“The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Palaeolithic emotions, mediaeval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”
- E.O. Wilson
"Those who plant trees, knowing that only others will enjoy the shade, are public benefactors."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero
Improving Institutional Decision Making
Improving institutional decision making (IIDM) has considerable overlap with several cause areas, suggesting its own robustness as a cause area. However it also remains relatively under-leveraged within Effective Altruism; particularly deliberation, decision making under deep uncertainty, and foresight mechanisms deployed therein.
In particular, extant organisations neglect deliberative democracy as particularly effective, tractable, and impactful despite theoretical and empirical successes. We intend to blend deliberative mechanisms (both in person, and via tools such as pol.is) with foresight exercises, and expert aggregation methods such as the Real-time Delphi Method.
In the short term, we see that citizen assemblies can be convened quickly, producing enhanced results against policy making as it currently exists. For the medium term, we see it as a means to address neglecting skin in the game and collective intelligence, the underutilisation of which can be costly, particularly to intercausal and holistic approaches to civilisational risk. We also see it demonstrating improvements in longtermist deliberation, for example with the Japanese study in Yahaba Town.
Longtermism may not be the only framework for mitigating X-risk and GCR, but it is a vital lens, especially when working on neglected "broad approaches" that appear robust.
Value lock-in is a major risk in the long run, with our era arguably having as crucial a position as the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment did on the nascent principles and institutions of the modern era.
Accordingly, we emphasise buttressing what Nick Beckstead has outlined as "coordination, capability, motives, and information" capacities today are crucial. Besides IIDM above, we also identify open science and meta-research as associated reforms within the 'Odyssean democratic' framework, as enormous amounts of knowledge and technological development may be unduly constrained by publishing houses today.
Global Catastrophic Risks & Collapse
We welcome a growing appreciation for the irreducible interconnections at systemic levels that amplify intercausal risk, itself contributing to compound, interconnected, interacting, and cascade risks.
Through complexity modelling, agent based, and systems dynamical modelling, we intend to execute decision making under deep uncertainty, fostering greater integration of the natural and social sciences for enhanced understanding of solutions.
This approach is further informed by historical data and current trends within biophysical, informational, and multiscale political (municipal to regional to national and global) trends. We believe in particular with subpar policy responses to climate change, collapse risk deserves far greater attention in an expansive framework for GCR.
The risk of astronomical suffering only increases as technological potency and political failures accumulate; escalating conflict dynamics, psychological and trauma conditioning, and terror management all constitute under-explored components of burgeoning attention on S-risk.
A combination of developing pharmaceutical, existential, and deliberative mechanisms will be explored in the interests of diffusing the 'hidden variables' behind much of malevolent actors' and perverse incentives worsening global wellbeing and mental health, with all their incumbent second order impacts on X-risk and GCR.