February Newsletter: New Directions For GCRI

Dear friends,

I am delighted to announce important changes in GCRI’s identity and direction. GCRI is now just over three years old. In these years we have learned a lot about how we can best contribute to the issue of global catastrophic risk. Initially, GCRI aimed to lead a large global catastrophic risk community while also performing original research. This aim is captured in GCRI’s original mission statement, to help mobilize the world’s intellectual and professional resources to meet humanity’s gravest threats.

Our community building has been successful, but our research has simply gone farther. Our research has been published in leading academic journals. It has taken us around the world for important talks. And it has helped us publish in the popular media. GCRI will increasingly focus on in-house research.

Our research will also be increasingly focused, as will our other activities. The single most important GCR research question is: What are the best ways to reduce the risk of global catastrophe? To that end, GCRI is launching a GCR Integrated Assessment as our new flagship project. The Integrated Assessment puts all the GCRs into one integrated study in order to assess the best ways of reducing the risk. And we are changing our mission statement accordingly, to develop the best ways to confront humanity’s gravest threats.

You can learn more about these changes on our website. There is a new page for our flagship Integrated Assessment project and new pages for other GCRI projects. Click around and you’ll find other changes throughout. You can also help us advance our new mission by donating.

As always, thank you for your interest in our work. We welcome any comments, questions, and criticisms you may have.

Seth Baum, Executive Director

GCR News Summaries

GCRI is changing, but Robert de Neufville’s news summaries aren’t going anywhere. Nor should they. They are a wealth of insight. The latest is available here: GCR News Summary January 2015. As always, these summarize recent events across the breadth of GCR topics.

New Associates: Gary Ackerman and Roman Yampolskiy

GCRI welcomes two new Associates. Gary Ackerman is the Director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). His research interests include terrorist behavior, threat assessment, biological and nuclear weapons, and emerging technologies.

Roman Yampolskiy is an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Louisville. His research interests include cybersecurity, biometrics and artificial intelligence safety.

Upcoming Events: Nuclear War and Future of Life

See more on our new events page.

28 February 2015, New York City. The Catastrophic Risk of Nuclear War, a talk by Seth Baum at a public conference The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction, hosted by the Helen Caldicott Foundation at the New York Academy of Medicine.

1 March 2015, New York City. The Future of Life on Earth, a panel discussion with GCRI Executive Director Seth Baum, Columbia University Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs, and Future of Life Institute Co-Founder Max Tegmark. The event is at the 92nd Street Y as part of their 7 Days of Genius festival.

New Paper: The Most Extreme Risks

Seth Baum and Tony M. Barrett have a new paper out titled The most extreme risks: Global catastrophes. The paper explains the importance of GCR and the challenge of analyzing it. The paper also introduces the integrated assessment research agenda.

Seth D. Baum and Anthony M. Barrett. The most extreme risks: Global catastrophes. In Vicki Bier (editor), The Gower Handbook of Extreme Risk. Farnham, UK: Gower, forthcoming.

New Popular Articles: Austria Pledge & Food Catastrophe

Seth Baum’s latest column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is Support the Austria Pledge. Austria announced the Pledge in December at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which Baum spoke at.

David Denkenberger has a short article Feeding everyone no matter what at the Future of Life Institute blog and another of the same title in Aztec News. Both discuss his work on global food catastrophes.

New Report: Global Challenges

The Global Challenges Foundation published a new report 12 Risks that Threaten Human Civilisation. The report was authored by Dennis Pamlin of GCF and Stuart Armstrong of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. GCRI’s Seth Baum and Robert de Neufville also contributed content. The report coins the term “infinite risk” and synthesizes research across the 12 risks it identifies. The report was featured in a spread in the Financial Times magazine.

Emerging Biosecurity Leaders Program

Seth Baum has been selected for the 2015 class of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative hosted by the UPMC Center for Health Security. Baum will participate in two workshops and a series of webinars. The program will be an opportunity to build connections between the biosecurity and catastrophic risks communities.

This post was written by
Seth Baum is Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute.

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