Predicting the Future is Risky: A Panel Discussion

05nov12:30 pm1:30 pmPredicting the Future is Risky: A Panel Discussion


Law School, Room 4045


(Tuesday) 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm(GMT+00:00) View in my time

Event Details

Effective policies, wise investments, informed decisions, and smart designs all require some consideration of possible future conditions. This may take the form of a statistical forecast, model simulation, projection of trends, or simply an educated guess. However, the future is inherently uncertain, so perfectly accurate predictions are impossible. How can we characterize and plan for what we do not know? Does a detailed and honest characterization of forecast uncertainty lead to better decisions? Is it possible to choose a course of action with confidence, while still planning to learn and adapt as the future is revealed? Our multidisciplinary panel is planning to address these questions, but who can predict what will really happen?

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

James O. Berger is a statistician best known for his work on Bayesian statistics, decision theory, simulation, model selection, and interdisciplinary applications to science and industry, including astronomy, geophysics, and medicine. He is the Arts and Sciences Professor of Statistics in the Duke Department of Statistical Science.

Nita A. Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging technologies. She is a Professor of Law & Philosophy, the Founding Director of Duke Science & Society, Chair of the Duke MA in Bioethics & Science Policy, and principal investigator of SLAP Lab.

William Poundstone is the author of numerous books on the social implications of scientific and philosophic ideas, including prediction, voting methods, competition and cooperation, and complexity. His most recent book is The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation that Predicts the Future is Transforming Everything We Know about Life and the Universe.

Jonathan B. Wiener has written widely on environmental law, risk regulation, and risk-risk tradeoffs. He is the William R. and Thomas L. Perkins Professor of Law at Duke Law School, Professor of Environmental Policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment, and Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, and is Co-Director of the Duke Center on Risk.


Mark E. Borsuk develops and applies mathematical models that integrate scientific information on natural, technical, and social systems with application to environmental and human health regulation and decision making. He is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Duke Center on Risk.


Lunch will be available at noon.
The panel discussion will begin promptly at 12:30 p.m.

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