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MarkusAnderljung comments on Effective policy? Requiring liability insurance for dual-use research - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: MarkusAnderljung 02 October 2014 08:55:32AM *  2 points [-]

Really interesting idea.

Two questions: - Not knowing anything about the insurance industry, I'm wondering if the market for this type of insurance be big enough in order for insurers to be willing to offer it? - It seems to me that this kind of policy would risk decreasing the amount of research done on natural pandemics. If anything, this seems to be the kind of research there should be more rather than less of. It's true that the point of the insurance is to push people to safer ways of doing the same research, but the increased bureaucracy could have institutions shy away from the research entirely. However, maybe this could be counteracted by lobbying for more funding for research on natural pandemics.

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 02 October 2014 10:06:36AM 3 points [-]

It seems to me that this kind of policy would risk decreasing the amount of research done on natural pandemics. If anything, this seems to be the kind of research there should be more rather than less of.

Interesting. I'm not sure whether we should expect it to decrease or increase the safe research done on natural pandemics. I would guess increase it slightly. There is quite a lot of research in this area with essentially no risk. This paper does a good job of explaining alternatives.

Comment author: Owen_Cotton-Barratt 02 October 2014 10:03:44AM 1 point [-]

Not knowing anything about the insurance industry, I'm wondering if the market for this type of insurance be big enough in order for insurers to be willing to offer it?

Yes, there's a possible issue here. Insurers already have models for the effects of natural pandemics; pricing insurance on the research would need additional models for the chance of accidental release. It might be possible to subsidise this modelling as a public good, if that were required to enable a market.

Comment author: Dale 04 October 2014 09:12:51PM 1 point [-]

Companies like Berkshire Hathaway are in generally happy to do one-off policies for strange and unusual risks, so it seems there wouldn't be much trouble getting insurance companies interested in serving this market.