This post introduces the miscellaneous (misc) and meta cause area stream within the Cambridge Existential Risks Initiative (CERI) summer research fellowship (SRF) 2022. Potential applicants: for an overview of the CERI SRF, please see our SRF announcement post, and to apply (April 3rd deadline), go here. Potential mentors: please complete this short form if you’re interested in supervising a research project in this programme, and we’ll be in touch with you in due course.
There are many existential risk (x-risk) projects one could tackle in a 10-week x-risk fellowship which don’t fit neatly into CERI’s other cause area streams of AI safety, biosecurity, nuclear risk, and extreme climate change, and which nonetheless score highly for importance, tractability, and neglectedness in relation to reducing x-risk and/or improving humanity’s long-term trajectory.
We’d be excited to support such research in our misc and meta stream. Projects here could range anywhere from technical to philosophical, from humanities to social science, from policy-flavoured to practically implementing an x-risk mitigation strategy.
Applications to misc and meta
Compared to the other cause area streams, applicants are much more likely to be proposing projects for which we have not already found a mentor who’d be a good fit. Therefore, misc and meta applicants are encouraged to be proactive in finding mentors for their projects.
In practice, the difference in the application process is likely to be the following. In each of the other cause areas, we have already connected with a pool of mentors, and we are thus able to carry out mentor-fellow matching - one component of CERI’s value proposition - as we evaluate applications. In order for us to be confident in our SRF value proposition for misc and meta stream fellows, therefore, applicants to this stream will name one or more potential mentors in their application, such that we can connect with these potential mentors at the evaluation stage.
To make the misc and meta stream more concrete, we list below some possible topics, along with some resources which could serve as project idea inspiration, that fit into this stream. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, and we’d be excited to see applications on topics we’ve not thought to include below. (And if you think we’ve missed an obvious category in our list, please do leave a comment on this post.)
Macrostrategy and theoretical longtermist global priorities research
- The Global Priorities Institute’s research agenda - 2020
- Crucial questions for longtermists - Michael Aird for Convergence Analysis, 2020
- Self-Study Directions [and Research Directions] in macrostrategy - Denis Drescher, 2020
Applied longtermist global priorities research and x-risk cause prioritization
- Doing empirical global priorities research - Luisa Rodriguez, 2020
- ‘Unanswered questions’ slide from this talk
- What is the likelihood that civilizational collapse would directly lead to human extinction (within decades)? (‘Other research directions’ section) - Luisa Rodriguez for Forethought Foundation, 2020
Social sciences, great power relations and existential risk factors
- Politics, Policy, and Security from a Broad Longtermist Perspective: A Preliminary Research Agenda - Michael Aird for Rethink Priorities, 2021
- Michael Aird Research statement for FHI RSP - Michael Aird, 2020
- Humanities Research Ideas for Longtermists - Lizka Vaintrob for Rethink Priorities, 2021
- Some history topics it might be very valuable to investigate - Michael Aird, 2020
- Some research ideas on the history of social movements - Rose Hadshar, 2022
- Towards a longtermist framework for evaluating democracy-related interventions (‘Directions for future research’ section) - Marie Buhl & Tom Barnes for Rethink Priorities, 2021
- ALLFED: Research priorities (2021) and Effective Theses topic ideas (2019) on global catastrophe preparation around food/starvation
- Seeking social science students / collaborators interested in AI existential risks (‘Research questions’ section) - Vael Gates, 2021
- Space Governance (‘Concrete questions in space governance you could research’ section) - Fin Moorhouse, 2022
- Legal Priorities Research: A Research Agenda (‘Space Governance’ section, pp. 105-112) - Legal Priorities Project, 2021
- Space governance is important, tractable and neglected (‘How to work on this?’ section) - Tobias Baumann, 2020
Forecasting and improving institutional decision-making (IIDM)
- Forecasting AI Progress: A Research Agenda - Gruetzemacher, Dorner, Bernaola-Alvarez, Giattino, & Manheim, 2020 (comments here)
- How valuable would more academic research on forecasting be? What questions should be researched? - Michael Aird, 2020
- Research Directions on Improving Policymaking - EA Geneva, 2020
- Legal Priorities Research: A Research Agenda (‘Institutional Design’ section, pp. 83-98) - Legal Priorities Project, 2021
The misc of the misc
- Research questions that could have a big social impact, organised by discipline - Arden Koehler & Howie Lempel for 80,000 Hours, 2020
This post is a project of Cambridge Existential Risks Initiative. The project ideas resource list is partly a selection from Michael Aird’s “A central directory for open research questions,” and partly an original and more up to date list curated by myself (Will Aldred). Thanks to Yannick Mühlhäuser and Caleb Parikh, who each made me aware of one article now included in the project resource list. Thanks also to Nandini Shiralkar and Caleb Parikh for helpful feedback.