The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

June 29, 2012

University of Cambridge (credit: Andrew Dunn/Wikimedia Commons)

Concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Cambridge University philosopher Huw Price, and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn have formed The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk.

“These dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change,” the founders state. “The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake.

“These issues require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive.Our aim is to establish within the University of Cambridge a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks of this kind.

“We are convinced that there is nowhere on the planet better suited to house such a centre. Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge’s great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future.”

The team is developing a prospectus for a Cambridge-based Centre for the Study of Existential Risk in coming months, and it welcomes inquiries and offers of support.


Huw Price
Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge

Martin Rees
Master of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics, Cambridge

Jaan Tallinn
Co-founder of Skype

Cambridge advisors

David Cleevely
Founding Director, Centre for Science and Policy

Tim Crane
Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy

David Spiegelhalter
Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk

External advisors

Nick Bostrom
Professor of Philosophy, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford

David Chalmers
Professor of Philosophy, NYU & ANU

George M Church
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Max Tegmark
Professor of Physics, MIT

Jonathan B Wiener
Professor of Law, Environmental Policy & Public Policy, Duke University