Prof David Spiegelhalter knighted

Professor David Spiegelhalter was knighted in the queens birthday ceremony last weekend. Known to the public as Professor Risk, Spiegelhalter was honoured for his services to statistics.

Sir David has been the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge since October 2007, and is an advisor to the Cambridge Centre for Study of Existential Risk. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics.

“Statistics is not very sexy to be honest, so I’m very honoured and gratified that somebody thinks statistics is worth working on, so I’m very pleased for myself and the field”, he said.

There were also knighthoods for David Greenaway and David Eastwood, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore, psychologist Cary Cooper, historian Thomas Devine and theoretical physicist Thomas Bannerman.

Martin Rees chairs 2014 Longitude Prize

“We’re asking the UK public to vote for which of the six areas should have top priority, and be the focus of the Longitude Prize 2014,” says Martin Rees, who is leading the 2014 Longitude Prize. The Longitude Prize is a £10 million science and technology prize developed with Nesta and the Technology Strategy Board.

A new existential risk reduction organisation has launched in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Last week, CSER founder Jaan Tallinn spoke at the launch of the Future of Life Institute, for which he is one of five founding members. FLi stands to become an important voice for the reduction of existential risk – its mission is “To catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges.”

Tallin joined a panel discussion with:

  • George Church, CSER advisor and biotech expert,
  • Andrew McAfee, tech impact researcher,
  • Ting Wu, genetics professor,
  • Frank Wilczek, physics Nobel laureate, and
  • Alan Alda, who chaired the discussion.

    Their wide-ranging discussion covered personal genetics, artificial intelligence and how scientists can advocate for safe technological progress.

  • Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility

    CSER advisor Professor Partha Dasgupta, in collaboration with Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan (Atmospheric Sciences, UCSD) and Archbishop Roland Minnerath, convened a high-level workshop on global sustainability from the 2nd-6th of May in the Vatican, Italy.

    The 5 day workshop addressed crucial concerns over the relationship between human technological progress, the degradation of natural capital, and economic growth. It brought together luminaries from across a range of fields united by environmental concerns – these included climate scientist and policy advisor Hans Schellnhuber, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs, international law expert Edith Brown Weiss, and CSER cofounder Lord Martin Rees.

    “Our idea is not to catalogue environmental problems. We propose instead to view Humanity’s interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter-related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature’s ability to meet them.”

    Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility

    CSER highlighted in South China Morning Post

    Last month the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk was featured in the South China Morning Post. Topics included the Centre’s concerns with rapidly developing technology and the members on the Centre’s advisory board.

    Public Lecture: Existential Risk: Surviving the 21st Century, February 26th 5:30pm

    ER talk 80K

    CSER is pleased to present a public lecture on “Existential Risk: Surviving the 21st Century” alongside 80,000 Hours: Cambridge and Giving What We Can: Cambridge

    DATE: Wednesday, February 26th at 5:30pm-6:45pm (drinks reception to follow).

    LOCATION: Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Site, Cambridge

    Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
    Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype
    Huw Price, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge

    “In the coming century, the greatest threats to human survival may come from our own technological developments. However, if we can safely navigate the pitfalls, the benefits that technology promises are enormous. A philosopher, an astronomer, and an entrepreneur have come together to form the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. The goal: to bring a fraction of humanity’s talents to bear on the task of ensuring our long-term survival. In this lecture, Huw Price, Martin Rees and Jaan Tallinn will outline humanity’s greatest challenge: surviving the 21st century. This event is free and open to all.”

    No registration is required.

    Find the event on Facebook and the CRASSH website.


    *There will be a drinks reception in the Alison Richard building following the talk.*