Global priorities research is an academic discipline at the intersection of economics, philosophy, maths and social sciences. It aims to determine how individuals and institutions should spend their limited resources in order to improve the world by as much as possible.
In this section, we give some background into research we are particularly interested in funding. This is in no way an exhaustive list of research, and we are always interested in hearing about things you think we should add to the list. We hope this serves as a research for anyone looking for literature on the subject.
Let us define longtermism as the view that the primary determinant of the differences in value of the actions we take today is the effect of those actions on the very long-term future. This view is relatively uncommon, but it is supported by arguments that are at least prima facie compelling, and has widespread significance if correct. As a result, more work is warranted (a) to make the moral arguments underpinning long-term concern more rigorous, and to explore the extent to which concern for the long term is justified on a variety of moral views; and (b) to test the empirical claim that our actions’ most important impacts are those that affect the long term, and to determine in which domains of action there are the most significant long-term consequences.
Broadly speaking, those that subscribe to longtermism often believe that the most cost-effective activities fall into one of two categories. One consists of efforts to improve the trajectory of civilisational development, such as by improving global institutions, managing the introduction of emerging technologies, or promoting a more mainstream programme of economic growth. The other consists of efforts to mitigate ‘existential risks’, where an existential risk is one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development.
This framework poses numerous unresolved questions. Is the above categorisation exhaustive, or does it overlook important considerations central to the longtermist project? If it is roughly correct, how should we prioritise across these categories, and how to prioritise interventions within each?