Suffering risk

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A suffering risk (or s-risk) is a potential future with the amount of intense suffering vastly exceeding the amount of suffering that has ever occurred on Earth.[1]

Potential sources of s-risks that have been proposed include artificial sentience, wild-animal suffering beyond Earth[2], and powerful malevolent agents[3][4]. Space colonisation often is considered as a risk multiplier of a suffering risk coming about.[5][2] However, space colonization may reduce suffering instead if there is extraterrestrial sentience that the explorers decide to systematically help.[6]

Organizations that explicitly work on reducing s-risks include the Center on Long-Term Risk and the Center for Reducing Suffering.

Reducing s-risks


Several strategies for reducing s-risks have been proposed. One of them is expanding humanity’s moral circle together with raising concern for suffering.[7][8] This may be the most robust option, as “the values of future decision-makers are arguably the most fundamental determinant of how the future will go, which suggests that improving those values is a good lever”.[7]

This strategy of influencing future values can be viewed as a part of the broader proposed strategy of capacity building: capacity in a form of a "community interested in and knowledgeable about suffering reduction".[7]

Another proposed strategy for reducing s-risks is improving politics and governance. The idea is that this could help society avoid harmful political and social dynamics, create better policies, and improve cooperation more generally[9]. More specific examples of this strategy include screening out malevolent agents who run for public office[3], preventing excessive polarization, space governance[10], anti-totalitarian checks and balances, improving standards of political debate, and voting reform.[7]

Given that s-risk is a new and unexplored area of research, researching s-risks may be a robust way to reduce s-risks. Such research could uncover currently unknown s-risks and risk factors[5] and effective ways of reducing them. (Expanding the knowledge of how to best reduce suffering can be viewed as another aspect of capacity building.)[9][7]

See also

External links