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The Existential Risk Alliance (ERA) is a non-profit project working to mitigate existential risk by equipping the community of young researchers and entrepreneurs with the skills and the knowledge necessary to tackle existential risks via our summer research fellowship programme.


  • The CERI Fellowship is now a spin-off from the Cambridge Existential Risks Initiative (CERI), and will be run by a new nonprofit project called ERA in 2023 and beyond. 
  • Join the ERA team! ERA is looking for focus area leads in our main cause areas (e.g., AI Safety, Biosecurity, etc.) who could support the core team and help us grow. We are accepting expressions of interest for certain positions that we haven't yet opened hiring rounds for. 
  • ERA Fellowship Mentors’ expression of interest form is now live. ERA mentors will advise our summer research fellows, an international cohort of top students and early career professionals who are dedicated to using their summers (and in many cases, their careers) to help address large-scale threats to humanity's future.
  • ERA Cambridge Fellows’ expression of interest form is also live - we expect applications for 2023 summer to open in late January/early February.


CERI’s evolution to ERA

The Cambridge Existential Risks Initiative (CERI) was founded in April 2021 as a project at the University of Cambridge with the aim to reduce existential risk (x-risk) by raising awareness and promoting x-risk research, via initiatives such as our flagship Summer Research Fellowship programme. 

Since then, CERI has evolved into a meta organisation supporting many projects within this space; some projects have been run entirely by students (such as the Existential Risks Introductory Course), and some projects have been run by a mixture of students and full time community builders (such as the CERI Fellowship).  

Now, CERI will refocus to be a University of Cambridge student group, engaging with the local community via projects such as HackX. ERA will be running the ERA Fellowship (which was previously called the CERI Fellowship) in 2023 and beyond. 


Time for a new ERA!

Our mission is to reduce the probability of an existential catastrophe. We believe that one of the key ways to reduce existential risk lies in fostering a community of dedicated and knowledgeable x-risk researchers. Through our summer research fellowship programme, we aim to identify and support aspiring researchers in this field, providing them with the resources and mentorship needed to succeed.

The establishment of ERA will allow us to optimise our programming and support ecosystem for the Summer Research Fellowship programme. We plan to take an evidence-based approach to community building to improve our existing programme and to find promising new approaches in this space.


Why rename CERI to ERA?

The naming situation with the -ERIs is just very confusing. There is CHERI, CERI, SERI, BERI, and LERI (the ones I know of). We think that we could potentially reach a different subset of our target demographic by rebranding, and also reduce the amount of time we spend clarifying questions over exactly which -ERI we are. The acronym ERA also has very positive connotations, and is fairly short/catchy.


Join the ERA team

ERA is looking for passionate and driven focus area leads who could support the core ERA team and help us grow. We are accepting expressions of interest for certain positions that we haven't yet opened hiring rounds for. 

We have made the first step as easy as possible, and we recommend submitting an expression of interest even if you are not sure whether you are a good fit. If we think you could be a particularly good fit for our team, we will reach out to you.


ERA Cambridge Fellowship 2023

The ERA Cambridge Fellowship is an eight-week paid programme focused on existential risk mitigation research projects, taking place from July 2023 to August 2023 and aimed at all aspiring researchers, including undergraduates. In fact more than 60% of our  2022 fellows were undergraduates!

Fellows will be supported by experienced mentors to conduct research projects or scope out entrepreneurship opportunities in existential risk mitigation, whilst also being provided with free accommodation in Cambridge, UK, alongside other benefits. Individual or group projects are possible, and we will have project proposals fellows can choose from, or they can propose their own. You can find out more about the programme here and register interest here to be notified of when applications open.

If you might be interested in mentoring fellows on this programme, please submit your name, email and research area here, and we will get in touch with you in due course. 



If you have any questions, please do reach out to me at nandini@erafellowship.org





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To be honest, I would have kept Cambridge in the name to maintain the prestige. This is something that EAs tend to underrate in my experience and seems more important than abiding some name confusion. But hoping the new name and structure works out for you.

One of the factors behind the rebrand was that ERA gives us greater flexibility over the future direction of the programme (e.g., in case if we think that running a similar programme in another location could be impactful). The rebrand was more compatible with our longterm vision for the org, and the upsides outweighed the downside of losing Cambridge from the organisation name. But the  2023 summer iteration of the programme will still be called the ERA Cambridge Fellowship.

Looking forward to your continued important work in x-risk.

For the fellowship, would you consider doing your application differently this year? I was looking at a separate post recently (https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/yeDRczoJuJZMbJvrq/assessing-seri-cheri-ceri-summer-program-impact-by-surveying) and you got 650 applications for 24 spots. I remember the applications taking a long time! I wonder if you could have a first filter with shorter questions. It seems to me that many productivity hours are lost or underutilized.

I think this is highly dependent on the tasks that are required of applicants! I know e.g. Charity Entrepreneurship has thought a lot about how to make the application process, work tests etc. more valuable for applicants. And iirc, I found the CERI Process quite helpful in sharpening my research focus and organizing my thoughts around x-risk.

(An entirely different question is whether long decision timelines negatively affect applicants' options or result in applicants withdrawing/going with their second best option, but I'm not sure this happened a lot. There was also a post recently about the benefits of opening applications sooner to be able to compete with non-EA summer internships/Fellowships.)

Thanks for your perspective. I think CE's application process is a great example of how to do tiered filtering with different tasks ranging in time and topic. And I think it's valuable  because you get some feedback. Correct me if I'm wrong but CERI/CHERI/SERI have not provided feedback before? 

My low confidence hunch is that for applicants who are self-reflective, like you, there is value in work without feedback too, perhaps in the way that you say but that, at the same time, with a pool of 650 people there's also productivity loss.

Say there's probably at least a bottom e.g. 20% of applicants who are less self-reflective or are less familiar with the x-risk or even writing applications, who get no feedback. And that would be about 130 people, call it an hour each, that's 130 hours of productivity.  Had the application been shorter, say 20 minutes, that means about 43 hours spent or 87 hours saved. I'm sure there's time spent on reviewing applications that's sinking here too. I know people who have spent upwards of 5 hours on their apps for these fellowships and were then frustrated to not know how they did or what was missing. I'm not sure how representative of an experience this is at all, of course.

The other side that feels underutilized to me is 'near miss' candidates. You didn't get a spot but you were near the top. It feels like a real loss to get no feedback at all? 

Agreed on the feedback part, but pretty unsure how to solve this without bringing on one person for a few hundred hours to give individual feedback.

Regarding the hours of productivity lost: I'm not sure about the counterfactual, since CERI applicants are mostly students.

I think my main point however is this: being forced to actually write a proposal for that vague research idea that has been floating around in your head seems pretty valuable to me whether you get feedback or not. I, for example, spent quite a few hours just digging through research agendas in different x-risk fields to make sure I'm not just riding my hobby horse, but that my research actually fills some gap. So, even if I hadn't been accepted, I would probably have considered this "time well spent" rather than "lost productivity".

(Disclaimer that I might be biased here though - motivated reasoning/avoiding cognitive dissonance etc.)

A quick comment on the 2022 application: we did think about the tradeoffs between short vs long applications, and considering our target audience, we decided to create an application which not only helped us assess the applicants, but also helped them explore the research field and organise their thoughts around existential risks. Several applicants commented that they learnt something about existential risks from completing our application, and we think there was atleast some level of nebulous impact there. We are working on our 2023 application, and will have concrete updates to share by late January. 

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