Top research center, set up to assess humanity’s future prospects, shuts

Top research center, set up to assess humanity’s future prospects, shuts

A top research institute created with the lofty goals of investigating the ‘big-picture questions’ and assessing what the future holds for humanity..will now not play a part in that future.

The Future of Humanity Institute was founded in 2005 by Professor Nick Bostrom and a select set of researchers from Oxford University.

The Institute published numerous academic research papers on subjects like AI safety, existential and catastrophic risk, AI governance, digital minds, biological risk, human enhancement, moral uncertainty, effective altruism, grand futures, long-term, and ethical theory.

While the official website used to be filled with the most recent research papers and news, this has now been overtaken by a long piece of text with the caption ‘2005-2024.’

It’s revealed that on April 16 2024, the Institute was officially closed down.

The team behind the Institute describes its 19-year existence as having included “a series of research contributions that helped change our conversation about the future and contributed to the creation of several new fields and paradigms…

“Over the course of its 19 years, FHI inspired the emergence of a vibrant ecosystem of organizations where the kinds of questions that FHI investigated can be explored.

“Topics that once struggled to eke out a precarious existence at the margins of a single philosophy department are now pursued by leading AI labs, government agencies, nonprofits, and specialized academic research centers.”

Future of Humanity Institute shuts its doors due to several failures

The website statement reads: “Over time FHI faced increasing administrative headwinds within the Faculty of Philosophy (the Institute’s organizational home).

“Starting in 2020, the Faculty imposed a freeze on fundraising and hiring. In late 2023, the Faculty of Philosophy decided that the contracts of the remaining FHI staff would not be renewed.”

A final Future of Humanity Institute report was attached to the statement, with a section on ‘where we failed.’ Within this, the team writes: “We did not invest enough in university politics and sociality to form a long-term stable relationship with our faculty.”

The organization and scaling-up process was also outlined as an issue: “The early informal structure cannot be maintained beyond a certain size, and must be gradually replaced with an internal structure.

“Doing this gracefully, without causing administrative sclerosis or lack of delegation, is tricky and in my opinion we somewhat failed.”

Featured Image: Ideogram

The post “Top research center, set up to assess humanity’s future prospects, shuts” by Sophie Atkinson was published on 04/18/2024 by