The Future of Humanity Institute is a multidisciplinary research institute at the University of Oxford. Based in the Faculty of Philosophy, it enables leading researchers to bring the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science to bear on big-picture questions about humanity and its prospects.
We focus our research where we think it can make the greatest positive difference. This means we pursue questions that are (a) critically important for humanity’s future, (b) unduly neglected, and (c) for which we have some idea for how to obtain an answer or a useful new insight. We work closely with the Centre for Effective Altruism, including sharing an office and collaborating on the Global Priorities Project, in order to translate our research into impact. Recently our focus has centred on existential risks and the future of machine intelligence.
For a thoughtful introduction to the FHI and its mission, we suggest “Omens“, Aeon’s profile of the Future of Humanity Institute.
The most recent internal university review, which also included assessment by outside academic experts, found that the Institute’s work is world-leading and ground-breaking. It noted the impressive amount of work achieved with relatively scant resources and stressed the need for expansion. It lauded the outstanding intellectual calibre of the Institute’s research staff and the highly innovative and interdisciplinary climate that has been created.
With fewer than 12 full time researchers, the Future of Humanity Institute has had an outsized impact. FHI researchers have produced over 200 peer-reviewed publications with over 5,500 citations in total, averaging one publication that references our research every eight hours for the past three years.
Professor Nick Bostrom and his team have also been mentioned in over 7,000 media pieces, averaging more than three articles per day over the past year. Our own articles have had millions of views and have been featured in sources like CNN, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.
FHI benefits from being a part of the Oxford Faculty of Philosophy, which is one of the largest philosophy departments in the world, and widely recognised to be amongst the best. The 2008 RAE shows Oxford philosophy to have more than twice as much research activity at the highest level as any other UK department. The faculty earned top ranking in the 2009 and 2011 editions of the Philosophical Gourmet Report. FHI also benefits from being part of the Oxford Martin School, which provides a unique interdisciplinary embedding and academic support.
Professor Nick Bostrom is the founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute. He is recipient of a Eugene R. Gannon Award (one person selected annually worldwide from the fields of philosophy, mathematics, the arts and other humanities, and the natural sciences). He has been named in Prospect Magazine’s Top World Thinkers list and twice in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list. His most recent book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is an academic book that became a New York Times Bestseller.