Space governance

February 2022 • Link to project →

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The website 80,000 Hours has a list of ‘problem profiles’ — overviews of problems in the world that seem especially ‘pressing’: very large in scale, but comparatively neglected.

I spent a couple months sporadically researching ways in which the governance of outer space could count as a pressing problem for humanity. I then wrote some of that research up into this article.

Here is the one paragraph summary:

Humanity’s long-run future could be vast in scale and duration, because almost all of it could lie beyond Earth. As private interest in space increases, early work on space governance could positively shape that spacefaring future, and make it less likely that a future in space goes irreversibly wrong. Of course, it also matters that humanity avoids catastrophe in the meantime, and space governance focused on arms control and diplomacy can help here too — mostly by reducing the risk of great power conflict. However, the path to making a really important difference on these issues looks much less clear and robust than in some of our other top recommended areas.

After writing this article, I began to support researchers who became interested in working on some of the problems the article discusses. In particular, I helped establish the Space Futures Initiative, and the Center for the Governance of Outer Space.

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