Our list of urgent global problems

If you want to maximise your chance of having a big positive impact with your career, it’s important to work on a global problem that’s large in scale, solvable and neglected.

We’ve been analysing global problems in these terms for over 5 years, working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford’s Global Priorities Institute and the Open Philanthropy Project. This page presents our current views on which global problems most urgently need more people to work on them.

Emerging technologies and global catastrophic risks

In the 1950s, large-scale production of nuclear weapons meant that a few world leaders gained, for the first time, the ability to kill hundreds of millions of people. This was a striking milestone in a robust trend: as technology improves and the world economy grows, life gets better, but the price of destructive capabilities falls. In the 21st century, we expect this trend to continue. New transformative technologies hold the promise of a radically better future, but also pose catastrophic risks. Mitigating these risks, while increasing the chance these technologies enable a positive long-term future, seems likely to be the crucial challenge of this century.

There is a growing movement working to address these issues, including new research institutes at Cambridge, MIT, and Oxford. Nonetheless, many of these issues remain remarkably neglected – in some cases receiving attention from only a handful of researchers. If you can find an effective way to work on these issues, we think it’s probably the most valuable thing you can do.

Two areas that are especially important and neglected:

Two areas that are especially important but somewhat less neglected:

Problems faced by socially motivated actors

There are many problems which reduce the effectiveness of individual and collective attempts to build a better world. We think that mitigating some of these problems could be relatively cheap and would enable other socially motivated actors to have a much greater impact.