CFP: Predicting and Influencing the Far Future

Submission deadline: September 1, 2019

Conference date(s):
December 12, 2019 - December 13, 2019

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Global Priorities Institute
Oxford, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Predicting and Influencing the Far Future 

Longtermism is the thesis that what we ought to do is mainly determined by the potential effects of our choices on the far future. Along with basic ethical questions (e.g., in population ethics or concerning special obligations to present people), the longtermist thesis raises a number of questions of a broadly epistemic character (of which several examples are given below). 

The Global Priorities Institute will be hosting a one-day workshop on these epistemic aspects of longtermism on 13 December 2019, at Oxford University, as part of a two-day workshop on longtermism more generally. In addition to invited talks, we are hoping to fill up to four slots via an open call for abstracts. 

Questions of interest for the workshop include the following: 

· To what extent can we predict the very long term (meaning, at minimum, > 100 years) effects of our present choices? 

· Do the challenges of long-term prediction support the conclusion that, if our aim is to do the most good, we should mainly focus on improving the near future? 

· How should epistemic considerations influence the comparison and prioritization of possible longtermist interventions (e.g., mitigating existential risks, increasing savings rates, improving political institutions…)? 

· What forecasting methods, if any, are well-suited to long-term prediction? 

· How we can assess the accuracy/reliability of long-term forecasting methods, given that we can’t directly observe the forecasted events in decision-relevant timeframes? 

· When, if ever, can we infer that forecasting methods that work well over short time horizons are also informative when applied to questions with much longer time horizons? 

· Do different models of rational belief (e.g., precise vs. imprecise probabilities, theories that focus on full rather than partial belief) lead us to different answers about any of the above questions? 

To apply for the workshop, send an anonymized abstract of no more than 500 words to [email protected], with the subject line “Workshop submission”. The deadline for submissions is September 1. Applicants will be notified of decisions by September 15. We may be able to offer travel funding and accommodation to successful applicants who do not have access to other funding sources.

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