Biosecurity & pandemics
Biosecurity & pandemics
Managing biological risks and preparing humanity for possible future pandemics


Metaculus is excited to announce the winners of the inaugural Keep Virginia Safe Tournament []! This first-of-its kind collaboration with the University of Virginia (UVA) Biocomplexity Institute [] and the Virginia Department of Health [] (VDH) delivered forecasting and modeling resources to public health professionals and public policy experts as they have navigated critical decisions on COVID-19. Congratulations to the top 3 prize winners! 1. Sergio []  2. 2e10e122 [] 3. mattvdm [] Thank you to forecasting community! Your predictions were integrated into VDH planning sessions and were shared with local health department staff, statewide epidemiologists, and even with the Virginia Governor’s office. For more details on the tournament outcomes, visit the project summary []. Our successful partnership with UVA and VDH continues through the Keep Virginia Safe II Tournament [], where Metaculus forecasts continue to provide valuable information []. Join to help protect Virginians and compete for $20,000 in prizes.  Find more information about the Keep Virginia Safe Tournament, including the complete leaderboard, here [].
Could the latent effects of Covid worsen AI alignment efforts and/or other x-risk responses? This is very much a 'I suspect (and hope) I'm wrong' question, but I thought it was still worth checking the rationale for this not being seen as a major issue. Essentially, is it likely that the long-term and latent effects of Covid on cognitive performance could significantly damage global responses to x-risks? With a studies finding cognitive decline [] and brain shrinkage after even mild Covid infections (with IQ drops higher than stroke patients in some severe cases) and Omicron variants, though less deadly, apparently still causing greater brain apoptosis [] (of many previously healthy cells) than previous variants, is it possible that mass infection could be causing some level of general cognitive decline? Or, if this is happening, to some extent, to most people, with mass infection, are we not even noticing the extent of this decline? If so, even if this is a pretty small or even negligible decline in most cases, if the raw ability to handle cognitive complexity is an important aspect of making effective political decisions, could small (and therefore particularly unnoticed) but en masse cognitive declines be enough to negatively tip the balance in responses to existing x-risks? Add in potential further declines from repeat infections and cumulative damage, and might key political decision-makers have unrecognised, biologically worsened responses to AI policy during a crucial period for the field?  Equally, could this affect responses to other, perhaps previously more manageable risks? E.g. for nuclear risks, with admittedly arbitrary numbers, if each year has a 1% pre-Covid risk of nuclear war, if Covid-related cognitive decline shifted this risk to even something like 1.1% per year, even small risk increases could still be significant for such a