• The Great Debates of Our Time

    presented by Foresight Institute


  • We're sold out. Members can still get entry.

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  • The future is not what it used to be.

    We're all seeing impressive developments. But the future is not determined. The ink isn't dry. What should humanity's path look like?

    Foresight is bringing together leading minds to fight it out.


    Saturday, November 19

    1-7 PM: Core event with debates and audience voting

    7 PM- late: Special dinner for speakers and Foresight Members


    Antique mansion turned incubator at secret location in Alamo Square, SF


    Main hall: Keynote debates

    Meditation cube, 3D lab, control station and mirror room: Future foods and technologies to explore between debates

    Dining room: Roundtable discussions during the day. Dinner for speakers and Foresight Members in the evening

  • Topics

    A selection of what will be on our debate-plate

    Tomorrow and the day after

    Longterm thinking


    Moore's Law


    Drop everything to work on AI

    Safety first?




    Life, longer and better


    Bio & Nanotechnology



    Goodbye Nation- States


    Alternative societies

    Basic income


  • The line-up

    Dr. Joon Yun, President of Palo Alto Investors, founder of The Palo Alto Prize

    Dr. David Eagleman, Neuroscientist at Stanford, author of PBS series The Brain with David Eagleman

    Ryan Bethencourt, Program Director & Venture Partner at IndieBio

    Julia Bossmann, President of Foresight Institute

    Peter Voss, Head of AGI Innovations Inc

    Jim O'Neill, Co-Founder of the Thiel Fellowship and Managing Director at Mithril

    Riva Melissa-Tez, Managing Partner at Permutation Ventures

    Monica Anderson, Director of Research at Syntience Inc.

    Steve Omohundro, President, Possibility Research

    Dr. Ralph Merkle, Co-founder of Nanofactory Collaboration, Faculty at Singularity University, Director of Alcor

    James Norris, Founder of Self Spark, Bay Area Futurists Organizer

    Oshiorenoya Agabi, Founder of Koniku

    Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation

    Joe Betts-Lacroix, Co-Founder at Vium

    Allison Duettmann, Program Manager at Foresight Institute

    David Yanofsky, Reporter at Quartz

    Richard Titus, Senior Vice President at Samsung Electronics

    Danielle Fong, Co-Founder & Chief Scientist at LightSail Energy

    Michael Andregg, Co-Founder and CSO at Fathom Computing

    Tanya Jones, Co-Founder and CEO of Arigos Biomedical

    Simone Syed, Founder and Managing Partner at Velorum Capital, Co-Founder of BIL Conference

    Nichol Bradford, Co-Founder of the Transformative Technology Lab

    Bryan Johnson, Founder of Kernel, Braintree and the O/S Fund

  • David Eagleman

    David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, New York Times bestselling author and Guggenheim Fellow. He is the writer and presenter of The Brain, an international 6-hour television series that asks what it means to be human from a neuroscientist's point of view. He holds an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Eagleman’s areas of research include time perception, vision, synesthesia, and the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action, and is the founder and director of the Center for Science and Law. He is the author of several neuroscience books, including (1) The Brain: The Story of You, (2) Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and (3) Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. He has also written an internationally bestselling book of literary fiction, Sum, which has been translated into 28 languages and was named a Best Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble, New Scientist, and the Chicago Tribune. Dr. Eagleman writes for the Atlantic, New York Times, Discover Magazine, Slate, Wired, and New Scientist, and appears regularly on National Public Radio and BBC to discuss both science and literature. He has been a guest on the Colbert Report and profiled in the New Yorker.

    Joon Yun

    Joon Yun is managing partner and president of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, an investment management firm founded in 1989 with $1 billion in assets invested in healthcare. Board certified in Radiology, he served on the clinical faculty at Stanford from 2000-2006. Joon Yun received his B.A. from Harvard, M.D. from Duke Medical School, and clinical training at Stanford. He has served on several corporate and non-profit boards, and has published dozens of patents, scientific articles, and business essays. He is a contributor to Forbes, and is the health editor for Evolution magazine. Joon Yun recently donated a $1million Palo Alto Prize to address aging.

    Peter Voss

    Peter Voss is an entrepreneur with a background in electronics, business and technical software, as well as management. He has a keen interest in cognitive science and the inter-relationship between philosophy, psychology, ethics and computer science. Since the early 90's he has been researching AGI (artificial general intelligence), and in 2001 started Adaptive A.I. Inc., with the express goal of developing this technology. In addition Peter founded Smart Action Company, which offers an intelligent call automation solution based on a first-generation AGI engine. He now heads up AGI Innovations Inc., which is building increasingly advanced AGI systems. Peter often writes and presents on various philosophical topics including rational ethics, freewill and artificial minds; and is deeply involved with futurism and radical life-extension

    Monica Anderson

    Monica Anderson has decades of experience with traditional AI techniques (specializing in NLP) and over a decade of experience with deep neural networks. She has been conducting independent research on neural networks since 2001 and she founded Syntience Inc. as a vehicle to enable that in 2004. She created three expert systems for Cisco and has used traditional AI and NLP techniques for Google, Equilar, Kanisa, and Kosmix/WalmartLabs, and she co-founded Sens.AI in 2013. She switched strategies from traditional "Reductionist" AI to Deep Neural Networks in 2001, five years before the Deep Learning breakthrough in 2006 and twelve years before the rest of the AI research community started switching in 2012. She is exploring neural network strategies beyond "Deep Learning" and is favoring a "West Pole" approach where the system creates the neural network as it learns, rather than having the network topology be specified by programmers, as is common in Deep Learning. She is a frequent public speaker and proponent of "Model Free Methods" and believes that intelligence starts with subconscious Intuition. Her most important sound bite is "All intelligences are fallible".

    Steve Omohundro

    Steve Omohundro has been a scientist, professor, author, software architect, and entrepreneur doing research on natural and artificial intelligence. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book “Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics”, designed the programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, invented many new learning algorithms (including manifold learning, model merging, bumptrees, and family discovery), and built systems which learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He has worked with many research labs and startup companies. He created the think tank Self-Aware Systems to analyze the social impact of intelligent systems and to develop approaches that are provably safe and beneficial for humanity. This work has been in the media recently: a TEDx talk, an Oxford keynote, the book “Our Final Invention”, and stories in the Boston Globe, USA Today, The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, NPR, Future Talk TV, and Singularity 1 on 1. Steve recently started Possibility Research to develop a new kind of intelligent software to improve programming, decision making, contracts, and governance.

    Richard Titus

    Named one of the Wired 100 in 2010, serial entrepreneur and executive Richard D. Titus has a passion for technology & innovation. Richard’s startups include Razorfish, Schematic, Prompt.ly & Videoplaza. Previously he held senior leadership roles at the British Broadcasting Corporation (Future Media Controller) where he launched iPlayer and the BBC mobile service and leading DMGT’s digital holding company: Associated Northcliffe Digital (Chief Executive) where his portfolio included MailOnline and +20 global digital classified businesses. Richard is Senior Vice President at Samsung Electronics, leading customer & product experience for their consumer electronics business globally.

    Julia Bossmann

    Julia Bossmann is the president of Foresight Institute. Previously she founded at Synthetic, co-founded Anticip8 Analytics, and conducted research of coming technologies at Bosch Research & Technology. She is a McKinsey fellow, Singularity University GSP graduate, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Her academic background is in Neuroscience and Psychology where she holds a MSc with highest honors. She speaks on AI, innovation, the future, and how technology transforms society. In 2016 the World Economic Forum appointed Julia as member of the Global Future Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

    Brian Behlendorf

    Brian Behlendorf is the Executive Director of Hyperledger, a blockchain technology initiative hosted at the Linux Foundation. Behlendorf was a primary developer of the Apache Web server and a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation. He has also served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013. He was the founding CTO of CollabNet and CTO of the World Economic Forum. Most recently, Behlendorf was a managing director at Mithril Capital Management LLC, a global technology investment firm.

    Joe Betts LaCroix

    Joe was the primary technical founder of hardware/software startup OQO which entered the Guinness Book of World Records for building the smallest full-featured PC. His experience spans from biotech research to electronics design. Very experienced in invention, prosecution and monetization of intellectual property, he has over 80 Patents granted and pending in fields ranging from biophysics and safety systems to antennas, thermal systems, user interfaces and analog electronics. He has written numerous peer-reviewed publications in fields such as biophysics, genetics, electronics and robotics. Joe holds a Harvard A.B., MIT S.M. and Caltech research fellowship.

    Oshiorenoya Agabi

    Founder and CEO of Koniku Inc. A wetware company combining biological neurons with silicon systems for sensing, control, and computation. www.koniku.io. He has over 10 years of experience in neuroelectronic interfacing within both industry and academia. As a strategic program lead at a robotics startup in Switzerland (Neuronics AG, acquired in 2008), Osh implemented learning algorithms for pick-and-place robots which work alongside factory workers. The team achieved significant success in developing robots that learn object categorisation autonomously.Osh also led a cross-disciplinary industry team to develop an in vitro reflex arc for modeling implantable neural chips. These chips were to interface with the peripheral nervous system. The project was completed with a successful design of an implantable chip lasting 30-40 years. While leading work in the applications of liquid state machines to biological neurons on a chip, this was completed for the first time in 2004 at the ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule).

    Riva-Melissa Tez

    Riva-Melissa Tez is Managing Partner at Permutation Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in artificial intelligence. She has held teaching positions at the DAB and HTW Business Schools in Germany and has guest-lectured at Oxford, Birkbeck and Stanford. Riva writes for a number of publications on topics such as AI, finance and philosophy and represented machine learning in a 2016 Microsoft campaign for The Economist.

    Ryan Bethencourt

    Ryan is a biotech entrepreneur, investor and one of the founders of the biohacker movement.He’s currently the Program Director and Venture Partner at IndieBio and has invested in over 56 early stage biotech startups. Ryan’s passionate about the future of biology as a technology, applied across all industries to solve some of humanity’s most intractable problems. He was previously head of life sciences at the XPRIZE Foundation, the former CEO of Berkeley Biolabs and Halpin Neurosciences and his work at the interface of science and business has been covered by many major publications.

    Allison Duettmann

    Allison is Program Manager at Foresight Institute. She is interested in applying good philosophy to aid the longterm well-being of current and future species. She holds a Cum Laude MSc from the London School of Economics, where she developed a moral framework for Artificial General Intelligence. Allison participated in the McKinsey Venture Academy for Social Enterprises and moderated a Global Young Leaders Conference meeting on aid at the World Bank. She planned TEDx, workshops and conferences for governments, private companies, think tanks and NGO’s in Germany, France, Colombia, the UK and the US.

    David Yanofsky

    David Yanofsky is a reporter at Quartz where he covers topics ranging from trade and agriculture to tourism and satellites. He uses the principles of design and the power of development to try to find and tell stories in ways only the internet can allow. A self-taught practitioner of Javascript, Processing, Python, and R he previously worked for Bloomberg creating interactive stories for its websites, television stations, radio broadcasts, and magazines. Prior to Bloomberg he was a freelance graphic designer, screen printer, and book maker.

    Nichol Bradford

    Nichol Bradford, MBA is the CEO of the Willow Group, publisher of the Finders Course. She is the Executive Director of the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University (transtechlab.org). She has served as a senior executive for major companies including Activision Blizzard, Disney, and Vivendi Games. Nichol has an MBA from Wharton School of Business in Strategy, a BBA in Marketing from the University of Houston, and is a graduate of Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program 2015. She currently serves on the board of Brandon Marshall's Project 375 Foundation for Mental Health.

    Simone Syed

    Simone founded Velorum Capital, a seed-stage venture capital firm bringing industry into the 21st century through the convergence of hardware, software, and data analytics with investments in manufacturing, construction, robotics & automation, industrial safety, and engineering tools. Simone was previously an investor with Mithril Capital Management, computational neuroscientist advising startups, Chief of Marketing at Tradehill bitcoin exchange/bitcoin.com, Co-Founder of BIL Conference, and Founder of BlackStarr Media (major partners included SpaceX and Discovery Channel).

    James Norris

    James is a social entrepreneur and lifehacker.

    He believes if we first change ourselves, we can better change the world. He’s dedicating to leveraging the best behavioral science research and emerging technology to help individuals and organizations become happier, healthier, and more effective.

    He started as an entrepreneur at the age of 6 selling candy during recess. Since then he’s founded or helped establish 22 organizations, including a university for today’s Leonardo da Vinci, a civic innovation hackathon series, a sustainable fish farm, and a museum/theme park hybrid.James is currently the founder and CEO of Self Spark, a global platform for science-based lifehacking events.He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin as a triple major/quadruple minor. He believes in living with intention, and has experienced 2,050 “firsts” in life.

    Christine Peterson

    Christine Peterson is Co-founder and former President of Foresight Institute. She lectures and writes about nanotechnology, AI, and longevity. Christine leads Foresight’s technical workshops and Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology. She is Co-author of Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution (Morrow, also free online) and Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work (knOwhere Press, also free online). She advises the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Global Healthspan Policy Institute, National Space Society, startup Ligandal, and the Voice & Exit conference. She coined the term ‘open source software.’ She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from MIT.

    James O'Neill

    Jim is a partner at Mithril Capital Management. He serves on the boards of the SENS Foundation, The Seasteading Institute,and the Thiel Foundation, which promotes science and liberty across the globe and opposes violence in all its forms. He co-founded the 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship, which identifies and supports the tech visionaries oftomorrow in fields as diverse as robotics, biotech, space, communications, energy, and transportation. Before joining Mithril, he ran the Thiel Foundation and was a managing director of Clarium. Previously, he was the principal associate deputy secretary of health and human services.

    Ralph Merkle

    Dr. Merkle received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1979 where he co-invented public key cryptography. He joined Xerox PARC in 1988, where he pursued research in security and computational nanotechnology until 1999. He was a Nanotechnology Theorist at Zyvex until 2003, when he joined the Georgia Institute of Technology as a Professor of Computing until 2006. He chaired the Fourth and Fifth Foresight Conferences on Nanotechnology, was co-recipient of the 1998 Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for theory, co-recipient of the ACM’s Kanellakis Award for Theory and Practice and the 2000 RSA Award in Mathematics. Dr. Merkle has fourteen patents and has published extensively. He is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. In 2001 he and Robert Freitas co-founded the Nanofactory Collaboration and in 2008 he and Freitas published "A Minimal Toolset for Positional Diamond Mechanosynthesis" which describes positionally-controlled atom-by-atom fabrication of diamondoid materials. In 2011 Dr. Merkle was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

  • Future tech & foods

    We are excited to have the following brands on board for you to test!

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    You will vote on the debate topics and test out future foods and tech during the whole event. If you want even more engagement, apply to volunteer by contacting a.duettmann@foresight.org

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