London Futurists news, 18th Apr 2015

Dear Futurists,

1.) Forthcoming London Futurists events

Several new London Futurists events have been scheduled in the last week or so. As a quick reminder, here’s what’s in the diary at time of writing:

The future of robot ethics, with Joanna Brysontoday (Sat 18th April)

  • What will it mean for robots with AI (artificial intelligence) to become conscious, have emotions, and gain social responsibilities? Will they become moral subjects, with ethical obligations and rights?
  • In this presentation, Dr Joanna Bryson, Reader in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath, will review a number of key questions about the present and future relationship between humans and robots

The future of biopolitics, with Stefano Vaj – Sat 23rd May

  • How should we react to the radical possibilities of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), human cloning, life extension, selection and modification of the genetics of embryos, novel reproductive technologies, and other means to direct the future of human evolution? Which possibilities should we fear, and which should we grasp? How should politics approach the breathtaking changes of “the biotech century”?
  • In this talk, Stefano Vaj offers a Promethean, pro-tech, transhumanist perspective on these topics, drawing on the ideas presented in his book Biopolitics: A transhumanist paradigm.

The Radical Potential of Blockchain Technology, with Niki Wiles – Sat 6th June

  • Bitcoin gets all the headlines. In contrast, Blockchain technology, the fundamental computer science breakthrough that makes Bitcoin possible, is rarely discussed. But it’s Blockchain that is poised to change the world, as a true game-changing innovation.
  • In this London Futurists meetup, Niki Wiles will frame the Blockchain as a general purpose technology that can be applied to disrupt many different types of centralised system. He will also explore where this disruptive impact might be felt first, both in the world of finance, and beyond.

The future of business, with Rohit Talwar (and 7 others) – Sat 20th Jun

  • Which ideas, developments, trends, and forces will play the biggest role in shaping the future of business?
  • An important new book, The future of business, will be published at the start of June. Sixty contributors from around the world have come together to create a rich set of perspectives on how might business might evolve
  • In this London Futurists event, a number of the contributors to the book will provide succinct (5-7 minute) overviews of the key ideas in their chapters.

2.) Z-Day London, Sat 25th April

I’ll be speaking at the Z-Day London event at London’s Conway Hall on Sat 25th April. My subject will be “The future of employment – Anticipating the rise of robots and technological unemployment”.

Z-Day is organised by The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM).

See http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/z-day-2015-tickets-16084113015 for more details and to book your tickets:

  • Our technological capacity to create global abundance through the exponential increase in dematerialization and automation continues at a staggering pace. We live in a powerful new epoch of possibility where we can elevate humanity to a new social state of peace and stability, while restoring the integrity of our shared habitat.
  • We also see global stagnation of employment due fundamentally to the displacing of human labour by the aforementioned advance in technology
  • Z-Day 2015 London presents a series of brief talks focussing on these interconnected, complex and crucial issues focusing on everything from income inequality, employment, ecological destruction and our increasingly incompetent political and economic responses.
  • These will be described in contrast to the concepts that underpin the socio-economic model TZM advocates to resolve the root cause of these issues (A Natural Law Resource Based Economy)
  • The emphasis this year is to seek participation and collaboration from all in attendance to work together in moving the cultural zeitgeist into a brighter future for all humanity.

Here’s the list of speakers at the event:

  • David Dann (TZM London) kicks off the day with an introduction of the Zeitgeist Movement – why it exists, how it functions and what its goals are.
  • Ben Dyson (Positive Money) will then explore the mechanisms of fractional reserve banking, its failure in delivering economic stability via debt fuelled growth, and possible ways of addressing such failures.
  • Martin Wilkinson (The Equality Trust) will outline the debilitating affects of income inequality on human health and some ways in which we may go about reducing these negative tendencies and increase income equality.
  • David Wood (London Futurists) will address the ‘elephant in the room’ being largely ignored by politicians and economists. That being technological unemployment and some of the potential risks and benefits the coming wave of technological advancements will bring for society.
  • Dave Lucas (TZM London) will delve into the third industrial revolution as described in the work of Jeremy Rifkin as a context for introducing the many ideas and groups that people can get involved in that are attempting to make efforts to transition away from the current infinite growth paradigm.
  • James Phillips (TZM Education) will provide an overview of the Natural Law Resource Based Economic model and how it draws from the issues raised by the other speakers in offering credible solutions for a sustainable future.

ZDAY London3.) Association of Professional Futurists workshops – The future of cities

On Friday 24th April, the APF (Association of Professional Futurists) is running a couple of workshops on how to use futurist tools and techniques to identify scenarios for the future of cities. These workshops are hosted by ARUP. A limited number of places are still available at time of writing for both workshops:

Extreme Cities – Seen through the Manoa Scenario Planning Method – 10am to 1pm

  • This event will expose participants to a structured method of thinking ahead: the Manoa Scenario Planning methodology.
  • The Manoa method is designed to stretch thinking about the future by allowing participants to understand “the turbulent intersection of multiple trends, and the interplay of their cascading impacts.” In this session we’re going to use it to generate some more “extreme scenarios” about the future city.

The future of Metro Vitality – 2pm to 5pm

  • This event is a collaboration between the Club of Amsterdam and the Association of Professional Futurists.
  • This session will focus on the human aspect of the Future of cities: the soft architecture of cities.
  • There are many conversations on the technology and infrastructure of our cities of the future. But on the social and cultural side there is less depth. Extrapolations from generational models derived from a pre-digital world seem archaic. Personas based on smart consumer electronics seem limited. Yet much of the value created by cities comes from culture and people, not from hard structures.
  • And a whole cluster of trends means that people in cities seem to have more in common with each other than with people living in their own country outside of the city. Are we watching a deep global change in values and understanding – led by the boom in city living?

4.) Research Associate vacancies at Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

This could be the ideal opportunity for some London Futurists. From http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/6554/:

  • Up to four full-time postdoctoral research associates (RAs) to work on the project Towards a Science of Extreme Technological Risk (ETR) within the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER).
  • CSER’s research focuses on the identification, management and mitigation of possible extreme risks associated with future technological advances. We are currently based within the University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). Our goal is to bring together some of the best minds from academia, industry and the policy world to tackle the challenges of ensuring that powerful new technologies are safe and beneficial. We focus especially on under-studied high-impact risks – risks that might result in a global catastrophe, or even threaten human extinction, even if only with low probability.
  • Candidates should have a PhD in a relevant field, and should provide evidence of potential for academic research and publication at a high level, as well as a strong interest in applying their training to the study of technological risk.
  • Each RA will report to the Centre’s Academic Director, Professor Huw Price. They will also be expected to work under the direction and guidance of a relevant academic advisor, e.g., Professor Partha Dasgupta for ethics of ETR; Professor William Sutherland for horizon-scanning and ETR; Dr Robert Doubleday for responsible innovation and ETR.

Applications are due by 24th April, so don’t delay.

 5.) Growing Big Potatoes – Innovation and the UK General Election

From http://www.bigpotatoes.org/

  • Monday 27 April, 2015 – 6:30 for a 7:00 pm start
  • BIG POTATOES: The London Manifesto for Innovation is a contribution to improving the climate for innovation globally, authored by Norman Lewis, Nico Macdonald, Alan Patrick, Martyn Perks, Mitchell Sava and James Woudhuysen. We want your responses to the Manifesto.
  • The UK General Election is upon us but there is little discussion of the economy in terms of growth and wealth creation, let alone productivity, innovation and new industries. Having hosted almost the only public debate about innovation at the 2010 General Election we are keen to review the story of innovation under this government, note key broader developments, analyse Coalition policies and initiatives, and consider what needs to happen next. We hope that participants will write-up their insights, and we hope to find ways to influence the public debate on innovation and the economy in the UK.
  • Initial readings, including precis of the party manifestos, can be found at https://delicious.com/thebigpotatoes/policy,UK

6.) An update on Transpolitica

The messages from Big Potatoes (see above) resonate with the thinking that’s been taking place at Transpolitica. The material from the first Transpolitica book, “Anticipating Tomorrow’s Politics”, is gradually being made freely available online. See http://transpolitica.org/publications/anticipating-tomorrows-politics/ and follow the links for the individual chapters.

There will shortly be more news about the second Transpolitica book. If you’re interested in Transpolitica news, you can subscribe to the Transpolitica blog.

7.) Video in support of the Transhumanist Party in the UK

Alongside written book chapters, Transpolitica has done some initial experiments in short-form videos. There’s one here, in support of the Transhumanist Party in the UK

You may also have noticed that one the London Futurists members, Alexander Karran, is standing for election in the UK General Election as an independent candidate with support from the Transhumanist Party. Alex is standing in the Liverpool Walton seat.

From the UK Transhumanist Party blog:

  • Every five years, people naturally take their chance to ask who will take care of local matters like their roads, hospitals, and schools. Between elections, however, people begin to think of the bigger picture… and the bigger picture is that they are very unhappy with politics and politicians. The world is changing fast, and our political system cannot keep up.
  • We want to start a conversation with the people of Liverpool Walton and the world about that bigger picture, and people who live in a safe seat can afford to do that at election time. Alexander knows the area and its people, and can have an honest conversation with them about the things that need to change and what the Transhumanist Party can offer to effect that change. People can even vote for the Transhumanist Party, and help us spread word that it is time to start thinking about the future and a new way of doing things, without worrying that their vote might be wasted.
  • Alexander Karran was born in 1973 in Liverpool, where he has resided almost continuously until this day. Alexander is a published academic and has recently  completed a PhD in Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University in August 2014. The focus of his research was physiological computing, which is a multidisciplinary area of research encompassing neuroscience, psychophysiology and computer science.
  • Alexander previously earned an MSc with distinction in Computer Network Security, with a research focus on cyber security and social network analysis and an undergraduate degree in a computing subject.
  • Alexander currently consults for a recent start-up in Singapore that focuses on wearable computing and e-health and works in the area of cognitive neuroscience at Edge Hill University in Merseyside.
  • Alexander is a founder member of the Transhumanist Party and co-founder and research consultant of the Transpolitica think tank.
  • Alexander is a keen follower of current trends in accelerating technologies and their potential to transform human behaviour and society. He also stands for the Transhumanist ideal that technology can and should be used to transcend human limitation in all its forms.

To join the UK Transhumanist Party, see this link.

Three logos// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

 

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