Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute Closes After Pioneering 19 Years

After nearly two decades of groundbreaking research, the “Future of Humanity Institute (FHI)” at Oxford University has ceased operations as of April 17, 2024. Founded in 2005 by Prof Nick Bostrom, FHI was initially set for a three-year term but extended its influence far beyond its expected lifespan, becoming a leading voice in fields such as human enhancement, existential risk, and longtermism.

FHI’s interdisciplinary team, drawing from philosophy, computer science, mathematics, and economics, tackled some of the most profound questions facing human civilization. Their work fostered the development of new fields and paradigms, including AI alignment, AI governance, and global catastrophic risk, among others. The institute’s legacy includes contributions to existential risk and effective altruism, as well as advancements in systemic risk modeling and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Despite its success, FHI faced mounting administrative challenges within the Faculty of Philosophy, leading to a fundraising and hiring freeze in 2020. The final blow came in late 2023 when the faculty decided not to renew the contracts of the remaining staff, culminating in the institute’s closure.

The dissolution of FHI marks the end of an era but also the beginning of a new chapter. The institute’s alumni and its intellectual progeny continue to explore the questions that once found a home at the margins of academia. These inquiries now thrive across a spectrum of organizations, including top AI labs, government bodies, and dedicated research centers, ensuring that FHI’s pioneering spirit lives on in the quest to understand and shape humanity’s future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *