Robin D. Hanson (born August 28, 1959) 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 as an expert on idea futures, markets and was involved in the creation of the Foresight Exchange and DARPA's FutureMAP project. 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 conducted research on signaling.
Hanson received a B.S. in physics from the University of California, Irvine in 1981, an M.S. in physics and an M.A. in Conceptual Foundations of Science from the University of Chicago in 1984, and a Ph.D. in social science from Caltech in 1997. 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. Robin has elected to have his head cryonically preserved in the event of medical death.
Hanson has expressed great disappointment in DARPA's cancellation of its FutureMAP project, and he attributes this to the controversy surrounding the related Total Information Awareness program. He supports a proposed system of government called 'futarchy', where policies would be determined by prediction markets. Until mid-2009, the blog Overcoming Bias was a group blog co-edited by Hanson and Eliezer Yudkowsky. After this, it was Hanson's personal blog until 2012, when he announced that Katja Grace and Robert Wiblin would be joining as editors and contributors.
Hanson has received publicity in many mainstream publications such as the New York Times. A 2003 article in Fortune examined Hanson's work, noting, among other things, that he is a proponent of cryonics, his ideas have found some acceptance among extropians on the Internet, and he was motivated to seek his doctorate so that his theories would gain a wider audience.
Tyler Cowen has described his book Discover Your Inner Economist as "an (attempted) rebuttal to Robin" and notes that he is a major intellectual figure in the work, which includes a fairly detailed discussion of Hanson's views:
Robin has strange ideas....
My other friend and colleague Bryan Caplan put it best: "When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'Eh, maybe.' Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is 'No way! Impossible!' Then I think about it for years."
He is clearly not a man afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom. Instead, Hanson writes a blog called Overcoming Bias, in which he presses readers to consider which cultural taboos, ideological beliefs, or misaligned incentives might constrain them from making optimal decisions.
Hanson... is an advocate of prediction markets- systems where you can place bets on a particular economic or policy outcome, like whether Israel will go to war with Iran, or how much global temperatures will rise because of climate change. His argument for these is pretty simple: they ensure that we have a financial stake in being accurate when we make forecasts, rather than just trying to look good to our peers."
- Hanson, Robin. "Today I'm 50." Overcoming Bias. August 28, 2009. http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/08/today-im-50.html
- George Mason University, Department of Economics. "Faculty and Staff." http://economics.gmu.edu/faculty/index.html
- Robin Hanson: My best idea was prediction markets.
- Logarithmic Market Scoring Rule
- Consensus Point. "About Us." http://www.consensuspoint.com/about/
- Hanson, Robin. "Robin Hanson's Bio". Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- Howley, Kerry (2010-07-07). "Until Cryonics Do Us Part". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Andrew Orlowski, Meet the ‘transhumanists’ behind the Pentagon terror casino, The Register, 5th August 2003 (accessed 17 September 2012)
- Kahn, Jeremy (September 15, 2003). "The Man Who Would Have Us Bet On Terrorism – Not to Mention Discard Democracy and Cryogenically Freeze Our Heads – May Have a Point (About The Betting, We Mean)". Fortune. p. 179.
- Hanson, Robin. "About – Welcome to Overcoming Bias." Overcoming Bias. http://www.overcomingbias.com/about
- Cowen, Tyler (July 31, 2007). "Marginal Revolution, "Tyler on Robin on Tyler on Robin"". Retrieved September 1, 2007
- Cowen, Tyler (2007). Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-0-525-95025-7.
- Silver, Nate (2012). The Signal and the Noise. New York: The Penguin Press. pp. 201–202. ISBN 978-1594204111.
- Overcoming Bias (Hanson's blog)
- GMU Page
- Hanson's bio at the Mercatus Center
- NoDoom – Hanson's critique of the Doomsday argument
- Video discussions/debates in which Hanson has taken part on Bloggingheads.tv
- Malthus v. the Singularity NY Times' John Tierney discusses Hanson's paper on the Technological singularity
- You Want Innovation? – The NY Times discusses Hanson's idea that prizes spur more innovation than grants
- Cut Medicine in Half – Hanson's argument that the USA spends too much on health care now, and on the wrong kind
- Hanson on Paternalism – Hanson debates fellow economist David Balan on the merits of government paternalism (WMA audio)
- Roberts, Russ. "Robin Hanson Podcasts". EconTalk. Library of Economics and Liberty.
- Bloggingheads.tv: Costly Truth-Seeking Will Wilkinson interviews Hanson (video & audio)
- OSCON 07: Common Biases – Hanson on overcoming common biases
- Can We Foresee to Disagree? – Hanson on Disagreement and how to overcome it
- Bloggingheads.tv: The Economics of Artificial Intelligence Karl Smith interviews Hanson (video & audio)