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FSN Seminar – March 30 at 1 pm EDT

Update: Here are the slide –

Next FSN seminar, March 30, 2021 via Zoom from 13:00 – 15:30 EDT

Please register to attend.

Title: Some Reflections on the Pandemic

Speaker: Robert Hoffman


This presentation challenges the now conventional wisdom that the novel coronavirus is so deadly that extreme public health measures such as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are warranted, at least until vaccines have been developed and the population immunized. It poses questions about how well the pandemic is understood and how appropriate is the public policy response. The first question that came to mind while locked down on the Spanish coast of the Mediterranean in March 2020, was ‘What information would be needed to understand the parameters of the pandemic?’ It became clear that case-counts and deaths attributed-to-covid were not only insufficient as indicators, but by themselves were wildly misleading. To date there has been little concerted effort to measure the missing parameters.  Consequently, public policy has been flying blind and the hypothesis that covid is just another influenza, perhaps a little more serious than some, cannot be rejected


Robert Hoffman, Principal and Founder whatIf? Technologies Inc.

Economist by training and systems modeler by vocation, Robert Hoffman has been active in integrated socio-economic and biophysical systems modeling for four decades, first as an analyst and research program director at Statistics Canada, then as Research Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo, and since 1990 as founder and principal of whatIf? Technologies Inc.

After receiving an MA degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario, he joined the team at Statistics Canada that pioneered the development of commodity-by-industry and multi-regional input-output analysis and a succession of dynamic socio-economic resource systems models for Canada, taking inspiration from Leontief’s activity analysis and Forrester’s system dynamics. From this work emerged the ‘design approach’ to modelling, that focuses on the stocks and flows of materials, energy and information among the Earth system processes that open to radiant energy from the sun and consequently to unpredictable evolutionary change. 

At whatIf? Technologies Robert Hoffman, in collaboration with Bert McInnis and Michael Hoffman, oversaw the creation of the whatIf? software platform for dynamic systems modelling and the development of models in problem domains including urban and regional planning, integrated energy systems, natural resource management, and sustainability at global and national scales that are used for strategic planning, scenario analysis and policy development. 

Robert Hoffman was a visiting researcher at both the Harvard Economic Research Project and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, a participant/contributor at international conferences, and a consultant to United Nations agencies in the field of energy analysis. He is author or co-author of articles and professional papers published in scholarly journals and books. His work in global systems modeling has been recognized by the United States Association for the Club of Rome for which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robert Hoffman is an active participant in Club of Rome related activities.  Since 1990, he has served the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome as member, director and officer, including secretary-treasurer and chairman. He became Associate Member of the Club of Rome in 2009 and Full Member in 2014 and has contributed to the ‘decoupling’ and  ‘circular economy’ initiatives. In 2016, he was recognized as Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and is active in the Working Group on New Economic Theory, pursuing the development of an evolutionary systems approach to a new economics that would encompass biophysical processes and technologies as they are influenced by the behavior of economic agents. He is a member and Trustee of the American Society for Cybernetics.

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