London Futurists news, 28th January 2016

Dear Futurists,

I’d like to share some updates about forthcoming events, and to highlight a couple of new coalitions in the field of anti-aging medicine that I see as particularly significant.

1.) RAAD Fest, 4-7 August

Anti-aging conferences come in various forms. Some, understandably, focus on the latest scientific insights about aging and its prevention. Others discuss lifestyle changes to extend active healthspan. Some take an incremental, relatively cautious approach. Others see that a radical opportunity lies within our collective grasp, if only we recognise it and take appropriate action.

My attention has been drawn to the RAAD Fest which will be held in San Diego, California, 4-7 August this summer. RAAD stands for “Revolution Against Aging and Death”, which lets you see where the organisers stand on the ambition spectrum.

RAAD Fest logo

The conference website invites people to “Join us for the largest ever gathering of radical life extension enthusiasts”, with the following stated purpose:

  • Learn the latest scientific advancements.
  • Connect with like minded people.
  • Gain vital insights to extend your health and well-being.
  • Become a more empowered and effective advocate.
  • Interact with leaders of radical life extension.
  • Have a blast celebrating our unlimited future together with music and performances.

The organisers pass on the following additional information:

Unlike typical scientific conferences where you may feel lost in the crowd, this unique event will bring us all closer together, with a range of subjects, entertainment and meals.

Healthy lunches and dinners are included in the registration fee so we can all stay together to connect and learn throughout the program.

You may be surprised by the low early registration fees. Most conferences are put on by commercial entities that seek to extract a profit from the event. They charge substantial fees over and above their expenses.

This unique conference is sponsored by several non-profit organizations. One purpose is to unite activists, enthusiasts, scientists and entrepreneurs who want to accelerate widespread availability of age-reversal technologies.

The organization putting on this event is the Coalition for Radical Life Extension – a non-profit group whose purpose is to unite a critical mass of like-minded people who support radical life extension in order to inspire revolutionary change in how radical life extension is viewed in our world.

The standard entrance fee for RAAD Fest, when paying at the door, is $897. However, if you register by February 29th, 2016, your cost to participate in this event is only $347 per person – provided you supply the discount code FUTURISTS during the registration process.

Of course, San Diego is a long way from London. But if you’re still considering your plans for a summer vacation, I suggest you bear RAAD Fest in mind. Hyesoon & I have already registered, and are looking forwards to an uplifting few days in the Southern Californian sunshine. Our registration confirmation numbers were 208 and 209. The organisers say they’re looking forward to total attendance approaching 2,000. Registrations have already been made from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Israel, Philippines, Russia, and Venezuela, as well as from the US and the UK.

Confirmed speakers already include Ray Kurzweil, Bill Andrews, Aubrey de Grey, Liz Parrish, Max More, David Kekich, Natasha Vita-More, Michael Greve, Zoltan Istvan, and James Strole.

For more information, and to register, see Don’t forget the FUTURISTS discount code.

2.) Global Healthspan Policy Initiative

The newly formed Global Healthspan Policy Initiative (GHPI) plays a role that is complementary to that of the Coalition for Radical Life Extension (see above).

The declared ambition of GHPI is to be “The world’s most prestigious thinktank dedicated to advancing the most productive and quality years of life.” The list of experts included on their website is, indeed, impressive.


The “Policy Initiative” part of the name of GHPI is significant. GHPI will be working to have legislation changed, in favour of measures to enable longer healthspans – initially in the US, and subsequently worldwide (hence the “Global” part of the GHPI name).

GHPI have stated that that their initial focus is in educating the US Congress and members of the US Administration on the current impact of aging-related disease on public health, well-being, and the economy. They are briefing politicians about points such as the following:

GHPI are presently galvanising support for what is arguably the world’s first proper test of a drug to target human aging: TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin). You can read more about TAME in this recent SingularityHub article.

This short video shows some of the GHPI Fellows describing their work. As they say, if TAME and other anti-aging research can lead to improved healthcare, many age-related diseases could be alleviated or avoided.

If you’d like to assist the work of the GHPI, see this “Get involved” page for volunteers.

3.) The Abolition of Aging (forthcoming book)

On a brief aside, I’m providing a summary of many of the key ideas of the Coalition for Radical Life Extension, the Global Healthspan Policy Initiative, and other researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians within the broader anti-aging community, in the book I’ve been writing on-and-off since September 2014, “The abolition of aging: The forthcoming radical extension of healthy human longevity”.

TAoA Cover page v2

Having been languishing for far too long in a status of “around 1/3 written”, this book has, thankfully, moved forwards considerably over the relatively quiet period of the last six weeks, and is now “around 3/4 finished”. This gives me more confidence in mentioning it publicly. I hope to be shortly issuing a call for beta reviewers.

4.) Video recording of January event, and a note on RSVPs

The video recording of our event on 9th January, “The future of cybersecurity and cybercrime”, is available on YouTube. Thanks again to all three speakers for their knowledgeable, comprehensive, and spirited presentations.

Don’t forget that there’s a convenient listing of recordings of past London Futurists events on this dedicated page, That page also contains pointers to sets of slides used by presenters, where these are publicly accessible.

The 9th January event was one when there was a large surge of last-minute bookings. I had to set a limit on the number of RSVPs, and to operate a “Waiting list” on meetup, to avoid exceeding the number of people that could fit inside the allocated venue.

To help future planning, I ask people to RSVP early if they are planning to attend any event, and to update their RSVPs in case their plans change. This will allow me to more reliably book a room that matches the requirements of the audience (neither too small – and hence too cramped – or too large, and hence overly expensive).

5.) London Futurists events, February

In case you haven’t seen them, here’s a reminder about the three London Futurists events taking place in February:

A: Network Society: the coming socio-economic phase transformation

2pm-4pm, Saturday 6th February

A set of simultaneous technologies is growing exponentially, with the common feature of being decentralized and organized into a network. This contrasts with the centralized and hierarchical organization of today’s traditional society and its basic functions. The shift from the old to the new structure will subject the Nation State to an unprecedented pressure. How should we respond to this pressure?

This London Futurists meetup features David Orban, the Founder and Trustee of Network Society Research (NSR), a London-based global nonprofit organization.

The Network Society project creates a vision and analytical tools to allow individuals, enterprises and the society at large to deal positively with the unstoppable change to a decentralized network.

For more details and to RSVP, see here.

B: The future of prediction markets: how technology can enable the wisdom of crowds

6.30pm-8.30pm, Monday 22nd February

In the wake of crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing comes crowd-wisdom. Given the complexity and difficulty of many of the challenges facing humanity, the development of systems for improved crowd-wisdom can be seen as a major priority.

Researchers have shown that, in the right circumstances, people working together to forecast future outcomes can produce far more accurate results than individuals, even when these individuals are recognised experts in their field. Sharing and debating the results with others can quickly eliminate bias and sharpen predictive reliability. This interaction allows predictive markets to live up to their full potential as aggregators of insight from diverse sources.

This London Futurists event features Mike Halsall, Executive Chairman of slowVoice. SlowVoice has developed a range of forecasting platforms including the public market Almanis, which is a free service and open to the public. Mike will be sharing his views on the evolution of collaborative forecasting, and demonstrating the capability of the Almanis platform.

For more details and to RSVP, see here.

C: Improving and Accelerating Innovation from a Strategy Perspective

2pm-4pm, Saturday 27th February

Regardless of whether you are a start-up or a multi-national player, access to financial capital is a key enabler to drive the transformation of innovative ideas into social and marketplace realities. The UK’s technology sector received more than £2.5 billion in VC funding in 2015 – a record figure, up 70% from 2014 – but it remains a challenge for companies to make best use of these funding opportunities. Coupled with a rapidly evolving interplay between technology ecosystems, the challenges of funding innovation brings renewed focus to the question of technology strategy.

This event features Luciano Oviedo of Intel, and is jointly organised by London Futurists and the Strategic Management Forum. The event explores topics such as:

  • What processes can be adopted to identify and support the most promising new technology products and services?
  • How can applications or solutions be identified that have sustainable value?
  • What business models are available that help increase the potential to transform a technology idea into market and humanitarian success?
  • In a fiercely competitive environment, what can be done to accelerate and improve innovation?
  • Despite the constraints of competition, what options exist for collaborations to improve the process of technology strategy?
  • How is the role of technology strategy likely to evolve in the future?

For more details and to RSVP, see here.

6.) London Futurists events, March

Looking slightly further ahead, London Futurists is delighted to be hosting Robin Hanson on Saturday 19th March:

Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth

Robots may one day rule the world. But what will a robot-ruled Earth be like?

This London Futurists presentation by Professor Robin Hanson will explore the idea that the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations – which can be called ems for short.

Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human. Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks.

Some say we can’t know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying his decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he will will use standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

For more details and to RSVP, see here.

7.) Invitation to participate in editing H+Pedia

If you find yourself with some discretionary time, and you’d like to join a growing community effort to help improve the clarity and quality of information available about future scenarios, futurist methods, and futurist philosophies (including transhumanism), please consider:

Chris Monteiro (currently the #1 contributor to H+Pedia) and I joined a few other people in an online video hangout chat recently about next steps with H+Pedia. You can view a recording of that discussion here.

8.) Neurostimulation event (Virtual Futures Salon), 2nd February

Interested in neurotech devices that might record or even modify your brain states?

I’ll be attending the forthcoming Virtual Futures Salon event on the evening of Monday 2nd February. Here are some details from the matching EventBrite page:

We are starting to see a proliferation of commercial neurotech devices. Mostly these tools and technologies are designed to measure and record the electrical activity of the brain through electroencephalography (EEG). This work has powered gaming devices (Focus Pocus), toys (Mindball), consumer platforms (Emotiv), and even DIY formats (OpenBCI).

Now a new type of device has become available, electronic stimulation, that not only reads brain activity but also attempts to influence it. As such, scientific communities are starting to debate the cognition-enhancing effects of non-invasive brain stimulation devices such as transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

The range of commercially available systems (already available on the market) promise a number of health benefits: improved fitness outcomes, better quality of sleep and increased mindfulness. Other devices, targeted towards gamers, promise to temporarily improve coordination and gaming skills.

Despite optimistic developments in brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies the exact effectiveness of these devices is being disputed. Bioethicists and tDCS researchers are starting to raise important questions as to whether there are serious and adverse effects of non-regulated tDCS. This is combined with an increasing concern over whether these devices might discredit the work of scientists working with brain stimulation for therapeutic purposes. As such interesting ethical and legal questions are being asked of the sorts of tools that promise to modulate and manage our cognitive and affective states, and well-being.

What are we still missing in terms of data on how these devices work? Will tighter regulation of device-maker’s marketing and manufacturing standards only hinder development and innovation? How do we ensure cognitive liberty and ensure an open (and proactionary) approach to the development of DIY devices? How to we effectively educate (and in some cases protect) the public?

This panel (curated in partnership with NERRI) brings together representatives from the three spheres where brain stimulation operates – clinical research, consumer products and DIY brain-hacking. It is a unique opportunity to enter into a much-needed dialogue around the long-term physiological and social effects of cognitive enhancements.


Dr. Dr Nick Davis, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University (@n_j_davis)

Luciana Haill, Artist in Residence, University of Sussex, Department of Informatics (@BrainAnalyser)

Andrew Vladimirov, DIY Brain-Hacker, London Biohack Space (@LondonBioHack)

Luke Robert Mason, Director of Virtual Futures (Moderator) (@LukeRobertMason)

Others TBC

About Our Partner | NERRI

An EU project to facilitate dialogue about social, legal, ethical and economic issues related to neuro-enhancement.

About the Venue | Lights of Soho

The Lights of Soho, London’s newest art gallery and member’s lounge, is now open, operating as a cultural hub for Soho’s creative community and the global home of creative neon and light art formats.

Follow the Debate on Twitter

#VFSalon @VirtualFutures @NERRI_eu

More Information

Virtual Futures Salon events are not-for-profit. Tickets sales helps to cover costs of speaker travel, filming and documentation.

9.) What Are We Going to Do About Artificial Intelligence? (Tuttle) 9th February

Finally, also from EventBrite, here’s news of a Tuttle event I’ll be attending that may be of interest:

Artificial Intelligences are supposed to make life easier.  But they’re also encroaching on our employment, working without need for a tea break or a living wage.  If we’re in a competition with software, can we possibly win?  What are we going to do?

Conversations about new technology are usually framed either as benefits to users or as opportunities for entrepreneurs, but what about the socio-economic effects?  The Tuttle Club has been talking about the gap between technological advances and our social capacity to deal with them every week for the last eight years.  Now we’re taking those conversations out to other communities to include even more diverse perspectives.

Many people are still coming to terms with changes brought about by the world-wide web and now there’s another wave coming – we believe everyone should be talking about what they’re going to do in response to these changes and how we can influence our own futures in work.

Lloyd Davis will start the evening with small conversation circles to get to know each other a bit better and then lead us into an open space session.  Open Space is an informal approach and it means you get to choose what aspect of the question to talk about. Anyone in the room can suggest a topic area to cover, a more specific area of interest or perhaps to ask a question of others. The only rule is the law of mobility, which says that if you’re not getting anything out of the conversation you are in, you’re very welcome to move on somewhere else.

Come.  Be prepared … to be surprised.


// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists


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