# Thomas Eliot

Thomas Eliot
is the Executive Director of
Saving Humanity from Homo Sapiens. Thomas
is a recent graduate with a degree in mathematics, an avid traveller,
and aspiring savior of humanity.

When Thomas was a kid he was a math whiz. He went to a magnet school and
did
well and read up on the subject on his own, teaching himself
trigonometry.
One of his fondest memories is when he was 12 and he got selected to be
on
a game show. The absurdly titled “Challenge of the Child Geniuses: Who
is
the Smartest Kid in America?” hosted by Dick Clark of all people, was a
two-time ever show on what other channel but Fox. Unfortunately, in high
school he got a bit burned out on math. He had a string of bad advice
regarding the subject, disliked his AP and multivariable Calculus
teachers, and his interest turned to other subjects — primarily
politics.

Thomas therefore picked his college, Willamette University, for its
strength
in that field. He spent his freshman year studying to be a politician:
rhetoric, psychology, and political science made up his course load for
an
entire year before he came to the realization that he could never
succeed
in American politics and live with himself. Fed up on the whole liberal
arts thing, he returned to where his strengths had lain as a child.

Or rather, he would have turned immediately, but an obstruction arose
that forced him to delay those plans. His FAFSA was filed late and his
scholarships disappeared in a puff of bureaucracy and he was forced to
take a year off to wait for them to reappear. However, as luck would
have it, he won round trip tickets to Europe in a free raffle held by
his
fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and so for considerably less than the cost of
attending school sans scholarships, he spent many a month abroad. he
traveled through France, the Netherlands, and Italy, and discovered
perhaps his primary passion in life — travel. He rode trains, made
lovers,
made enemies, and saved a man’s foot, in what was to be only his first
adventure abroad.

The start of his mathematics education came as Thomas returned to
Willamette
that autumn. Dipping his toes in the first year of chemistry,
physics, Spanish, as well as Foundations of Advanced Math with Erin
McNicholas, and Linear Algebra with Alex Jordan, he promptly
rediscovered his love of mathematics. He was then
accepted into
Penn State’s Mathematics Advanced Study Semester, which he would attend
in the fall, but that left his summer completely open. He had plenty of
time and energy to get something done, and a lecture given earlier that
year by Alan Taylor of Union College had given him the perfect
inspiration. A voting system he had been kicking around in his head for
years turned out to be his own original invention, and so he wrote it
up,
formalized it, proved a few traits, and thanks to the generous funding
of Pi Mu Epsilon, presented it at MathFest 2009. He won the Pi Mu
Epsilon
Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research and Presentation and the
paper version is currently being reviewed by PME for
publication.

In Fall 2009, Thomas attended Penn State’s MASS Program. The classes
were
extremely hard, and his so-far limited background made them more so
— but
it may have been for the best, as he was forced to learn an
extraordinary
amount to keep pace. Anatole Katok taught Groups and Their Connections
to Geometry, an extremely difficult class, but the one he ended up doing
best in. Andrew Belmonte taught Complex Analysis From a Fluid Dynamics
Perspective, which seems to have been a unique class, to say the least.
Sergei Tabachnikov, in addition to holding weekly seminars and arranging
the colloquiums, taught his favorite class, Explorations in
Convexity.
That was the class that crystallized his love of geometry.

The following spring Thomas attended the Budapest Semester in
Mathematics. I
took Combinatorics from Attila Sali, Number Theory from
Szabó Csaba,
Topics in Analysis from Ambrus Gergely, Differential Geometry from
Csikós
Balás, and audited Conjecture and Proof. This semester formed the
bedrock of his undergraduate mathematical education, finally getting in
most of the basic classes he may have found useful before going to the
MASS Program.

That summer, after travelling to Africa the first time, he looked back
to
a project he had done for MASS: a construction of the convex regular
polytopes in every dimension. He expanded it into a more thorough paper
and a rather creative presentation. Thanks to Pi
Mu Epsilon he again was given the opportunity to present at MathFest,
and
his talk was a hit. So much so in fact that David Massey of Northeastern
University and the Worldwide Center of Mathematics invited him to be the
first undergraduate expository speaker at the Center.
The paper version is currently being
edited before submission to Mathematics Magazine.

In Summer 2011, Thomas attended the Singularity Institute for Artificial
Intelligence’s Rationality Boot Camp, where he trained in epistemic and
functional rationality, in order to better be able to learn true things
and act within in the world. As a result, he decided to switch his
career track from primarily academia to the private and nonprofit
sector, in order to attempt to make a bigger and more important impact
in the world.

To that end, he cofounded a philanthropic foundation, Saving Humanity
from Homo Sapiens, of which he ais the Executive Director. SHfHS uses
its
$1.5 million endowment to seek out researchers and academics doing work
in the field of Existential Risk Reduction — reducing the chances
that a
global catastrophe could cause humans to go extinct — and provide
them
with funding.

In particular, Thomas is concerned about the
possibility
of
the Singularity, a hypothesized future event where a
smarter-than-human Artificial Intelligence with the ability to edit its
own code makes itself so much smarter and more powerful than humanity
that we cannot hope to stand in the way of it accomplishing whatever it
was programmed to do. This could, for example, include, if programmed
poorly, turning all available matter (including humans) into rocketships
or some equivalent. Conversely, if programmed well, the Singularity
could be the single most beneficial event in the history of humanity. To
that end, he is taking Stanford’s online Artificial Intelligence and
Machine Learning courses.

Thomas authored
*Explorations in Negative Voting* and
*A Construction of the Regular Polytopes of All Dimensions*.
Read his
Google+ profile.
Read his
blog.