Rethink Priorities — Existential Security Team

Rethink Priorities

Longtermism Research

Rethink Priorities’ Existential Security Team is working to cause the greatest expected increase it can to the value of the long-term future. It focuses on research and field building related to reducing existential risks — including the risk of human extinction.


What problem is Rethink Priorities’ Existential Security Team working on?

Humanity could have a bright and long future that may span many millions of years — assuming that we effectively navigate various risks and build the foundations for a flourishing future society.

What does the Existential Security Team do?

Rethink Priorities’ Longtermism department grew significantly in 2022, from three to 16 people (including permanent and temporary staff). The department is organised into the AI Governance & Strategy Team and the Existential Security Team (XST). Donations here will support the work of XST.

The XST's work involves both research and field building.

Its research explores how decision-makers can best reduce extreme risks and safeguard a flourishing future — including topics such as pandemic prevention, civilisational resilience, risks from nanotechnology, and forecasting methods.

In field building, XST:

  • Helps others develop key skills, enter impactful roles, and launch promising initiatives.
  • Provides infrastructure, fellowships, and events that strengthen the field of people working to improve the long-term future.

In 2022, the XST began investigating what entrepreneurial projects seem like they should be launched in order to improve the long-term future, and began exploring the idea of acting as an incubator for such projects. The team has helped launch two career advising and training projects — Condor Camp and EA Pathfinder — and is continuing to explore other project incubation ideas.

For more information about its future directions, see Rethink Priorities’ XST update from May 2023.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Rethink Priorities’ Existential Security Team?1.

The impact-focused evaluator, Longview Philanthropy, shared that it thought their work on safeguarding the long-term future was highly cost-effective.

Note that we and Longview are both part of Effective Ventures — see our transparency page.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.