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Maggie Jackson, Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 6:00 PM | Members' Room | open to the public | $15 per person | registration required

A revolutionary guide to flourishing in times of flux and angst by harnessing the overlooked power of our uncertainty.

In an era of terrifying unpredictability, we race to address complex crises with quick, sure algorithms, bullet points, and tweets. How could we find the clarity and vision so urgently needed today by being unsure? Uncertain is about the triumph of doing just that. A scientific adventure tale set on the front lines of a volatile era, this epiphany of a book by award-winning author Maggie Jackson shows us how to skillfully confront the unexpected and the unknown, and how to harness not-knowing in the service of wisdom, invention, mutual understanding, and resilience.

Long neglected as a topic of study and widely treated as a shameful flaw, uncertainty is revealed to be a crucial gadfly of the mind, jolting us from the routine and the assumed into a space for exploring unseen meaning. Far from luring us into inertia, uncertainty is the mindset most needed in times of flux and a remarkable antidote to the narrow-mindedness of our day.

In laboratories, political campaigns, and on the frontiers of artificial intelligence, Jackson meets the pioneers decoding the surprising gifts of being unsure. Each chapter examines a mode of uncertainty-in-action, from creative reverie to the dissent that spurs team success. Step by step, Uncertain reveals being unsure as a skill set for incisive thinking and day-to-day flourishing.

Nominated for a National Book Award and named a ‘must read’ of the Next Big Idea Club, Uncertain has been praised as “powerful”, “incisive” and “timely”. MIT professor Sherry Turkle, bestselling author of Reclaiming Conversation and The Empathy Diaries says, "Once I started reading I could not stop. Jackson is a great thinker and storyteller and this is her best work yet. Beautiful, inspirational, compelling, and urgently needed, Uncertain is that rare book that will change the way you think."

Maggie Jackson is an award-winning author and journalist known for her pioneering writings on social trends, particularly technology’s impact on humanity. Her acclaimed books include Distracted, winner of the 2020 Dorothy Lee Book Award for excellence in technology criticism. A former contributing columnist for the Boston Globe, Jackson has written for the New York Times, New Philosopher, and other publications worldwide. Her writings have been translated into multiple languages and appear in numerous anthologies including Living with Robots and The State of the American Mind. Her work has been widely covered by the global press. Author photo by Karen Smul