Aidan Lyon
Philosopher and entrepreneur, based in Amsterdam.
Aidan Lyon
AboutAidan Lyon

Aidan Lyon is CEO and co-founder of DelphiCloud and Research Associate in the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam. He is also a research consultant for the DARPA SCORE project and an external member of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy.

He completed his PhD at the Australian National University on the philosophical foundations of probability and has degrees in mathematics and philosophy from the University of Queensland. He has held academic positions at the University of Maryland, the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, the Tilburg Center for Ethics and Philosophy of Science, the University of Vienna, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, and the Australian National University. In addition to being an academic, he has operated as a risk management consultant for the Australian Government and other clients since 2011.

Aidan's research is primarily on the philosophical foundations of uncertainty, philosophical psychology, and social epistemology — with a particular focus on the so-called wisdom of crowds. His company, DelphiCloud, applies this research in the form of software to help its clients make probabilistic forecasts in situations of high stakes and extreme uncertainty.

Philosophy

My main research interests are the philosophical foundations of uncertainty. One idea that drives a lot of my thinking is that the problem of induction is one of the deepest problems of philosophy and has an enormous practical impact on the everyday decisions we make.

An important consequence of the problem of induction is that there is no privileged epistemic perspective for us to enjoy: that is, there is no single correct way of looking at the world and figuring out what’s going on. It isn’t just that we all have our blindspots and biases; rather, the problem is that we all must have blindspots and biases. In short, black swans are unavoidable.

However, and fortunately, there are things we can do to manage the risks of black swans. Although there is no privileged perspective, some perspectives are clearly better than others in some circumstances, and there are things one can do to improve one’s own perspective. Moreover, in many situations we can combine our different individual perspectives into a superior collective outlook. These observations underly my research in the wisdom of crowds and also the methods of DelphiCloud.

Over the years, I have slowly realised that my fascination with uncertainty is actually a fascination with wisdom. Although my training has been in the Western traditions of analytic philosophy, mathematics, and science, I have found tremendous value in Buddhist philosophy and what it has to say about wisdom. As a result, a lot of my research now is on integrating Buddhist insights into the rest of my work.

Psychedelic Experience

A philosophical analysis of the nature of psychedelic experience.

Book manuscript under contract with Oxford University Press, anticipated publication in 2020.

Recently, there has been an explosion of scientific research into the effects of psychedelic substances. Initial results indicate that psychedelic experiences can treat psychological problems such as depression, PTSD, and drug addiction. The research also seems to be shedding new light on the structure of the mind and the functional structure of the brain. For example, a common phenomenological component of psychedelic experience is the dissolution of the ego, and recent research suggests that this correlates with a reduction in the orthogonality of the default mode network and the task positive networks.

The concept of psychedelic experience has thus now made its way out from the wild 60’s counterculture and into serious contemporary scientific research. This research is also leading to the development of new theories. For example, it has lead some researchers to develop the theory that different conscious states correspond to brain states with different levels of entropy and that psychedelic experiences correspond to brain states with higher-than-usual entropy.

Like any concept that has recently transitioned from folk theorising to scientific theorising, the concept of psychedelic experience needs to be examined carefully. In this book, I do this by raising the question "what is psychedelic experience?” and developing an answer to it.

NB: I'm in the middle of writing the book. If you'd like to know more about it or would be interested in reading early drafts, please let me know using the contact form below.

Publications
Contact

For more information, please contact me using the form below.