Many public misunderstandings of scientific knowledge stem from oversimplification. In a complicated world, how can we use complexity to help us understand facts, instead of making them more confusing? One way we try to anticipate the impact of facts is through examining edge cases. The “edge case,” in engineering, is an extreme example used to demonstrate something that could happen and is important to consider, though rare – for example, the various ethical quandaries a self-driving car might find itself in. And a surprising precedent for addressing edge cases comes in the form of the Torah, where ethical quandaries like the ox that gores continue to apply generation after generation. Dr. Arbesman shows how we can use this knowledge to balance our awe at future technologies with our concerns about their use.
Dr. Samuel Arbesman is a complexity scientist, whose work focuses on the nature of scientific and technological change. He is currently Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm investing in emerging science and technology ventures. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation.
Next week, March 2nd, at 2 PM EST, we will be speaking with Rabbi Jonathan Crane, Ph.D., a Sinai and Synapses Fellow, Raymond F. Schinazi Scholar in Bioethics and Jewish Thought in the Center for Ethics at Emory University, Associate Professor of Medicine and in the Department of Religion, and founding director of the Food Studies and Ethics program at that university.