Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is Nick Bostrom reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Nick Bostrom, Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University and a full professor in the Faculty of Philosophy.

His entry begins:
I happen at the moment to be reading A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen, by James G. March. Judging by the title and the cover, it looks like yet another one of those decision-theory-for-managers books that clog the business section in most bookstores (you know the ones typically produced by business consultants who feel that they must publish one book to establish their credibility, whether or not they have anything new to say). And the undistinguished prose also bears the hallmarks of something composed in great haste. So much greater, then, my delight in discovering that this is actually...[read on]
Nick Bostrom has more than 140 publications to his name, including the books Anthropic Bias (Routledge, 2002), Global Catastrophic Risks (OUP, 2008), and Enhancing Humans (OUP, 2008).

Briefly, Bostrum's research credo:
I see philosophy and science as overlapping parts of a continuum. Many of the questions that I am interested in lie in the intersection. I tend to think in terms of probability distributions rather than dichotomous epistemic categories. I guess that in the far future the human condition will have changed profoundly (for better or worse). I think there is a non-trivial chance that this "far" future will be reached in this century, within the lifespan of some currently existing people. Regarding many big picture questions, I think there is a very real possibility that our views are very wrong. Improving the ways in which we reason, act, and prioritize under uncertainty would have wide relevance to many of our biggest challenges.
Visit Nick Bostrom's website.

Writers Read: Nick Bostrom.

--Marshal Zeringue