Nick Bostrom is a Swedish-born philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence risks, and the reversal test. In 2011, he founded the Oxford Martin Program on the Impacts of Future Technology and was the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. In 2009 and 2015, he was included in Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers list.
Bostrom is the author of over 200 publications and has written two books and co-edited two others. The two books he has authored are Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy (2002) and Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014). Superintelligence was a New York Times bestseller, was recommended by Elon Musk and Bill Gates, and helped to popularize the term "superintelligence."
Bostrom believes that superintelligence, which he defines as "any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest," is a potential outcome of advances in artificial intelligence. He views the rise of superintelligence as potentially highly dangerous to humans but nonetheless rejects the idea that humans are powerless to stop its negative effects. In 2017, he co-signed a list of 23 principles that all A.I. development should follow.
Born as Niklas Boström in 1973 in Helsingborg, Sweden, he disliked school at a young age and ended up spending his last year of high school learning from home. He sought to educate himself in a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropology, art, literature, and science. He once did some turns on London's stand-up comedy circuit.
He received a B.A. degree in philosophy, mathematics, mathematical logic, and artificial intelligence from the University of Gothenburg in 1994. He then earned an M.A. degree in philosophy and physics from Stockholm University and an MSc degree in computational neuroscience from King's College London in 1996. During his time at Stockholm University, he researched the relationship between language and reality by studying the analytic philosopher W. V. Quine.
In 2000, he was awarded a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the London School of Economics. His thesis was titled Observational selection effects and probability. He held a teaching position at Yale University (2000–2002) and was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford (2002–2005).
Bostrom has provided policy advice and consulted for an extensive range of governments and organizations. He gave evidence to the House of Lords, Select Committee on Digital Skills. He is an advisory board member for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Future of Life Institute, Foundational Questions Institute, and an external advisor for the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.