Upcoming Events

Wed 5/27

Image - Rise of the Robots

Rise of the Robots

Date: Wed, May 27, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
What course will our future will take?

Martin Ford, Author; Software Developer; Computer Designer

Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, physicians and even – ironically – computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots. As technology continues to develop, more and more traditional jobs will be shed. Unless we radically reassess our economic and political systems, some fear that this transition to extreme automation could result in massive unemployment, stark inequality and the implosion of the economy itself. Martin Ford, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, offers both a vision of this new technology and a call to arms to face its implications, made more potent by Ford’s own integral role in creating the automated future he describes. His warning rings clearly: robots are coming, and we must decide now what course our future will take.

Dr. Sylvia Earle: One Big Ocean

Date: Wed, May 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
An ocean pioneer.

Sylvia Earle, Ocean Explorer; National Geographic Explorer in Residence; Founder, Mission Blue and SEAlliance
Greg Dalton, Founder, Climate One – Moderator

Dr. Sylvia Earle – fondly dubbed “Her Deepness” by The New York Times – holds the women’s record for the deepest ocean dive and has led more than 100 undersea expeditions, logging more than 7,000 hours underwater. Formerly chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Earle has garnered countless international honors and played a leading role as researcher and educator capable of crossing any barrier – whether it be linguistic, geographic or a seemingly impassible ocean depth.

Thu 5/28

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a two-hour hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.

Image - Cuba in the 21st Century: Capitalism or Socialism?

Cuba in the 21st Century: Capitalism or Socialism?

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With professor Juan A. Triana Barros

Juan A. Triana Barros, Professor, Havana University and Polytechnic Institute of Havana

As the U.S. moves toward removing economic sanctions and restoring relations with Cuba, what will be the impact on the Cuban economy? What types of economic reforms have already taken place in Cuba? What is planned in terms of private ownership and a private business sector? How does the country plan to build a new type of Cuban socialism within the context of a global open market? Come hear economics professor Juan Triana discuss the history of Cuba’s socio-economic system and the implications of today’s reforms.

Image - Former San Francisco Giant Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan

Former San Francisco Giant Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
An inspiring true story

Bengie Molina, Former MLB Catcher (2007-2010), SF Giants; Co-author, Molina
Joan Ryan, Media Consultant, SF Giants; Co-author, Molina
In conversation with Roy Eisenhardt, Lecturer in Sports Law, UC Berkeley Law School; Former President, Oakland A's

Good Lit event underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation

The inspiring true story of the poor Puerto Rican factory worker, Benjamin Molina Santana, who against all odds raised the greatest baseball dynasty of all time: Molina's three sons – Bengie, Jose, and Yadier – have each earned two World Series rings, which is unprecedented in the sport, and his story is told by one of them, Bengie.

Bengie was the least likely to reach the majors. He was too slow, too sensitive and too small. But craving his beloved father’s respect, Bengie weathered failure after deflating failure until one day he was hoisting a World Series trophy in a champagne-soaked clubhouse. All along he thought he was fulfilling his father’s own failed dream of baseball glory, only to discover it had not been his father’s dream at all.

Mon 6/1

Book Discussion: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen

Date: Mon, June 01, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

A witty, warm and engaging book about Russians and the food obsessions of Soviet life; it is also a culinary history of the Russian Revolution and its consequences. In the great tradition of Russian memoirs, it presents a view of the country's past and culture in the mode of “laughter through tears.” A delicious read complete with recipes.

Image - 84th Annual California Book Awards Ceremony

84th Annual California Book Awards Ceremony

Date: Mon, June 01, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Some of California’s most gifted writers!

The Book Awards is sponsored by Bank of the West.

Since 1931, The Commonwealth Club has honored the Golden State’s literary giants at the California Book Awards. At our special awards ceremony, we will bestow Gold and Silver medals in several categories, including fiction, non-fiction, first fiction, poetry, young adult and juvenile.  Come hear from some of California’s most gifted writers. See you at the ceremony!

 

Tue 6/2

Digital Gold, The History and Future of Bitcoin

Date: Tue, June 02, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With reporter and author Nathaniel Popper

Nathaniel Popper, Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Digital Gold

Believers in Bitcoin see it as a potential basis for a financial system free of banks and governments. So far it has made millions for some people and prison terms for others. National banking regulators are just beginning to set rules and regulations for bitcoin in light of recent scandals and its use by criminal enterprises.

Popper, who has covered the intersections between Wall Street and Silicon Valley for The New York Times, wrote Digital Gold, a best seller on the history of Bitcoin, the digital money and financial technology that is used globally. Join us for a discussion on the history and future of bitcoin and its impact on financial markets.

Wed 6/3

Image - A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author David Downie

David Downie, Author, A Passion for Paris

Downie seeks to uncover why Paris has reigned as the world's most romantic city for over 150 years. In his combined memoir, history text and travelogue, Downie takes us through Paris' secluded parks, artists' studios, cafés and streets—many unchanged in centuries—while walking hand-in-hand with Victor Hugo, Flaubert, George Sand, Baudelaire, Balzac and many others. Downie finds hidden sources of Paris' chic, glamorous allure in its bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and in the carefree atmosphere created by its subversive literature extolling rebellion, mayhem and melancholy.

Image - Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Wells Fargo's Senior Economist

Gary Schlossberg, Senior Economist, Wells Capital Management; Former researcher, U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board

Gary Schlossberg analyzes the economic, financial and investment environments for a fee-based, institutional money manager with over $340 billion in assets under management, Wells Capital Management (WCM), along with groups within Wells Fargo & Co. He also consults with the organization’s customers and internal professionals and is a member of WCM Policy and Liquidity Management strategy committees. Schlossberg is known for his well-packaged presentations on economic business and is quoted in The Financial Press. He also appears on business radio and TV programs in the U.S., Japan and in the U.K. Hear him here next.

Thu 6/4

Medical Innovation: How Can We Get the Right Technology at the Right Price?

Date: Thu, June 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Is medical technology too expensive?

James C. Robinson, Professor of Health Economics and Chair of Berkeley Center for Health Technology, UC Berkeley

Innovation is the engine that drives quality improvement in health care, but also the unsustainable growth in expenditures. The life sciences industry creates a remarkable pipeline of new drugs, devices, and diagnostics, but too often these are used on the wrong patient, at the wrong time, or at the wrong price. In his new book, Purchasing Medical Innovation, Professor Robinson analyzes the roles of the Food and Drug Administration, Medicare and private insurers, physicians, hospitals, and consumers as purchasers of effective but expensive technologies. Is medical technology too expensive? Who should – and will – decide? One of America’s leading health policy experts, Dr. Robinson is noted for bringing real-world experience to policy debates and scientific rigor to the professional and industry world.

I Never Knew There Were so Many Stars: San Francisco Ninth Graders at Camp Mather in the Sierras

Date: Thu, June 04, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Erik Rice, Supervisor, College and Career Readiness, San Francisco Unified School District
Vanessa Varko-Fontana, Community Health Outreach Worker, John O'Connell High School Ninth Grade Students from John O'Connell High School
Laura Page, Arts and Education Program Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission - Moderator

In association with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

In spring of 2015, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department are bringing students from San Francisco's Mission District to Camp Mather in the Sierras. For the second year in a row, students will swim, hike and learn about Hetch Hetchy, the Sierras, our national and state forests and explore mountain environments, stars in the skies and opportunities for work and careers. Join our panel to learn about students' adventures in discovering forests, rivers, lakes, wild life, horse trails and nature's wonders.

Sun 6/7

Image - A Sunday with Judy Blume

A Sunday with Judy Blume and Molly Ringwald

Date: Sun, June 07, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Called "the queen of YA" by The Washington Post

Judy Blume, Author

In conversation with Molly Ringwald, Actress, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink; Judy Blume Enthusiast

“My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.” – Judy Blume

Judy Blume, called “the Queen of YA” by The Washington Post, releases her first book in 15 years, In the Unlikely Event, this June. Blume – prolific, controversial, beloved – is a literary iconoclast whose novels have been among the first to discuss teen sex, masturbation, menstruation and divorce. For two generations of preteen girls, Blume’s books have addressed the most intimate questions of love, loss and growing up.

Judy Blume will discuss her latest book, her career spanning eight decades of writing, children empowerment and her favorite stories about the young and young at heart.

Mon 6/8

Image - A God That Could Be Real

A God That Could Be Real

Date: Mon, June 08, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A fresh approach to an ancient topic.

Nancy Ellen Abrams, Author 

Many people find it hard to put their faith in a god that is based upon their own beliefs, without any external evidence. As a philosopher of science, lawyer, atheist, environmental activist and wife of the astrophysicist Joel Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams was one of them – until she surprised herself by asking the question: "Could anything actually exist in our strange and counterintuitive universe that is worthy of the name God?" Shedding traditional religious conceptions, she builds on the idea of emergence, a powerful new scientific concept that cuts across many fields and hones in on the complex relations inherent in our universe. Come experience a fresh approach to an ancient topic that has intrigued scientists and theologians.

Tue 6/9

Image - Avoiding the End-of-Life Medical Conveyer Belt

Avoiding the End-of-Life Medical Conveyer Belt

Date: Tue, June 09, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
The seemingly contradictory specialties of critical care and palliative care.

Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D., Contributor, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and Huffington Post

In conversation with Mark Zitter CEO, Zitter Health Insights

Thirty percent of Americans die in ICUs hooked up to machines, despite their preferences to the contrary. Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter practices the seemingly contradictory specialties of critical care and palliative care. She sees a medical system geared toward treating individual organ systems rather than caring for whole patients. Dr. Zitter’s New York Times columns illustrate the challenges patients and their families face and provide specific steps individuals can take for better end-of-life experiences. She will be interviewed by Mark Zitter, who co-founded a telephone counseling service for patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Image - Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Date: Tue, June 09, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Leadership in our changing world.

General Stanley McChrystal (Ret), Author, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal is a unique leader with an impressive list of credits, including the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Widely praised for revolutionizing warfare that fused intelligence and operations, he also created and put into place the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and an extensive counter-terrorism organization that changed how military agencies interact and operate with each other. His leadership credits during his 34-year career include serving as a four-star general, former leader of the Joint Special Operations Committee and a former Green Beret. Come hear him speak about leadership in our changing world.

Wed 6/10

Hayes Valley Sweets Tour

Date: Wed, June 10, 2015
Time: 2:00 PM
Cupcakes, ice cream, macarons, chocolates!

Assisting Organization: Gourmet Walks

Join Gourmet Walks on a 2.5-hour exploration of Hayes Valley's sweetest shops. You'll learn about the latest San Francisco dessert trends while sampling fresh-baked cupcakes, gourmet ice cream, Parisian macarons, artisan chocolates and more. This easy walking tour will make six tasting stops in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

Image - Forgive for Good: The Research, Value and Practices of Forgiveness

Forgive for Good: The Research, Value and Practices of Forgiveness

Date: Wed, June 10, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Dr. Fred Luskin with the Stanford Forgiveness Project

Fred Luskin, Ph.D., Director, Stanford Forgiveness Project, Forgive for Good

Dr. Luskin says the need for forgiveness is a universal concept in all faith traditions and an important psychological healing process. He will share his research on this topic and help us understand the Nine Steps he has developed to better address forgiveness for our health and well-being. The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress, leading to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self-confidence. An individual, guided practice will be part of the program.

Ashlee Vance on Elon Musk, Tesla, Space-X and the Future

Date: Wed, June 10, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Ashlee Vance, Technology Writer, Bloomberg Businessweek; Author, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future; Twitter @valleyhack

Can the nation of inventors and creators, which led the modern world for a century, still compete in an age of fierce global competition? Vance argues that Elon Musk is a contemporary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes and Steve Jobs. Vance is one of the most prominent writers on technology today. After spending several years reporting on Silicon Valley and technology for The New York Times, Vance went to Bloomberg Businessweek, where he has written dozens of cover and feature stories on topics ranging from cyber espionage to DNA sequencing and space exploration.

Image - Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Edu

Video Games and Neuroscience: A Vision of the Future of Medicine and Education

Date: Wed, June 10, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director, Neuroscience Imaging Center and Associate Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, UCSF

Brain training games offered by companies like Lumosity and Fit Brains are rapidly gaining popularity, but how do we know if we’re truly able to keep our brains healthy? At the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Adam Gazzaley and his team focus on furthering our understanding of aging, neurological disease and the ways in which we can harness brain plasticity and improve cognitive function. Come hear the latest in neuroscience as Gazzaley explores how video games can train our brains, fend off mental decline and reduce our reliance on medication to treat neurological and psychiatric conditions.