Extreme Risks and the Global Environment
One of the most concerning features of unsustainable environmental change is that non-linear interactions can amplify each other to cause runaway and potentially catastrophic ecosystem shifts, inducing tipping points. CSER’s initial work in this area will aim to improve understanding of how ecological tipping points, climate change and socio-political systems interact with each other.
Risks from Biology: natural and engineered
Biosciences and biotechnologies provide a very clear example of powerful and potentially highly beneficial scientific and technological advances, which in some cases present extreme risks. The vast majority of advances don’t carry major risk or are appropriately regulated; CSER’s work should dispel unjustified concern regarding such advances, while highlighting risks that need to be taken seriously.
The field of artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly along a range of fronts and while it promises tremendous benefits, a growing body of experts within and outside the field has raised concerns that future developments may represent a major technological risk. With the level of power, autonomy, and generality of AI expected to increase in coming years and decades, forward planning and research to avoid unexpected catastrophic consequences is essential.
Systemic Risks and Fragile Networks
Many of the greatest challenges of the 21st century are expected to arise from systemic challenges. These include the complex interactions between a rising global population, pressure on natural resources, more complex supply chains, and an increasing reliance on both interconnected technologies and interconnected markets. The rate of development in these connected areas mean that the connections, and the emergent risks, remain poorly understood.