Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

I am Chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and in this role I help set the hands of the Doomsday Clock. The goal of the Bulletin is to alert the world to existential threats, primarily those of our own making. At the moment the two overwhelming threats to civilization are nuclear devastation and climate change. The situation is dire; it is currently 90 seconds to midnight. This is the closest we have ever been to global annihilation in the history of the Doomsday Clock, including in the depths of the cold war.

More detail can be found in this report accompanying our latest setting of the clock, and this WBEZ interview about the Doomsday Clock’s history and significance.

Doomsday Clock Graphic - it is 90 seconds to midnight

Existential Risk Laboratory

I am the founding director of the UChicago Existential Risk Laboratory. XLab’s mission is to understand and mitigate existential and global catastrophic risks while training the next generation of scholars and policymakers. Our work is focused on existential risks that threaten the very survival of civilization, including nuclear war, climate change, biological hazards, and AI-fueled disinformation.

We are building a world-leading hub for research and education in existential risk. Our activities include developing classes, building an interdisciplinary community of faculty, and laying the groundwork for a formal undergraduate program. UChicago is the ideal home for XLab, given our history birthing the atomic age, as well as housing the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the first institution expressly devoted to addressing and mitigating existential risk.

Doomsday Clock Graphic - it is 90 seconds to midnight
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

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