Reckless Ideas will feature high on the agenda of the sixth Postdocs in Complexity Conference, the latest in a twice-yearly series held at SFI and generously funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation (JSMF). The conference, to take place Aug. 27-30, brings together early-career complexity postdoctoral fellows in a wide range of disciplines from institutions around the world.

The Reckless Ideas format encourages the participants to bring up untested propositions they would otherwise be reluctant to voice. Originally started in 2010 by SFI President David Krakauer (then the SFI Faculty Chair), past Reckless Ideas have included a notion of “selfish” neurons, presented by SFI External Professor Daniel Dennett, and apparently “telepathic” phenomena in social organisms, presented by former Omidyar Fellow Jeremy Van Cleve.

To encourage recklessness in presenters, audience members give feedback in the form of “yes, and . . .” statements, rather than the more critical “no, but . . . .” Presenters do their part by limiting themselves to no more than one slide, no matter how complex the topic.

All postdocs at the August conference will propose a reckless idea. They will then divide into smaller groups and choose four ideas for brainstorming and serious discussion.

“In the past, participants have consistently rated the research jam sessions and group discussion time as the best parts of the conference,” said Hilary Skolnik, Program Manager of SFI’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program. “So this is a novel way of incorporating group discussions so that participants can share ideas and collaborate with each other”.

In addition to off-the-wall collaborative sessions, the participants will receive professional training, practice science communications through an improv session, and engage in social activities that include a mushroom hunt in the Santa Fe National Forest and a yoga session on the SFI beach.

Read more about the Postdocs in Complexity Conference.

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