John Burden; Sam Clarke; Jess Whittlestone

Published On


Page Range

pp. 201–236


  • English

Print Length

36 pages



9. From Turing’s Speculations to an Academic Discipline: A History of AI Existential Safety

Through a short history of research into artificial intelligence, this chapter emphasises the need to ensure the safety of such technology. From longstanding fears of hubris to contemporary technical challenges, concerns around this modern technology are discussed, and the need to make progress on AI existential safety to avoid dangers to future generations is scrutinised.


John Burden

Post-Doctoral Researcher at Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

John Burden is a postdoc working at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. His work focuses on developing robust evaluation frameworks for AI systems in order to properly understand these systems’ capabilities and limitations, as well as identifying links between an AI system’s capability, generality, and the risks the system poses. John has a background in Computer Science, having completed his PhD at the University of York, as well as holding a master’s degree from Oriel College, Oxford.

Sam Clarke


Sam Clarke is the Strategy Manager at the Centre for the Governance of AI in Oxford. He researches actionable questions related to AI governance field-building strategy. He has a background in computer science and philosophy, and previously worked as an AI governance researcher at the University of Cambridge.

Jess Whittlestone


Jess Whittlestone is Head of AI Policy at the Centre for Long-Term Resilience. She was previously a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the AI: Futures and Responsibility Programme at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, both at the University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD in Behavioural Science from the University of Warwick and a master’s in Mathematics and Philosophy from University of Oxford.