CSER Panel: Doom and Doubt: Uncertain Futures & Open Questions about Existential Risk

Thursday 1 July, 17:00-18:00 (UK)

Existential risks surround us in the 21st century. From long standing concerns about nuclear weapons and environmental breakdown to emerging technological and systemic threats. Yet, while fear of human extinction and civilization collapse has abounded for decades, there is still so much we do not know about our vulnerability and exposure to these risks, or how best to make humanity safe.

In this panel, three CSER researchers from very different backgrounds will discuss how we can have frank, open, and vulnerable conversations about worst-case future scenarios that fully explore our biggest doubts, uncertainties, and confusions, without detracting from the importance of these risks. What are the crucial considerations we should focus on in studying these risks (their likelihood? Severity? Or how best to avoid them?) How can we learn more about what we don’t know? What would change our minds about the importance, neglectedness, or tractability of the problems that we study? How can we make or recommend decisions under such far-reaching uncertainty?

Bringing together insights from science, law and philosophy and years of studying different kinds of risk, this panel will offer challenging insights into how to live up to the highest epistemic standards while also confronting urgent threats.


  • Lalitha Sundaram has a PhD in Pathology and works on bio-risk, with a particular emphasis on regulation and governance.
  • S. J. Beard has a PhD in Philosophy and works on developing methods and tools to study and manage systemic global risks.
  • Matthijs Maas has a PhD in Law and works on adaptive global governance approaches for extreme technological risks.


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