Past CSER Conferences

The Cambridge Catastrophic Risk Conference, CSER’s biennial conference, is aimed at researchers and policymakers working to understand and mitigate the greatest risks facing humanity. 

Since 2016, CSER has hosted a biennial conference focused on the core themes of our research. The conferences serve not only to address important issues facing the existential risk research community, but also to establish and maintain the connections with other communities that contribute to the field. 

Find out more about the previous conferences below.

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk 2022

The 2022 conference focused on three themes: future risks, and how we can study them; real catastrophes, and what we can learn from them; and effective global responses that manage the risks, and how we can achieve them. The conference consisted of a programme of lectures, panels, workshops, and lightning talks, including in-depth presentation of the methods and findings from CSER's multi-year interdisciplinary project A Science of Global Risk.


Speakers included:

  • Tina Park (Partnership on AI)
  • Joachim Isacsson (Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre)
  • Robin Gorna (Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria)
  • Bryan Walsh (Vox)
  • Jenty Kirsch-Wood (UNDRR)
  • Oliver Letwin (KCL Project for Peaceful Competition)

Day 1 blog and videos 

Day 2 blog and videos 

Day 3 blog and videos 

Conference Programme

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk 2020 – 2020 Hindsight: Our Final Century Revisited

The conference drew on key themes from Lord Martin Rees’ seminal 2003 book Our Final Century, to reflect on the growth and development of the field of global catastrophic risk research over the last decades. 

Tom McLean 1 Martin

Speakers included:

  • Keynote: Martin Rees
  • Bentley Allan (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Nancy Connell (Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security)
  • Doug Erwin (Smithsonian Institute)
  • Jason Hickel (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Karim Jebari (Institute for Future Studies)
  • Lindley Johnson (NASA)
  • Ndidi Nwaneri (Interational Development Ethics Association)
  • Stuart Parkinson (Scientists for Global Responsibility)
  • Malcolm Potts (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Veerabhadran Ramanathan (University of California, San Diego)
  • Heather Roff (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Anders Sandberg (University of Oxford)
  • Sheri Wells-Jensen (Bowling Green State University)

Watch videos of 2020 conference here 

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk 2018

The conference discussedndevelopments in the field of existential and global catastrophic risk research and specific challenges that have arisen in this work over recent years. It built on recommendations from our inaugural conference in 2016, and contributed to the further development of the community working in this field. The Conference contributed to the activities of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk’s Managing Extreme Technological Risks research project.


Speakers included:

  • Matthew Rendall
  • Silja Vöneky
  • Seth Baum
  • Tamsin Edwards
  • Karin Kuhlemann
  • Andrew Maynard
  • Kristel Fourie
  • Peter Ho
  • Alexandra Freeman

Watch videos of 2018 conference here 

Conference Report

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk 2016

The past five years have seen rapid growth in what Jaan Tallinn calls the “xrisk ecosystem” – a thriving community of researchers and others, inside and outside academia, united by a common interest in potential serious hazards of powerful and beneficial new technologies. This conference aims to bring this community together, to ask ourselves where our efforts should best be directed, over the rest of the decade and beyond.
Each of the three days of the conference focused on one of these areas:

  • Machine Intelligence: Creating A Community for Beneficial AI
  • Depreciation of Earth Systems: Biodiversity, Climate and Environmental Risks
  • Bioengineering: Lessons from Recent Cases for Building Engagement between Communities.

Speakers included:

  • Claire Craig, Director Science Policy, Royal Society
  • Rowan Douglas, Head of Willis Towers Watson’s Capital Science and Policy Practice
  • Victoria Krakovna, Future of Life Institute
  • Toby Walsh, Professor of AI, University of New South Wales
  • Peter Kareiva, Director UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
  • Tim Newbold, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, University College London
  • Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, University of Oxford
  • Jo Husbands, Senior Project Director, Board on Life Sciences, National Academies
  • Zabta Shinwari, Secretary General Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Professor and Chair Biotechnology Department, Quaid-i-Azam University
  • Sam Weiss-Evans, Research Fellow, Program on Science, Technology and Society, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Piers Millett, Wilson Center

Watch videos of 2016 conference here 

Conference Programme