Summit on Existential Security 2023

The CEA events team wants to be more transparent about what we’re doing, to allow feedback and visibility. We’re not committing to publishing detailed information about every event, but in that spirit, we wanted to share something about an event we’re running soon — the Summit on Existential Security — even though it’s an invite-only event and we don’t expect the information in this post to be directly useful to many people.

The Summit on Existential Security will take place the week following EA Global: Bay Area 2023.

The summit is aimed at professionals working directly or indirectly (for example, through grantmaking) towards existential security (i.e. addressing existential risks). The event aims to help participants orient themselves to the complex and developing existential risk situation so that we have the best shot at identifying and pursuing important ways to reduce the risk of existential catastrophe.

In particular, the summit aims to facilitate conversations that make progress on crucial topics. We’re especially interested in topics that are important but aren’t fully within the remit of any research group (perhaps because they’re big-picture, cross-cutting, new, or not purely academic). We hope these might lead people to better understand something important, change their minds, make new plans, or improve their strategies. Near the end of the summit, there will be sessions designed to encourage attendees to get into the details of making specific plans. But we don’t need every conversation to have immediate decision relevance.

A secondary goal of the summit is to build the professional community of people working on existential security. We expect the event to be especially valuable for people who are less plugged in to existing networks to be able to make useful connections. Past impact evaluations for the Coordination Forum and similar events indicate that often the people who got the most out of these events are those who were relatively less plugged in to the community core prior to the event.

The summit will have approximately 160 attendees. The event size was chosen because we wanted to experiment with whether we could get the benefits attendees report from the Coordination Forum and similar retreat-style events at a larger scale (the summit will be about 3 times larger than the Coordination Forum was last year). Compared to EA Global, the summit will be much smaller (10 times smaller) and is residential. This means the summit can be focused on collaborative group sessions which try to make progress on important topics related to reducing existential risk and on facilitating and strengthening connections between people working on existential security.

The summit is an invite-only event. Invitations to the event were assembled via two mechanisms:

  1. A convening committee of eight community advisors selected some people to invite based on their work and how helpful we thought they could be to other attendees.

  2. We reached out to about 25 people to ask for recommendations for people in their networks who might be less well-known to other parts of the community.

    1. If the summit proves to be successful, we may consider expanding this method in the future.

It’s important to note that this event is not an attempt to collect individuals who are doing the highest-value work on existential security, but rather a mix of individuals working on object-level and meta-level issues, in order to facilitate important connections between these groups.

The summit is being organized by the Partner Events team, a new program within the CEA Events team that supports subject matter experts to run high-impact events. The Partner Events team is working on a variety of events, including an event to support the effective giving community. We’re working with Isaac Dunn and Owen Cotton-Barratt on the strategy and content for the summit. [1]

  1. ^

    As of 11 February 2023, Owen Cotton-Barratt stepped back from any decision-making on the Summit on Existential Security. See more here.