CLTR is an independent think tank with a mission to transform global resilience to extreme risks. We do this by working with governments and other institutions to improve relevant governance, processes, and decision making. We are based in the heart of Whitehall at Public Hall.
Extreme risks are high impact threats with global reach. They have the potential to devastate lives and economies around the world.
While Covid-19 demonstrates the impact that extreme risks can have, we are likely to face greater risks within our lifetimes. Threats from misuse of biotechnology or powerful AI systems would likely be even more destructive, and we are even less well prepared for them.
The UK Government, alongside other organisations, has made substantial progress in building resilience in the wake of Covid-19. But much more needs to be done.
By making relatively small and inexpensive changes, we can reduce the likelihood of extreme events occurring, and transform our ability to respond if they do.
We think of building resilience to extreme risks as an insurance policy — for the UK and the wider world.
IMPROVING RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESSES
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH FUNDING
BIOSECURITY AND PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS
INCREASING AWARENESS OF EXTREME RISKS
Our Approach and Beliefs
We believe that extreme risks pose some of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century, and want to work with a wide range of people and organisations who share our goals. As a result, we aim to collaborate with a broad coalition of policymakers, academics, think tanks and private-sector risk experts.
We draw our inspiration from a wide range of sources which include:
The academic disciplines of global catastrophic risk and existential risk;
Private sector risk management best practice;
The policy areas of technology governance, civil service reform and global health security;
Some of the core ideas of effective altruism (in particular, its focus on trying to solve important, neglected and tractable problems) and social justice (in particular, concern for the potential victims of extreme risk events like Covid-19).
We focus on two areas of risk where effective governance today could substantially mitigate both current and future threats:
Artificial intelligence (AI), including risks arising from unethical uses of AI, from AI systems behaving in unintended ways in high-stakes domains, and from the broader impacts of AI on the economy and society.
Biosecurity, including risks arising from naturally-occurring pandemics, laboratory leaks, bioweapons and ‘dual-use’ research (advances that can be used for harm as well as good).
A resilient world is one which has systems in place to anticipate, mitigate and respond to all extreme risks. To help build this resilience, we also focus on Risk Management more broadly — the process of both transforming risk governance, and of identifying, assessing and mitigating all extreme risks.
We help governments and other institutions transform resilience to extreme risks by:
Helping decision-makers and the wider public to understand extreme risks and what can be done about them.
Providing expert advice and red-teaming on policy decisions.
Convening cross-sector conversations and workshops related to extreme risks.
Developing and advocating for policy recommendations and effective risk management frameworks and systems.
Providing an exchange for specialist knowledge, including by facilitating expert placements into government.
Our recent work includes:
Future Proof, a roadmap setting out how the UK Government can improve its resilience to extreme risks, and assessing its current level of focus on each of these risks.
A proposal for a philanthropic prize to incentivise the development of clinical metagenomics, a potentially game-changing new technology to help defend society against emerging biological threats.
A proposal for a new ‘three lines of defence’ mechanism to improve the UK Government’s ability to identify and manage extreme risks, with a Chief Risk Officer at its centre.
A proposal to create a new UK National Institute for Biological Security, to ensure that post-Covid19 biosecurity policy goes beyond ensuring preparedness for naturally occurring pandemics, and focuses on even more serious threats such as biological weapons and laboratory escapes.
Recommendations for how the UK’s new research agency, Aria, can create the culture and structures it needs to succeed.
Recommendations for how the UK’s defence procurement policy can help ensure the safe development of new technologies.
Presentations for teams across the UK Government on the nature of extreme risks, and how they can be managed.
Feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about our recent projects, or how we might be able to support your work.