Existential Risk – Diplomacy and Governance

Today, we launched our latest report at the Embassy of Finland in London. It lays out three concrete recommendations for the international community to mitigate existential risk. The executive summary is here. The full report can be found here. The 2015 Paris Agreement represented a huge global effort to safeguard future generations from damaging climate […]

More Must Be Done to Guard Against Global Catastrophic Risks

Crossposted from Huffington Post Sebastian Farquhar Global catastrophes sometimes strike. In 1918 the Spanish Flu killed as many as one in twenty people. There have been even more devastating pandemics – the Black Death and the 6th century Plague of Justinian may have each killed nearer to one in every six people on this earth. […]

Errata to Global Catastrophic Risks 2016

In Global Catastrophic Risks 2016, we referred to a number used in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change: a 0.1% annual chance of human extinction. Stern uses this as a modelling assumption for discussing discount rates. There is a small amount of discussion of this figure in the Stern Review. It is […]

Workshop: Existential Risk – Diplomacy and Governance

On February 8th and 9th around twenty leading academics and policy-makers from the UK, USA, Germany, Finland, and Sweden gathered at our workshop in Oxford to discuss governance in existential risks. This brought together a mixture of specialists in relevant subject domains, diplomats, policy experts, and researchers with broad methodological expertise in existential risk. We had […]

Seminar series: Big Picture Thinking

On long timescales, where is humanity headed? What are the big uncertainties? What does that mean for decisions today? In this series of lectures, led by Dr. Owen Cotton-Barratt, we will tackle these issues, and explore the questions that feed into them. Many are multidisciplinary, and progress often draws on knowledge and tools from economics […]

Three areas of research on the superintelligence control problem

This is a guide to research on the problem of preventing significant accidental harm from superintelligent AI systems, designed to make it easier to get started on work in this area and to understand how different kinds of work could help mitigate risk. I’ll be updating this guide with a longer reading list and more detailed […]

How can we help the world? A flowchart

We’re interested in helping people to choose between different focus areas for helping the world. A complication is that people can have very different background assumptions, which makes it hard to give uniform recommendations. On the other hand, discussing the assumptions directly may not help if it’s unclear how they are decision-relevant. To address this, […]

How much does work in AI safety help the world?

Owen Cotton-Barratt and Daniel Dewey There’s been some discussion lately about whether we can make estimates of how likely efforts to mitigate existential risk from AI are to succeed and about what reasonable estimates of that probability might be. In a recent conversation between the two of us, Daniel mentioned that he didn’t have a […]

Global risks: the wildfire in the commons

Abstract: “Technological developments can create new types of global risk, including risks from climate change, geo-engineering, and emerging biotechnology. These technologies have enormous potential to make people better off, but the benefits of innovation must be balanced against the risks they create. Risk reduction is a global public good, which we should expect to be […]

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maddelin Angebrand [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Breaking DALYs down into YLDs and YLLs for intervention comparison

Sebastian Farquhar and Owen Cotton-Barratt Summary Global public health remains a top contender for the best way to improve welfare through aid. Within health interventions, it is natural to allocate marginal spending to avert the most expected DALYs (disability adjusted life-years) per dollar.1 However, not all DALYs are the same and there are important differences […]