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An Introduction to Not-knowing

January 19, 2023 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm CET

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Vaughn Tan wants to help you learn how to think and act better in situations of not-knowing.   

Every day, either personally or professionally, we confront big and small situations where we must act with partial information. This means that we keep encountering situations of not-knowing in which we must still do something. The most important types of work humans can do are those that navigate significant not-knowing — such as doing something new that has never been done before. We are most human when we are responding to not-knowing because anything that it fully known and knowable becomes routine and replaceable easily by machines.

But the last few years of a global pandemic, extreme weather, geopolitical insecurity, and economic disruption (among so many other things!) show that there are different types of situations of not-knowing. And they are growing in number, scope, and impact. Every one of us will have to learn how to adapt to this.

Learning how to live on and live well in spite of not-knowing is a path to surviving and flourishing in an increasingly uncertain world. The problem is that we’re poorly prepared to even understand not-knowing, let alone know how to respond to it. The rapid ascent, sudden demise, and flood of coverage of Effective Altruism, FTX, and Alameda Research captures how poorly not-knowing is understood even among those whose profession it is to navigate it (such as many philosophers, venture capitalists, finance industry professionals, and financial journalists).

We urgently need better tools for thinking and action in situations of not-knowing.

This salon is an introduction to not-knowing and is the first session in the salon series Thinking about Not-knowing. We’ll talk about topics like:

  • Why the world is becoming increasingly uncertain and unknowable as it becomes ever more complex and more interdependent.
  • How not-knowing is different from risk, uncertainty, complexity, chaos, and ambiguity (which all feed into not-knowing).
  • How fuzzy thinking about not-knowing causes people to make poor decisions, have inaccurate expectations, and generally be less happy and successful than they could be.
  • How thinking clearly about not-knowing gives us more freedom to act in situations of not-knowing.
  • Why thinking clearly about not-knowing is a path to both happiness and innovation.

Some short articles to read:

  1.  Introducing not-knowing
  2. Varieties of the unknown

***NOTE: This salon series will be recorded.***


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January 19, 2023
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm CET
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Vaughn Tan


Ticket price (US$)