May 2009 - Videos have now been uploaded. Click here to view a selection of videos from the conference.
Conference held on 17-20 July, 2008 Photographs from the conference and highlights of the media coverage are available on this site, as well as a report on an informal survey on global catastrophic risks conducted during the conference.
Global Catastrophic Risks
This collection of essays, edited by Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic, with a foreword by Sir Martin Rees, is now available to buy.
Global catastrophic risks are risks that seriously threaten human well-being on a global scale. An immensely diverse collection of events could constitute global catastrophes: potential factors range from volcanic eruptions to pandemic infections, nuclear accidents to worldwide tyrannies, out-of-control scientific experiments to climatic changes, and cosmic hazards to economic collapse.
Global catastrophes have occurred many times in history, even if we only count disasters causing more than 10 million deaths. A very partial list of examples includes the An Shi Rebellion (756-763), the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864), and the famine of the Great Leap Forward in China, the Black Death in Europe, the Spanish flu pandemic, the two World Wars, the Nazi genocides, the famines in British India, Stalinist totalitarianism, and the decimation of the native American population through smallpox and other diseases following the arrival of European colonizers. Many others could be added to this list.
Although the current and future risks are of various kinds, treating global catastrophic risk as a field for academic enquiry is a useful, coherent and important endeavour
The Future of Humanity Institute
The Future of Humanity Institute is a unique multidisciplinary research Institute at the University of Oxford and is part of the Philosophy Faculty and the James Martin 21 st Century School. FHI's mission is to bring excellent scholarship to bear on big picture questions for humanity. One of our research areas is global catastrophic risk, and this website exists to focus attention on our work in this area, which included a Conference on Global catastrophic risks (17-20 July 2008) intended to advance knowledge and increase academic interest in this neglected area. We also published a book outlining the main catastrophic risks, and the problems and methodologies they share: Global Catastrophic Risks (OUP, 2008).