The Bulletin names Haydn Belfield and Christian Ruhl 2022 Leonard M. Rieser Award recipients

By Gayle Spinazze | December 15, 2022

The Bulletin is thrilled to announce Haydn Belfield and Christian Ruhl as the 2022 recipients of the Leonard M. Rieser award for their July 14, 2022 article, “Why policy makers should beware claims of new ‘arms races’.

“Via insightful analyses of unfortunate historical arms races, Haydn Belfield and Christian Ruhl make a compelling argument against repetition of the costly and dangerous reactions to supposed international threats that have unfortunately afflicted US defense policy for decades,” Bulletin editor-in-chief John Mecklin said. “While calling for more thoughtful US responses to global competition in artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons, information technology, and other realms, Belfield and Ruhl acknowledge that ‘[n]ot all ‘sprints’ for new military technologies are mistaken, and not all mistaken sprints are suboptimal or dangerous.’ In so doing, they exhibit exactly the type of sophisticated, reality-based thinking and elegantly balanced writing that the Rieser Award is designed to honor.”

The Rieser Award, named for former Bulletin board chair Leonard M. Rieser, is the capstone of the Next Generation Program. That program was created to ensure new voices have a trusted platform from which to address existential challenges posed by nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies. The award includes the opportunity to speak at the Bulletin’s marquee event, Conversations Before Midnight, and a $1,000 prize. Christian Ruhl has declined his share of the monetary prize to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his work for the Global Catastrophic Risks Fund. The monetary award has therefore been directed in full to Haydn Belfield.

Haydn Belfield has been a research associate and academic project manager at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk for the past six years. In that time the Centre tripled in size, and he advised the UK, US, and Singaporean governments; the EU, UN and OECD; and leading technology companies. Most of his work is on the security implications of artificial intelligence (AI). Key publications include ‘The malicious use of AI: Forecasting, prevention, and mitigation‘ and ‘Toward trustworthy AI development: mechanisms for supporting verifiable claims‘. He is an associate fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. Previously he worked in UK politics as the senior parliamentary researcher to a MP in the Shadow Cabinet and was seconded to several general election and referendum campaigns. He was a policy associate at the Global Priorities Project (Oxford University) and the first development director of the Centre for Effective Altruism. He is a DPhil/PhD Candidate in International Relations and has an MSc in Politics Research and a BA in PPE, all from Oxford University.

Christian Ruhl is a senior researcher at Founders Pledge, a community of technology entrepreneurs dedicated to finding and funding high-impact interventions related to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Christian is also the fund manager for Founders Pledge’s Global Catastrophic Risks Fund. His research focuses on international security, emerging technologies, weapons of mass destruction, and global catastrophic risks broadly defined.

Before joining Founders Pledge, Christian was the program manager for the research theme on “The Future of the Global Order: Power, Technology, and Governance” at Perry World House, the University of Pennsylvania’s global affairs think tank. After receiving his BA from Williams College, Christian studied on a Herchel Smith Fellowship at the University of Cambridge for two master’s degrees, one in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine and one in International Relations and Politics, with dissertations on early modern submarines and Cold War nuclear strategy. Christian’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Foreign Policy, and more. He serves on the external advisory board of the Berkeley Risk and Security Laboratory.


About Leonard M. Rieser

Rieser was the Bulletin’s board chair from 1984 until his death in 1998. He was a graduate student at the University of Chicago when he worked on the Manhattan Project and went on to a distinguished academic career as a professor and provost of Dartmouth College. Rieser championed emerging scientists and policy leaders and believed in their ability to play a critical role in the resolution of persistent global security problems. We continue to work with his family, and other longtime friends and donors, to extend his legacy.


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