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How to think rationally about the future

Speakers: Paul Crowley and Roko Mijic
About the talk: Over the past forty years, science has built up a substantial body of experimental evidence that highlights dozens of alarming systematic failings in our capacity for reason. These errors are especially dangerous in an area as difficult to think about as the future of humanity, where deluding oneself is tempting and the "reality check" won't arrive until too late.
How can we form accurate beliefs about the future in the face of these considerable obstacles? This talk will outline ways of identifying and correcting cognitive biases, in particular the use of probability theory to quantify and manipulate uncertainty, and then apply these improved methods to try to paint a more accurate picture of what we all have to look forward to in the 21st century.
About the speakers: Paul Crowley is a cryptographer and computer programmer whose work includes breaks in ciphers designed by Cisco and by Bruce Schneier. His website is
http://www.ciphergoth... Roko Mijic graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA in Mathematics, and the Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics. He spent a year doing research into the foundations of knowledge representation at the University of Edinburgh and holds an MSc in informatics. He is currently an advisor for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Both speakers are contributors to the community website for refining the art of human rationality,
Further details: There's no charge to attend this meeting, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments. Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.
Why not join some of the UKH+ regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the book "The Singularity Is Near" displayed.
About the venue: Room 416 is on the fourth floor (via the lift near reception) in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    started well then fell apart when someone wasn't being rational at all.

    July 6, 2010

  • terence f.

    It was very provocative. It was especially so when Paul spoke both about the possibilities of longevity by cryonics or part replacement (AdG) and also about global warming. What benefit is there in warming the earth to provide huge cryogenic necropolises? If graveyards are not maintained what faith there seems to be in storing billions of bodies in high tech environments till something comes along which might fix whatever it was of which a particular body died. Mostly it was the 'I wanna live forever' attitude I find unacceptable. The technology is clearly the matter of another talk as is Safe AI.

    Why were no negative aspects considered? Where was the opposing point of view? Where is the balance? There people are torn apart at Skeptics meetings.

    Who is to be saved by cryonics or whatever? Would those conserved be selected on the basis of some new fascist eugenics programme? Would you ensure that those who cite your own papers are conserved? Who selects?

    July 4, 2010

  • Jonathan

    First speaker was quite good; unfortunately, the second put his foot in it by falling for so many of the biases that had already been mentioned.

    July 3, 2010

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