Sunday, July 7, 2013


The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

Many scientists are concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole. Such dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change. The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake. (For a brief introduction to these issues, see our Resources page.)

The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk — a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist, and a software entrepreneur — begins with the conviction that these issues require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive. Our aim is to establish within the University of Cambridge a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks of this kind. We are convinced that there is nowhere on the planet better suited to house such a centre. Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge’s great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future. (In the process, we hope to make it a little more certain that we humans will be around to celebrate the University’s own millennium, now less than two centuries hence.)

We are developing a prospectus for a Cambridge-based Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and seeking sources of funding. We welcome enquiries and offers of support — please see our News & Contact page for contact details and a sign-up link for our new mailing list, CSER News.

December 2012


Huw Price
Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge
Martin Rees
Emeritus Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics, Cambridge
Jaan Tallinn
Co-founder of Skype

Cambridge advisors

David Cleevely
Founding Director, Centre for Science and Policy
Tim Crane
Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy
Partha Dasgupta
Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics
Robert Doubleday
Executive Director, Centre for Science and Policy
Hermann Hauser
Co-founder, Amadeus Capital Partners
Stephen Hawking
Director of Research, DAMTP; former Lucasian Professor of Physics
Jane Heal
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
Sean Holden
Senior Lecturer, Computing Laboratory; Fellow of Trinity College
Adrian Kent
Reader in Quantum Physics, DAMTP; Distinguished Visiting Research Chair, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Susan Owens
Professor of Environment and Policy and Professorial Fellow of Newnham College
David Spiegelhalter
Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk
William Sutherland
Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology; Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
Adrian Weller
Director, Cambridge in America

External advisors

Margaret Boden
Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex
Nick Bostrom
Professor of Philosophy, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford
David Chalmers
Professor of Philosophy, NYU & ANU
George M Church
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Doyne Farmer
Co-Director, Complexity Economics, Institute for New Economic Thinking, Oxford
Robert May
Professor of Zoology, Oxford; Fellow of Merton College; past President of the Royal Society
Dana Scott
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science, Philosophy & Mathematical Logic, Carnegie Mellon University
Murray Shanahan
Professor of Cognitive Robotics, Imperial College, London
Max Tegmark
Professor of Physics, MIT
Jonathan B Wiener
Professor of Law, Environmental Policy & Public Policy, Duke University

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