April 6 (via Zoom)
Why is there such widespread public opposition to science and scientific reasoning the the United States,
the world leader in every major branch of science?
Professor of geography
How will the world be changed when battery storage technology improves at the same exponential
rate seen in computer chips in recent decades?
The New York Times
Is it ultimately possible for life to bend the shape of the universe to fit life's purposes, as
we are now bending the shape of the environment here on Earth?
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
March 30 (via Zoom)
Will blockchain return us to the golden age of ownership of information licenses
that can be resold like books and records?
Professor of complex systems and chair of computer science
If we discover another intelligent civilization what should we ask them?
Venture capitalist and science philanthropist
Has consciousness done more good or bad for humanity?
Professor of psychiatry
New York University
Discuss survey results.
Minilecture on ranked voting methods. Condorcet methods. Kemeny-Young. Arrow's impossibility theorem.
(19 voters, 13 choices, best orderings honor 571 preferences out of 876, 65.1%)
loyalty to: best worst average in 2000 tied orderings
nuclear family 1 2 1.486 +- 0.500
self 1 2 1.514 +- 0.500
extended family 3 3 3.000 +- 0.000
friends 4 4 4.000 +- 0.000
a philosophy or morality 5 5 5.000 +- 0.000
the human species 6 6 6.000 +- 0.000
society 7 8 7.512 +- 0.500
city/hometown 7 9 7.859 +- 0.929
an ethnicity 8 9 8.628 +- 0.483
a geographical region 10 10 10.000 +- 0.000
school/team 11 11 11.000 +- 0.000
nation 12 12 12.000 +- 0.000
a religion 13 13 13.000 +- 0.000
How does the past give rise to the future?
New York Times
Brian G. Keating
Is there any observational evidence that could shake your faith or lack thereof?
Professor of Physics
University of California, San Diego
Are people who cheat vital to driving progress
in human societies?
Why are there no trees in the ocean?
Science historian, author
Daniel L. Everett
Will humans ever embrace their own diversity?
Dean of Arts and Sciences
This question led to a discussion of individuals' hierarchy of values. The class voted by individual preference-ordered lists.
Analysis by the Kemeny-Young algorithm gave the results listed above.
Jerry A. Coyne
If science does in fact confirm that we lack free will,
what are the implications for our notions of blame, punishment,
reward, and moral responsibility?
Professor of Ecology and Evolution
University of Chicago
Will it ever be possible to download the information stored in the human brain?
Will civilization collapse before I die?
Founder and CEO, Projection Point
What is the hard limit on human longevity?
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
(also science fiction author)
Which questions should we not ask and not try to answer?
Professor of Applied Ethics
What can humanity do right now that will make the biggest
difference over the next billion years
Philosopher, Oxford University
Bill P. out of town. No class today.
David M. Eagleman
Can we create new senses for humans\not just touch, taste, vision,
hearing, smell, but totally novel qualia for which we don't yet have
Why is the world so beautiful?
Professor emeritus of psychology
London School of Economics
Why are people so seldom persuaded by clear evidence and rational argument?
Professor of philosophy
New York University
How much time will pass between the last minute before artificial superintelligence
and the first minute after it?
European director and global curator, TED
Where were the laws of physics written before the universe was born?
Professor of physics, Stanford
Recipient of first Fundamental Physics Prize