Seth Baum

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Seth Baum at the 2018 Princeton Envision Conference.

Seth Baum is an American researcher focusing on existential risk and global catastrophic risks. He is the executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (GCRI) think tank. He is also affiliated with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science and the Columbia University Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.

Academic career

Baum obtained his BS in optics and mathematics in 2007 at the University of Rochester, followed by an MS in Electrical Engineering, Northeastern University in 2006.[1]

In 2012, he obtained his Ph.D in Geography with his dissertation on climate change policy: "Discounting Across Space and Time in Climate Change Assessment" from Pennsylvania State University.[2] Later, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the [olumbia University Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Baum the steered his research interests into astrophysics and global risks, including global warming and nuclear war, and the development of effective solutions for reducing them.

Furthermore, he is a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis and is an Affiliate Scholar for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.[3]


Seth Baum leads a workshop exploring the social impacts of nanotechnology and atomically precise manufacturing (APM) at the 2018 Princeton Envision Conference.

As a graduate student in Northstrom, Boston, Baum contributed to the Whats Up magazine (now Spare Change News), from 2004 to 2007. In 2011, Baum co-founded GCRI along with Tony Barrett, with the mission to "develop the best ways to confront humanity's gravest threats". The institute has since grown rapidly, publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals and media outlets As of 2016, its main work is on the "Integrated Assessment Project", which assesses all the global catastrophic risks in order to make them available for societal learning and decision making processes. GCRI is funded by "a mix of grants, private donations, and occasional consulting work.

Two years later, Baum hosted a regular blog on Scientific American[4] and has been interviewed about his work and research in the History Channel and the O'Reilly Factor,[5] where he was asked about studying possible human contact with extraterrestrial life and the ethics involved. He also started contributing regularly to The Huffington Post, writing about the Ukrainian crisis and the Syrian Civil War as possible scenarios for nuclear war.[6]

In 2016, after receiving a 100,000 dollar grant from the Future of Life Institute[7] his research interests shifted to AI safety and the ethics of outer space. That same year, he wrote a monthly column for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, where he discussed AI threats, biological weapons and the risks of nuclear deterrence failure.[8]

External links