Nick Bostrom, Director
Nick Bostrom is Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University and founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology within the Oxford Martin School.
Bostrom has a background in physics, computational neuroscience, and mathematical logic as well as philosophy. He is the author of some 200 publications, including Anthropic Bias (Routledge, 2002), Global Catastrophic Risks (ed., OUP, 2008), and Human Enhancement (ed., OUP, 2009), and the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (OUP, 2014). He is best known for his work in five areas: (i) existential risk; (ii) the simulation argument; (iii) anthropics (developing the first mathematically explicit theory of observation selection effects); (iv) impacts of future technology; and (v) implications of consequentialism for global strategy.
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). Earlier this year he was included on Prospect magazine’s World Thinkers list, the youngest person in the top 15 from all fields and the highest-ranked analytic philosopher. His writings have been translated into 22 languages. There have been more than 100 translations and reprints of his works.
Stuart Armstrong, James Martin Research Fellow
FHI, Amlin Project
Stuart Armstrong’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on formal decision theory, the risks and possibilities of Artificial Intelligence, the long term potential for intelligent life, and anthropic (self-locating) probability. He is particularly interested in finding decision processes that give the “correct” answer under situations of anthropic ignorance and ignorance of one’s own utility function, ways of mapping humanity’s partially defined values onto an artificial entity, and the interaction between various existential risks. He aims to improve the understanding of the different types and natures of uncertainties surrounding human progress in the mid-to-far future.
Stuart’s Armstrong is also interested in collaborations for these research interests, which he currently doesn’t have time to develop on his own.
His Oxford D.Phil was in parabolic geometry, calculating the holonomy of projective and conformal Cartan geometries. He later transitioned into computational biochemistry, designing several new ways to rapidly compare putative bioactive molecules for virtual screening of medicinal compounds.
John Cusbert, Research Fellow
Population Ethics: Theory and Practice
John Cusbert is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Philosophy, working on the Population Ethics: Theory and Practice project. His other research interests include probability, time, and metaphysics. He received his PhD from the Australian National University in 2013. In his dissertation he argued that the past can be objectively chancy in cases of so-called “backwards” causation (where an effect occurs before its cause), and defended a view of chance that allows for this.
Daniel Dewey, Alexander Tamas Research Fellow
Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
Daniel Dewey is the Alexander Tamas Research Fellow on “Machine Superintelligence and the Future of AI”. His research on the Programme centres on paths and timelines to machine superintelligence, the possibility of intelligence explosion, and the strategic and technical challenges arising from these possibilities. Topics of interest include artificial intelligence, inductive reasoning, and machine ethics.
Previously, Daniel worked as a software engineer at Google, did research at Intel Research Pittsburgh, and studied computer science and analytic philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a Research Associate at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.
Eric Drexler, Academic Visitor
FHI, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
Eric Drexler is a pioneering nanotechnology researcher and author. His 1981 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences established fundamental principles of molecular engineering and identified development paths leading to advanced nanotechnologies. In his 1986 book, Engines of Creation, he introduced a broad audience to the promise of high-throughput atomically precise manufacturing, a prospective technology using nanoscale machinery to guide molecular motion and bonding, thereby structuring matter from the bottom up.
Drexler’s research in this field has been the basis for numerous journal articles and for a comprehensive, physics-based analysis in his textbook Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation. In his publications and lectures, Dr. Drexler describes the implementation and applications of advanced nanotechnologies, and their potential impact on global problems.
Dr. Drexler served as Chief Technical Advisor to Nanorex, a company developing design software for molecular engineering. He also served as Chief Technical Consultant to the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, a project of the Battelle Memorial Institute and several participating US National Laboratories. Drexler blogs at Metamodern.com.
Drexler was awarded a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Molecular Nanotechnology (the first degree of its kind).
Owain Evans, Research Fellow
FHI, Amlin Project
Owain has interests in AI, cognitive science and philosophy. He is working on computational models for inferring human preferences/values from noisy or misleading data. Owain previously studied at MIT, where he worked on philosophy, Bayesian generative models, and probabilistic programming.
Hilary Greaves, Research Fellow
FHI, Project on Population Ethics: Theory and Practice
Hilary Greaves is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, and Principal Investigator of the Population Ethics: Theory and Practice project. Besides population ethics, her research interests include foundational issues in consequentialism (‘global’ and ‘two-level’ forms of consequentialism), the debate between consequentialists and contractualists, issues of interpersonal aggregation (utilitarianism, prioritarianism and egalitarianism), moral psychology and selective debunking arguments, the interface between ethics and economics, the analogies between ethics and epistemology, and formal epistemology.
Benjamin Levinstein, James Martin Research Fellow
FHI, Amlin Project
Ben recently completed a post-doc at the University of Bristol, where he worked on epistemic utility theory, decision theory, and social epistemology. His current interests also include normative uncertainty in ethics and epistemology, existential risk (especially related to AI), and bayesian epistemology. Ben holds a PhD in philosophy from Rutgers University and an AB from the University of Chicago.
Toby Ord, James Martin Research Fellow
FHI, Project on Population Ethics: Theory and Practice, Global Priorities Projecτ
Toby Ord is a Research Fellow on the Population Ethics project. He studies both the theoretical and practical questions of how we should make decisions when these would change the population. For example, some things governments or NGOs do to help people potentially have a large impact on the number of lives that will be brought into existence. Saving a young person’s life will typically lead to them being able to have children who will have children and so forth. Saving an older person’s life will not have this effect. This is a major difference, but how should we take this into account (if at all)? Other questions relate to whether the world is overpopulated, what the correct theory of population ethics is, how to account for our moral uncertainty surrounding the issue, and what this all means for the future of humanity.
Toby Ord also contributes towards the FHI’s wider research aims. He has research interests in both theoretical and practical ethics, with a focus on questions concerning the big picture. He is exploring questions related to setting global priorities, existential risk, new technologies, moral uncertainty, and global poverty.
Anders Sandberg, James Martin Research Fellow
FHI, Amlin Project
Anders Sandberg’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on management of low-probability high-impact risks, societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology, as well as estimating the capabilities of future technologies. Topics of particular interest include global catastrophic risk, cognitive biases, cognitive enhancement, collective intelligence, neuroethics and public policy.
He is currently senior researcher in the FHI-Amlin collaboration on systemic risk of risk modelling. He is also research associate to the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He has worked on enhancement neuroethics within the EU project ENHANCE, and robust risk estimation as an AXA research fellow.
Anders has a background in computer science, neuroscience and medical engineering. He obtained his Ph.D in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, Sweden, for work on neural network modelling of human memory. He has also been the scientific producer for the major neuroscience exhibition Se Hjärnan! (Behold the Brain!), organized by Swedish Travelling Exhibitions, the Swedish Research Council and the Knowledge Foundation that toured Sweden 2005-2007. He is co-founder and research director for the Swedish think tank Eudoxa.
Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Academic Project Manager
FHI, Amlin Project
Andrew Snyder-Beattie acts as Director of Research at the Future of Humanity Institute, where he coordinates the institute’s research activities. His personal research interests currently include ecosystem and pandemic modelling, anthropic shadow considerations, and existential risk. He holds a M.S. in biomathematics and has done research in a wide variety of areas such as astrobiology, ecology, finance, risk assessment, and institutional economics.
Cecilia Tilli, Academic Project Manager
FHI, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
Cecilia Tilli is an Academic Project Manager at the Future of Humanity Institute, currently managing the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology. Her research interests cut across core areas of the Institute, including the benefits and risks of future technology, the nature and future of computational systems, the relationship between natural and artificial cognitive systems, and the development and enhancement of natural cognition.
Prior to joining the institute, Cecilia finished her Ph.D. in philosophy and neuroscience at Princeton University. Her doctoral research focused on the cognitive architecture of the mind, in particular the plausibility and implications of dual-systems views of cognition. Her work also evaluated the application of a dual-system framework to the study of the neural correlates of moral judgment and decision-making.
Feng Zhou, Research Fellow
FHI, Amlin Project
Feng Zhou is a Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, working on the FHI-Amlin collaboration on systemic risk. He completed a Ph.D in Actuarial Science (Cass Business School London) and has two MSc degrees in both Economics (at LSE) and Computer Science (at Oxford: MSc in Software and Systems Security, Cyber Security). His research interests mainly focus on applying agent-based models to better understand real-world issues (particularly, in the non-life insurance market), such as: (1) modelling the interactive behaviours of both insurers and customers to understand market competitions; (2) modelling the bounded rationality and its related behaviour of insurance companies to understand the systemic risk in this industry. In the longerterm, Feng plans to model the interconnected risks in cyberspace and potential catastrophe risks in the so-called “Internet of Things”, in order to better price the newly developed cyber insurance.
Nick Beckstead, Research Associate
Nick is a Research Analyst at GiveWell working on the Open Philanthropy Project. He earned a PhD in Philosophy from Rutgers University in 2013 and then worked as a Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute. He is particularly interested in ethical issues related to the interests of future generations, and the impact of science and technology on future generations.
Milan Cirkovic, Research Associate
Milan M. Cirkovic (b. 1971) is a research professor at the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, (Serbia) and an associate professor at the Department of Physics, University of Novi Sad (Serbia). He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook (USA), M.S. in Earth and Space Sciences from the same university, and his B.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Belgrade.
His primary research interests are in the fields of astrobiology (Galactic Habitable Zone, anthropic principles, SETI studies, catastrophic episodes in the history of life), astrophysical cosmology (baryonic dark matter, future of the universe), as well as philosophy of science (risk analysis, observation selection effects, epistemology). He co-edited the anthology on Global Catastrophic Risks (Oxford University Press, 2008), wrote two monographs and about 150 research and professional papers, and translated several books, including titles by Richard P. Feynman and Sir Roger Penrose.
Paul Christiano, Research Associate
Paul Christiano is a Ph.D. candidate in theoretical computer science at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on learning theory and algorithms, and has received top awards at the Symposium on the Theory of Computing. He is interested in technical questions bearing on the long-term impact of artificial intelligence, and writes about some of them here.
Owen Cotton-Barratt, FHI-CEA Collaboration Fellow
Owen Cotton-Barratt is Director of Research at the Centre for Effective Altruism, and a Lecturer in Mathematics at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. He previously worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, and holds a DPhil in mathematics from the University of Oxford. His research interests are centred on methodological questions about how to make comparisons between different actions, including a focus on understanding the long-term effects of actions today.
Robin Hanson, Research Associate
Robin Hanson is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute. After receiving his Ph.D. in social science from the California Institute of Technology in 1997, Robin was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, Robin received a masters in physics and a masters in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Chicago, and afterward spent nine years researching Artificial Intelligence, Bayesian statistics, and hypertext publishing, independently, and at Lockheed, NASA. Robin has over 60 publications, and since 1988 he has pioneered the new field of prediction markets. Robin also studies the social impact of future technologies.
Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, FHI-CSER Collaboration Associate
Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh is a FHI-CSER Collaboration Associate, and his role include consultant management with Cambridge’s Centre for Study of Existential Risk. His current focus is on risks and impacts of emerging technologies, including near-term impacts of AI and robotics, biotechnology including synthetic biology and genomics, surveillance technology and existential risk.
Prior to joining the Future of Humanity Institute, Seán completed a PhD in genome evolution at Trinity College Dublin, where his work on bioinformatics software design was described by reviewers as likely to see ”very wide application in this age of ultrahigh throughput sequencing”; to date his SearchDOGS software has been used to discover over a thousand missing genes across yeast species. He has published in a diverse set of fields including genomics, molecular evolution and artificial intelligence. He has a degree in human genetics, and is a Scholar of Trinity College.
Carl Shulman, Research Associate
Carl Shulman is a Research Fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. Carl has authored and co-authored several papers on artificial intelligence and whole brain emulation. Previously, he held a position at Clarium Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund managed by PayPal founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel. He attended New York University School of Law and holds a BA in philosophy from Harvard University.
For a list of FHI alumni, please see here.