London UK, Saturday 2010-07-03: "How to think rationally about the future"

byPaul Crowley9y31st May 201021 comments


Myself and Roko will be giving a presentation about LessWrong-style thinking to the UK Transhumanist Association on the afternoon of Saturday 3 July.  Here's the official announcement:

Title: "How to think rationally about the future"

2pm-4pm, Saturday 3rd July. [but see above]

Room 416
Fourth floor
Birkbeck College
Torrington Square

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? We'll 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

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.

The broad plan is for me to open by talking about cognitive biases, including possibly a live demonstration of anchoring bias (which may go wrong but seems worth a go), followed by Roko talking about the implications for thinking about the future, after which we'll take questions. Hopefully we can encourage more careful rational thinking about futurism and get a few more folk participating here; would be great to see as many of you as possible, especially wearing T-shirts :-)

Also, this Sunday sees another LessWrong meetup near Holborn - see some of you there!

(Updated with venue information and more from meetup announcement)