Ben Delo 

“My ambition now is to do the most good possible with my wealth. To me, this means funding work to safeguard future generations and protect the long-term prospects of humanity.”

Ben is a philanthropist, computer scientist and a co-founder of BitMEX, a derivatives trading platform for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 2005 with a double first in Mathematics and Computer Science.

 

Ben began his career as a software engineer at IBM, where he was granted patents for several inventions. He then developed high-frequency trading systems at hedge funds and banks such as GSA Capital and J.P. Morgan. In 2018, when BitMEX became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Ben became Britain’s youngest self-made billionaire.

 

In April 2019, Ben became a member of the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet for billionaires who pledge to donate the majority of their wealth to giving back. Ben has already donated a substantial part of his wealth to organisations working to reduce global catastrophic risks and safeguard future generations, and plans to expand both his grantmaking and advocacy for future generations.

Learn more about our grants.

Among other major donors, we advise the UK’s youngest self-made billionaire and Giving Pledge signatory, Ben Delo.

Professor Toby Ord, Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Oxford University & Author of

'The Precipice'

Ben’s charitable commitment is very important for the world and in ensuring we safeguard future generations. His contributions will create immense impact for those alive today and those yet to be born. I am proud to know Ben, and to have worked together on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Ben speaking at a co-hosted event with Effective Giving UK at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Ben becoming a member of the University of Oxford's Court of Benefactors.

Ben speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Ben's Giving Letter

As a schoolboy in Britain aged 16, I was asked to list my ambitions for the future. I answered concisely: “Computer programmer. Internet entrepreneur. Millionaire.” I have been incredibly fortunate to exceed those goals, and I'm grateful to be in a position to sign this pledge.

 

My ambition now is to do the most good possible with my wealth. To me, this means funding work to safeguard future generations and protect the long-term prospects of humanity. This includes mitigating risks that could spell the end of human endeavour or permanently curtail our potential. My approach is inspired by philosopher William MacAskill and the effective altruism movement, which promotes the use of reason and evidence when deciding how best to help others. 

I’ve chosen this focus for several reasons. In short, I believe that all lives are valuable, including those of future generations. I expect that a vast and extraordinary future lies ahead if we can navigate the challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies in the upcoming century. And I am confident that we in the present generation can act prudently to safeguard that extraordinary future for our descendants. Indeed, we may be at a critical moment to do so.

 

Human wellbeing has increased dramatically over recent centuries. Violence and extreme poverty have declined. Prosperity, literacy, and longevity have all increased. If these trends continue or accelerate, our descendants could outnumber us millions to one, enjoy an unprecedented quality of life, and achieve remarkable things.

 

Yet while today may be the most prosperous period in our history, it may also be the most dangerous. Our distant ancestors did not possess technology that could cause human extinction. We do. Nuclear security cannot be taken for granted. The prospect of extreme climate change is real. Looking forward, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and synthetic biology will pose new and complex challenges.

 

Put simply, we’ve never been in this position before: with the power to destroy the future, but not necessarily the wisdom to wield that power responsibly.

 

To navigate this critical period safely, we need to work together. To reach across borders and plan beyond our own lifetimes. As well as taking action to reduce the risk from specific threats, we must improve our ability to coordinate as a civilisation and make better decisions in the interests of everyone. And while we have some insight into what the most pressing problems are and how to approach them, we urgently need to know more.

 

I intend to direct my philanthropy to all of these ends, while remaining curious and open minded about what may be best in the years to come. It is likely there are promising focus areas we currently know nothing about.

 

While these goals are far-reaching, I am encouraged by my fellow pledgers and the growing community of philanthropists focused on these long-term objectives. Philanthropy’s success stories show that we can afford to be truly ambitious, especially if we are willing to think long-term, take risks and sometimes fail.

 

I look forward to learning from and collaborating with my fellow pledgers, and I thank Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett for creating this important initiative.

 

Ben Delo
15 April 2019

 

Ben is also a patron of Kurzgesagt, an educational YouTube channel which explains topics from the fields of science, space, technology, biology, history and philosophy.

CONTACT US

For enquiries, please contact natalie@effectivegiving.org.