Future of Life Institute

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Coordinates: 42°22′25″N 71°06′35″W / 42.3736158°N 71.1097335°W / 42.3736158; -71.1097335

Future of Life Institute
Future of Life Institute logo.svg
Formation March 2014; 4 years ago (2014-03)
Legal status Active
Purpose Mitigation of existential risk
Website FutureOfLife.org

The Future of Life Institute (FLI) is a volunteer-run research and outreach organization in the Boston area that works to mitigate existential risks facing humanity, particularly existential risk from advanced artificial intelligence (AI). Its founders include MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, and its board of advisors includes entrepreneur Elon Musk and cosmologist Stephen Hawking (prior to his death in 2018).


The FLI mission is to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges.[1][2] FLI is particularly focused on the potential risks to humanity from the development of human-level artificial intelligence.[3]

The Institute was founded in March 2014 by MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, Harvard graduate student and IMO medalist Viktoriya Krakovna, BU graduate student Meia Chita-Tegmark (Tegmark's wife), and UCSC physicist Anthony Aguirre. As of 2017, the Institute's 14-person Scientific Advisory Board comprises 13 men and one woman, and includes a computer scientist Stuart J. Russell, biologist George Church, cosmologists Stephen Hawking and Saul Perlmutter, theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, entrepreneur Elon Musk, and actors and science communicators Alan Alda and Morgan Freeman.[4][5][6] FLI operates grassroots-style to recruit volunteers and younger scholars from the local community in the Boston area.[3]


On May 24, 2014, FLI held a panel discussion on "The Future of Technology: Benefits and Risks" at MIT, moderated by Alan Alda.[3][7][8] The panelists were synthetic biologist George Church, geneticist Ting Wu, economist Andrew McAfee, physicist and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn.[9][10] The discussion covered a broad range of topics from the future of bioengineering and personal genetics to autonomous weapons, AI ethics and the Singularity.[3][11][12]

On January 2, 2015 through January 5, 2015, the Future of Life Institute organized and hosted "The Future of AI: Opportunities and Challenges" conference, which brought together the world's leading AI builders from academia and industry to engage with each other and experts in economics, law, and ethics. The goal was to identify promising research directions that can help maximize the future benefits of AI.[13] The Institute circulated an open letter on AI safety at the conference which was subsequently signed by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and many artificial intelligence experts.[14]

In January 2017, FLI organized a private gathering of what The New York Times called "heavy hitters of A.I." (including Yann LeCun, Elon Musk, and Nick Bostrum) to discuss concerns that A.I. research could lead to dangerous results.[15]

Global research program[edit]

On January 15, 2015, the Future of Life Institute announced that Elon Musk had donated $10 million to fund a global AI research endeavor.[16][17][18] On January 22, 2015, the FLI released a request for proposals from researchers in academic and other non-profit institutions.[19] Unlike typical AI research, this program is focused on making AI safer or more beneficial to society, rather than just more powerful.[20] On July 1, 2015, a total of $7 million was awarded to 37 research projects.[21]

In the media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Transcending Complacency on Superintelligent Machines". Huffington Post. 19 April 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "CSER News: 'A new existential risk reduction organisation has launched in Cambridge, Massachusetts'". Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 18 Sep 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "But What Would the End of Humanity Mean for Me?". The Atlantic. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Who we are". Future of Life Institute. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "Our science-fiction apocalypse: Meet the scientists trying to predict the end of the world". Salon. Retrieved 8 Oct 2014. 
  7. ^ "Events". Future of Life Institute. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Machine Intelligence Research Institute - June 2014 Newsletter". Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "FHI News: 'Future of Life Institute hosts opening event at MIT'". Future of Humanity Institute. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Future of Technology: Benefits and Risks". Personal Genetics Education Project. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Top 23 One-liners From a Panel Discussion That Gave Me a Crazy Idea". Diana Crow Science. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Future of Technology: Benefits and Risks". MIT Tech TV. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "The Future of AI: Opportunities and Challenges". Future of Life Institute. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter". Future of Life Institute. 
  15. ^ Metz, Cade (June 9, 2018). "Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the Feud Over Killer Robots". NYT. Retrieved June 10, 2018. The private gathering at the Asilomar Hotel was organized by the Future of Life Institute, a think tank built to discuss the existential risks of A.I. and other technologies. 
  16. ^ "Elon Musk donates $10M to keep AI beneficial". Future of Life Institute. 15 January 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-24. 
  17. ^ "Elon Musk donates $10M to Artificial Intelligence research". SlashGear. 15 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Elon Musk is Donating $10M of his own Money to Artificial Intelligence Research". Fast Company. 15 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "An International Request for Proposals - Timeline". Future of Life Institute. 22 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "2015 INTERNATIONAL GRANTS COMPETITION". Future of Life Institute. 
  21. ^ "New International Grants Program Jump-Starts Research to Ensure AI Remains Beneficial". Future of Life Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-07-17. 
  22. ^ Somini Sengupta; Rick Gladstone (March 27, 2017). "United States and Allies Protest U.N. Talks to Ban Nuclear Weapons". New York Times. 
  23. ^ "An Open Letter to Everyone Tricked into Fearing Artificial Intelligence". Popular Science. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Creating Artificial Intelligence". PBS. 17 April 2015. 

External links[edit]