Human extinction risk has increased from almost zero to an estimated likelihood of one in six in the next hundred years, according to recent research from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. We think this likelihood is unacceptably high.

We also believe that the first step towards decreasing existential risk is awareness. Therefore, the Existential Risk Observatory is committed to reducing human existential risk by informing the public debate.

The most important existential risks as recent research¹ identifies them are:
¹Ord, Toby, Oxford University. The precipice: existential risk and the future of humanity. Hachette Books, 2020
Unaligned AI

Future artificial intelligence (AI) with goals that may be different from ours

Man-made pandemics

Genetically modified pandemics leading to extinction

Climate change

Extreme climate change scenarios causing complete extinction

Nuclear war

Extreme nuclear war causing complete extinction

Total natural risk

The sum of all natural extinction risks, such as supervolcanoes and asteroids

Other man-made risks

Other man-made extinction risks, including technologies still to be invented


Their estimated chance of occurence in the next hundred years is presented below.
It can be seen that:
  • These existential risks are unacceptably high.
  • Man-made extinction risks, such as unaligned AI and man-made pandemics, are a lot riskier than natural ones. These risks are preventable in principle.

Our mission

Existential risk has risen to an unacceptable likelihood of one in six in the next hundred years. Since the sources of existential risk are mostly man-made, humanity has the power to reduce its own extinction risk. We must do so now.
At the Existential Risk Observatory, we believe that being aware of a problem is the first step towards solving it. Our mission is therefore to:

Increase existential risk awareness


Collect existential risk information


Spread existential risk information from academia to academia, think tanks, policy makers, and media.

“Existential risk reduction is among humanity’s most important and urgent challenges today. Unfortunately, it is also among the most neglected. So, I fully support the Existential Risk Observatory’s important mission!”

Andreas T. SchmidtAssociate Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Groningen

“Artificial general intelligence is an existential risk for humanity.”

Jan A. BergstraProfessor emeritus of Computer Science

“We humans often worry about the wrong things. The Existential Risk Observatory wants to help us have the right priorities and focus on what is really dangerous, potentially even threatening the very existence of human civilization. It is a message that I approve of.”

Simon FriederichAssociate Professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Groningen

Otto Barten


Otto is a sustainable energy engineer, data scientist, and entrepreneur. When he realized that existential risks are even more important than climate, he started the Existential Risk Observatory.

Joep Sauren


Joep is an Industry 4.0 specialist and Managing Partner at Syndustry. As treasurer of the Existential Risk Observatory he keeps the foundation effectively organised and accounted.

Marko van der Wal


Marko has a degree in Classics. He is currently working as an editor at a publishing house and at a literary magazine, and is active as translator and (occasional) writer.

Ruben Dieleman

Ruben Dieleman


Ruben is an all-round effective altruism expert with a background in political science research, journalism, and entrepreneurship. He wants to generate more attention for existential risk reduction.

Eefje van Esch


Eefje has extensive experience in campaigning and lobbying on global poverty issues.

Ben Bucknall


Ben has a background in pure mathematics and is now interested in how mathematical and computational models can be used to further our understanding of existential risks. At the observatory he is responsible for ensuring that the information given is reliable and up-to-date.

Holly Warner


Holly has a research background in social anthropology and is a postdoctoral qualitative researcher with a focus on technological futures and mediation. At the observatory she is researching emerging technologies and working on AI governance policy proposals.

Francesca Fleurbaay

Francesca Fleurbaay

Conference organizer

Francesca has a background in psychology (University College Groningen) and is responsible for the organization of the Existential Risk Conference. She is excited to spread awareness about existential risk!

Kali Richards


Kali is a student of political science interested in effective altruism and policy focused on the long-term benefit of humanity. At the observatory she is responsible for media and fundraising outreach.

Alexia Georgiadis


Alexia has a background in political and economic sciences with a focus on governance and development. She is responsible for research on the effectiveness of communicating existential risk.

In the media