Scope–severity grid from Bostrom's paper "Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority"[1]

Suffering risks, or s-risks, are risks involving an astronomical amount of suffering; much more than all of the suffering that has occurred on Earth thus far.[2][3] They are sometimes categorized as a subclass of existential risks.[4]

Sources of possible s-risks include embodied artificial intelligence[5] and superintelligence,[6] as well as space colonization, which could potentially lead to "constant and catastrophic wars"[7] and an immense increase in wild animal suffering by introducing wild animals, who "generally lead short, miserable lives full of sometimes the most brutal suffering", to other planets, either intentionally or inadvertently.[8]

Steven Umbrello, an AI ethics researcher, has warned that biological computing may make system design more prone to s-risks.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Bostrom, Nick (2013). "Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority" (PDF). Global Policy. 4 (1): 15–3. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12002 – via Existential Risk.
  2. ^ Daniel, Max (2017-06-20). "S-risks: Why they are the worst existential risks, and how to prevent them (EAG Boston 2017)". Center on Long-Term Risk. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  3. ^ Hilton, Benjamin (September 2022). "'S-risks'". 80,000 Hours. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  4. ^ Baumann, Tobias (2017). "S-risk FAQ". Center for Reducing Suffering. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  5. ^ a b Umbrello, Steven; Sorgner, Stefan Lorenz (June 2019). "Nonconscious Cognitive Suffering: Considering Suffering Risks of Embodied Artificial Intelligence". Philosophies. 4 (2): 24. doi:10.3390/philosophies4020024. hdl:2318/1702133.
  6. ^ Sotala, Kaj; Gloor, Lukas (2017-12-27). "Superintelligence As a Cause or Cure For Risks of Astronomical Suffering". Informatica. 41 (4). ISSN 1854-3871.
  7. ^ Torres, Phil (2018-06-01). "Space colonization and suffering risks: Reassessing the "maxipok rule"". Futures. 100: 74–85. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2018.04.008. ISSN 0016-3287. S2CID 149794325.
  8. ^ Kovic, Marko (2021-02-01). "Risks of space colonization". Futures. 126: 102638. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2020.102638. ISSN 0016-3287. S2CID 230597480.

Further reading