Author Archives: Robert de Neufville

Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk

Pessimism, Huw Price says, is a necessary antidote to society’s optimism. Price is the Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and one of the founders of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER). He was introducing the first ever Cambridge Conference … Continue reading

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How Bad Was My US Election Forecast?

Pretty bad. I gave the Democrats a 70% chance of retaining the presidency back in January before we even knew who the nominees would be. I ascribed to a version of the argument that there was an “emerging Democratic majority”. I … Continue reading

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NonProphets Podcast

Three episodes of the new NonProphets Podcast are now available for download on iTunes and on Blubbry. Every week—give or take—Atief Heermance, Scott Eastman, and I talk about forecasting and look at questions from various public forecasting platforms. We’re calling ourselves “NonProphets” because good forecasting isn’t … Continue reading

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A Superforecaster on Superforecasting

Review of Superforecasting by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner The possibilities of history are far more various than the human intellect is designed to conceive.—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.  (1) If I throw a ball in the air, I can say with rough confidence where … Continue reading

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What We Talk About When We Talk About the Future

Here are two graphs I made with Google’s Ngram Viewer. The graphs show how frequently a number of future-related terms occur in the more than 100 billion words of Google Books’ English-language corpus from 1950-2008. The charts are moderately smoothed to highlight longer-term … Continue reading

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What’s at Stake for the World in Ukraine

The US and Russia keep nearly 2000 strategic nuclear weapons deployed and ready to launch. Modern strategic nuclear weapons generally have much larger yields than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A single nuclear warhead has easily enough explosive … Continue reading

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Have We Reached the Limits to Growth?

Dire Warnings In 1967, William and Paul Paddock’s best-selling book Famine 1975! argued that stagnant agricultural productivity and growing populations would mean abandoning countries like Egypt and Haiti to starvation by the middle of the next decade. (1) In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul … Continue reading

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The Sentinel Mission

There are no passengers on spaceship Earth. We are all crew.—Marshall McLuhan (1965) Ed Lu wants to save the world. In a talk Thursday at the University of Hawai‘i, the former astronaut recalled looking at the moon while he was … Continue reading

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The End of Scarcity

Assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not—if we look into the future—the permanent problem … Continue reading

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The Sixth Extinction

Review of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Annalee Newitz Life on this earth has often been disturbed by terrible events. Countless living beings have been the victims of these catastrophes. Some inhabitants of dry land saw themselves swallowed up by … Continue reading

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