Exploring Futures for the Science of Global Risk

76 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2023 Last revised: 17 Sep 2023

See all articles by S. J. Beard

S. J. Beard

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk; Climate Ethics and Future Generations

Nathaniel Cooke

University of Cambridge

Sarah Dryhurst

University College London

Michael Cassidy

University of Oxford

Goodwin Gibbins

Independent

Georgiana Gilgallon

Effective Giving

Ben Holt

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Ida Josefiina

Sane.fyi

Luke Kemp

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge

Aaron Tang

Australian National University (ANU)

Julius Weitzdörfer

FernUniversität in Hagen

Paul Ingram

University of Cambridge

Lalitha Sundaram

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

Rick Davies

Independent

Date Written: March 31, 2023

Abstract

This paper presents a collaborative exercise to explore divergent futures for the field of global risk, and especially the global risk community intersecting with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. While this community often advocates for the value of futures and foresight to others, we believe this is the first attempt to use these same techniques to think about our own futures and the opportunities and challenges they may bring. The paper begins by setting out the nature of the global risk community, the ParEvo process that was applied, and the background to this specific exercise. Next, we offer a more in-depth presentation of the methods used, both to undertake the exercise itself, analyse and evaluate its results, and theorize about what these mean. We then offer a brief presentation of key results and themes that originated from this exercise, including summaries of the stories produced and how these were evaluated by participants, and focused results across three core themes ‘conflict and rapprochement, agents of change, and story outcomes and impacts. Finally, we discuss the exercise's limitations and challenges and possible lessons, both for the application of ParEvo and other futures tools (including the benefits of participatory exercise design and more detailed and ongoing evaluation of contributions) and for the global risk community as it seeks to grow and develop (including the need for conflict resolution mechanisms, greater planning about how global risk research may interact with actual global risk, and more reflection on what the community aims to achieve and how to assess whether we are making progress. Full results from the exercise are presented in a detailed appendix.

Keywords: futures; participation; evolution; evaluation; collective intelligence; ParEvo; narrative; Global Risk; Existential Risk; Existential Risk Studies; global catastrophic risk; theory of change

Suggested Citation

Beard, SJ and Cooke, Nathaniel and Dryhurst, Sarah and Cassidy, Michael and Gibbins, Goodwin and Gilgallon, Georgiana and Holt, Ben and Josefiina, Ida and Kemp, Luke and Tang, Aaron and Weitzdörfer, Julius and Ingram, Paul and Sundaram, Lalitha and Davies, Rick, Exploring Futures for the Science of Global Risk (March 31, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4405991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4405991

SJ Beard (Contact Author)

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

Climate Ethics and Future Generations ( email )

Holländergatan 13
Stockholm, 11136
Sweden

Nathaniel Cooke

University of Cambridge ( email )

Sarah Dryhurst

University College London ( email )

Michael Cassidy

University of Oxford ( email )

Goodwin Gibbins

Independent ( email )

Georgiana Gilgallon

Effective Giving ( email )

Ben Holt

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies ( email )

Ida Josefiina

Sane.fyi ( email )

Luke Kemp

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge ( email )

16 Mill Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1SB
United Kingdom

Aaron Tang

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Julius Weitzdörfer

FernUniversität in Hagen ( email )

Paul Ingram

University of Cambridge ( email )

Lalitha Sundaram

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk ( email )

Rick Davies

Independent ( email )

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