Thomas is a philosopher and emeritus professor of theoretical philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, a co-founder of the German Effective Altruism Foundation, president of the Barbara Wengeler Foundation and on the advisory board of the Giordano Bruno Foundation. From 2008 to 2009 he served as a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study; from 2014 to 2019 he was a Fellow at the Gutenberg Research College; from 2019 to 2022 he was awarded a Senior-Forschungsprofessur by the Ministry of Science, Education and Culture. From 2018 to 2020 Thomas worked as a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. Thomas is a founding member of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.
In 2009, he published a popular book, The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self, which discusses the ethical, cultural and social consequences of consciousness research.
Thomas seems to have a naturalistic worldview (see his essay on Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty) and a sentiocentric moral scope. In a recent episode of The Sentience Institute Podcast (otherwise focused on his proposal for a moratorium on artificial sentience development) he says: “And for an applied ethics perspective, I think the most important thing is if we want to minimize suffering in the world, and if we want to minimize animal suffering, we should always err on the side of caution, we should always be on the safe side.”