2018 : WHAT IS THE LAST QUESTION?

David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin; Author, Quantum Computing Since Democritus

 

Can we program a computer to find a 10,000-bit string that encodes more actionable wisdom than any human has ever expressed? 

 

  

Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Are complex biological neural systems fundamentally unpredictable? 

 

   

Evolutionary Anthropologist, Yale

 

Are the simplest bits of information in the brain stored at the level of the neuron?

 

   

CEO, 3D Robotics; Founder, DIY Drones

 

How can we put rational prices on human lives without becoming inhuman?

 

   

Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University

 

How will we build the tools to maintain the software in long-lived online devices that can kill us?

 

   

Senior Consultant (and former Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director), New Scientist; Author, After the Ice

 

Are people who cheat vital to driving progress in human societies?

 

   

Complexity Scientist; Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital; Author, Overcomplicated

 

How do we best build a civilization that is galvanized by long-term thinking?

 

   

Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University; Founding Member, Center for Advanced Hindsight; Author, Predictably Irrational

 

How would changes in the marginal tax rate affect our efforts and motivation?

 

   

Historian of ideas; Author, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours

 

Will it ever be possible for us to transcend our limited experience of time as linear?

 

   

External Professor, Santa Fe Institute; Visiting Researcher, Intelligent Systems Lab, PARC

 

Does consciousness reside only in our brains?

 

   

Anthropologist, Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut Jean Nicod, Paris, Co-Founder, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, University of Oxford; Author, Talking to the Enemy

 

How can science best leverage unreason to overcome the heroic passion for war?

 

   

Cognitive Scientist, MIT Media Lab, Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics

 

What is the optimal algorithm for discovering truth?

 

   

Department Chair; Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University; Co-author (with Anthony Greenwald), Blind Spot

 

Will the appearance of new species of talented computational intelligence result in improving the moral behavior of persons and societies?

 

   

Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge; Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge; Director, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge; Author, Zero Degrees of Empathy

 

Can we re-design our education system based on the principle of neurodiversity?

 

   

University Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University; Research Neuroscientist, Massachusetts General Hospital; Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Author, How Emotions Are Made

 

How does a single human brain architecture create many kinds of human minds?

 

   

Neuroethologist, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

 

What would a diagram that gave a complete understanding of imagination need to be?

 

   

Professor of English and Journalism, State University of New York, Albany; Author of The Eudaemonic Pie and The Spy Who Loved US

 

What libraries will we have to build when cloning becomes infinitely expandable?

 

   

Professor Emerita, George Mason University; Visiting Scholar, Sloan Center on Aging & Work, Boston College; Author, Composing a Further Life

 

Will the process of discovery be completed in any of the natural sciences?

 

   

Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UC-Irvine; Novelist, The Berlin Project

 

What is the hard limit on human longevity?

 

   

Anthropologist; Historian

 

Will we ever live together in a hive?

 

   

Psychologist; Author, Consciousness: An Introduction

 

What kinds of minds could solve the mind-body problem?

 

   

Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Author, Advice and Dissent

 

Will AI make the Luddites (mostly) right?

 

   

Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology, Yale University; Author, Against Empathy

 

Why are we so often kind to strangers when nobody is watching and we have nothing to gain?

 

 

   

Chief Strategy Officer of The Nature Conservancy

 

How much biodiversity do we need?

 

   

Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology; Founding Partner, Persuasive Games LLC; Contributing Editor, The Atlantic

 

Is there a way for humans to directly experience what it’s like to be another entity?

 

   

Veinott Professor of Computer Science, University of Vermont Author, How the Body Shapes the Way We Think

 

Will a machine ever be able to feel what an organism feels?

 

   

Professor, Oxford University; Director, Future of Humanity Institute; Author, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

 

Which questions should we not ask and not try to answer?

 

   

Founder, the Whole Earth Catalog; Co-founder, The Well; Co-Founder, The Long Now Foundation, and Revive & Restore; Author, Whole Earth Discipline

 

Can wild animals that are large and dangerous be made averse to threatening humans?

 

   

Panasonic Professor of Robotics (emeritus); MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and director of both (1997-2007); Author, Flesh and Machines

 

Can consciousness exist in an entity without a self-contained physical body?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin; Author, The Dangerous Passion

 

Will scientific advances about the causes of sexual conflict help to end the "battle of the sexes"?

 

   

Editor-in-Chief of Nature since 1995; Beginning summer 2018, he will become Editor-in-Chief of Springer Nature’s portfolio of journals, books and magazines

 

How do I describe the achievements, meanings, and power of Beethoven's piano sonata “Appassionata”?

 

   

Writer and faculty at the Graduate College, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign; Author, The Physicist and the Philosopher

 

When will we accept that the most accurate clocks will have to advance regularly sometimes, irregularly most of the time, and at times run counterclockwise?

 

   

Senior Investigator, Geisinger Health System; Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Toulouse, France; Co-author, The Invisible Gorilla

 

How complex must be the initial design of the simplest machine that can learn from experience to achieve, at a minimum, the intelligence and abilities of a typical human being?

 

   

Professor, Philosophy & Neural Science; Co-Director, Center for Mind, Brain, & Consciousness, NYU; Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Australian National U.

 

How can we design a machine that can correctly answer every question, including this one?

 

   

Neurobiologist; Vice President of Research, George Washington University

 

What new methodology will be required to explain the neural basis of consciousness?

 

   

Investor, Physicist, Author: The Aspirational Investor

 

Is there a fundamental difference between the biological world and the physical world?

 

   

Professor of Environmental Engineering, UNIST; Director, Science Walden Center

 

Can we design a modern society without money which is at least as effective economically and politically as our current system?

 

   

Physician and Social Scientist, Yale University; Co-author, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

 

Will some things about life, consciousness, and society necessarily remain unseen?

 

   

Author, The Most Human Human; Co-author (with Tom Griffiths), Algorithms to Live By

 

Is the unipolar future of a "singleton" the inevitable destiny of intelligent life?

 

   

Director, Big History Institute and Distinguished Professor in History, Macquarie University, Sydney; Author, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History

 

Will we pass our audition as planetary managers?

 

   

Professor, Harvard University; Director, Personal Genome Project; Co-author (with Ed Regis), Regenesis

 

What will we do as an encore once we manage to develop technological solutions to infection, aging, poverty, asteroids, and heat death of the universe?

 

   

Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, University of Edinburgh; Author, Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind

 

Will we soon cease to care whether we are experiencing normal, augmented, or virtual reality?

 

   

John A. Wilson Professor and HHMI Professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin

 

What would comprise the most precise and complete sonic representation of the history of life?

 

   

Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics, George Mason University; Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; General Director, Mercatus Center

 

How far are we from wishing to return to the technologies of the year 1900?

 

   

Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago; Author, Why Evolution is True; Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible.

 

If science does in fact confirm that we lack free will, what are the implications for our notions of blame, punishment, reward, and moral responsibility?

 

   

Artist

 

Why do we experience feelings of meaning in a universe without purpose?

 

   

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale University; Distinguished Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics

 

Is technology changing the nature of moral emotions?

 

   

Co-director of LSE's Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science; Author, The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today

 

Can natural selection's legacy of sex differences in values be reconciled with the universal values of the Enlightenment?

 

   

Senior Researcher, Director, The Oxford Morals Project, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford

 

Why be good?

 

   

Research affiliate, MIT Media Lab

 

Could the thermodynamic prophecy of an increasingly entropic universe be fulfilled by the cosmic flourishing of intelligent life?

 

   

Research Specialist, MIT Media Lab; Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center

 

What future progressive norms would most forward-thinking people today dismiss as too transgressive?

 

   

Journalist; Editor, Nova 24, of Il Sole 24 Ore

 

If we want to make a real and effective science-based policy, should we change politics or science?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Collège de France, Paris; Author, Consciousness and the Brain

 

Is our brain fundamentally limited in its ability to understand the external world?

 

   

Philosopher; Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, From Bacteria to Bach and Back

 

How can an aggregation of trillions of selfish, myopic cells discover the unwitting teamwork that turns that dynamic clump into a person who can love, notice, wonder, and keep a promise?

 

   

Professor, Financial Engineering, Columbia University; Author, Models.Behaving.Badly

 

Are accurate mathematical theories of individual human behavior possible?

 

   

Physicist, University of Oxford; Author, The Beginning of Infinity; Recipient, Edge Computation Science Prize

 

Are the ways qualia relate to computation, creativity to free will, risk to probability, morality to epistemology, all the same question?

 

   

Mathematician; Executive Director, H-STAR Institute, Stanford; Author, Finding Fibonacci

 

Can we develop a procedure that, in principle, would tell us whether or not our universe is a simulation (analogous to the way the now proven Poincaré Conjecture can tell us the universe’s shape)?

 

   

Professor of Geography, University of California Los Angeles; Author, The World Until Yesterday

 

Why is there such widespread public opposition to science and scientific reasoning in the United States, the world leader in every major branch of science?

 

   

Open Source and Public Sector, Google

 

Will a computer ever really understand and experience human kindness?

 

   

Founder, Zurich Minds; Journalist; Author, The Art of Thinking Clearly

 

Does this question exist in a parallel universe?

 

   

Professor of Psychiatry, Translational Neuroscience Division, Duke University Health System

 

How will we know if we achieve universal happiness?

 

   

Physicist

 

Is it ultimately possible for life to bend the shape of the universe to fit life's purposes, as we are now bending the shape of our environment here on earth?

 

   

Science Historian ; Author, Turing’s Cathedral; Darwin Among the Machines

 

Why are there no trees in the ocean?

 

   

Neuroscientist, Stanford University; Author, Incognito, Sum, The Brain

 

Can we create new senses for humans—not just touch, taste, vision, hearing, smell, but totally novel qualia for which we don't yet have words?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Guest Investigator, Dartmouth College

 

Will we ever be replaced by another earthly species capable of evolving to a similar degree of social and technical sophistication that effectively fills the biocultural niche we vacated?

 

   

Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney; Author, How We Talk

 

Is the cumulation of shared knowledge forever constrained by the limits of human language?

 

   

Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Coldplay, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist

 

Have we left the Age of Reason, never to return?

 

   

Managing Director, Excel Venture Management; Co-author (with Steve Gullans), Evolving Ourselves

 

So, before The Singularity...?

 

   

Founder and CEO of Projection Point; Author, The Utopia Experiment

 

Will civilization collapse before I die?

 

   

Linguistic Researcher; Dean of Arts and Sciences, Bentley University; Author, How Language Began

 

Will humans ever embrace their own diversity?

 

   

Archaeologist; Journalist; Author, Artifacts, Past Poetic

 

Is there a place for our past in our future?

 

   

Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University; Fellow, AAAS

 

How many incommensurable ideas can we hold in our mind simultaneously?

 

   

Biological Anthropologist, Rutgers University; Author, Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love

 

What will courtship, mate selection, length of marriages, and family composition and networks be like when we are all living over 150 years?

 

   

Philosopher; Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, University of Warwick; Author, The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism

 

Can we design a common test to assess machine, animal and human intelligence?

 

   

Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Author, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed

 

Will the "third culture" be followed by a fourth culture, a fifth culture, and, ominously, a Final Culture?

 

   

Curators’ Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

 

Is there a single, evolved biological mechanism that can be tweaked to improve overall health, cognitive abilities, and slow aging?

 

   

Deputy Curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard; Author, Wit's End

 

Why is the phenomenon too familiar to investigate the hardest thing to completely understand?

 

   

Physics writer; Author, Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn

 

Is intersubjectivity possible in a quantum mechanical universe?

 

   

Physicist, Director, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; Co-author, Designing Reality

 

Is there a Turing test for living rather than thinking that can distinguish animate from automata?

 

   

Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

 

What behaviors are we attributing only to brain mechanisms that may be better explained by considering biomechanics?

 

   

Theoretical Physicist; Professor, Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

 

Is there a single theory of all physics (TOP), and what is it?

 

   

Psychologist; Director, Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Max Planck Institute for Human Development; Author, Risk Savvy

 

Can human intuition ever be reduced to an algorithm?

 

   

European Director and Global Curator, TED

 

How much time will pass between the last minute before artificial superintelligence and the first minute after it?

 

   

Psychiatrist; Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine; Coauthor (with Ian Gold), Suspicious Minds

 

Can we acquire complete access to our unconscious minds?

 

   

Physicist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

Is it possible to control a system capable of evolving?

 

   

Philosopher, Novelist; Recipient, 2014 National Humanities Medal; Author, Plato at the Googleplex; 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

 

If we're not the agents of ourselves (and it's hard to see how we can be), how can we make sense of moral accountability (and how can we live coherently without it)?

 

   

Psychologist; Author (with Richard Davidson), Altered Traits

 

Is there a subtle form of consciousness that operates independent of brain function?

 

   

Psychologist, UC, Berkeley; Author, The Gardener and the Carpenter

 

How can the few pounds of grey goo between our ears let us make utterly surprising, completely unprecedented, and remarkably true discoveries about the world around us, in every domain and at every scale, from quarks to quasars?

 

   

Psychologist; Co-founder, The Gottman Relationship Institute; Author, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

 

Will a comprehensive mathematics of human behavior ever be created?

 

   

Distinguished Research Fellow, English Department, Washington & Jefferson College; Author, The Storytelling Animal

 

Are stories bad for us?

 

   

Interdisciplinary Scholar; Author, The New Sciences of Religion

 

What knowledge and know-how are our descendants at risk of forgetting as our species passes through future evolutionary bottlenecks?

 

   

Associate Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Co-author (with Daniel Wegner), The Mind Club

 

What will happen to human love when we can design the perfect robot lover?

 

   

Master of the New College of the Humanities; Supernumerary Fellow, St Anne's College, Oxford; Author, War: An Enquiry

 

What ethical responsibilities will humans owe to AGI systems?

 

   

Professor, Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley; Director, Computational Cognitive Science Lab and Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences; Co-author (with Brian Christian), Algorithms to Live By

 

What new cognitive abilities will we need to live in a world of intelligent machines?

 

   

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder

 

What is the upper limit for how malleable the human mind and our emotions can actually be?

 

   

Social Psychologist; Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University Stern School of Business; Author, The Righteous Mind

 

Why is it so hard to find the truth?

 

   

George Putnam Professor of Biology, Harvard University; Author, Genomic Imprinting and Kinship

 

What will be the use of 99% humanity for the 1%?

 

   

Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University

 

Is scientific knowledge the most valuable possession of humanity?

 

   

Founding Managing Director, SchoolDash; Co-organizer, Sci Foo Camp

 

Why do we get to ask questions at all?

 

   

Independent Investigator and Theoretician; Author, The Nurture Assumption; No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

 

How could one last question possibly be enough?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Philosopher; Author, Waking Up

 

Is the actual all that is possible?

 

   

Professor of Early Child Development and Culture, Director, Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Leipzig University

 

Which facets of life will we never understand once biological and cultural diversity has vanished?

 

   

Computer Scientist, UC Berkeley, School of Information; Author, Search User Interfaces

 

Will reading and writing survive given the seduction of video and audio?

 

   

Professor of Computational Social Science, ETH Zurich; TU Delft, The Netherlands

 

What does it mean to be human?

 

   

Associate Professor, MIT Media Lab; Author, Why Information Grows

 

When will we replace governments with algorithms?

 

   

Director, External Affairs, Science Museum Group; Co-author (with Martin Nowak), SuperCooperators

 

Will a baby grown from an embryo constructed from human stem cells eventually become a person?

 

   

Physicist, Computer Scientist, Co-Founder, Applied Invention.; Author, The Pattern on the Stone

 

What is the principle that causes complex adaptive systems (life, organisms, minds, societies) to spontaneously emerge from the interaction of simpler elements (chemicals, cells, neurons, individual humans)?

 

   

Evolutionist, CNRS, Santa Fe Institute, Institute for Advanced Study Toulouse

 

Will humanity eventually exhaust the unknown?

 

   

Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual Intelligence

 

Why is it that the maximum information we can pack into a region of space does not depend on the volume of the region, but only on the area that bounds it?

 

   

Chair of Developmental Psychology in Society, University of Bristol; Author, The Self-Illusion, Founder of Speakezee

 

What would the mind of a child raised in total isolation of other animals be like?

 

   

CEO, Digital Science

 

Does every mathematical symmetry have a manifestation in the physical world?

 

   

Director, Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of Technology

 

What will it take to end war once and for all?

 

   

Research Fellow, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies

 

How can we separate the assessment of scientific evidence from value judgments?

 

   

Emeritus Professor of Psychology, London School of Economics; Visiting Professor of Philosophy, New College of the Humanities; Senior Member, Darwin College, Cambridge; Author, Soul Dust

 

Why is the world so beautiful?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA; Author, Mirroring People

 

How does a thought become a feeling?

 

   

Primatologist; Associate Professor, Social Complexity Research Centre (CICS) Gobierno UDD, Santiago de Chile; Visiting Researcher, Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group (SENRG) University of Oxford

 

What is the biological price of being a species with a sense of humor?

 

   

Biological Anthropologist and Paleobiologist; Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University

 

When will race disappear?

 

   

Professor of Economics, Stanford University, Santa Fe Institute, CIFAR

 

Will humanity end up with one culture?

 

   

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, NYU; Author, Is Shame Necessary?

 

What systems could be put in place to prevent widespread denial of science-based knowledge?

 

   

Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, NYU

 

Will the "hard problem" of consciousness dissolve (rather than be solved) as we learn more about the natural world?

 

   

Artist

 

i = we ?

 

   

Dean Emerita, Professor of Industrial Design, Rochester Institute of Technology

 

What might the last fully biological human's statement be at their last supper?

 

   

Theoretical Particle Physicist and Cosmologist; Victor Weisskopf Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan; Author, Supersymmetry and Beyond

 

Are the laws of physics unique and inevitable?

 

   

Professor of Biological Sciences, Physics, Astronomy, University of Calgary; Author, Reinventing the Sacred

 

What is consciousness?

 

   

Atrophysicist, University of California San Diego’s Department of Physics; Author, Losing the Nobel Prize

 

Is there any observational evidence that could shake your faith, or lack thereof?

 

   

Editor, Infectious Greed; General Partner, SK Ventures

 

Why don't naked mole rats age or get cancer?

 

   

Senior Maverick, Wired; Author, What Technology Wants and The Inevitable

 

How can the process of science be improved?

 

   

Neurologist and Cognitive Neuroscientist, The New School; Co-author, Children's Learning and Attention Problems

 

Are dreams brief glimpses of the narrative of a subconscious alternative reality?

 

   

Senior Scientist, MacroCognition LLC; Author, Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

 

How can we build machines that make us smarter?

 

   

Tisch University Professor of Computer Science, Cornell University

 

Can we create technologies that help equitably reduce the amount of conflict in the world?

 

   

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience; Stanford University

 

How can we achieve closed-loop neural control of human hedonics?

 

   

Information Scientist and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Law, University of Southern California; Author, Noise, Fuzzy Thinking

 

What is the bumpiest and highest-dimensional cost surface that our best computers will be able to search and still find the deepest cost well?

 

   

Founding Dean, Minerva Schools at the Keck Graduate Institute

 

Can brain implants make us better human beings?

 

   

Neurologist and Neuroscientist, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

 

Is our continued coexistence with the other big mammals essential to furthering our understanding of human cognition?

 

   

Software Pioneer; Philosopher; Author, A Realtime Literature Explorer

 

What will happen to religion on earth when the first alien life form is found?​

 

   

Theoretical Physicist; Foundation Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, ASU; Author, The Greatest Story Ever Told . . . So Far

 

Is the universe like an onion that will require science to keep peeling back new layers of reality and asking questions forever?

 

   

Editor, The Feuilleton (Arts and Essays), of the German Daily Newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich

 

Do we need checks and balances for virtual worlds?

 

   

Applied Mathematician, UC Berkeley; Founder, Leeward Co.

 

Why do we care so much about how well we're approximated by algorithms?

 

   

Psychologist, UPenn; Director, Penn Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology (PLEEP); Author, Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite

 

How will predictive models in the social sciences achieve the accuracy and precision of those in the natural sciences?

 

   

Professor of Neural Science, Psychology, Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU; Director Emotional Brain Institute; Author, Anxious

 

Has consciousness done more good or bad for humanity?

 

   

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin; Director, Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab

 

Will human psychology keep pace with the exponential growth of technological innovation associated with cultural evolution?

 

   

Professor of Computational Cell Biology at Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf; Co-author (with Itai Yanai), The Society of Genes

 

What proportion of "ethnic" and "religious" tensions are rooted in our genes?

 

   

Sara Miller McCune Director, Center For Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, professor, Stanford University; Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita of International Studies, University of Washington

 

Are humans capable of building a moral economy?

 

   

Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College of Columbia University; Author, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space

 

Is gravity a fundamental law of nature, or does gravity—and thereby spacetime—emerge as a consequence of the underlying quantum nature of reality?

 

   

Theoretical Physicist, Stanford; Father of Eternal Chaotic Inflation; Inaugural Recipient, Fundamental Physics Prize

 

Where were the laws of physics written before the universe was born?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley

 

How will advances in mental prosthetics that connect us with other human and machine minds change the way we think about expertise?

 

   

Theoretical physicist

 

What is the fundamental geometric structure underlying reality?

 

   

Astrophysicist; Author, Why?: What Makes Us Curious

 

Will it ever be possible to download the information stored in the human brain?

 

   

Professor of Quantum Mechanical Engineering, MIT; Author, Programming the Universe

 

How did our complex universe arise out of simple physical laws?

 

   

Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University; Curator in Herpetology, Museum of Comparative Zoology; Author, Improbable Destinies

 

How will evolution shape the biological world ten- or one hundred thousand years from now?

 

   

Owner, Greg Lynn FORM office; Ordentlicher University Professor of Architecture, University of Applied Arts Vienna; Studio Professor, UCLA School of Arts and Architecture

 

Can we train machines to design and construct a humane and vibrant built environment for us?

 

   

President of Global Publishing, SAGE; Author, Judged: The Value of Being Misunderstood

 

How will people focus more on forming the right question, before rushing headlong towards the answer?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, Director NYU Center for Language and Music; Author, Guitar Zero

 

Why are humans still so much more flexible in their thinking and everyday reasoning than machines?

 

   

Pulitzer Prize-winning Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Machines of Loving Grace

 

How will the world be changed when battery storage technology improves at the same exponential rate seen in computer chips in recent decades?

 

   

Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College and Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Materials Department, University of Oxford; Currently working with David Deutsch

 

Is the number of interesting questions finite or not?

 

   

Associate Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University

 

When in the evolution of animal life did the capacity to experience love for another being first emerge?

 

   

Evolutionary dynamics scholar; Program in Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University; Visitor, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

 

How much of what we call "reality" is ultimately grounded and instantiated in convincing communication and storytelling?

 

   

Nobel Prize in Physics Laureate; Senior Astrophysicist, Observational Cosmology Laboratory, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

 

What is the master principle governing the growth and evolution of complex systems?

 

   

Professor of Philosophy, NYU

 

Why are people so seldom persuaded by clear evidence and rational argument?

 

   

Journalist; Founding Editor of The Guardian's literary supplement, the Guardian Review; Author, Hame

 

Is love really all you need?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, Director, Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory, University of Miami; Author, Beyond Revenge.

 

Are humans ever really capable of regarding others as ends in themselves?

 

   

Novelist; Author, Sweet Tooth; Solar; On Chesil Beach; Nutshell

 

If the sum of all significant knowledge is finite, what proportion of it can humans, aided by intelligent machines, eventually attain?

 

   

Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of London

 

Will we be one of the last generations in human history that dies?

 

   

Cognitive Scientist, French National Center for Scientific Research; Co-author (with Dan Sperber) of The Enigma of Reason

 

Can major historical events, from the advent of moral religions to the industrial revolution, be explained by changes in life history strategies?

 

   

Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Adjunct Fellow, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study; Author, The Ego Tunnel

 

What is the most intelligent and efficient way to minimize the overall amount of conscious suffering in the universe?

 

   

Physicist; Entrepreneur & Venture Capitalist; Science Philanthropist

 

If we discover another intelligent civilization, what should we ask them?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Director, Human Neuroimaging Lab and Computational Psychiatry Unit, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; Author, Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions

 

Are feelings computable?

 

   

Internet Entrepreneur; Angel Investor

 

Is the brain a computer or an antenna?

 

   

Founder and Director, Nutrition & Brain Fitness Lab, NYU School of Medicine; Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, NYU; Author, Brain Food

 

Is there an evolutionary advantage to building societies that favor entertaining over understanding?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, Hope College; Co-author, Psychology, 11th Edition

 

Does religious engagement promote or impede morality, altruism, and human flourishing?

 

   

Professor in Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, focusing on exotica in the universe—dark matter, dark energy, and black holes; Author, Mapping the Heavens

 

Are there limits to what we can know about the universe?

 

   

Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge; Director, Wolfson College Press Fellowship Programme; Columnist, the Observer; Author, From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

 

Why do humans who possess or acquire unaccountable power over others invariably abuse it?

 

   

Professor of Life Sciences, Director, Center for Evolution and Medicine, Arizona State University; Co-author (with George C. Williams), Why We Get Sick

 

In what situations does the capacity for low mood give a selective advantage?

 

   

Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan; Author, Mindware

 

What does the conscious mind do that is impossible for the unconscious mind?

 

   

Writer; Speaker; Thinker, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

What is the flow of information through human beings?

 

   

Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, Director of Research, Harvard Business School; Co-author (with Elizabeth Dunn), Happy Money

 

Why do humans behave as though what can be known is finite?

 

   

Professor of Biology and Mathematics, Harvard University; Co-author, SuperCooperators

 

What is the purpose of it?

 

   

Classics Scholar, University Librarian, ASU; Author, Pagans

 

When will "human being" cease to be a meaningful category to speak of?

 

   

Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media, Inc.; Author, WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

 

How can AI and other digital technologies help us create global institutions that we can trust?

 

   

Curator, Serpentine Gallery, London; Editor: A Brief History of Curating; Formulas for Now; Co-author (with Rem Koolhas), Project Japan: Metabolism Talks

 

Does the future belong to non-human entities?

 

   

Scientist, Self-Aware Systems; Co-founder, Center for Complex Systems Research

 

How did our sense of mathematical beauty arise?

 

   

Philosopher, Oxford University; Research Fellow, Future of Humanity Institute

 

What can humanity do right now that will make the biggest difference over the next billion years?

 

   

Philosopher and Researcher, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris; Author, Reputation: What it is and Why it Matters

 

Why do even the most educated people today feel that their grip on what they can truly know is weaker than ever before?

 

   

Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Reading University, UK; Fellow, Royal Society; Author, Wired for Culture

 

Is a single world language and culture inevitable?

 

   

Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University; Author, Why Religion?

 

Why is religion still around in the twenty-first century?

 

   

Visiting Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology; Author, The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters

 

Is the assertion "Nothingness is impossible" the most fundamental statement we can make about our existence?

 

   

Director, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Vienna; Genetics Professor, University of Vienna

 

Can we engineer a human being?

 

   

Research Associate & Lecturer, Harvard; Adjunct Associate Professor, Brandeis; Author, Alex & Me

 

What is the most important thing that can be done to restore the general public’s faith and trust in science?

 

   

Author, The Math Book, The Physics Book, and The Medical Book trilogy

 

Will humans ever prove the Riemann Hypothesis in mathematics?

 

   

Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology; Harvard University; Author, Enlightenment Now

 

How can we empower the better angels of our nature?

 

   

Associate Professor of Psychology, Cornell University

 

Are we smart enough to know when we’ve reached the limits of our ability to understand the universe?

 

   

Professor of Behavioral Genetics, King's College London; Author, Blueprint

 

How far will we go in predicting human behavior from DNA?

 

   

Professor and Chairman of Computer Science, Brandeis University

 

Will blockchain return us to the golden age of ownership of information licenses that can be resold like books and records?

 

   

Artistic Director and CEO, The Shed

 

Will artistic invention enlighten the age of AI?

 

   

Planetary Scientist; Cassini Imaging Team Leader; Director, CICLOPS, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado

 

What will it take for us to be fully confident that we have found life elsewhere in the cosmos?

 

   

Journalist; Author, Head in the Cloud; Nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize

 

Does the infinite multiverse of cosmologists, in which all that is physically possible occurs, contain realizations of our unruly paradoxes of infinity (Hilbert’s Hotel, Thomson Lamp, 1+2+3+4… = -1/12; etc.)?

 

   

Warren J. and Viola M. Raymer Chair in Computer Sciences and Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin

 

What quirk of evolution caused us to develop the ability to do pure mathematics?

 

   

Research Professor/Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Author, Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond

 

Can a single underlying process explain the emergence of structure at the physical, biological, cognitive, and machine levels?

 

   

Applied Physicist; Chairman of the Board, Pioneer Works; CEO, Nanotronics

 

Will questioning be replaced by answering without questions?

 

   

Evolutionary Biologist, Washington University in St. Louis

 

Must we suffer and die?

 

   

Albert Einstein Professor in Science, Departments of Physics and Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University; Coauthor, Endless Universe

 

Will the universe observed today someday begin to contract, bounce, and be reborn?

 

   

Neuroscientist; Professor & Director, Center for Brain and Cognition, UC, San Diego; Author, The Tell-Tale Brain

 

Why should we prize the original object over a perfect replica?

 

   

Writer; Essayist; Curator

 

Is the botscape going to force us to give up the use of the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun, I?

 

   

Mathematician and Economist; Managing Director of Thiel Capital

 

Does something unprecedented happen when we finally learn our own source code?

 

   

Associate Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

 

How can we sculpt how individual brains develop to avert mental illness?

 

   

Director, Institute for Computational Medicine; Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine; Co-author (with Martin Lercher), The Society of Genes

 

How can we rebel against our genes if we are biological creatures without free will?

 

   

Theoretical Evolutionary Biologist

 

Can humans set a non-evolutionary course that is game-theoretically stable?

 

   

Artist; Founder, Pioneer Works

 

Will the frontiers of consciousness be technological or linguistic?

 

   

Board of Governors Professor, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University

 

Why did we acquire our extraordinary human capacity for social learning?

 

   

Technology Forecaster; Consulting Associate Professor, Stanford University

 

Will we ever be able to predict earthquakes?

 

   

Professor of Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania; Author, The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age

 

Can the human brain ever fully understand quantum mechanics?

 

   

Associate Editor, EDGE

 

What would the ability to synthesize creativity do to cultural evolution?

 

   

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Faculty Member, Minnesota Population Center

 

How do our microbes contribute to that particular combination of continuity and change that makes us human?

 

   

President & CEO, Science World British Columbia; Dinosaur paleontologist and science communicator; Author, How To Raise A Wild Child

 

How do ideas about biological evolution change once one species has control over the origin and extinction of all other species?

 

   

Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School; Affiliate Professor, HEC Paris; Guest Lecturer, London Business School

 

Will we ever find an organization form that brings out the best in people?

 

   

Professor of Journalism, New York University; Former Journalist, Science Magazine; Author, Virtual Unreality

 

How can we reap the benefits of the wide and open exchange of data without undermining the values that depend upon the scarcity of information?

 

   

Graduate student in Psychology, UC Santa Barbara; Author, Burn Math Class

 

Why are the errors that our best machine-learning algorithms make so different from the errors we humans make?

 

   

Founding Editor, 3QuarksDaily.com

 

Why is sleep so necessary?

 

   

Philosopher; Director, Scientific Vortex, Inc.

 

Why do some people act inside the law, others outside, and others create the law?

 

   

Reader, Behavioral Ecology, University College London

 

Will our AI-future-forms need the natural world?

 

   

Writer and Television Producer; Author, Remembering Our Childhood: How Memory Betrays Us

 

How will humanity change in light of the increasing use of non-sexual methods of reproduction?

 

   

Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University; Director, Harvard Origins of Life Initiative; Author, The Life of Super-Earths

 

What is the cosmic perspective to the future of life?

 

   

Professor of the Prehistory of Humanity, University of Vienna; Author, The Artificial Ape

 

Why is Homo sapiens the sole non-extinct species of hominin?

 

   

Co-Founder, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Future of Life Institute; Founding Engineer, Skype, Kazaa

 

Will the behavior of a superintelligent AI be mostly determined by the results of its reasoning about the other superintelligent AIs?

 

   

Professor of Genomics, The Scripps Translational Science Institute; Author, The Patient Will See You Now

 

Can behavioral science crack the ultimate challenge of getting people to durably adopt much healthier lifestyles?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, Yale University

 

What does justice feel like?

 

   

Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College

 

How will the advent of direct brain-to-brain communication change the way we think?

 

   

Associate Professor of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

How do I know the right level of abstraction to explain a phenomenon?

 

   

Professor of Strategy and International Business at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland; Author, Left Brain, Right Stuff

 

How can aims of individual liberty and economic efficiency be reconciled with aims of social justice and environmental sustainability?

 

   

Director’s Visitor, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Author, Genius at Play and King of Infinite Space

 

Can a user-friendly computer proof assistant satisfy the mathematician’s desire for certainty without killing the pleasure?

 

   

Physicist, MIT; Researcher, Precision Cosmology; Scientific Director, Foundational Questions Institute; President, Future of Life Institute; Author, Life 3.0

 

What will be the literally last question that will preoccupy future superintelligent cosmic life for as long as the laws of physics permit?

 

   

Research Fellow; Co-founder, Machine Intelligence Research Institute

 

What is the fastest way to reliably align a powerful AGI around the safe performance of some limited task that is potent enough to save the world from unaligned AGI?

 

   

Psychologist; Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

 

Are moral beliefs more like facts or more like preferences?

 

   

Social and Cognitive Scientist; CEU Budapest and CNRS Paris; Co-author (with Deirdre Wilson), Meaning and Relevance; and (with Hugo Mercier), The Enigma of Reason

 

Does romantic love have a biological function?

 

   

Professor of Anthropology, UCLA

 

Why is human communication embedded in the silence of material objects?

 

   

Editor-in-chief, Feuilleton of Neue Zürcher Zeitung

 

Is a human brain capable of understanding a human brain?

 

   

Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, Time Reborn

 

Why is the acceleration of the expansion of the universe roughly equal to a typical acceleration of a star in a circular orbit in a disk galaxy?

 

   

Associate Professor of History in Art, University of Victoria

 

How do contemporary developments in technology affect human cultural diversity?

 

   

Physicist, University of Vienna; Scientific Director, Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information; President, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Author, Dance of the Photons: From Einstein to Quantum Teleportation

 

Will the individual quantum event forever remain random?

 

   

Paleoanthropologist; Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley

 

How much would surrendering our god(s) strengthen the odds of our survival?

 

   

Medical Director, Cardiac Surgery Step-Down Unit at Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital

 

Will it be possible to do surgical operations in the future without making incisions?

 

   

Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures

 

How do we create and maintain backup options for humanity to quickly rebuild an advanced civilization after a catastrophic human extinction event?

 

   

Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan; Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Museum of Anthropology

 

Can the pace of human evolution stop accelerating?

 

   

Molecular Biologist

 

Can technology tame evolution?

 

   

Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, MetaMed Research

 

How can coalitions of scholars who wish to update the content of explicit common knowledge in order to use that knowledge collaboratively detect and circumvent coalitions which are applying narrative control strategies to preserve arbitrage opportunities implicit in disparities between official narratives and reality?

 

   

Shang-Yi Ch’en Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology; Founder, AQT/INQNET

 

Could superintelligence be the purpose of the universe?

 

   

CEO, Socratic Arts Inc.; John Evans Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Psychology and Education, Northwestern University; Author, Make School Meaningful-And Fun!

 

Why is it so difficult to influence people’s belief systems for deeply held beliefs and so easy to manipulate belief systems when little is known about the subject?

 

   

Associate Professor in Arts and Technology, The University of Texas at Dallas

 

What are the beautiful curiosities that artificial curiosities can't comprehend?

 

   

Founder, TED Conference; EG Conference; TEDMED Conferences; Architect, Cartographer; Author, Information Architects

 

Clarify the differences between understanding, knowledge and wisdom that could be communicated to a literate twelve-year-old and recommunicated to their parents.

 

   

Professor, Department of Psychology Hunter College; Author, The Dolphin in the Mirror

 

How smart does another animal have to be for us to decide not to eat it?

 

   

Director, Cambridge Embodied Cognition and Emotion Laboratory; Reader in Experimental Social Psychology and Fellow of Jesus College, University of Cambridge

 

Is immortality desirable?

 

   

Associate Professor of Psychology, Director, NYU Infant Cognition and Communication Lab, New York University

 

Will we ever understand how human communication is built from genes to cells to circuits to behavior?

 

   

 

When will we develop a robust theory of Ontological Intelligence (OI)?

 

   

Co-creator, Ideas City; Author, Move UP: Why Some Cultures Advance While Others Don't

 

Can you prove it?

 

   

Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Curator of Primate Behavioral Biology at Harvard University; Author, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

 

In which century or millennium can all humanity be expected to speak the same primary language?

 

   

Computational Neuroscientist; Francis Crick Professor, the Salk Institute; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Co-author (with Patricia Churchland), The Computational Brain

 

How diverse is life in the universe?

 

   

Futurist; Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations and Strategic Planning, Salesforce.com; Author, Inevitable Surprises

 

Is the universe relatively simple and comprehensible by the human brain, or is it so complex, higher dimensional and multiversal that it remains forever illusive to humans?

 

   

Science writer; Author, Monsters

 

Why is reason, science, and evidence so impotent against superstition, religion, and dogma?

 

   

Professor, Director, The Center for Internet Research, University of Haifa, Israel

 

Will weaving networks that blend humans and machines yield network effects?

 

   

Paleoanthropologist; Author, Lone Survivors

 

Can we ever wean humans off their addiction to religion?

 

   

Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, MIT; Internet Culture Researcher; Author, Reclaiming Conversation

 

What will time with artifacts that simulate the emotional experience of being with another person do to our human capacity to handle the surely rougher, more frictional, and demanding human intimacies on offer?

 

   

Professor Emerita of Psychology, Stanford University

 

How do the limits of the mind limit our understanding?

 

   

Journalist: Author, A Planet of Viruses; Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed

 

How does the past give rise to the future?

 

   

Professor of Philosophy; Director, Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen; Author, Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy, and Shame

 

What is the world without the mind?

 

   

Science Fiction Author, Mirrorshades

 

Do the laws of physics change with the passage of time?

 

   

Professor and Chair of Geography; Professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA; Author, The World in 2050

 

Is civilization's demand for water a dividing or unifying force?

 

   

Media Analyst; Documentary Writer; Author, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

 

Was agriculture a wrong turn for civilization?

 

   

Scientist; Inventor; Entrepreneur; Investor

 

Can general-purpose computers be constructed out of pure gravity?

 

   

CEO, Medium

 

What will be obvious to us in a generation that we have an inkling of today?

 

   

Recording Artist; Songwriter; Artist in Residence, Spotify

 

Are there any phenomena for which it will never be possible to develop parsimonious theories?

 

   

Professor of Mathematical Physics, Tulane University; Author, The Physics of Christianity

 

Can rational beings such as Bayesian robots, humans, super-intelligent AIs ever reach agreement?

 

   

Fellow and Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School; Author, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

 

Can an increasingly powerful species survive (and overcome) the actions of its most extreme individuals?

 

   

Distinguished Professor of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neurology, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center

 

Will there ever be a mechanistic scientific question that can be asked about the lone individuality of mental life, with its particular beginning, middle, and end?

 

   

A leading scientist of the 21st century for Genomic Sciences; Co-Founder, Chairman, Synthetic Genomics, Inc.; Founder, J. Craig Venter Institute; Author, A Life Decoded

 

Will the creation of a super-human class from a combination of genome editing and direct biological-machine interfaces lead to the collapse of civilization?

 

   

Former President, The Royal Society; Emeritus Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics, University of Cambridge; Fellow, Trinity College; Author, From Here to Infinity

 

Will post-humans be organic or electronic?

 

   

Professor of Psychology, Director, Comparative Cognition Laboratory and the Canine Cognition Center, Yale University

 

What cognitive capacities make humans so damn weird relative to all the other animals on the planet?

 

   

Felix Bloch Professor in Theoretical Physics, Stanford; Author, The Theoretical Minimum series

 

Is there a design to the laws of physics, or are they the result of chance and the laws of large numbers?

 

   

Publisher, Skeptic magazine; Monthly Columnist, Scientific American; Presidential Fellow, Chapman University; Author, Heavens on Earth

 

Would you like to live 1,000 years?

 

   

Father of Behavioral Economics; Recipient, 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science; Director, Center for Decision Research, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business; Author, Misbehaving

 

How will we cope when we are capable of keeping humans alive longer than our optimal life expectancy?

 

   

Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

 

How far can we extend beyond our human limitations to more fully grasp the nature of the world?

 

   

Distinguished Professor and Past President, Santa Fe Institute; Author, Scale

 

How and when will it end or will it persist indefinitely?

 

   

Theoretical Physicist; Aix-Marseille University, in the Centre de Physique Théorique, Marseille, France; Author, Reality Is Not What It Seems

 

Is there an ultimate reality?

 

   

Physicist, MIT; Recipient, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics; Author, A Beautiful Question

 

Why?

 

   

Neuroscientist, Stanford University; Author, Behave

 

Given the nature of life, the purposeless indifference of the universe, and our complete lack of free will, how is it that most people avoid ever being clinically depressed?