Future of Humanity Institute

Oxford, UK

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The Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) is a unique multidisciplinary research institute at the University of Oxford. FHI belongs to the Faculty of Philosophy and the James Martin 21st Century School.

FHI's mission is to bring excellent scholarship to bear on big-picture questions for humanity. Our work centres on how anticipated technological developments may affect the human condition in fundamental ways‒-and how we can better understand, evaluate, and respond to radical change. We currently pursue four interlinked research programs:

* Human enhancement: How can medicine and technology be used to enhance basic biological capacities, such as cognition and lifespan? Can enhancement be ethical and wise?
* Global catastrophic risks: What are the biggest threats to global civilization and human well-being? How can the human species survive the 21st century?
* Rationality and wisdom: How can we make better decisions under conditions of profound uncertainty and high stakes? How can we reduce bias and human error in our decision-making?
* Future technologies: What would be the impacts of potentially transformative technologies such as advanced nanotechnology and artificial intelligence?

Despite the great theoretical and practical importance of these issues, they have received scant academic attention. FHI enables a few outstanding and creative intellects to work on these pivotal problems in close collaboration. Our goal is to pioneer research that demonstrates how such problems can be rigorously and fruitfully investigated.

Our research staff is drawn from a variety of fields, including physics, neuroscience, economics, and philosophy. Several of us have an academic background in more than one discipline. We use whatever intellectual tools we judge most likely to be effective for the specific problem at hand, often combining the techniques of analytic philosophy with those of theoretical and empirical scientific inquiry.

FHI also works to promote public engagement and informed discussion in government, industry, academia, and the not-for-profit sector.

Founded in 2005, FHI has already gained a reputation for its groundbreaking research and its prolific, high quality, original scholarship. Among its staff are recognised world-leaders in their fields.

Our research is published in the world’s top scientific and philosophical journals, and we are frequently asked to advise governments and other public bodies. FHI is part of the world-renowned Oxford Faculty of Philosophy, which consistently achieves a superior rating in independent rankings. It is one of the largest philosophy departments in the world, and is widely recognized to be amongst the best.

The 2008 RAE shows Oxford to have more than twice as much research activity at the highest level as any other UK department, and it is ranked second in the world by the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet Report. The most recent internal University review found FHI’s output to be “impressive”, and especially noted the high quality of the Institute’s personnel, its present work, and its future potential.

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