Which problem are they working on?
Risks of Astronomical Future Suffering
- Strong arguments suggest that we should give moral priority to reducing and preventing extreme suffering.
- There are significant risks associated with the development of new technologies, meaning they have the potential to create vast amounts of suffering if used improperly.
- Almost no resources are currently invested into foundational research aimed at reducing tail risks of astronomical suffering in the future, even though those risks matter most in expected value.
Why is this problem important?
Individuals that will exist in the future have the same moral value as those that exist today. That is, we shouldn’t count future individuals as less valuable than those currently alive. Furthermore, the individuals currently existing are vastly outnumbered by those that will exist in the far future. Because of this, we can potentially have the best impact by focusing on improving the far future, rather than the immediate future. However, research focused on reducing suffering in the far future is neglected relative to efforts focused on reducing extinction risk. This means it is an important and underexplored cause area, especially given the scale of potential suffering.
What do they do?
The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) researches how to best reduce suffering in the near and far future. FRI publishes essays and academic articles, and advises various individuals and policymakers. FRI’s current focus is on exploring effective, robust, and cooperative strategies to avoid dystopian futures. The scope of their research ranges from foundational questions about consciousness and ethics, such as which entities are morally relevant and how we should act under uncertainty, to policy implications for animal advocacy, global cooperation, and AI safety.
Does it work?
FRI has produced a great amount of research relevant to macrostrategy about reducing suffering and influencing far future outcomes. They also launched the fields of insect, wildlife animal and digital suffering research and are currently the only organization conducting Artificial Intelligence Safety research with an explicit focus on suffering reduction.
We recommend FRI because of its:
- High quality research.
- Cause neutrality and focus on the most effective ways to reduce suffering.
- Great potential to decrease risks of dystopian future scenarios.