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Call for Participants—Catastrophic Risk: Technologies and Policy Study Group

Berkman Study Group
Catastrophic Risk: Technologies and Policy
Convened by Bruce Schneier 

Technology empowers, for both good and bad. A broad history of "attack" technologies shows trends of empowerment, as individuals wield ever more destructive power. The natural endgame is a nuclear bomb in everybody's back pocket, or a bio-printer that can drop a species. And then what? Is society even possible when the most extreme individual can kill everyone else? Is totalitarian control the only way to prevent human devastation, or are there other possibilities? And how realistic are these scenarios, anyway? In this class, we'll discuss technologies like cyber, bio, nanotech, artificial intelligence, and autonomous drones; security technologies and policies for catastrophic risk; and more. Is the reason we've never met any extraterrestrials that natural selection dictates that any species achieving a sufficiently advanced technology level inevitably exterminates itself?

The study group may serve as a springboard for an independent paper and credit, in conjunction with faculty supervision from your program.

All disciplines and backgrounds welcome, students and non-students alike. This discussion needs diverse perspectives. We also ask that you commit to preparing for and participating in all sessions.

Six sessions, Mondays, 5:00–7:00 PM, Location TBD
9/14, 9/28, 10/5, 10/19, 11/23, 11/30

Please respond to Bruce Schneier <> with a resume and statement of interest. Applications due August 14. Bruce will review applications and aim for a seminar size of roughly 16–20 people with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise.

What are Study Groups?

This year we are piloting a new agile and responsive format for exploring the important questions facing Internet and Society through in-depth discussion and development.

The Study Group format is design to encourage public participation with anyone in the greater Boston community. That might include students from Harvard and other Boston-area institutions, industry experts, and so on. The goal is to foster diversity of participation across disciplines and experience to tackle interesting questions in novel ways and with fresh perspective.

Feel free to share this opportunity with any others who might be interested in participating.


Sara M. Watson <> 
Berkman Study Groups Coordinator


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