September 1 - October 31, 2017
Existential risks are those risks that threaten the entire future of humanity - not just the present generation, but all future generations. Despite their importance, issues surrounding human extinction risks and related hazards remain poorly understood. There are existential risks that emanate from nature, and there are those that emanate from human activities, and it seems that within a time perspective of a century or two, the latter dominate. What makes the situation especially intricate is that many of the risks seem to arise from possible future advances in the areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence where potential gains are likewise enormous.
Catastrophic risk can be understood by analyzing its origin (and hence avoidance mechanisms preventing it), the process by which it does damage (and hence mechanisms for fighting the damage-causing process), and why it exceeds our ability to cope (and hence methods for improving our species' endurance).
The aim is to explore the pathways to existential risk to see how they can be managed. Identifying common pathways for different risks can help construct generally applicable responses, whether in policy, civil defense, or technology development. This is inherently an interdisciplinary goal, requiring not only scientific expertise on existing and predicted risks, but disaster response, economics, international policy, security and philosophy. This need for interdisciplinarity will be reflected in the breadth of expertise among participants of the program. Throughout the duration of the program, there will regularly be informal seminars, discussion sessions and other scientific activities. In addition, on September 7-8, we will have a concentrated workshop open to everyone interested.
GoCAS Distinguished Chair during this program will be Anders Sandberg, whom Wikipedia describes as "a researcher, science debater, futurist, transhumanist and author. He holds a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, and is currently a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at University of Oxford".
September 7-8, 2017. The workshop is open to all interested, but preregistration is required.