Suffering Risks

A quick summary of Suffering Risks



Althaus and Gloor (2016):

One major risk is that space colonization, either through humans or (misaligned) artificial intelligence, may end up producing astronomical quantities of suffering. For a variety of reasons, such scenarios are rarely discussed and often underestimated. The neglectedness of risks of astronomical suffering (“suffering risks” or “s-risks”) makes their reduction a plausible priority from the perspective of many value systems. Rather than focusing exclusively on ensuring that there will be a future, we recommend interventions that improve the future’s overall quality.


The primary organization working on suffering risks (s-risks) is the Foundational Research Institute (FRI), a research project of the EA Foundation. A focus on reducing s-risks is often paired with the moral belief that (the same amount of) suffering is morally worse than (the same amount of) happiness or other positive values. However, such a position is not necessary to believe s-risks are important to reduce.


Tomasik, B. (2011). Risks of Astronomical Future Suffering. Foundational Research Institute
Sotala, K. & L. Gloor (2017) Superintelligence as a Cause or Cure for Risks of Astronomical Suffering. Informatica Vol. 41 No. 4
Althaus, D. & L. Gloor (2016). Reducing Risks of Astronomical Suffering: A Neglected Priority. Foundational Research Institute