Existential Risk: Prediction and Mitigation Strategies

  • Alongside our core theoretical work in understanding and designing a science of existential risk, a major focus of CSER will be the development of both general and specific strategies for the safe development and regulation of transformative technology.

Links with research and industry leaders

  • We are in the process of establishing extensive research networks with the scientific leaders in each of our core areas. Thus, our interdisciplinary team will draw on the collective work of the brightest minds in each of these fields, frequently hosting them at Cambridge.

  • We will also develop close links between our researchers and leaders in technological development, both in industry and in academia. Where appropriate, we will embed researchers in the centres driving technological development in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and other areas of biotechnology, climate change modelling and geoengineering, and advanced nanotechnology.

  • We use these relationships to

    • establish robust conclusions about the stages of technological development that can be predicted

    • ascertain which key factors remain uncertain

    • promote safe approaches to the development of powerful, potentially risky technologies.

  • We are uniquely well-placed to do so, drawing on the guidance of science and technology leaders from our advisory board that include George Church (synthetic biology), Stuart Russell (artificial intelligence), Murray Shanahan (robotics), Jaan Tallinn (digital technology and the tech industry), Margaret Boden (cognitive science), Sean Holden (computing), Hermann Hauser (technology investment), Dana Scott (computing) and others.

A primer for safe technological development

  • While each strand of technology under study will require a specific approach, by examining these different technological areas we can also identify common features and a general strategy for how we should approach the development of transformative technologies.

  • A key result of this work will be a protocol, PrIMER (“Protocol for the Investigation and Mitigation of Existential Risk”), laying out robust guidelines for the long-term management of technological risk.