There are many things that can threaten our society and our very existence. There are therefore good reasons to try to understand these phenomena, how they evolve over time, how they can be prevented, and how to assess different types of risks.
Some of the ongoing research at the institute deals with crime and violence. The last 30 years, Sweden has seen a growing influx of people to violent-promoting environments and an increase of violence committed by criminal gangs. By investigating the mechanisms that control this, we can try to prevent the negative development and be better prepared to meet its consequences.
We also study potential threats, that is, phenomena that are not yet threats but that could be, and that therefore need to be scrutinized continuously. Nuclear weapons, meteors, and climate changes that disturb the entire world’s ecosystem are obvious examples, but potential threats could also come in the form of new technologies that might bring various improvements but also great destruction. For example, consider technologies developed to enhance human physical and mental abilities. Should we regard it as a risk that these technologies might disrupt the boundaries of what it means to be human?