The Edge Master Classes & Seminars

The Edge Master Classes & Seminars

John Brockman [5.5.14]

Edge Master Classes & Seminars



Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, CA, July 20-22, 2007

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002; Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology; Author, Thinking Fast and Slow

ATTENDEES: Jeff Bezos, Founder,; Stewart Brand, Cofounder, Long Now Foundation, Author, How Buildings LearnSergey Brin, Founder, Google; John Brockman, Edge Foundation, Inc.; Max Brockman, Brockman, Inc.; Peter Diamandis, Space Entrepreneur, Founder, X Prize Foundation; George Dyson, Science Historian; Author, Darwin Among the MachinesW. Daniel Hillis, Computer Scientist; Cofounder, Applied Minds; Author, The Pattern on the StoneDaniel Kahneman, Psychologist; Nobel Laureate, Princeton University; Dean Kamen, Inventor, Deka Research; Salar Kamangar, Google; Seth Lloyd, Quantum Physicist, MIT, Author, Programming The UniverseKatinka Matson, Cofounder, Edge Foundation, Inc.; Nathan Myhrvold, Physicist; Founder, Intellectual Venture, LLC; Event Photographer; Tim O'Reilly, Founder, O'Reilly Media; Larry Page, Founder, Google; George Smoot, Physicist, Nobel Laureate, Berkeley, Coauthor, Wrinkles In TimeAnne Treisman, Psychologist, Princeton University; Jimmy Wales, Founder, Chair, Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia).



George Dyson Daniel Kahneman Max Brockman

George Smoot Sergey Brin Katinka Matson
Larry Page Jeff Bezos Dean Kamen
George SmootJimmy Wales Group Salar Kamangar
Nathan MyhrvoldW. Daniel Hillis Daniel KahnemanJeff Bezos Tim O'ReillyNathan Myhrvold
Seth Lloyd Peter Diamandis Stewart Brand


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Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, Seth Lloyd
Eastover Farm, Bethlehem, CT, August 27, 2007

"The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that Life: What A Concept was one of those memorable events that people in years to come will see as a crucial moment in history. After all, it's where the dawning of the age of biology was officially announced."
— Andrian Kreye, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Dimitar Sasselov, Max Brockman, Seth Lloyd, George Church,
J. Craig Venter, Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson

What we're saying is that there is a technology emerging from behavioral economics. It's not only an abstract thing. You can do things with it. We are just at the beginning. I thought that the input of psychology into behavioral economics was done. But hearing Sendhil was very encouraging because there was a lot of new psychology there. That conversation is continuing and it looks to me as if that conversation is going to go forward. It's pretty intuitive, based on research, good theory, and important. 
— Daniel Kahneman

Richard Thaler Sendhil Mullainathan Daniel Kahneman

Richard Thaler, Sendhil Mullainathan, Daniel Kahneman
Sonoma, CA, July 25-27, 2008

RICHARD H. THALER is the father of Behavioral Economics; Director, Center for Decision Research, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business; Co-Author, Nudge

SENDHIL MULLAINATHAN is a professor of Economics, Harvard; Assistant Director for Research, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), U.S. Treasury Department (2011-2013); Coauthor, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002; Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology; Author, Thinking Fast and Slow


A year ago, Edge convened its first "Master Class" in Napa, California, in which psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman taught a 9-hour course: "A Short Course On Thinking About Thinking". The attendees were a "who's who" of the new global business culture.

PARTICIPANTS: Jeff Bezos, Founder,; John Brockman, Edge Foundation, Inc.; Max Brockman, Brockman, Inc.; George Dyson, Science Historian; Author, Darwin Among the MachinesW. Daniel Hillis, Computer Scientist; Cofounder, Applied Minds; Author, The Pattern on the StoneDaniel Kahneman, Psychologist; Nobel Laureate, Princeton University; Salar Kamangar, Google; France LeClerc, Marketing Professor; Katinka MatsonEdge Foundation, Inc.; Sendhil Mullainathan, Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Executive Director, Ideas 42, Institute of Quantitative Social Science; Elon Musk, Physicist; Founder, Tesla Motors, SpaceX; Nathan Myhrvold, Physicist; Founder, Intellectual Venture, LLC; Event Photographer; Sean Parker, The Founders Fund; Cofounder: Napster, Plaxo, Facebook; Paul Romer, Economist, Stanford; Richard Thaler, Behavioral Economist, Director of the Center for Decision Research, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business; coauthor of Nudge; Anne Treisman, Psychologist, Princeton University; Evan Williams, Founder, Blogger, Twitter.


Nathan Myhrvold Jeff Bezos Elon Musk
Sean Parker, Facebook Salar Kamangar, Google Evan Williams, Twitter

In 2007, Edge convened its first "Master Class" in Napa, California, in which psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman taught a 9-hour course: "A Short Course On Thinking About Thinking". The attendees were a "who's who" of the new global business culture.  A year later, in 2008, to continue the conversation, we invited Richard Thaler, the father of behavioral economics, to organize and lead the class: "A Short Course On Behavioral Economics". Thaler asked Harvard economist and former student Sendhil Mullainathan, as well as Daniel Kahneman, to teach the class with him. Thaler arrived arrived at Stanford in the 1970s to work with Kahneman and his late partner, Amos Tversky. Thaler, in turn, asked Harvard economist and former student Sendhil Mullainathan, as well as Kahneman, to teach the class with him.


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George Church & Craig Venter
SpaceX & The Andaz Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, July 24-26, 2009

George Church & Craig Venter

On July 24, 2009, a small group of scientists, entrepreneurs, cultural impresarios and journalists that included architects of the some of the leading transformative companies of our time (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, PayPal), arrived at the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, to be offered a glimpse, guided by George Church and Craig Venter, of a future far stranger than Mr. Huxley had been able to imagine in 1948.

In this future — whose underpinnings, as Drs. Church and Venter demonstrated, are here already — life as we know it is transformed not by the error catastrophe of radiation damage to our genetic processes, but by the far greater upheaval caused by discovering how to read genetic sequences directly into computers, where the code can be replicated exactly, manipulated freely, and translated back into living organisms by writing the other way. "We can program these cells as if they were an extension of the computer," George Church announced, and proceeded to explain just how much progress has already been made. ...

—George Dyson, from The Introduction


GEORGE CHURCH is professor of Genetics, Harvard University; director, Personal Genome Project.


J. CRAIG VENTER is 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

PARTICIPANTS: Stewart Brand, Biologist, Long Now Foundation; Whole Earth Discipline; Larry Brilliant, M.D. Epidemiologist, Skoll Urgent Threats Fund; John Brockman, Publisher & Editor, Edge; Max Brockman, Literary Agent, Brockman, Inc.; What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science; Jason Calacanis, Internet Entrepreneur, MahaloGeorge Dyson, Science Historian; Darwin Among the Machines; Jesse Dylan, Film-Maker,,; Arie Emanuel, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment; Sam HarrisNeuroscientist, UCLA; The End of Faith; W. Daniel Hillis, Computer Scientist, Applied Minds; Pattern On The Stone; Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Senior Advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation for the National Economic Council; Salar Kamangar, Vice President, Product Management, Google; Lawrence Krauss, Physicist, Origins Initiative, ASU; Hiding In The Mirror; John Markoff, Journalist,The New York Times; What The Dormouse Said; Katinka Matson, Cofounder, Edge; Artist,; Elon Musk, Physicist, SpaceX, Tesla Motors; Nathan Myhrvold, Physicist, CEO, Intellectual Ventures, LLC, The Road Ahead; Tim O'Reilly, Founder, O'Reilly Media, O'Reilly Radar; Larry Page, CoFounder, Google; Lucy Page Southworth,Biomedical Informatics Researcher, Stanford; Sean Parker,The Founders Fund; CoFounder Napster & Facebook; Ryan Phelan,Founder, DNA Direct; Nick Pritzker, Hyatt Development Corporation; Ed Regis, Writer; What Is Life; Terrence Sejnowski, Computational Neurobiologist, Salk; The Computational Brain; Maria Spiropulu,Physicist, Cern & Caltech; Victoria Stodden, Computational Legal Scholar, Yale Law School; Nassim Taleb,Essayist & Risk Engineer, The Black Swan; Richard Thaler, Behavioral Economist, U. Chicago; Nudge; Craig Venter, Genomics Researcher; CEO, Synthetic Genomics, A Life Decoded; Nathan Wolfe, Biologist, Global Virus Forecasting Initiative; Alexandra Zukerman, Assistant Editor, Edge


Salar Kamangar Craig VenterLarry Page
Elon Musk Jason CalacanisNassim TalebNathan Myhrvold
W. Daniel HillisMax BrockmanStewart Brand George Church

Listening in on the Body's Proteomic Conversation

W. Daniel Hillis
Spring Mountain Vineyard, St. Helena, CA (Napa), August 8-9, 2010

We make a mistake when we think of cancer as a noun. It is not something you have, it is something you do. Your body is probably cancering all the time. What keeps it under control is a conversation that is happening between your cells, and the language of that conversation is proteins. Proteomics will allow us to listen in on that conversation, and that will lead to much better way to treat cancer.

W. DANIEL HILLIS is a physicist, computer scientist, chairman of Applied Minds, Inc.; author, The Pattern on the Stone


Stewart BrandJohn BrockmanDaniel Hillis

Roy Baumeister, Paul Bloom, Joshua D. Greene, Jonathan Haidt, Sam HarrisJoshua Knobe, Elizabeth Phelps, David Pizarro
The Mayflower Inn, Washington, CT & Eastover Farm, Bethlehem, CT, July 20-22, 2010

Scientists engaged in the scientific study of human nature are gaining sway over the scientists and others in disciplines that rely on studying social actions and human cultures independent from their biological foundation.

No where is this more apparent than in the field of moral psychology. Using babies, psychopaths, chimpanzees, fMRI scanners, web surveys, agent-based modeling, and ultimatum games, moral psychology has become a major convergence zone for research in the behavioral sciences.

So what do we have to say? Are we moving toward consensus on some points? What are the most pressing questions for the next five years? And what do we have to offer a world in which so many global and national crises are caused or exacerbated by moral failures and moral conflicts? It seems like everyone is studying morality these days, reaching findings that complement each other more often than they clash.

Paul BloomDavid Pizarro David Brooks, New York Times; Jonathan Haidt
Joshua D. GreeneSam Harris Joshua KnobeRoy Baumeister
Joshua KnobeDavid PizarroJoshua D. Greene Max Brockman
Elizabeth PhelpsPaul Bloom Press: Drake Bennett, Daniel Engber, Jordan Mejias, Gary Stix, Amanda Gefter

Daniel Kahneman, Martin Nowak, Steven Pinker, Leda Cosmides, Michael Gazzaniga,  Elaine Pagels
Spring Mountain Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa, CA, July 15-17, 2011

In July, 2011, Edge held its annual Master Class in Napa, California on the theme: "The Science of Human Nature"; Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on the evolution of cooperation; Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the history of violence; UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on the architecture of motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on neuroscience and the law; and Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation

Steven Pinker, Daniel Kahneman Sean Parker, Jennie Ripps, Max Brockman
Michael Gazzaniga class Martin Nowak class
Daniel Kahneman, Jennifer Jacquet, Eva Wisten Katinka Matson, Ben Carey, Elaine Pagels


Anne Treisman, Steven Pinker, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Elaine Pagels



In July, 2013, Edge invited a group of social scientists to participate in an Edge Seminar at Eastover Farm focusing on the state of the art of what the social sciences have to tell us about human nature. The ten speakers were Sendhil Mullainathan, June Gruber,  Fiery Cushman,  Rob Kurzban, Nicholas Christakis, Joshua Greene, Laurie Santos, Joshua Knobe, David Pizarro, Daniel C. Dennett. Also participating were Daniel Kahneman, Anne Treisman, Jennifer Jacquet.




We asked the participants the following: "What's new in your field of social science in the last year or two, and why should we care? Why do we want or need to know about it?  How does it change our view of human nature?" And in so doing we also asked them to focus broadly and address the major developments in their field (including but not limited to their own research agenda). The goal: to get new, fresh, and original up-to-date field reports on different areas of social science.

HeadCon '13: WHAT'S NEW IN SOCIAL SCIENCE was also an experiment in online video designed to capture the dynamic of an Edge seminar, focusing on the interaction of ideas, and of people. The documentary film-maker Jason Wishnow, the pioneer of "TED Talks" during his tenure as director of film and video at TED (2006-2012), helped us develop this new iteration of Edge Video, filming the ten sessions in split-screen with five cameras, presenting each speaker and the surrounding participants from multiple simultaneous camera perspectives.  

We are now pleased to present the program in its entirety, nearly six hours of Edge Video and a downloadable PDF of the 58,000-word transcript.

The great biologist Ernst Mayr (the "Darwin of the 20th Century") once said to me: "Edge is a conversation." And like any conversation, it is evolving. And what a conversation it is!

Vancouver, March 17, 2014

In his 2009 talk at the Bristol Festival of Ideas, Freeman Dyson pointed out that we are entering a new Age of Wonder, which is dominated by computational biology. In articulating his vision for the future he noted that Edge is the nexus of this intellectual activity.

Andrian Kreye, Feuilleton Editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung; Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon, Owner, Washington Post, Founder, Blue Origin Larry Page, Co-Founder & CEO, Google; Katinka Matson, Co-Founder, Edge, President, Brockman, Inc.
Jean Pigozzi, Investor, Art Collector, Dir. Liquid Jungle Lab; Paul Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft, Founder & CEO, Vulcan, Inc., Owner, Seattle Seahawks, Co-Founder, Allen Institute for Brain Science Olessia Kantor; Sergey Brin, Co-Founder, Driector, Special Projects, Google
Charles Simonyi, High-Tech Pioneer, Board Chairman, Institute of Advanced Study; Lisa Simonyi  Lori Park, Google; Peter Gabriel, Musician & Songwriter
Ricardo Salinas, CEO, Grupo Salinas, Grupo Elektra, Mexico; Maria Laura Salinas, Fmr. National Sales Director, TV Azteca, Mexico; Jacqui Safra, Investor, Owner, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Chairman, Encyclopedia Britannica Lucy Page Southworth, Bioinformatics Researcher; Larry Page
Salar Kamangar, Google, Former CEO, YouTube, Founding Member, Googl's Product Team; David Brooks, Columnist, New York Times Tony Fadell, "Father of the iPod", Founder & CEO, Nest; Danielle Lambert, Former Senior VP, Human Resources, Apple
Andrian KreyeGeorge Dyson, Science Historian, Author; Jeff Bezos Sergey BrinCharles Simonyi


Lucy Page SouthworthLarry PageKatinka Matson


This "worldwide community of gardeners and farmers and breeders" has been getting together for an annual dinner since 1998. The dinner has had many names: "The Millionaires Dinner", "The Digerati Dinner", "The Billionaires' Dinner", "The Edge Science Dinner", "The Age of Wonder Dinner". 

The industrial age had the nineteenth century Lunar Society of Birmingham, an informal dinner club and learned society of leading cultural figures, natural philosophers, and industrialists, whose members included engineer James Watt, manufacturer, and his business partner Matthew Boulton (Boulton & Watt steam engines), physician and natural philosopher Erasmus Darwin, author and abolitionist Thomas Day,  arms manufacturer Samuel Galton, Jr., chemist Joseph Priestly (discoverer of oxygen), potter Josiah Wedgewood, clergyman, natural philosopher, clock-maker John Whitehurst, botanist and geologist William Withering, and Benjamin Franklin. (Erasmus Darwin and Wedgewood were the grandfathers of Charles Darwin). The Society met each month near the full moon in each other's homes, and in venues such as  Soho House, and Great Barr Hall. They referred to themselves as "lunarticks".  

Edge, through its Master Classes, seminars, online activities, dinners, gathers together the third culture intellectuals and technology pioneers of the post-industrial, digital age. This year's dinner, held in Vancouver at the Blue Water Cafe, was no exception. The group, including founders of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, the father of the iPod, the inventor of the WYSIWYG word processor, people in art, photography, music, distinguished journalists and thinkers, was a remarkable gathering of outstanding minds. These are the people that are rewriting our global culture. 

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