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1 Jane Goodall: I'm talking to Dr Simon Beard from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.
2 Jane Goodall: I think he can help us.
3 Simon: Indeed! We have a huge whiteboard covered with potential existential threats - adding alien mites to the list has made my day!
4 Simon: Especially since we got them before those bungling nincompoops at the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute!
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The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity Institute are both real research institutions. They study the various possible threats that could potentially wipe out all of humanity, to get a better understanding of what poses such a threat, what the risks are, and what we can do about them.
Depending on your point of view, this may sound either like a complete and frivolous waste of time, or the most important thing we could possibly study. Fortunately, these places are staffed by philosophical scientists with a good sense of humour.
I hope they have the uncontrolled escalation of Cambridge versus Oxford rivalry as one of the potential threats on their whiteboards.
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