The Philosophy and Science of Existential Risk

Designing a new Science

The challenge posed by existential risk requires us to conceptualise and design a new science. This science will be highly interdisciplinary, both “vertically” – involving considerations ranging from theoretical to immediately practical – and “horizontally” – requiring key insights from across a wide range of disciplines.

  • It will combine theoretical inputs from philosophy, economics, political theory, ecology, mathematics, as well as the theoretical face of the technologies under study – e.g. computer science, molecular biology, nanoscience.

  • On the practical level, it involves political and social considerations (e.g. the influence of science on policy), as well as the practical impacts of each technology we study. As part of our research, we will embed existential risk researchers in leading laboratories and development teams working on the most promising and risky technologies, in order not only to fully understand their potentials, but also the culture in which they are being developed.

Drawing on key thinkers to combine insights

The result combining these insights – from the theoretical to the practical, and from the scientific cutting edge to the economic and political considerations that impact a technology’s development – will be both a deeper, and more practical understanding of the greatest challenges we face.

In designing this new science, we will draw on the breadth of scientific and philosophical expertise on our team and advisory board – in particular paradigm-shifting scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark and George Church, and key philosophers of science including Nick Bostrom and Huw Price.