Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Palo Alto Institute?
Palo Alto Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Silicon Valley. PAI creates and reframes ideas in order to empower thinkers and doers with the spirit of innovation. By diving deeply into the human experience, PAI is able to Think, Tell and Teach unconventional truths in areas as seemingly unrelated as medicine, mathematics, film, art and technology.


What does PAI do?
PAI investigates, researches and thinks about interesting ideas. It then develops interdisciplinary programs and publications, gathering experts to share their knowledge about the most robust ideas.


When and why was PAI founded?
PAI was founded in the pursuit of truth by several members of the Palo Alto Investors in 2006. The founders were motivated by these ideals: the pursuit of truth and the promotion of responsibility and freedom. For the first five years, PAI followed these ideals by researching, writing and publishing primarily on medical and health research. It delved into the failures of conventional practices in these areas and offered out-of-the-box solutions. In 2010, PAI acquired nonprofit status and began to imagine and innovate in other areas: film, art, technology, philosophy, mathematics and more. In order to communicate these new findings with its community, PAI started its T3 Talks and the Palo Alto International Film Festival.


How do you choose which ideas to develop?
The ideas that are developed into programs or publications are the ones that not only intrigue members of PAI’s staff, Board, and volunteers, but also find some expert or community support.


Sounds like you do a lot of different things. How are your projects connected?
All of our projects, from the T3 Talks series to the Film Festival to our publications, grow out of our core interest in innovation and imagination. We encourage people to challenge conventional beliefs and expand their worldview. By sharing some of our interdisciplinary investigations, we hope to inspire and support creative thinking and doing in our community.


Why should I become a member of PAI?
PAI Members receive discounts to PAI events, including talks, workshops, PAIFF tickets and Festival passes and the annual T3 Dinner honoring our grant recipients. PAI also holds exclusive member events.


I’d like to get involved. What are my options?
PAI needs year-round volunteers for its T3 Talks. Volunteers get behind-the-scenes access to interesting thinkers and doers in exchange for help setting up and coordinating PAI events, reaching out to possible speakers and filmmakers, making telephone calls, and assisting with community outreach. There is no minimum hours requirement. If you are interested in volunteering for the Film Festival, please visit PAIFF’s website for details.

PAI is accepting submissions to its biannual journal. You may also submit a guest blog post for consideration. Please visit our website to see some of the topics of our blog. As a nonprofit, we cannot afford to pay you, if your work is selected, but you will get your ideas out to our members and exposure on our website. If you’ve been to one of our events or read our publications and you have comments, or if you’re curious and want to get to know us better, please email us at