Three papers by FHI researchers in the area of biosecurity are forthcoming in the latest issue of Health Security.
Existential Risk and Cost-Effective Biosecurity – Piers Millett, Andrew Snyder-Beattie
This paper provides an overview of biotechnological extinction risk, makes some rough initial estimates for how severe the risks might be, and compares the cost-effectiveness of reducing these extinction level risks with existing biosecurity work. The authors find that reducing human extinction risk can be more cost-effective than reducing smaller-scale risks, even when using conservative estimates. This suggests that the risks are not low enough to ignore and that more ought to be done to prevent the worst-case scenarios.
Pricing Externalities to Balance Public Risks and Benefits of Research – Sebastian Farquhar, Owen Cotton-Barratt & Andrew Snyder-Beattie
Certain types of flu experiments in the past decade have created viruses that could potentially create a global pandemic. This led to fierce debates as to how to balance the risks and benefits of this research. This paper advances a policy that tackles this issue by either requiring labs to purchase liability insurance for their research or by having the risks specifically incorporated into the cost of the research proposal. If properly implemented, this policy could reduce unwarranted risks from dual-use research.
Human Agency and Global Catastrophic Biorisk – Piers Millett, Andrew Snyder-Beattie
In this essay, FHI researchers Millett and Snyder-Beattie pose some arguments for why a global biological catastrophe is more likely to come from human technology as opposed to from a natural pandemic. The authors discuss the impact this has for prioritising risks and encourage further research collaboration between health and security communities.