Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Associate Director (Research Strategy) | Programme Director


Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh is the Programme Director for the AI:FAR research program. Seán was also the founding Executive Director of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), an academic research centre focused on global risks associated with emerging technologies and human activity. Since 2011 he has played a central role in international research on long-term trajectories and impacts associated with artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, project managing the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology from 2011-2014, co-developing the Strategic AI Research Centre (Cambridge-Oxford collaboration) in 2015, and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (Cambridge-Oxford-Imperial-Berkeley collaboration) in 2015/16.

Seán’s research spans technology policy, catastrophic risk, horizon-scanning and foresight, genomics, bioengineering and artificial intelligence. Prior to Cambridge, he established the FHI-Amlin Collaboration on Systemic Risk, an academic-reinsurance industry partnership on catastrophic risk modelling, as well as several other research programmes at Oxford. He has a PhD in genomics.

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Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh


AI & Pandemic Response: November 2020

GPAI Sub-Working Group Report (inc. S Ó hÉigeartaigh) AI & Pandemic Response: November 2020 – GPAI Montreal Summit Global Partnership on AI (2020)

Overcoming Barriers to Cross-cultural Cooperation in AI Ethics and Governance

Overcoming Barriers to Cross-cultural Cooperation in AI Ethics and Governance. Philos. Technol. 33, 571–593 (2020). Abstract: Achieving the global benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) will require international cooperation on many areas of governance and ethical standards, while allowing for diverse cultural perspectives and priorities. There are many barriers to achieving this at present, including mistrust […]

AI reflections in 2019

AI reflections in 2019: Alexander S. Rich, Cynthia Rudin, David M. P. Jacoby, Robin Freeman, Oliver R. Wearn, Henry Shevlin, Kanta Dihal, Seán S. ÓhÉigeartaigh, James Butcher, Marco Lippi, Przemyslaw Palka, Paolo Torroni, Shannon Wongvibulsin, Edmon Begoli, Gisbert Schneider, Stephen Cave, Mona Sloane, Emmanuel Moss, Iyad Rahwan, Ken Goldberg, David Howard, Luciano Floridi & Jack Stilgoe. Nature Machine Intelligence volume 2, pages 2–9 (2020). There is no shortage of opinions on the impact of artificial intelligence and deep learning. NMI invited authors […]

AI Research with the Potential for Malicious Use: Publication Norms and Governance Considerations

Chapter in AI Governance in 2019 – A Year in Review: Observations from 50 Global Experts. A report produced by the Shanghai Institute of Science for Science.   Download Chapter in report  

AI trends to watch during the Covid-19 recovery

The COVID19 crisis has accelerated trends in technology development, including AI. In this OECD video Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh explores how digital techologies are shaping the pandemic recovery. Download Video Recording


Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Policy and Responsible Innovation

This project focuses on the collaborations between technologists, policymakers, and other stakeholders needed for the responsible development of AI. There are good prospects for the development of a robust ‘safety and benefits’ culture within the industry. The open letter prepared at Puerto Rico, now signed by a large body of industry and academic research leaders, […]

Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Futures and foresight

AI is progressing rapidly, both in terms of fundamental research and application to scientific and societal challenges. Thresholds are being passed, for example, in the accuracy of voice recognition and machine translation, leading to these technologies moving from being novelties to wide-scale, everyday use, with broad economic ramifications. Future possibilities may become pressing challenges quite […]

Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Governance, ethics and responsible innovation

Ensuring that the impacts of AI are beneficial in the near and long-term requires engaging with the principles and practices that underpin the development and deployment of AI. It requires shaping governance at the national and international level. And it requires the development of a global, cooperative community working fruitfully together to ensure that AI […]

Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Safety, security and risk

AI poses or intersects with a range of safety and security challenges, some of which are immediate and some of which may only manifest in future as more powerful systems are developed and deployed in a wider range of societal settings. Many of the most transformative impacts of AI, both in terms of potential benefits […]

Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Global Politics of AI

An interdisciplinary project that contributes cutting-edge research on the geopolitics of AI and the implications of AI development and deployment on international political systems. The Global Politics of AI Project is co-chaired by Dr Kerry McInerney and Haydn Belfield, and it sits in both the AI:FAR and the AI:Narratives and Justice programmes, It is an interdisciplinary project […]