Columbia, NYU Profs Set to ‘Raise the Bar’

A head-spinning array of June 2 topics.

There will be two rounds of *free* talks tomorrow night in New York City and Brooklyn. The first starts at 6:30 p.m., the second at 8:30 p.m.

The range of topics to be addressed by Columbia and NYU professors in various neighborhood bars and cafes, as part of worldwide initiative “Raising the Bar,” is staggering. The mostly at-capacity talks include:

JOURNALISM INTERVIEWING TECHNIQUES: REAL TALK FOR REAL PEOPLE: Journalists are trained to nose around in other people’s business. Even strangers will tell them deeply personal secrets. Of course, the very best journalists can conduct interviews without asking a single question. Their secret: The fine art of strategic, intuitive conversation. Learn the five interviewing principles that will change how you communicate in any setting — from romance, to office politics and beyond. [Speaker: Betty Ming Liu]

WHAT IF THE KNICKS AND NETS WERE RUN BY ROBOTS?: What if a robot helped run your favorite NBA team? Introducing the Automated General Manager, a computer program that does a better job than humans at drafting basketball prospects, trading for other players and draft picks, and signing free agents. Over the past ten years, the automated GM would have saved the average team hundreds of millions of dollars through substantially better on-court performance. It works by using an innovative machine learning technique that does not rely on hindsight, and applies it to a broad and deep historical database of player performance. Plus, all of the interactive tools, systems, and reports are available for free on Computers are already better than humans at Jeopardy! and chess. Now they are also better at building successful basketball teams. How many games is your team losing unnecessarily? Find out the true cost of ignoring modern sports analytics. [Philip Maymin]

NEW YORK SCHOOL OF PHOTOGRAPHY DROPOUT: Photographer Thomas Roma will speak about what it was like being a photographer when it was still something special. [Thomas Roma]

NYC POLITICS AND POLICY IN THE AGE OF DE BLASIO: Bill de Blasio began his mayoralty vowing to “put an end to economic and social inequalities.” It’s the pledge that, probably more than any other, helped get him elected. How has he done so far in keeping his promise? What policies might be most effective in reducing inequality in the city? Can any mayor really change the distribution of income in their city? [Ruth Fuchs]

Columbia adjunct professor of international and public affairs Irene E. Finel-Honigman might win for best speech title. Hers is called JAMES BOND, GREEK OLIVES AND INTERNATIONAL BANKING. All about those guys and gals licensed to apply service fees.