Robin Hanson


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Robin Dale Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is known for his work on idea futures and markets and was involved in creating the Foresight Institute's Foresight Exchange and DARPA's FutureMAP project. In addition, he invented market scoring rules like LMSR (Logarithmic Market Scoring Rule) used by prediction markets such as Consensus Point (where Hanson is Chief Scientist) and has researched signaling.

Hanson received a BS in physics from the University of California, Irvine, in 1981, an MS in physics and an MA in Conceptual Foundations of Science from the University of Chicago in 1984, and a Ph.D. in social science from Caltech in 1997 for his thesis titled Four puzzles in information and politics: Product bans, informed voters, social insurance, and persistent disagreement. Before getting his Ph.D., he researched artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistics, and hypertext publishing at Lockheed, NASA, and elsewhere. In addition, he started the first internal corporate prediction market at Xanadu in 1990.

He is married to Peggy Jackson, a hospice social worker, and has two children. He is the son of a Southern Baptist preacher. Hanson has elected to have his brain cryonically preserved in the event of medical death. He was involved early on in creating the Rationalist community through online weblogs.

Hanson is credited with originating the concept of the Policy Analysis Market (PAM), a DARPA project to implement a market for betting on future developments in the Middle East. Hanson has expressed great disappointment in DARPA's cancellation of its related FutureMAP project, which he attributes to the controversy surrounding the related Total Information Awareness program. He also created and supported a proposed system of government called futarchy, where prediction markets would determine policies.

Hanson has written a book, The Age of Em, concerning his views on brain emulation and its eventual impact on society. His 2018 book, The Elephant in the Brain, coauthored with Kevin Simler, looked at the mental blind spots of society and individuals.

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The Elephant in the Brain