Understanding Nuclear Risk

Collaborative Research Between Open Nuclear Network and Forecasting Research Institute

Open Nuclear Network (ONN) and the Forecasting Research Institute (FRI) are collaborating on a research project to better understand the range of expert views on the risk factors that may lead to nuclear weapons use at a catastrophic scale. 

As part of the project, we are conducting a study to collect expert viewpoints on the risk of nuclear catastrophe. This includes collecting views on the overall likelihood of such a catastrophe, the most likely risk pathways and factors influencing risk, and the potential impact of various policy choices. The study consists of a pair of surveys that seek to quantitatively and qualitatively document the views of the nuclear policy community and identify the key underlying disagreements in terms that can be definitively evaluated.  

If one chooses to participate, the surveys will ask about their views on which events are most likely to lead to nuclear weapons use. The survey will also ask to assign a probability to various events that may lead to nuclear use—a forecast. No special experience or skills are needed to create these forecasts; participants need only represent their own views. All forecasts are confidential, and participants can support their numerical forecasts with text regarding their reasoning.    

The participation is expected to be approximately 2-5 hours across two surveys, one in February-March of 2024 and another a few months later. Survey one will focus on escalation pathways and survey two will focus on possible interventions. To recognise the time and expertise participants provide, we will provide an honorarium of $250 to each participant who completes both surveys, with the possibility of additional financial incentives paid to highly engaged and accurate participants. 

To ensure a diverse representation of expert opinions, we invite individuals to register their interest through a short form. Due to the potentially high volumes of requests, only a selection of registered participants will be invited to take part in the survey. Those selected will receive separate communication regarding their participation.