Part 6: Emerging Technologies

One way to look for opportunities to accomplish as much good as possible is to ask: “Which developments might have an extremely large or irreversible impact on human civilization?”

In this sequence, we'll examine two technological trends that could create existential risks in the not-so-distant future: transformative artificial intelligence and advances in biotechnology.

Two ways to read

There are two ways to get started, depending on whether you have access to Toby Ord's The Precipice — and if you don't, we'll send you a free copy!

First option (no book): Read the sequence as written (click on "Start reading").

Second option (book): Read chapter 5 of The Precipice, through page 138 (the beginning of the "Unaligned Artificial Intelligence" section). Then, read Kelsey Piper's "The case for taking AI seriously as a threat to humanity". 

If you'd like to read more about AI risk after finishing Piper's article, try the other material in this sequence, or pages 138-152 of The Precipice — people take many different approaches to explaining the subject.


Start reading

<— Part 5: Existential Risk

—> Part 7: What Might We Be Missing?

Organization Spotlight: Center for Security and Emerging Technology

The Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) is a research organization that provides nonpartisan analysis to the U.S. policy community, focusing on issues at the intersection of security and technology. They currently focus on progress in artificial intelligence, the application of AI to cybersecurity and other matters of U.S. national security, and biotechnology.

CSET aims to prepare decision-makers for the challenges and opportunities of emerging technologies. Their staff includes people with experience directing intelligence and research operations at the National Security Council, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security.

Photo credit: Robynne Hu