Nick Bostrom, director of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, specializes in the big questions: What does it mean to be human? If we could live forever, would we choose to? Can we improve our human nature with technological enhancements?

Why you should listen

Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom began thinking of a future full of human enhancement, nanotechnology and cloning long before they became mainstream concerns. From his famous simulation argument -- which presents evidence for the Matrix-like idea that humans are living in a computer simulation -- to the impact of uploading our brains on human consciousness, Bostrom approaches both the inevitable and the speculative using the tools of philosophy, bioethics and probability.

He's the co-founder and chair of both the World Transhumanist Association, which advocates the use of technology to extend human capabilities and lifespans, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. In his prolific writing, Bostrom tackles the future of the human condition head-on, laying out both the promises of accelerating technology and its potential for catastrophe.

What others say

“It's not every thirty-one-year-old scholar, after all, who gets called out ... by the likes of Francis Fukuyama.” — Mongrel magazine

Nick Bostrom’s TED talk

Nick Bostrom on the TED Blog

Global Issues

Global Catastrophic Risks Conference this July

May 29, 2008

Pessimists, mark your calendars: July 17-20 comes the Global Catastrophic Risks Conference at the University of Oxford. The conference aims to open dialogue about the greatest threats to human survival now and into the future. It is curated by the Future of Humanity Institute, whose director is TEDster Nick Bostrom. Among the discussion topics: + […]

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Edge question 2008: What have you changed your mind about? Why?

January 2, 2008

Many TEDTalks speakers have answered the 2008 Edge Foundation question: What have you changed your mind about? Why? Among the more than 160 essays from leading thinkers — scientists, philosophers, artists — look for Wired’s Chris Anderson, Nick Bostrom, Stewart Brand, Richard Dawkins, Aubrey de Grey, Juan Enriquez, Helen Fisher, Neil Gershenfeld, Daniel Gilbert, Daniel […]

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Nick Bostrom on TED.com

April 20, 2007

Oxford philosopher and transhumanist Nick Bostrom examines the future of humankind and asks whether we might alter the fundamental nature of humanity to solve our most intrinsic problems.

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Quotes from Nick Bostrom

You can engineer a prairie vole to become monogamous when it’s naturally polygamous. It’s just a single gene. Might be more complicated in humans, but perhaps not that much.
Nick Bostrom
TEDGlobal 2005 • 563K views Apr 2007
Informative, Fascinating