This event launched an ambitious new book – The Era of Global Risk as part of the Cambridge Festival 2023. This volume curates 11 specially commissioned essays that give a comprehensive and accessible overview of the emerging science of existential risk studies and is edited by SJ Beard, Clarissa Rios Rojas, and Catherine Richards of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), with Professor Lord Martin Rees.
SJ Beard is an Academic Programme Manager and Senior Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. They work across CSER’s research projects, including foundational research on the ethics of human extinction; developing methods to study extreme, low probability, and unprecedented events; understanding and addressing the constraints that prevent decision-makers taking action to keep us safe; and building existential hope in the possibility of safe, joyous, and inclusive futures for human beings on planet earth. They have a PhD in Philosophy and an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics. As well as research, SJ has extensive experience across politics and policy-making, including as a researcher in the UK parliament, think tanks, and NGOs. They have taught moral and political philosophy and provide mentorship and supervision through Magnify Mentoring and the Effective Thesis Project.
Martin Rees is the UK’s Astronomer Royal and a Crossbencher in the House of Lords. He is based at Cambridge University where he is a Fellow (and former Master) of Trinity College. He is a former President of the Royal Society and a member of many foreign academies. His research interests include space exploration and cosmology. He is a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge University (CSER), and has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control, and international collaboration in science. In addition to his research publications he has written many general articles and ten books, including, most recently, ‘On the Future: Prospects for Humanity’, ‘The End of Astronauts’, and ‘If Science is to Save Us’.
Catherine Richards has 15+ years of experience at the intersection of real assets, emerging technology, and sustainability. During her time at CSER (2020–2022), where she co-edited this book, Catherine’s research developed our understanding of global risks, governance mechanisms and technical solutions in relation to complex critical infrastructure systems, largely focused on environmental risks, future foods biotechnology, digital twins, and artificial intelligence. She is now working as a management consultant at a top tier firm. Previously, Catherine developed strategy for a climate tech start-up. She dabbled in novel materials and real estate constructions while completing her PhD(Eng) at Cambridge on energy transition, climate change and agri-food supply chain risk. Prior to that, she was an engineer at a top Fortune 500 company in the energy sector and government corporation in the water sector, the latter while completing her BEng(Civ) and BEng(Env) at University of Newcastle, Australia. Catherine has multiple publications in top academic journals, including the Nature portfolio; is a John Monash scholar; and was recognised in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Industry Innovation.
Clarissa Rios Rojas is a science diplomat, a government science advisor and, currently, a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (University of Cambridge), where she works at the interface of science and policymaking. Clarissa researches the risks coming from emerging technologies and also builds science-policy interfaces that can provide scientific evidence and advice to different policy stakeholders (public sector, businesses and civil society). Clarissa has worked closely with different international organisations building programmes for women’s economic empowerment (UN Women), writing white papers on policy for economic transformation and frontier risks (WEF’s Future Councils), collaborating on the production of reports on Foresight (G20, WHO), leading Science Government Advice workshops (Global Young Academy/INGSA), and mentoring scientists in the Global South (UN’s Biological Convention Program), among others. She is also an expert advisor for the OECD (on Global Catastrophic Risks), the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board (on Effective Multilateralism), the UK parliament (bill on Future Generations), and the UNDRR (new scientific agenda for the Sendai Framework). Her website is: www.clarissarios.com/.