Staff

Research Staff

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Nick Bostrom, Director

nickbostrom.com

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_Profile    Stuart Armstrong, James Martin Research Fellow

FHI, Amlin Project

stuart.armstrong@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

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.

 

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Nick Beckstead, Research Fellow

Amlin Project, Global Priorities Project

sites.google.com/site/nbeckstead

Nick recently finished a Ph.D in philosophy at Rutgers University, where he focused on practical and theoretical ethical issues involving future generations. He is particularly interested in the practical implications of taking full account of how actions taken today affect people who may live in the very distant future. His research focuses on how big picture questions in normative philosophy (especially population ethics and decision theory) and various big picture empirical questions (especially about existential risk, moral and economic progress, and the future of technology) feed into this issue.

 

cusbert    John Cusbert, Research Fellow

Population Ethics: Theory and Practice

http://sites.google.com/site/cusbert/

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.

 

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Daniel Dewey, Alexander Tamas Research Fellow

Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

daniel.dewey@philosophy.ox.ac.uk | danieldewey.net

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.

 

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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 is currently working on his next book, Radical Abundance, which will be published in 2012, and blogs at Metamodern.com.

Drexler was awarded a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Molecular Nanotechnology (the first degree of its kind).

 

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Carl Frey, James Martin Research Fellow

Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

carl.frey@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Carl Frey is a James Martin Research Fellow at FHI, and is also Doctor of Economic History at Lund University, Economics Associate of Nuffield College, and Specialist Advisor to the Digital Skills Select Committee at the House of Lords. His research interests include the transition of industrial nations to digital economies, and subsequent challenges for economic growth and employment. In particular, his work focuses on technology shocks and associated impacts on labour markets and urban development.

His work has been covered by the BBC, CNN, The Economist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Scientific American, TIME Magazine, Forbes, and many others.

 

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.

 

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Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, James Martin Academic Project Manager

FHI, Amlin Project, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

sean.oheigeartaigh@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh is the Academic Manager at the Future of Humanity Institute, and his research interests  straddle all of the FHI’s core areas. His current roles include project management of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, Steering Committee guidance over the FHI-Amlin Research Collaboration, and 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.

 

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Toby Ord, James Martin Research Fellow

FHI, Project on Population Ethics: Theory and Practice, Global Priorities Projecτ

toby.ord@philosophy.ox.ac.uk | amirrorclear.net/academic

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.

 

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Anders Sandberg, James Martin Research Fellow

FHI, Amlin Project

anders.sandberg@philosophy.ox.ac.uk | aleph.se/andart

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.

 

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Andrew Snyder-Beattie, Academic Project Manager

FHI, Amlin Project

andrew.snyder-beattie@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Andrew Snyder-Beattie is an Academic Project Manager at the Future of Humanity Institute focusing on the FHI-Amlin collaboration on systemic risk.  His research interests currently include agent-based modelling, the relationship between technological and economic development, 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

Cecilia Tilli, Academic Project Manager

FHI, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology

cecilia.tilli@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

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.

 

Research Associates

 

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Milan Cirkovic, Research Associate

mcirkovic@aob.rs | mcirkovic.aob.rs

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

paulfchristiano@cs.berkeley.edu | http://rationalaltruist.com/

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 a research associate with the Machine Intelligence Research Institute where he explores technical issues related to the long-term impact of artificial intelligence.

 

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Owen Cotton-Barratt, FHI-CEA Collaboration Fellow

owen.cotton-barratt@maths.ox.ac.uk

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.

 

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Robin Hanson, Research Associate

hanson.gmu.edu

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.

 

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Carl Shulman, Research Associate

http://reflectivedisequilibrium.blogspot.co.uk/

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.