Why do people have radically different opinions as to who to help and how? How can we get along with people who seem to fundamentally disagree with us about what to want? Joshua Greene directs Harvard's Moral Cognition Lab, which uses cognitive neuroscience techniques to study how people actually make moral decisions, integrating philosophy, social science, and social psychology to address these questions.
Nick Bostrom—Superintelligence: Paths, Strangers, Strategies
September 4, 2014, Harvard University
What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Professor Bostrom will explore these questions, laying the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. Q&A will follow the talk.
Elie Hassenfeld—Conversation on GiveWell
October 13, 2014, Harvard University GiveWell is a nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities and publishing the full details of its analysis to help donors decide where to give. Peter Singer wrote of their work, "GiveWell has filled a huge gap, and at the same time has started a major trend towards greater transparency and demonstrated cost-effectiveness in the charitable world." (http://www.givewell.org/what-others-are-saying)
Elie Hassenfeld—On GiveWell's Development
April 6, 2015, Harvard University
Elie Hassenfeld, co-founder and co-Executive Director of GiveWell, will discuss: How and why did GiveWell start? What are GiveWell's and the Open Philanthropy Project's plans for the future? Where do they hope to be in 1 year? 5 years? What is GiveWell's role within the Effective Altruism movement as a whole? What are GiveWell and the Open Philanthropy Project currently working on?
Peter Singer—The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically
April 12, 2015, Harvard University Effective altruism is built upon the simple but profound idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the "most good you can do." Such a life requires an unsentimental view of charitable giving: to be a worthy recipient of our support, an organization must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than other options open to us. Singer shows how restructuring one’s life to live altruistically often leads to greater personal fulfillment than living for oneself.
Derek Parfit—Reasons, Persons, and Effective Altruism
April 21, 2015, Harvard University
Oxford and Harvard philosopher Derek Parfit is described by Encyclopaedia Britannica as "the most important moral philosopher of the 20th and early 21st centuries”. The New Yorker called his books "the most important works to be written in the field in more than a century." He will be discussing personal identity, future generations, ethics and Effective Altruism in a fireside chat moderated by ethicist Nir Eyal, Associate Professor of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Daron Acemoglu—States and Rights
April 14, 2015, Harvard University MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, co-author of "Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty," will discuss why it has been difficult throughout history to build state capacity, and why the development of the notion of generalized rights has been instrumental in the emergence of states that have the capacity to deliver services, but are constrained in their ability to dominate society.
Max Tegmark—The Future of Life with AI (and Other Powerful Technologies)
March 31, 2015, Harvard University
Prof. Max Tegmark will explore how we humans have repeatedly underestimated not only the size of our cosmos (and hence our future opportunities), but also the power of our humans minds to understand it and develop technologies with the power to enrich or extinguish humanity. Known as “Mad Max” for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, Max Tegmark’s scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality, all explored in his new popular book “Our Mathematical Universe.”
George Church—The Risks of Biotechnology
October 20, 2014, Harvard University
Genetic manipulations can reintroduce extinct viruses or create viruses much deadlier than ever before. What are the dangers associated with biotechnology? Can a mistake in a lab lead to a global pandemic? Can this technology be used by terrorists? What would be the implications? And is humanity doing enough to avoid these threats? George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, scientific advisor of the Future of Life Institute and the world’s leading expert on synthetic biology and security will share his insights on these issues.
Steven Pinker—The Past, Present, and Future of Violence
November 17, 2014, Harvard University
Contrary to the popular impression view that we are living in extraordinarily violent times, rates of violence at all scales have been in decline over the course of history. Human nature comprises faculties that encourage violence, such as dominance and revenge, but also faculties that inhibit it, such as self-control, empathy, and reason. The level of violence in a given society depends on how its norms and institutions affect the balance between them. Professor Pinker speculates on which of the historical changes that reduced violence in the past will continue into the future.
Economist Max Roser—Our World in Data
September 30, 2015, Harvard University Dr. Max Roser, Research Fellow at the Institute for New Economics (Oxford), with an introduction by Steven Pinker
On my web publication OurWorldInData, I show graphs and maps with empirical data on global development. In my talk, I will show how long-run global trends—improving education, improving health, falling poverty, and declining violence—are interlinked and present a long-term perspective on global development. I think it is necessary that we communicate empirical research to the public: You cannot understand how living conditions around the world are changing if you just follow the daily news. You need to zoom out to see how the world is changing.
Dan Pallotta—Dinner discussion on reforming the non-profit/charity industry
October 5, 2015, Harvard University
The economic starvation of our nonprofits is why Dan Pallotta believes we are not moving the needle on great social problems. “My goal … is to fundamentally transform the way the public thinks about charity within 10 years.” Pallotta is best known for creating the multi-day charitable event industry, and a new generation of philanthropists with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events, which raised $582 million in nine years. He is president of Advertising for Humanity, which helps foundations and philanthropists transform the growth potential of their favorite grantees. He is also the founder and President of the Charity Defense Council.