London Futurists news, 30th Nov 2014

Dear Futurists,

I invite you to scan the following list of events and news, to see which most interest you.

(For news about London Futurists‘ own forthcoming events, see towards the end of this newsletter.)

1.) 3D printing event at iMakr, with Professor Christopher Barnatt

Interested in the revolutionary transformation happening around 3D printers?

London Futurists‘ friends at iMakr are holding an interesting free event on the evening of Thursday 4th December. This is happening at the iMakr store at 79 Clerkenwell Road, EC1R 5AR.

Here’s an extract from the 3D Printing London meetup page for the event:

iMakr is happy to introduce a number of new 3D printers to its range, and the second edition of the popular book “3D Printing” by Christopher Barnatt.

This free event will be chance for you to see the new machines in action, as well as chat to our expert designers and engineers about the new printers.

Please book your seat here.

The new machines being introduced are:

• PrintrBot Simple Metal – The entry level machine for tinkerers and beginners alike.

• Zortrax M200 – Highly accurate, efficient 3D printer for designers and engineers.

• Ultimaker Original+ – The fast, easy to use, open source classic printer with a heated bed.

• B9 Creator – High resolution, affordable, open DLP 3D printer.

The book 3D Printing: Second Edition is a major update of the highly popular “3D Printing: The Next Industrial Revolution”. It provides an extensive overview of all 3D printing technologies, together with a detailed analysis of the 3D printing industry, and broader predictions for future digital manufacturing.

Join us for an informative night where the iMakr team – along with Chris – will be happy to answer any questions you have about these new printers, and 3D printing technology in general.

Christopher Barnatt is a futurist, videographer and Associate Professor of Strategy & Future Studies in Nottingham University Business School. He is widely known in the 3D printing industry, and has written nine previous books. Christopher engages widely with the media, with recent contributions to BBC News, The Times, The Guardian and numerous radio stations.

To secure your seat for this event, click here.

2.) The Commercialisation of Life, event at UCL

My attention has also been caught by this event, taking place at University College London on Tuesday 2nd December:

This conference will explore questions and controversies surrounding the role of commerce in genetics and fertility treatment. Conference sessions include ‘Commercialisation and the Moral Obligation to Create Designer Babies‘, ‘Whose Genes Are They Anyway?‘, ‘The Baby Business‘ and ‘The Real Cost of Infertility‘.

Confirmed speakers and chairs include Professor Robert Winston, Dr Kári Stefánsson, Professor Julian Savulescu, Peter Thompson,Professor Willem Ombelet, Dr Clare Gerada,Baroness Ruth Deech, Dr Stuart Hogarth, Jeremy Laurance, Dr Yacoub Khalaf, Vivienne Parry, Professor Sarah Franklin, Fiona Fox, John Parsons and Sarah Norcross.

Tickets need to be bought in advance. The standard price of a full-day ticket is £130. There are a range of cheaper options, down to a £25 option for unwaged/students to attend half a day. See the event website for more details.

3.) Solar energy – what’s holding things up?

Also on Tuesday 2nd December, there’s a potentially interesting event at Imperial College in the evening, on the subject of solar energy. The speaker is Keith Barnham, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College London.

You can read more about the event here. Quote:

The sun can supply all our electricity using existing technology. Future developments could see solar power replacing petrol.

Keith Barnham started his research career in experimental particle physics working in research laboratories at CERN in Geneva and the University of California Berkeley. Mid-career he switched to researching solar energy and invented a solar cell with three times the efficiency of today’s roof-top panels.  A leading researcher and developer of silicon solar cells, for a while, his team held the world record for the most efficient version of this rapidly improving technology.

In his book called The Burning Answer: a User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution, Professor Barnham contends that, despite our much higher energy demands now than in earlier periods of human evolution, our sun can provide all our primary energy needs again. Solar technology can save us from the threats of global warming, diminishing oil resources and nuclear disaster, provided we don’t allow politics to stand in our way.

For a review of “The Burning Answer” in the Guardian, see here.

4.) Big Data Science in Medicine – Accelerating Preventive Medicine

London Futurists are pleased to be a supporter of the forthcoming event organised by Oxford University Scientific Society: “Big Data Science in Medicine – Accelerating Preventive Medicine”. It’s taking place on Monday 8th December.

The event is free to attend, but places are limited, and you need to register in advance, here. The event webpage contains the following info:

When cutting edge biomedical research meets state-of-the-art big data technologies, the extraordinary seems possible. At the forefront of scientific innovation is the recognition that the diseases of ageing are not inevitable facts of life; instead they are biological challenges with real solutions. It is widely recognised that prevention is better than a cure – this event is an endorsement of that idea.

This event brings together leading lights from artificial intelligence, biomedical science and regenerative medicine for an evening of talks and discussion in Oxford with the ambition of accelerating research in preventive medicine.

There’s a great line-up of speakers:

  • Richard Barker (Director, CASMI, Oxford and UCL)
  • Kazem Rahimi (Associate Director, The George Institute for Global Health)
  • Olga Kovalchuk (Research Chair, The Canadian Institute of Health Research)
  • Dmitry Kaminskiy (VC, Deep Knowledge Ventures)
  • Anders Sandberg (Researcher, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford)
  • Thomas Wilckens (CEO, InnVentis)
  • Maneesh Juneja (MJ Analytics)
  • Morten Middelfart (CIO, Genomic Expression Inc.)
  • Stephen Johnston (Co-founder, Aging 2.0)
  • Steven Gardner (CEO, Row Analytics)

5.) Policy and Economics in an Era of Longevity: Chatham House event

Continuing with the theme of improved health and longevity, some readers may be interested in an event being held at Chatham House on Monday 9th February, 2015. It’s entitled “Ageing and Health: Policy and Economics in an Era of Longevity”. You can find out more about it here. Quote:

How can societies meet the health, policy and economic challenges of global population ageing?

One in nine people in the world is 60 or older and this is expected to rise to one in five people by 2050. A globally ageing population and the associated demographic changes have wide-ranging implications for health systems, medical priorities, economic policies, and labour and consumer markets.

The certainty of global population ageing demands greater action, innovation, and a long-term approach from policymakers, health and medical professionals as well as businesses. This conference will address critical questions, including:

  • Are current health, public policy and economic responses to global ageing adequate?
  • How can health systems develop sustainable strategies to support an ageing global population?
  • How can the challenge of managing chronic conditions be met and at what cost?
  • How can societies address the financial impact of ageing populations?
  • Are businesses reacting quickly enough to an ageing workforce and consumer base?

To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.

6.) London‘s Brain Hackers HackSpace

Congratulations to Andrew Vladimirov, Dirk Bruere, and Martin Dinov, for creating this very useful wiki called “Brain Hackers”. Here’s a brief excerpt:

This is the page of the Brain Hackers aka the Neurohacking/Neuromodulation London Hackspace Group. We do experiments and play around with kits to measure and alter brain activity in a non-invasive way and develop novel accessible neurostimulation means accompanied by real time measurement and feedback. Some of us are trained neuroscientists or electronics engineers, others are hobbyists. All friendly and interested people are welcome to volunteer and participate in trials, but everything is obviously at your own risk (where such risk may exist).

The wiki also contains perhaps the world’s best bibliography for “those who want to go hardcore” into neurohacking and neuromodulation.

(Andrew Vladimirov prepared that bibliography for his chapter in the book Anticipating 2025.)

7.) What is a fair distribution of brains? With Anders Sandberg

Alongside any hacking of our brains, we need to give thought to a range of philosophical and ethical questions that arise. Renowned neuroscience researcher and futuristphilosopher Anders Sandberg will be addressing some of the associated issues in a talk to London Futurists on Saturday 17th January 2015. Registration is now open: click here.

In this talk, Anders will explore how different groups of people might benefit or lose out from various forms of brain enhancement. He’ll also ask, how does justice intersect with designer neuroscience?

See the event page for more details. Quote:

In a post-industrial economy useful individual abilities – human capital – are increasingly important both individually and to society. But acquiring human capital is presently a slow, expensive process of education and training. Human capital can be lost through the processes of aging, or made obsolete as the world changes ever faster. People also vary in their mental abilities, which has significant effects on life outcomes.

Can we do better? And if so, what risks and opportunities arise?

Biomedical cognitive enhancement may allow better acquisition and retention of mental ability – including more reliable thinking under conditions of stress. How would such improvement affect social equality? Being able to buy better brains would benefit more well-off people and give them a competitive advantage, but less sharp people could benefit more from enhancement than brighter people, and the network effects of a smarter society might benefit everyone.

8.)Transvision review: the social angle to transhumanism

The above-mentioned talk by Anders Sandberg will reprise and extend the ideas he explored in his talk at Transvision 2014 in Paris.

I had the pleasure to attend all three days of Transvision. I’ll be reviewing some of the major debates from these days, at the London Futurists event happening this Saturday, 6th December.

Within just two hours, I won’t be able to cover every talk that took place at Transvision 2014. However, I plan to give particular attention to some of the ideas presented by:

  • James Hughes, Executive Director of the IEET
  • Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer of SENS
  • Gabriel Dorthe, Université de Lausanne

as well as themes from my own talk at the event. You can RSVP here.

Note that we’ll be in a relatively small room at Birkbeck for this event. The larger rooms we sometimes use there are already pre-booked to other uses. What’s more, the number of pre-registrations was smaller than usual, so a smaller room was a better match to projected attendance figures.

If you find that all the booking slots are gone (there are about 20 left at time of writing), you can put your name onto the waiting list, to see if a slot becomes available. On this occasion, people who fail to pre-register may be asked to wait outside the meeting room, until around 2.05pm, to see whether there are any empty seats remaining. Sorry!

9.) The Technoprogressive Declaration

One of the outcomes of a side-meeting at Transvision 2014 was the publication of a document known as the Technoprogressive Declaration. The document can be viewed at http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/tpdec2014. Here’s how it starts:

The world is unacceptably unequal and dangerous. Emerging technologies could make things dramatically better or worse.  Unfortunately too few people yet understand the dimensions of both the threats and rewards that humanity faces. It is time for technoprogressives, transhumanists and futurists to step up our political engagement and attempt to influence the course of events.

Our core commitment is that both technological progress and democracy are required for the ongoing emancipation of humanity from its constraints. Partisans of the promises of the Enlightenment, we have many cousins in other movements for freedom and social justice.  We must build solidarity with these movements, even as we intervene to point to the radical possibilities of technologies that they often ignore. With our fellow futurists and transhumanists we must intervene to insist that technologies are well-regulated and made universally accessible in strong and just societies. Technology could exacerbate inequality and catastrophic risks in the coming decades, or especially if democratized and well-regulated, ensure longer, healthy and more enabled lives for growing numbers of people, and a stronger and more secure civilization…

There are already about 40 signatories for the document, including individuals and organisations prominent in the fields of futurism and transhumanism. There are signatories from France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Israel, India, Serbia, Canada, the USA, and the UK.

If you read the document and would like to be included in the set of people who endorse it, please let me know, mentioning your affiliation or the organisation you represent.

I’ll be saying a few things about the Technoprogressive Declaration in the London Futurists event on Saturday 6th December. That declaration will also be one of the topics in aEuropean H+ hangout-on-air starting at 7pm on Sunday 7th December. This HOA (hangout-on-air) will feature panellists including:

– J. Hughes, Executive Director, IEET
– Miriam JiSun, Board Member at De:Trans, Germany
– Hannes Sjoblad,  Chair, Människa Plus, Sweden
– Amanda Stoel, Netherlands, and Posthuman Network
– Sergio Tarrero, President at Alianza Futurista, Spain
– Reidar Wasenius, Finland

with more to be announced shortly.

You can watch the HOA on YouTube here. To join the online discussion, including the Q&A app for the event, request an invite to the G+ page for the event.

10. The EH+ community on G+

To be automatically informed in advance of future online events in the EH+ series, request to join this G+ Community.

It is described as follows:

This community organises online events for supporters and people interested in transhumanism in Europe. These events are an opportunity for different chapters / groupings / individuals around Europe to:

  • get to know each other better
  • share news about what’s happening in their locales (events, projects, etc)
  • discuss their usage of tools and social media platforms
  • suggest possible new joint projects and activities
  • have a short online brainstorms
  • as a result, become wiser, stronger, and smarter.

Members of this community will be automatically invited to forthcoming online EH+ events.

11. Winners of the Grand Peace Challenge

If you read some of the previous London Futurists newsletters, you may remember that London Futurists and the Singularity University jointly held an essay contest “Grand Peace Challenge”. The contest was described here.

Out of a range of interesting essays submitted to the contest, the judges selected the following winners:

First prize:

Runners-up (joint, listed in alphabetic order of surname):

  • Benjamin Mottram
  • M. Amon Twyman
  • Roland Young

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who submitted an essay.

Thanks also to the team of judges who performed the hard task of sifting through the essays submitted.

The first prize winner, Stephen Oberauer, attended the Singularity University Summit Europe in Amsterdam on 19-20 November, where he had the chance to discuss his ideas with a number of attendees. We hope to share updates on the progress of this idea in the months ahead.

The runners up will shortly receive signed copies of the book which was launched at the summit, “Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)”. It’s a provocative, refreshing book.

My own reflection on the Summit Europe is that it was extremely impressive. You can get a flavour of the contents by reviewing the Twitter stream for #SUsummit.

My abiding takeaway from that event was: we need to find a way to host it in London too…

In the meantime, the Singularity University team have announced that there will be a summit in Seville, in the south of Spain, from 12-14 March next year. Many of the speakers from Amsterdam are expected to be in Seville too.

There’s a contest that will permit free entry to the summit – see here.

12. Search Inside Yourself, Amsterdam

Sometimes we need to slow down, rather than speeding up. That’s one of the insights of the “mindfulness” approach to improving our mental life, our focus, our effectivness, and (people say) our happiness.

I’ve been keeping a watch on the public evolution of the “Search Inside Yourself” course that was initially pioneered by Chade Meng Tan inside Google. As a futurist, I forecast that more and more attention will be given to this course, on account of the understanding of our mental life which it seems to capture.

A number of public training workshops are being held throughout Europe in April 2015. Depending on which dates work best for you, you have the choice of attending the programme in either Paris, Amsterdam, or Hamburg.

Of these three cities, I think Amsterdam is the closest to London, so I’ll give some details about that course. You can read more here. Quote:

Two-day interactive course: April 23-24, 2015. Only 200 tickets available.

Location: Mövenpick Amsterdam City Centre.

Develop the core skills that power outstanding leadership!

Developed at Google and based on the latest in neuroscience research, the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) offers attention and mindfulness training programs that build the core emotional intelligence skills needed for peak performance and effective leadership. We help professionals at all levels adapt, management teams evolve and leaders optimize their impact and influence. Give us your attention for a few days, and we’ll show you how to focus it for the rest of your life.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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