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 […]

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 […]

Self-driving cars: a chance to get our relationship with future technology right

Owen Cotton-Barratt and Sebastian Farquhar Self-driving cars are coming. A review of existing legislation by the Department for Transport, released Wednesday, said the cars could be tested legally on any roads in Britain, so long as there was a human driver in the car who could assume control and would take responsibility for any accident. Google’s prototypes […]

On causes

On ’causes’

Owen Cotton-Barratt This post has two distinct parts. The first explores the meanings that have been attached to the term ‘cause’ within the effective altruism movement, and suggests my preferred usage. The second makes use of these distinctions to clarify the claims I made in a recent post on the long-term effects of animal welfare […]


Human and animal interventions: the long-term view

Owen Cotton-Barratt, Oxford University This post discusses the question of how we should seek to compare human- and animal-welfare interventions. It argues: first, that indirect long-term effects mean that we cannot simply compare the short term welfare effects; second, that if any animal-welfare charities are comparably cost-effective with the best human-welfare charities, it must be […]