Swine Flu, Black Swans, and Geneva-eating Dragons - Anders Sandberg on Statistics [UKH+] (10/12)





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Published on Jun 23, 2009

Anders Sandberg on what statistics tells us we should (not) be worried about.

Lead speaker: Anders Sandberg, Neuroethics researcher at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.

Risk is everywhere these days - in economy, in technology, in health, in climate. Such things have always been uncertain, but recently our society has become preoccupied with risk and safety, often allowing such concerns to trump any other value.

The more future-oriented we become, the more nasty possibilities there seem to be, and the more we strive for safety the more elusive it becomes. Worse, many problems are radically uncertain: we have no experience with them and may not even have considered them before they strike. But what can we actually say about what threatens us? What are the big threats we can foresee? What can we do about them?

This talk will introduce some of the thinking about risk that is going on right now:
*) how power-law distributed disasters reliably surprise us
*) how to estimate the risk of something we have no historical record of
*) why we should be more afraid of power outages than asteroids
*) why the really big problems always are unexpected
*) and how to try to think when you know normal reasoning is too unreliable.

This lecture was recorded on 20th of June 2009 at the UKH+ meeting. For information on further meetings please see:


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