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Our mission

Steering transformative technology towards benefitting life and away from extreme large-scale risks.

We believe that the way powerful technology is developed and used will be the most important factor in determining the prospects for the future of life. This is why we have made it our mission to ensure that technology continues to improve those prospects.

Our mission

Ensuring that our technology remains beneficial for life

Our mission is to steer transformative technologies away from extreme, large-scale risks and towards benefiting life.
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How certain technologies are developed and used has far-reaching consequences for all life on earth.

If properly managed, these technologies could change the world in a way that makes life substantially better, both for those alive today and those who will one day be born. They could be used to treat and eradicate diseases, strengthen democratic processes, mitigate - or even halt - climate change and restore biodiversity.

If irresponsibly managed, they could inflict serious harms on humanity and other animal species. In the most extreme cases, they could bring about the fragmentation or collapse of societies, and even push us to the brink of extinction.

The Future of Life Institute works to reduce the likelihood of these worst-case outcomes, and to help ensure that transformative technologies are used to the benefit of life.
Our mission

Cause areas

The risks we focus on

We are currently concerned by four major risks. All four hinge on the development, use and governance of transformative technologies. We focus our efforts on guiding the impacts of these technologies.

Artificial Intelligence

From recommender algorithms to self-driving cars, AI is changing our lives. As the impact of this technology magnifies, so will its risks.
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Biotechnology

From the accidental release of engineered pandemics to the backfiring of a gene-editing experiment, the dangers from biotechnology are too great for us to proceed blindly.
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Nuclear Weapons

Almost eighty years after their introduction, the risks posed by nuclear weapons are as high as ever - and new research reveals that the impacts are even worse than previously reckoned.
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white and black electric cable

Climate Change

Likely the most well-known of our cause areas, climate change increases the likelihood of other catastrophic risks, such as pandemics or war, as well as posing many catastrophic threats on its own.
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Our work

How we are addressing these issues

There are many potential levers of change for steering the development and use of transformative technologies. We target a range of these levers to increase our chances of success.

Policy

We perform policy advocacy in the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.
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Outreach

We produce educational materials aimed at informing public discourse, as well as encouraging people to get involved.
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Grantmaking

We provide grants to individuals and organisations working on projects that further our mission.
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Events

We convene leaders of the relevant fields to discuss ways of ensuring the safe development and use of powerful technologies.
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Projects

What we're working on

Read about some of our ongoing projects:

Mitigating the Risks of AI Integration in Nuclear Launch

Avoiding nuclear war is in the national security interest of all nations. We pursue a range of initiatives to reduce this risk. Our current focus is on mitigating the emerging risk of AI integration into nuclear command, control and communication.

Future of Life Award

Every year, the Future of Life Award is given to one or more unsung heroes who have made a significant contribution to preserving the future of life.

Educating about Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Military AI applications are rapidly expanding. We develop educational materials about how certain narrow classes of AI-powered weapons can harm national security and destabilize civilization, notably weapons where kill decisions are fully delegated to algorithms.

Strengthening the European AI Act

Our key recommendations include broadening the Act’s scope to regulate general purpose systems and extending the definition of prohibited manipulation to include any type of manipulatory technique, and manipulation that causes societal harm.

Strengthening the NIST AI Risk Management Framework

Our feedback on the first draft of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) AI risk management framework addressed extreme and unacceptable risks, loyalty of AI systems and the risk management of general purpose systems.

Future of Life Institute Podcast

A podcast dedicated to hosting conversations with some of the world's leading thinkers and doers in the field of emerging technology and risk reduction. 140+ episodes since 2015, 4.8/5 stars on Apple Podcasts.

Worldbuilding Competition

The Future of Life Institute accepted entries from teams across the globe, to compete for a prize purse of up to $100,000 by designing visions of a plausible, aspirational future that includes strong artificial intelligence.

External Input

Meet our External Advisors

We consult a range of scientific experts and communicators across our cause areas to ensure our approach is well-informed, strategic and adaptable.

Alan Alda

Actor, Writer, Director & Science Communicator
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Alan Guth

Professor of Physics, MIT
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Christof Koch

Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Science
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Elon Musk

Founder, SpaceX and Tesla Motors
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Erik Brynjolfsson

Director, MIT Center for Digital Business, MIT
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Francesca Rossi

IBM Research and University of Padova
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Frank Wilczek

Professor of Physics, MIT
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George Church

Professor of Genetics, Harvard University
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Martin Rees

Astronomer Royal, Co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
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Morgan Freeman

Actor, Director, Narrator & Science Communicator
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Nick Bostrom

Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University
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Sandra Faber

Professor Emerita of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UC Santa Cruz
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Saul Perlmutter

Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley
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Stuart Russell

Professor of Computer Science, UC Berkeley
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Our newsletter

Regular updates about the Future of Life Institute, in your inbox

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Read previous editions

FLI October 2022 Newsletter: Against Reckless Nuclear Escalation

Welcome to the Future of Life Institute Newsletter. Every month, we bring 24,000+ subscribers the latest news on how emerging technologies […]
November 11, 2022

FLI September 2022 Newsletter: $3M Impacts of Nuclear War Grants Program!

Welcome to the FLI newsletter! Every month, we bring 24,000+ subscribers the latest news on how emerging technologies are transforming our world - for better and worse.
October 17, 2022

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