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Veritas Forum: What does Human Progress Mean?

Thursday, April 12, 2018
7:00pm to 9:00pm
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What does Human Progress Mean? 
A Conversation at the Intersection of Technology, Science and Philosophy

Human progress is often driven by innovations in science and technology, more pronounced than ever in our current digital era. These advances rapidly transform our society and warrant leaders in all fields, including STEM, industry, and finance, to think critically about how science and technology shape progress and development. This year, the Veritas Forum at Caltech will consider "What does human progress mean?". Featuring Dr. Alana Ackerson, a finance leader and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, and Dr. Christopher Hitchcock, Professor of Philosophy from Caltech, we will explore this enduring question through the lens of technology, science, and philosophy. The Forum will focus on how the next generation of leaders can think about implementing technology in a way that allows for true human progress.

The Forum will consist of short presentations, a moderated discussion between Dr. Ackerson and Professor Hitchcock, and an open Q&A session with audience members. We value your input for the discussion and invite you to submit your questions prior to the Forum via this link. Light refreshments will be served at the end of the Forum.


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Speakers Info

Dr. Alana Ackerson is Chief People Officer at Figure Technologies, a financial technology company with the mission of leveraging blockchain, AI, and advanced analytics to unlock new access points for consumer credit products.  Previously, she served as Vice President of SoFi and as CEO of The Thiel Foundation, where she led organizations' efforts to support the next-generation of entrepreneurs and to promote radical scientific and technological innovations.  Alana is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, focusing on issues of technology and foreign policy.  She serves on the Board of Directors for Opportunity International and the Board of Trustees for San Francisco Theological Seminary.  Further, she sat on the Board of Directors for Stanford Student Enterprises, the Executive Committee of Breakout Labs, and the Board for the Association of Women in Alternative Investing. Alana holds a B.A. with Honors in Science, Technology and Society from Stanford University, an M.A. in Philosophical and Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, and a Doctorate of Ministry with a focus on technology and faith from San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she also earned a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction.  She is a candidate for a Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three daughters.

Dr. Christopher Hitchcock's research is focused on causation. He explores the kinds of causal reasoning used in the sciences, law, and everyday life, examining how causal questions in science differ from those that arise in moral or legal domains. His research makes use of formal tools for causal modeling that have been developed by philosophers, computer scientists, statisticians, and epidemiologists. In addition to causation, Hitchcock has done work in a number of other areas of the philosophy of science, including the philosophy of biology and the confirmation of hypotheses by evidence. He also works in formal epistemology, which employs mathematical tools such as probability to represent belief, inference, and evidence. He has recently undertaken a collaborative project in formal epistemology that involves modeling agreement and disagreement between individuals. Before joining Caltech, Hitchcock was on the faculty at Rice University from 1993 to 1998. He's had three articles selected by The Philosopher's Annual as among the year's 10 best in the field of philosophy (in 1995, 2001, and 2003). He has also received the Recent Ph.D. Essay Award from the Philosophy of Science Association, given for the best paper by a recent Ph.D. (in 1997–1998). He served on the governing board of the Philosophy of Science Association from 2002 to 2005 and is currently the president of the Society for Exact Philosophy.


About Veritas Forum at Caltech

Many of the world's leading universities were founded to answer the big "why" questions. The mission of Veritas Forum is to help them confront these questions anew. Originally started at Harvard University in 1992, the Forum is now held over 200 universities in North America and Europe. The Veritas Forum aims to facilitate courageous conversations that place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invites participants from all backgrounds to ask deep questions on truth and life. Since 2009, the Veritas Forum at Caltech has featured many prominent scientists including Dr. Francis Collins (director of NIH), Dr. Cullen R. Buie (MIT) and Dr. Francis Su (Harvey Mudd, ex-president of Mathematical Association of America) who shared how their work integrates with their worldview.  

For more information, please contact Veritas Forum at Caltech Planning Committee by phone at 6263956974 or by email at [email protected] or visit Veritas Forum at Caltech.