Seminar: Dr Anders Sandberg, "If it is bad, it is probably worse than you think": disasters and heavy tail distributions"

Past Event

11 November 2009, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Abstract: A surprising number of kinds of disasters exhibit "heavy tails": large occurrences, while uncommon, happen more often than one would be led to expect from the ordinary occurrences. Worse, in many situations experience with ordinary occurrences give little information about how bad things could become and may contribute to biased risk estimates. I will discuss how the statistics of heavy-tailed disasters impacts the rationality of risk reduction and whether we can use it to estimate the most likely threats to human survival.

Dr Anders Sandberg’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology, as well as estimating the capabilities and underlying science of future technologies. Topics of particular interest include enhancement of cognition, cognitive biases, technology-enabled collective intelligence, neuroethics and public policy. He has worked on this within the EU project ENHANCE, where he also was responsible for public outreach and online presence. Besides scientific publications in neuroscience, ethics and future studies he has also participated in the public debate about human enhancement internationally. He has a background in computer science, neuroscience and medical engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, Sweden, for work on neural network modeling of human memory. He has also been the scientific producer for the major neuroscience exhibition "Se Hjärnan!" ("Behold the Brain!"), organized by Swedish Travelling Exhibitions, the Swedish Research Council and the Knowledge Foundation that toured Sweden 2005-2007. He is co-founder and writer for the think tank Eudoxa.