London Futurists news, 6th Aug 2014

Dear Futurists.

I hope you’ll find at least some of the following news stories interesting. Don’t hesitate to skip to the ones that most catch your attention!

1.) Nine Worlds geekfest, 8-10 August

There’s a whole bunch of interesting things happening at “Nine Worlds” at Radisson Heathrow from 8th to 10th August. People can register to attend for single days, or for all three days.

From https://nineworlds.co.uk/about:

On Aug 8-10 this year we’ll be hosting the second Nine Worlds Geekfest, and we’ll be taking over every corner of the massive Radisson Blu Edwardian convention hotel at Heathrow. August last year saw the first Nine Worlds Geekfest, and it was an resounding success with over 1500 attendees. In our first year, we became the largest annual residential popular culture / sci-fi convention in the UK. 2014 will see us reaching for new heights with lots of new content, some old favourites returning, and so much cool fun you’ll wish you had a time turner to get to more stuff.

From the beginning, Nine Worlds aimed to be an umbrella for all different types of fandom and geekery to get together, party, and share their favourite stuff with each other. We’ve invited in big organisations like The Victorian Steampunk Society (who run the Asylum steampunk convention) and TitanCon (who run Northern Ireland’s huge Game of Thrones convention) to present their amazing material. And we’ve got individual enthusiasts who run fascinating content like our Fanfic, Doctor Who, and our Future Tech tracks. And groups between those two extremes, like the London Skeptics, Rock Club London, and the Haberdashery social gaming collective who present their areas of awesome geekery.

In total we’ll have over 25 tracks presenting content in 2014, delivering more than 350 sessions over the three convention days. Enough to satisfy even the geekiest of geeks. Mix that all up with parties, comedians, book launches, discos, swordplay masterclasses, the UK’s top Queen tribute band, costume parades, sci-fi sing-a-longs, and bit of quality beer, and that’s what a geekfest is.

For the Future Tech Track of Nine Worlds, see http://www.futuretechtrack.com/. Future Tech Track speakers / demo leads over the three days include:

  • Ian Peters, who will be giving the definitive guide to virtual reality and Oculus Rift
  • Emma Byrne, a post-doctrial researcher who works in AI and robotics, and who was one of the creators of ‘robot scientist’ – the first machine to have independently discovered new scientific knowledge
  • Kate Russell of BBC’s Click, talking about how to get your idea crowd-funded
  • Martin Dinov, a computer scientist pursuing a PhD at Imperial College London, working on creating a real-time EEG- based neurofeedback system for improving human attention; Martin is involved in various DIY brain hacking and neurotech projects involving tDCS, tACS, TMS and EEG
  • Anish Mohammed, who runs DroneZone meetup at London Hackspace for all geeks interested in autonomous vehicles and other forms of robotics; Anish will discuss how drones can integrate with other services to enhance our everyday life.

2.) More news on neuro-enhancement techniques

DIY Brain Hacking is getting lots of attention these days! In addition to featuring at Nine Worlds (see above), and at our own London Futurists event on 2nd August, it was the subject of a very interesting article in Business Insider this morning, Humans Are Heading Down A Path That Will Allow Us To Supercharge The Brain.

The article features the viewpoint of NYU Professor Gary Marcus – someone I respect a lot. It’s well worth reading!

3.) Sorry about the squash last Saturday!

I’d like to apologise to everyone who could’t get a proper seat at last Saturday’s event, and who had to squat on the stairs, or remain standing the whole meeting. Sorry! That was a consequence of many people booking for the event in the final few days beforehand.

I generally book meeting rooms several days before an event. To avoid the room being either too large (and hence too costly in hire charges) or too small, I take a look at how many people have paid in advance. That gives me a clue as to how many people are likely to actually turn up.

In this case, a late flurry of registrations, as well as a higher-than-usual proportion of people turning up without registering at all, meant there weren’t enough seats in the room. That’s a success in one way, but it’s also an inconvenience.

Can I ask people who are likely to attend a meeting to please do RSVP Yes in good time, and to pay the (small!) entrance fee in advance? If your plans change, you can change your RSVP, and I’ll issue a refund up to the last couple of days.

PS It’s probably also a good idea for attendees to aim to arrive early, rather than risk being late.

4.) The CEO of the World Future Society

Now for a few words about our meeting on Sat 16th August, The future of futurism, with WFS CEO Amy Zalman.

Changing times demand a re-evaluation of the task of futurists. How should futurist organisations evolve in the light of new global opportunities and challenges?

Founded in 1966, the World Future Society (WFS) is the world’s largest membership-based global organisation dedicated to exploring the future.

At the World Future 2014 conference in Florida in July, which Hyesoon & I attended, WFS members were introduced to the Society’s new CEO, Dr. Amy Zalman. Dr. Zalman is only the third CEO in the Society’s long and distinguished history.

London Futurists are very fortunate that Dr. Zalman is visiting the UK so soon after taking up her new appointment, and has agreed share her thinking at this meeting on the subject of the future of futurism.

For more details, and to RSVP, click here.

5.) A forthcoming new book for parents, about education

I’m forwarding this note on behalf of Sean Goldsmith, who shared it with the online G+ London Futurists community:

Hi All. I am doing research for a book I am writing and think you might be able to really help me with one of the chapters. The Book is about Parenting, but specifically focused on parenting that is guided by continual evaluation of what the future will look like in 15 years.

What I would love is your opinion on what, from a very practical and simple point of view, the UK will look like for graduates in 2030. Specifically I am really interested in your opinion of the employment landscape, entrepreneurship, make up of companies (big/small/other) and where opportunities will be found.

Here is my short, uneducated  opinion of 2030:

  • Based on what I see today I believe that we will be dominated by a small number of conglomerates that offer all services under one roof e.g. Tesco’s money, food, direct etc. There will be very few small shops in existence.
  • I believe that in constantly striving for greater efficiency will mean that these companies will need almost no human employees due to tech advancements.
  • I believe that the future of Britain will be in the hands of highly adaptive and innovative entrepreneurs that can move at lightning pace and out think our international competitors.

So I would really like your opinion on what you think the world will look like in 2030 and where you think the “opportunity gaps” will be for kids coming out of school.

Please connect directly with Sean if you’d like to discuss this further.

6.) The Longevity Reporter newsletter

Avi Roy in Oxford has edited a very interesting newsletter covering healthy longevity. Articles in it include:

  • The End Of The Age Pyramid
  • Dr. Bill Andrews Talks About ‘How Telomere Research Is Turning Back The Aging Clock’
  • Body Parts On A Chip
  • Caloric Restriction And The Aging Process: A Critique.

The newsletter also has a very handy list of interesting forthcoming events on the general themes of “ending aging” and “rejuvenation biotechnology”:

  • August 21-23, 2014SENS Research Foundation is proud to present the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference: Emerging Regenerative Medicine Solutions for the Diseases of Aging (in Santa Clara, California)
  • September 23-25, 2014MipTec 2014: Europe’s leading event for Drug Discovery and Life Sciences Research (in Basel, Switzerland)
  • October 1, 2014Promoting longevity research on the 1st of October, the UN International Day of Older Persons (events are taking place around the world)
  • October 1-3, 2014Eurosymposium on Healthy Ageing – A biannual conference that highlights the cutting-edge in the field of biogerontology, while facilitating a unique opportunity for researchers and advocates from around the world to meet. (In Brussels.)

For more information about any of these events, click the links above. Better, to read the entire Longevity Reporter newsletter, click here, and subscribe.

7.) The Proactionary Imperative – with Prof Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska

How should we approach the broad set of sweeping risks posed by fast-changing technologies with radically unpredictable consequences? Is the ‘precautionary principle’ the most sensible response? Should we abstain from all actions which lack full scientific consensus as to their safety?

The ‘proactionary principle’ was introduced by transhumanist philosopher Max More as an alternative to the precautionary principle. It is now the subject of an important new book by Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska of the University of Warwick. The two authors are joining London Futurists for this meeting on the 13th of September, to share a selected summary of the arguments in the book.

For more details and to RSVP, click here.

8.) What’s different about London Futurists?

In and around London, there are plenty of other groups that look at aspects of technology and the future. What’s different about London Futurists can be summarised in five points:

  • We’re open to intelligent discussion about radical scenarios in which fundamental changes take place in human society in the relatively near future (3-40 years, we say). The kinds of disruption we’ve seen in the last 10-20 years could pale in comparison to what’s ahead. We shouldn’t just anticipate a simple extrapolation of what’s gone before.
  • We realise that accelerating tech could bring major downsides as well as major upsides. That’s why we often discuss existential risks. We’re far from being clap-happy tech optimists.
  • We appreciate that technology is strongly influenced, in its outcomes, by factors such as sociology, economics, politics, psychology, and philosophy. That’s why we seeculture engineering as being as important as technology engineering.
  • We’re sympathetic to the philosophy of transhumanism. As stated in the Transhumanist FAQ, “Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase”.
  • We want to build a community rather than just a meetup or an online discussion forum.

I’ve personally been busy over the last few months with some major writing projects. However, later this year, I look forward to having time to refresh the set of projects and assets of London Futurists. I know that many of you have good thoughts on where priorities should lie. What do you see as most important for London Futurists? Original research? Communications? Training? Activism? Transforming businesses? I’ll welcome hearing your views.

9.) The online EH+ community

If you consider yourself interested in transhumanism (often denoted H+), especially within Europe, you might want to keep an eye on the recently formed G+ Europe H+ community.

The community 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.

10.) Reviews of Anticipating 2025

Please let me know if you spot any reviews of the book Anticipating 2025. My thanks go to everyone who has mentioned it in the social networks. Recently KurzweilAI kindly provided a page about it, here. That boosted sales nicely over the following few days 🙂

If you are in touch with any journalist or blogger who may be interested in writing a review of the book, please let me know, so I can arrange for a review copy to reach them.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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