Public Priorities for Open Philanthropy Project - Global Catastrophic Risks
 Share
The version of the browser you are using is no longer supported. Please upgrade to a supported browser.Dismiss

 
View only
 
 
Still loading...
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZAAABACADAE
1
Summary (more detail to the right)Likelihood and magnitude of potential catastrophePossible philanthropic interventions (not already funded)
2
CausePriorityGoalLinkMore public content planned at the moment?Overall informal assessment of risk level (relative)Overall informal assessment of philanthropic opportunities to further reduce riskNeed for a full-time specialistHighest-damage scenarioLikelihood of highest-damage scenario over the next 100 yearsLikelihood and magnitude of global catastrophe if highest-damage scenario takes placeHigh-damage scenarioLikelihood of high-damage scenario over the next 100 yearsLikelihood and magnitude of global catastrophe if high-damage scenario takes place
3
Biosecurity1
Make cause-specific hire
http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/biosecurity
More in-depth writeup forthcoming
High
Relatively strong opportunities
Very high
Synthetic pandemic (possibly optimized to maximize death toll)
Highly uncertain but quite plausible
Highly uncertain but very plausible
Natural pandemic
Very likely
Very likely (>50% for some major natural pandemic in next 100 years)
Many known (and expensive) preparations (e.g. disease surveillance, development and stockpile of countermeasures, improvement of preparatory plans and response capacity, and efforts (including regulation) to decrease the proliferation and increase the safety of risky emerging technology such as dual use research). Many gaps exist despite substantial government funding; philanthropy could fill gaps directly and/or aim to influence government funding.
4
Geoengineering research & governance
2
Infrastructure-building grant(s), preferably major
http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/geoengineering
More in-depth writeup forthcoming
Medium-high
Possibly very strong opportunities (pending research on robustness of current system)
Medium
Major social or political instability (such as war) due to unilateral use of geoengineering or catastrophic effects of climate change
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Climatic impacts of either climate change or geoengineering
Very likelyVery likely (>50%)
Policy-oriented research on how best to govern decisions about research and deployment. Building capacity and developing governance infrastructure. Scientific research on the effects of potential deployment. Very little funding in this space currently.
5
Geomagnetic storms2
Determine need for, and potentially fund, research on electrical grid robustness
http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/geomagnetic-storms
Research report forthcoming
Medium-low
Relatively strong opportunities
Very low
Major social or political instability (such as war) following regional (~continent-level), sustained blackouts
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Major economic hit due to regional (continent-level), sustained blackouts
Highly uncertain but highly plausible
Highly uncertain but very plausible
Hardening electrical grid; operational mitigation (such as unplugging components in advance of a predicted storm); building spare transformers; research.
6
Other cross-cutting work2
Evaluate specific grant opportunities
-
Grant writeups forthcoming depending on grants
(Cross-cutting)TBDLow
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
N/A (different interventions will apply to different risks)
7
Potential risks from artificial intelligence
2
Monitoring cause; unsure of crowdedness
-
Medium writeup forthcoming
High
Highly uncertain
Low
Extremely powerful artificial-intelligence agent with misaligned values
Highly uncertain but plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
Use of extremely powerful artificial intelligence to disrupt geopolitics
Highly uncertain but quite plausible
Highly uncertain but very plausible
Room for more funding uncertain due to recent entry of major donor. See http://futureoflife.org/grants/large/initial for possible research agendas.
8
Food security3
More cause-level investigation
-
Shallow writeup forthcoming
Medium; highly uncertain and cross-cutting
Highly uncertain
Low
Global collapse of agriculture from extreme climate change, large volcanic eruption, nuclear winter, or other possibilities
Highly uncertain but somewhat plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
Regional collapse of agriculture from extreme climate change, large volcanic eruption, nuclear winter, or other possibilities
Highly uncertain but quite plausible
Highly uncertain but very plausible
We have seen a proposed research agenda but so far have not found a consensus that it is promising. More attention to food stockpiling is also a possibility.
9
Risks from nuclear weapons3
Monitoring cause for outstanding opportunities
http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/nuclear-security
More detailed writeup forthcoming
Medium-high
Not many suitable remaining opportunities
High
Nuclear winter following war between major nuclear powers (U.S. and Russia are the plausible candidates today but proliferation or increased stockpiles could create additional candidates)
Highly uncertain but somewhat plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
"Nuclear autumn" following war between moderate nuclear powers (such as contemporary Pakistan and India)
Highly uncertain but plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
Policy development in countries other than the U.S. has little funding but would be very difficult. Some experts say policy advocacy and public engagement in the U.S. are underfunded.
10
Anthropogenic climate change (other than geoengineering)
4Not prioritized
http://www.givewell.org/shallow/climate-change
NoMedium-high
Not many suitable remaining opportunities
High
Major social or political instability (such as war) following disastrous climate change
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible
Major damage to global agriculture and/or refugees due to rising water levels
Relatively likely
Relatively likely (>20%)
R&D on clean tech, adaptation preparations, and working toward carbon pricing are all possibilities but all generally highly funded already.
11
Large volcanic eruptions4
Monitoring cause for outstanding opportunities
http://www.givewell.org/shallow/volcanoes
NoLow
Not many suitable remaining opportunities
Low but uncertain
Global collapse of agriculture following major eruption
Very unlikely but uncertain
Very unlikely, with moderate uncertainty
Major eruption cools atmosphere, interferes with travel and agriculture, may increase risk of conflict
Relatively likely
Relatively likely (>20%)
Have heard few ideas for interventions other than research or improved prediction. Very little funding currently.
12
Atomically precise manufacturing4Not prioritized-
Shallow writeup forthcoming
Medium
We are not aware of many suitable remaining opportunities, but it's possible some would exist if the area received more attention
N/A (not prioritized)
Nano-scale machines self-replicate to an extreme degree, leading to "grey goo" scenario
Very unlikely but somewhat uncertain
Very unlikely, with moderate uncertainty
Weaponized atomically precise manufacturing used in global war
Highly uncertain but plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
We have not heard strong ideas for interventions focused specifically on mitigating risks. Highly uncertain how much better proposals could be if the area received more attention.
13
Near-earth asteroids5Not prioritized
http://www.givewell.org/shallow/asteroid-detection
NoLow
Moderate opportunities
N/A (not prioritized)
Impact from object >10 km in diameter
Extremely unlikely
Extremely unlikely, with relatively high certainty
Impact from object >1km in diameter
Very unlikely
Very unlikely, with relatively high certainty
Tracking smaller asteroids, along the lines of http://sentinelmission.org/ . Largest asteroids already tracked.
14
Antibiotic resistance5Not prioritized
http://www.givewell.org/shallow/antibiotic-resistance
NoLow
Relatively strong opportunities
N/A (not prioritized)
Complete failure of antibiotics
Highly uncertain but plausible
Highly uncertain but plausible
Failure of some antibiotics
Very likelyVery likely (>50%)
More R&D on future antibiotics, as well as attempts to prevent antibiotic overuse. There is already a reasonable amount of funding in this area, but could be room for more.
15
Disaster shelters5Not prioritized
http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/disaster-shelters
No
Medium-low; highly uncertain and cross-cutting
Not many suitable remaining opportunities
N/A (not prioritized)
Major (synthetic?) pandemic or other situation in which shelters are key
Highly uncertain but seems fairly conjunctive; seems that few risks would wipe out all people outside shelters but not people inside shelters
Highly uncertain, somewhat conjunctive, but plausible (seems that few risks would wipe out all people outside shelters but not people inside shelters)
Scenario (such as particular global-war or pandemic scenarios) where shelters could help key decisionmakers survive or put individuals in a much stronger position to recover.
Relatively likely
Highly uncertain but plausible
Could build more or improved disaster shelters, but believe we are already at the point of diminishing returns.
16
Environmental catastrophe from synthetic biology (previously classified as part of biosecurity, but we are now planning a separate shallow-level investigation)
TBDTBD-
Shallow writeup in progress
TBDTBDTBD
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
Loading...
 
 
 
Global catastrophic risks