran; Hutchinson, Michelle; Piper, Kelsey (February 27, 2019). Can journalists still write about important things? (Podcast). 80,000 Hours.
  2. ^ Metz, Cade (February 13, 2021). "Silicon Valley's Safe Space". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Kelsey Piper, ESP Teacher". Stanford ESP. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Zabel, Claire (February 5, 2015). "A different take on giving back". Stanford Daily.
  5. ^ "Kelsey Piper". Vox (Profile). Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  6. ^ Schmidt, Christine (October 15, 2018). "Will Vox's new section on effective altruism…well, do any good?". Nieman Journalism Lab.
  7. ^ Labenz, Nathan; Piper, Kelsey (June 25, 2020). "Kelsey Piper: Future Perfect — a year of coverage". The Centre for Effective Altruism.
  8. ^ a b Fisher, Richard (September 24, 2020). "Are we living at the 'hinge of history'?". BBC Future.
  9. ^ Piper, Kelsey (September 26, 2019). "Is this the most important century in human history?". Vox. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  10. ^ Masson, Gabrielle (February 6, 2020). "12th US coronavirus case confirmed in Wisconsin". Becker's Clinical Leadership and Infection Control.
  11. ^ Piper, Kelsey (March 13, 2020). "It's not overreacting to prepare for coronavirus. Here's how". Vox.
  12. ^ Miller, Johanna L. (July 17, 2020). "Patience". Physics Today. doi:10.1063/pt.6.3.20200717a. S2CID 243372332.
  13. ^ Griggs, Mary Beth (September 19, 2020). "Why it's important to look for the limitations in coronavirus studies". The Verge.
  14. ^ Palmer, Ben (January 22, 2021). "Weekend reads: The travel industry steps in to help end Covid-19". Advisory Board.
  15. ^ "Despite recent apologies and reassurances, documents leaked to Vox show OpenAI pressured departing employees over equity". Business Insider. May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  16. ^ "Leaked OpenAI Documents Show Sam Altman Was Clearly Aware of Silencing Former Employees". Futurism. May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 24, 2024.

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