CSER Researchers Contribute to House of Lords Report

The House of Lords’ Select Committee report on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning was released on the 3rd of December, and cited written and oral evidence from Centre for the Study of Existential Risk scholars.

The report concluded that the UK must be “better at anticipating preparing for, and responding to a range of challenging scenarios, including those which it had never experienced for”. It found that the UK Government’s current strategy is insufficiently transparent. In discussing futures methodologies, it cited CSER’s Dr SJ Beard recommendation that risk futures work should be “transparent, open to challenge, and involve a diverse group of participants”.

Government's current process is insufficiently transparently

The report found that the Government’s risk assessment process is “unable to encompass the complexity of risks facing the UK”, “fails to account for interconnected or cascading risks and chronic or long-term risks” and “has a bias against low likelihood-high impact risks”.

The report also acknowledged weaknesses in the UK’s role in risks requiring global coordination, citing CSER’s written submission: “as many extreme risks are global in nature, national risk mitigation efforts should also include pursuing international agreements and action.” The report also made several recommendations that have featured in recent reports by CSER, the Future of Humanity Institute, and other UK global catastrophic risk scholars. These include the creation of a Chief Risk Officer for the Government, and extending the two-year time frame of the National Security Risk Assessment.

CSER’s Executive Director Sean O hEigeartaigh says:
“The House of Lords report is timely and important. As we continue to battle Covid-19 and face the challenges of climate change and emerging technologies, it has never been more important for the UK to understand complex and cascading risks, and high impact, low probability risks. The report’s recommendations around sophisticated and transparent foresight and risk methodologies, as well as the creation of specific offices tasked with leading on global risk mitigation, are crucial. We look forward to opportunities to work with the Government to enhance the UK’s preparedness.

CSER researchers who contributed written or oral evidence include Shahar Avin, Lalitha Sundaram, Matthijs Maas, Jess Whittlestone, Tom Hobson, SJ Beard, Clarissa Rios Rojas, Luke Kemp and former CSER Executive Director Catherine Rhodes, as well as CFI Director Stephen Cave.

Read the full House of Lord's report below:

Read report

Submission of Evidence to The House of Lords Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning

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Foresight for unknown, long-term and emerging risks, Approaches and Recommendations

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S.J. Beard presented Evidence to the House of Lords Inquiry into Risk Assessment and Risk Planning

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