An unmissable conversation between the eminent Harvard Professor Steven Pinker and the author, playwright and comedian Stephen Fry on the challenges we face in the 21st century and what we need to do to defend the values and ideas of the Enlightenment. According to the headlines, the world in the 21st century is sinking into chaos, hatred and irrationality. The dominant narrative is of society in decline, and prophecies of doom are playing to our worst psychological fears – or temptations. So, are things really getting worse? Not according to Harvard’s world-famous cognitive scientist, Steven Pinker, who has argued eloquently and cogently that the case is other. That our lives have become longer, healthier, freer, safer and more prosperous – not just in the West, but worldwide. Epidemics, famine, extreme poverty, childhood mortality, deaths from infection disease and illiteracy are all decreasing – historically and globally. The reason? Because the project of Enlightenment has succeeded, and human life has become more precious. The dream of reason has become our reality. But progress is not an accident, or a cosmic coincidence: it is the consequence of a coherent value system that most of us embrace without even realizing it. These ideas and institutions are fragile, not fixed – and they can change. In a time of fundamentalism and fatalism they need vigorous defense, because they swim against currents of human nature which demagoguery is all too ready to exploit. The Enlightenment project is only a few centuries old. It has succeeded, but it can also fail. We can fall as well as rise. Join Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry for a discussion of the challenges we face, and hear the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st Century. Read more.
Clemency Burton-Hill in conversation with Hannah MacInnes.
An unmissable journey through classical music with award- winning violinist and BBC Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill. Drawing on her new book Year of Wonder, in which Clemency chooses one piece of music for each day of the year, with a short explanation about the composer to put it into context, Clemency in conversation with Hannah MacInnes will bring classical music alive and share its diverse wonders with us whether we’re complete novices or lifetime enthusiasts. Join us for an inspiring and uplifting evening on classical music. Read more.
Prof. Yuval Noah Harari and Thomas L. Friedman in Conversation.
Additional On Stage Tickets Released! “How To Understand Our Times” is an event series collaboration between The New York Times and how to: Academy bringing together New York Times journalists and leading figures in diverse fields to examine pressing issues in a changing world, including gender equality, artificial intelligence, and alternatives to fossil fuels, among others. Two of the greatest thought leaders of the 21st century come together to discuss the Future of Humanity. Join us for an unmissable conversation between the intellectual titans – Yuval Noah Harari and Thomas L. Friedman. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari compressed 70,000 years of history into a single book, arguing that one species rose to dominance over all others because shared beliefs enabled collaboration. In Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, he argued that the centre may be shifting once more, as we transfer our faith in ourselves to the gods of data and the algorithm. Thomas Friedman has argued that the beginning of this century will be remembered not for conflicts or political events, but for the globalised ‘flattening’ of the world and the explosion of advanced technologies. The cognitive revolution has already happened. What will our restless and aggressive species do about it? Join us for an urgent conversation between two great soothsayers of the age in which we now find ourselves. Read more.
The foundations of Quantum Mechanics were established in the first half of the 20th century. But what does the most important theory in all of science actually mean? In this talk based on his new book Beyond Weird, the acclaimed science writer Philip Ball will help us get to grips with the most fundamental theory of physical reality, and to explain how its counterintuitive principles create the world we experience. Join us for an exhilarating tour of the contemporary quantum landscape. Read more.
In this talk based on her new book, The Great Economists , Linda Yueh will explain the key thoughts of history’s greatest economists from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes, and how they could help us with the policy challenges that we face today. She will explore, for example, what do the ideas of Karl Marx tell us about the likely future for the Chinese economy? How do the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, who argued for government spending to create full employment, help us think about state intervention? And with globalisation in trouble, what can we learn about handling Brexit and Trumpism? Read more.
Dr Hans Rosling, who died in February 2017, became an international phenomenon due to the work he did with his son and daughter-in-law, Ola and Anna: 20m+ views across their many TED talks; one of Time’s 100 most influential people; and cited by Bill Gates as a ‘true inspiration’. In this talk based on his last book Factfulness, which Hans described as “my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance, and my final attempt at making an impact on the world,” Hans’s two lifelong collaborators, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling- Rönnlund, will reveal the ten dramatic instincts, and the key preconceptions, that lead to us consistently misunderstanding how the world really works. Why when you ask people simple questions about global trends, they systematically get the answers wrong. How many young women go to school? What’s the average life expectancy across the world? What will the global population will be in 2050? Do the majority of people live in rich or poor countries? This talk on Factfulness is a must for anyone who wants to really understand the world. Reviews: “To have Hans Rosling as a teacher is one of the biggest honours in the world.” – Melinda Gates Read more.
What do Pokémon Go and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein have in common? Why do some businesses survive, and others fail at the first sign of change? What gives the human brain the edge over computers? The answer: Elastic Thinking. It’s an ability we all possess, and one that we can all learn to hone in order to succeed, at work and in our everyday lives. Here Leonard Mlodinow, whose own flexible thinking has taken him from physics professor to TV scriptwriter and bestselling author, takes us on a revelatory exploration of how elasticity works. He draws on cutting-edge neuroscience to show how, millennia ago, our brains developed an affinity for novelty, idea generation and exploration. He discovers how flexible thinking enabled some of the greatest artists, writers, musicians and innovators to create paradigm shifts. He investigates the organisations that have demonstrated an elastic ability to adapt to new technologies. And he reveals how you can test your own brain power and increase your capacity for elastic thinking. By uncovering the secrets of our flexible minds, Elastic explains how to thrive in an endlessly dynamic world, at a time when an ability to adapt is more important than ever before. Read more.
The West’s centuries-old status as the centre of global wealth and power is coming to an end. As the new powers – China and India from Asia and others from Africa and Latin America – rise to the top of the world’s pecking order, how should the West react? In this talk, Kishore Mahbubani will argue passionately and provocatively that if the West doesn’t change its ways , it’s toast as it can no longer impose its power and ideals on the world at large, and – paradoxically – that only by admitting its decline can the West set itself up for strategic success in the long term. He will examine the myths and self-delusions of Western power with an outsider’s critical eye, and the shocking freshness of his geopolitical analysis will give all of us pause for thought. ‘Kishore Mahbubani might well be the most intelligent, friendly and doggedly persistent critic of the West. In this brief book, he delivers some of his trademark analysis and pungent observations. We should all think of it as the cold shower that is urgently needed to revive the West’ Fareed Zakaria, author of ‘The Post-American World‘ ‘Kishore Mahbubani offers a penetrating analysis of the West’s predicament. His optimistic view is a welcome antidote to so much prevailing wisdom. It deserves to be widely read and debated’ Lawrence H. Summers, former Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank Read more.
In this talk Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, will discuss how Virtual Reality technology will shape the future and how it can be used to hone our performance, improve our learning and communication abilities, and enhance our empathic and imaginative capacities. Join us to understand how our world will be changed with the introduction of Virtual Reality technology. Read more.
Designing Your Life, the bestseller from the founders of the Stanford Life Design Lab and teachers of one of Stanford’s most popular courses of the same name, which has changed so many people’s lives, returns to the how to: Academy. 15 years in development and tried and tested by thousands of people from students to mid-career professionals to retirees, Dave Evans’s step-by-step method teaches people how to think like a designer and build a life to thrive in. In his talk he will show us how the same thinking that created the most amazing technology, products and spaces can be used to design a career and a life that are meaningful, joyful and fulfilling, regardless of who we are or were, what we do or have done for a living, and how young or how old we are. The talk will emphasise simple techniques like reframing, prototyping and brainstorming straight from the Stanford Life Design Lab. The method is research validated, having been subjected to two academic research studies that have shown its ability to reduce anxieties around life and careers, as well as make people successful in reaching their goals. Read more.
A new generation of dinosaur hunters is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs created an empire that lasted for around 150 million years. Meet Steve Brusatte, one of the world’s leading palaeontologists who has uncovered human-sized tyrannosaurs and monstrous carnivores larger than T Rex, and whose ground breaking work has led to a new understanding of these fascinating beasts, including how they began and why they became extinct, how they were much more intelligent and successful than we ever thought: spreading around the globe, developing colossal sizes and diversifying into thousands of species. Join us to hear how modern science is allowing us to re-examine the age of the dinosaurs and understand their full importance in the earth’s history. Read more.
Antony Beevor is back with a major new history of Arnhem : the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond. Codenamed Operation Market Garden and famously portrayed in the film A Bridge Too Far (starring Anthony Hopkins, Dirk Bogarde et al) the plan was a bold concept. But could it ever have worked? In this unmissable talk Antony Beevor, drawing on important new sources will reconstruct the terrible reality of the fighting, described by General Student as ‘The Last German Victory‘. Read more.