NNSF #100: Double-Slit, AI, and Sword Canes!Have at you! Next Weds features dueling theories, dueling minds, and dueling sword canes. Or dual, as the case may be, as we discuss the weird boundaries of things that are both particles and waves, intersections of machine and human intelligence, and items both weapon and fashion accessory. Plus drinks, tamales, DJ, and tons of awesome people who are all singularly wonderful. Be there and be square!

In honor of our 100th show and over 8 years of nerdery (whaaaaaat!), this line-up features a mix of both new and returning speakers. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who have attended or starred in our events over the years, and a big welcome to the many new folks who join our ever-growing community. Cheers!

Wednesday, 9/19/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here


“Through Two Doors at Once” by Anil Ananthaswamy

The famed double-slit experiment has continually challenged our ideas about the nature of reality itself. How can a single particle behave both like a particle and a wave? Does a particle, or indeed reality, exist before we look at it, or does looking create reality? This headscratcher of an experiment has a fascinating 200 year-old history, filled with the mysteries and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, and it continues to confound and challenge our intuitions about the nature of reality.

Anil Ananthaswamy is an award-winning journalist and author. He contributes regularly to the New Scientist, and has also written for Nature, National Geographic News, Discover, Nautilus, Matter, The Wall Street Journal and the UK’s Literary Review. “Through Two Doors at Once” is his third book, after “The Edge of Physics” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There”.


“Black Box: How AI Will Amplify the Best and Worst of Humanity” by Jacob Ward

For most of us, our own mind is a black box: an all-powerful and utterly mysterious device that runs our lives for us. And not only do we humans just barely understand how it works, science is now revealing that it makes most of our decisions for us using rules and shortcuts of which you and I aren’t even aware. Meanwhile, every area of human activity, from criminal justice to corporate hiring to military strategy, is turning to “black box” artificial intelligence systems for cost savings, efficiency, and moral clarity. Jacob Ward reveals the relationship between the unconscious habits of our minds, and the way that AI is poised to amplify them, alter them, maybe even reprogram them. What will society look like if we allow our unconscious habits to be shaped by AI and machine learning? Or is it possible to institute guidelines for the development of AI and ML that will help protect us from our own worst instincts?

Jacob Ward has appeared at Nerd Nite SF twice before in our 8 years, but he’s probably a little more famous as a journalist, TV correspondent, and the former editor-in-chief of Popular Science. He’s now a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, along with its partner the Berggruen Institute.


“The History and Outlaw Status of Sword Canes” by Erin Simon

Delve into the early history of the dapper gent’s most lethal accessory! Marvel that so many people still try to sneak them on planes! Laugh at the California law that calls them out by name (the wrong one)! By looking at ngrams, silly pictures, and even sillier laws, we’ll learn about sword canes, how a ballistic knife is different from a lipstick case knife, and what California law has to say about boobytraps. The pen may be mightier, but the sword cane is way more fun.

Erin Simon is the product counsel for Google Books and various other pieces of Search. When not researching obscure weaponry, she makes pictures and accumulates books. (Erin gave this talk way back in 2015, and we asked for an encore.)


With: Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the set list on Twitter @djalphabravo.

Food: Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas returns!