I hope you’ll find the following news about futurist events and projects to be of interest. Don’t hesitate to skip through to the items that are most relevant to you personally.
1.) Z-Day London 2016, 2nd April
London Futurists have participated in a number of previous Z-Day London events. These events have, each time, been thought-provoking, informative, challenging, and inspiring. (For recordings of my own presentations at these events, see my 2015 talk on Technological Unemployment, and my 2013 talk “A Singularity and Humanity+ Perspective on Hopes for Human Sustainability and Progress”).
The Z-Day London event for 2016 will have the theme “The Path to Post-Scarcity”. It will take place at Birkbeck College from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 2nd April. You can find out more details, and obtain a ticket to attend (at the low cost of £7.37) here. It looks set to be the best event in the series yet.
The talk I’m preparing for this event is entitled “Overcoming the obstacles on the path to post-scarcity”.
2.) Tech 2020 CTO Conference, 3rd March
A different kind of event is taking place in London on Tuesday 3rd March. Here’s the description from the event website, https://tech2020.uk/:
Tech 2020 CTO Conference
Tech 2020 is the inaugural conference of the BarTech CTO Network, and its first public and open event.
Tech2020 brings together the foremost technology leaders from startups to multinational companies to look forward five years. What technology should we be looking out for? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks? And as the world becomes more connected with the tools that we build, what are our responsibilities towards our users, their data and their privacy?
Our speakers are working on the next great thing, looking to the future and doing research that will make today’s impossible tomorrow’s everyday. Join us for a day of talks and networking, rounded off with a drinks reception for all delegates and speakers.
I’m speaking at this event too. This time my topic is “The longevity dividend: the forthcoming revolution in healthcare”:
This talk anticipates the acceleration of the transfer of techniques of digitisation and software, from their original home inside IT, into personal healthcare, and in particular, into rejuvenation biotechnology. If all goes well, society can look forward to a “Longevity Dividend”, in which investments in healthy longevity will result in increasing numbers of people:
- Not becoming elderly and frail
- Not falling victim to diseases of aging (including diseases like cancer and heart diseases, whose likelihood and severity increases with aging)
- Not consuming large amounts of health service costs, due to periods of extended ill-health
- Remaining active, productive members of the workforce, full of vigour and zest.
3.) RAAD Fest, San Diego – early bird pricing about to finish
If you’re thinking about registering for RAAD (Revolution Against Aging and Death) Fest in San Diego, 4-7 August, don’t forget that the prices will increase after the 29th of February.
With the discount code FUTURISTS, you can gain an extra $80 reduction on the stated prices.
The conference website describes this event as follows:
The revolution against aging and death starts with you.
Join us for the largest ever gathering of radical life extension enthusiasts to:
- Learn the latest scientific advancements.
- Connect with like minded people.
- Gain vital insights to extend your health and wellbeing.
- 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.
People from 15 different countries have already registered. The event has the potential to be recognised as “The Woodstock of Radical Life Extension”.
4.) Progress with the Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP)
Sticking with the theme of radical extension to healthy longevity: the International Longevity Alliance have recently announced progress with their Major Mouse Testing Program. The mission statement of MMTP is
Let us perform many parallel longevity tests in mice, in ways that are transposable to humans.
Here’s an excerpt from the MMTP website:
We live in exciting times – for the first time in human history extending healthy human lifespan is rapidly becoming a realistic prospect. Scientific breakthroughs in research mean we could soon be living healthy, active lives for much longer than people do now.
Some drugs tested have been found to increase mouse lifespan such as Metformin and Rapamycin for example and are considered for human testing. Many more substances have never been tested and we do not know if they might extend healthy lifespan.
More studies are needed before we can move onto human tests – and ultimately medicines that people can use. What happens next depends on how much more quality research is being done by scientists – and that research needs funding. We are launching an ambitious international project, called the Major Mouse Testing Programme (MMTP) via a crowdfunding campaign to support this important work.
Right now very few high impact studies investigating lifespan are initiated each year – and with only around one in ten promising substances tested so far found to actually make mice live longer, this is painfully slow progress. We are working to redress this situation and with an international team of dedicated lead researchers, we are hoping to make a real contribution to the field of regenerative medicine.
The Major Mouse Testing Programme is a project that aims to speed up the pace of progress up by rapidly testing longevity interventions – meaning research which would have taken 100 years at today’s rate can be done in five. It is also plausible that some interventions, when combined could have a synergy where the effects are greater than the individual compounds, this has certainly been the case with Dasatinib & Quercetin. It is likely there are more synergies to be discovered and this is where the MMTP plans to push forward, not only testing single interventions but also combinations to seek out these powerful combinations.
To read the latest update about MMTP, click here.
5.) Playfair Capital’s second annual AI Summit, 5th May
Interested in the implications of AI? On 5th May, Bloomberg will be hosting Playfair Capital’s second annual AI Summit.
To apply to receive an invitation to this event, see http://go.bloomberg.com/promo/invite/ai2016/. Here’s an extract:
Save the date for Playfair Capital’s second annual AI Summit exploring the frontiers of research and applied artificial intelligence, hosted by Bloomberg on May 5th. The day will feature talks from leading academics and entrepreneurs at AI companies as well as fireside chats with journalists and policy makers.
Last year’s event attracted 300 people and 17 speakers, including Mustafa Suleyman (Head of Applied AI at Google DeepMind), Ben Medlock (Founder/CTO at SwiftKey), Jaan Tallinn (Founding Engineer at Skype and prolific AI investor), academics from Imperial and UCL, and journalists from the FT, Bloomberg and The Guardian.
6.) The Future of Finance, Oxford, 22-23 March
A different event that will also be exploring the implications of AI is “The Future of Finance”, which is taking place at the Said Business School in Oxford, 22-23 March:
Join practitioners, academics, regulators and policy makers for a provocative two day conference to discuss how technology is set to revolutionise the Financial Services Industry.
Participants will discuss how technology can:
- restore trust in financial services
- replace expensive human intermediaries
- put an end to financial exclusion
- reduce transaction costs
- reinvent how the industry works
There’s also scheduled to be a debate in the Oxford Union on the motion “This house believes that Computers threaten every job in the city of London”. I have agreed to speak in favour of this motion.
7.) Petition to include nootropic drugs in the whitelist of the Psychoactive Substances Act
The Transhumanist Party (UK) recently issued a press release on the UK Governments “Psychoactive Substances Bill”. Here’s how it starts:
The blanket ban undermines past and current research, and threatens the future development of other low risk, non-recreational drugs and supplements that can be of potential therapeutic benefit to citizens.
The Psychoactive Substances Bill was proposed to “Protect hard-working citizens from the risks posed by untested, unknown and potentially harmful drugs” specifically targeting new “legal highs” (sometimes referred to as “new psychoactive substances (NPS)”),that are sold in “head shops” as alternatives to already scheduled and illegal substances.
The bill effectively proposes a blanket ban on any substance with psychoactive effects, which extends well beyond the intended targets of recreational and unsafe “legal highs”. Consequently, a number of amendments to the bill have been proposed, to specifically exempt psychoactive substances found in foods and medicines, in addition to more socially acceptable recreational substances (shown to harm citizens considerably) such as alcohol and tobacco..
This lack of definition means that this ban will also disrupt the use of non-recreational, low-risk psychoactive compounds such as nootropics (commonly referred to as “smart drugs”). These have have been shown to enhance one or more aspects of mental function (memory, cognition, alertness, focus, resilience to stress…). Citizens, academics, shift-workers, entrepreneurs and students currently employ nootropic substances responsibly to aid cognition and modulate mood during times of stress or when peak productivity is required. Nootropics are defined by their ability to act as neuroprotectants, and in this therapeutic role these substances can potentially delay the onset of mental disorders such as: anxiety, depression, age related cognitive decline or alleviate the symptoms of some forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It is in this potentially therapeutic domain that the proposed bill will have its biggest negative impact; by denying citizens easy and legal access to what could be a beneficial intervention, the government will instead, enforce a reduction in “quality of life”, placing further pressure on the NHS who could delay the prescription of more costly interventions and medications.
Following this press release, two further actions are being taken to avoid the present ill-considered side-effects of the bill:
- There’s a petition on the UK Government Petitions website which you should consider signing (if you having voting rights within the UK)
- Work is underway to provide more detailed information about the nootropic drugs whose availability will be impacted by this bill: see this Facebook posting for more information, and for how to become involved in this project.
(The map shows constituencies where voters have already signed the petition)
8.) Transhumanist conference in Cambridge, 11-12 March
This event in Trinity College, Cambridge, looks interesting. From http://www.apotheosis-international.org/#sec9:
Apotheosis Conference 2016
Transhumanism: Resituating Humanity
Apotheosis International eV invites you to a conference hosted by Apotheosis Trinity College, Cambridge. The event will be held in Trinity College on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th March, and is divided into two main parts.
On Friday, delegates from all branches of our network across Europe will have the chance to meet and discuss their own work and the overall progress of our undertaking. During the day there will be a programme of talks and seminars focused on topics including Apotheotic thought and building strong university societies. There will be opportunity to explore Cambridge itself, with members of Apotheosis Trinity College on hand to give you a tour of the city. In the evening we will be hosting a formal dinner in Peterhouse College, which is open to all attending the conference.
On Saturday we will open the conference to members of the University and the general public, and are fortunate to be able to welcome a number of eminent thinkers and scientists. The topics for the three panels will be the normative framework of central transhumanist projects, artificial general intelligence, and extreme longevity.
Confirmed speakers include David Pearce (co-founder of Humanity+) and Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh (Executive Director of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk). Other speakers will be announced shortly.
(Sadly I won’t be able to attend this one myself, due to prior commitments elsewhere.)
9.) Testing Basic Income in Finland (Nesta event), 11th March
Here’s another event happening on 11th March, from Nesta. This is on the twin subjects of “experimental government” and “universal basic income”. From the event webpage,
Please join us at this event to discuss the Finnish experiment with basic income and examine how governments can organise themselves to conduct and learn from social policy experiments.
At this event, Geoff Mulgan will be discussing the experiment with Roope Mokka who’s been advising the Finnish Government on how to develop a model for including experiments and behavioural approaches into Finnish policy design. This discussion will be relevant to those with an interest in evidence based policy making, public service reform, universal basic income and welfare reform.
Finland is the first country to experiment with basic income on a large scale. From next year, up to 150,000 people will be receiving a basic income as part of this experiment. This marks a new chapter in the history of governance and policy making in Finland that instead of blindly rolling out social policies without evidence of what works – on health, or education or the environment – it will now experiment, measure and scale.
It will take a systematic approach to experimentation, testing things out and then seeing what works before rolling policies out nationally. But what are the prospects for a similar experiment with basic income in the UK? How have experiments with a basic income worked elsewhere?
10.) A reminder on forthcoming London Futurists events
Here’s an update on the events being organised by London Futurists:
- The future of prediction markets: how technology can enable the wisdom of crowds, Mon 22nd Feb – Already fully booked
- Improving and Accelerating Innovation from a Strategy Perspective, with Luciano Oveido of Intel, Sat 27th Feb (this event jointly organised with the Strategic Management Forum)
- Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth, with Robin Hanson, Sat 19th March
- From Tipping Site to Tipping Point: Making the Circular Economy Happen, Sat 9th April.
More events are in the process of being planned, and will be announced shortly.
11.) Out of our Bodies: can we ever free consciousness? 27th Feb
On the evening of the same day as the London Futurists event (which is in the afternoon) on “Improving and Accelerating Innovation”, there’s an LSE event which may interest many London Futurists.
From the LSE Event website,
Out of our Bodies: can we ever free consciousness?
While social psychologists and cognitive scientists affirm that minds do not exist separated from biological and social systems, our human utopias have always dreamt of a disembodied, free-floating consciousness. William Gibson invented cyberspace in 1984 and blew our minds away in Neuromancer: for the young rustlers, digitally enhanced cowboys ‘jacked into a custom cyberspace desk that projected disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix…the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat.” Falling into the prison of flesh was the Fall and disembodying cognition the picture of our human future.
From Neuromancer to The Peripheral, Gibson tells the story of multiple interfaces between bodies-machines-environments-consciousness. Can consciousness exist independently of our human social selves? Will machines ever possess it? Does consciousness require a material base of any kind at all? Could it genuinely fly free of physical matter?…
12.) H+Pedia news
Want to help assemble and curate the world’s most reliable information store on radical futurism and transhumanism?
The H+Pedia project has been shaping up nicely over the last few weeks. Why not take a look at this listing of articles that are awaiting being written? And if you see something where you have some expertise, don’t hesitate to become involved.
If you find yourself deterred by the wiki syntax, there are a couple of short instructional videos here, which may give you the confidence to plunge in 🙂
// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists