London Futurists news, 8 Mar 2017

Dear Futurists,

Are you interested in events and projects that will shed insight on some of the radical near-future scenarios that may lie ahead? Read on…

1.) Utopia for realists? – 9th March

This event is happening tomorrow (Thursday) lunchtime, so apologies for the very short notice, but I’ve only just become aware of it.

utopia for realists

It’s happening at London’s RSA, between 13.15 and 14.15. It’s free to attend, but you’ll need to register first. At time of writing, there are still a number of tickets left. In case they’re all gone by the time you read this, or you can’t travel to the RSA to attend it, note that it will be live streamed via a link here.

This is how the RSA describe the event:

What do the abolition of slavery, democracy and votes for women have in common? They were once viewed as unachievable Utopian fantasies – only to be eventually accepted as basic common sense.

Exciting new thinker Rutger Bregman visits the RSA to argue that the real crisis of our times is not that we don’t have it good, or even that we might be worse off in the near future – it’s that we don’t have the imagination to come up with anything better.

A huge bestseller in the original Dutch, and garnering plaudits from a swathe of eminent thinkers, Rutger’s book Utopia for Realists overturns existing notions about how to run society with radical yet wholly practical ideas for a happier, healthier, wealthier world. From the Universal Basic Income movement – inches away from implementation by President Richard Nixon, and currently spearheaded by the RSA – to a 15-hour working week – the only way to tackle the ‘second machine age’- Bregman piles up the evidence for win-win solutions to the growing problems of inequality and unhappiness to be found in societies across the globe.

Having already sparked a movement across the Netherlands, where 20 municipalities are now putting basic income into action, Rutger’s work inspires a firm belief that the most vital ingredient for political change is the conviction that there truly is a better way.

2.) Why we never think alone, 28 March

One other forthcoming RSA event deserves highlighting. This one is about some importance consequences of the “hive mind” nature of human thinking.


From the RSA’s webpage about this event:

We think we know far more than we actually do.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Because whilst individuals know very little, the collective or ‘hive’ mind knows a lot.

Acclaimed cognitive scientist Steven Sloman visits the RSA to argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individually oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. Our collaborative minds, on the other hand, enable us to do amazing things.

3.) Introducing Funzing

As well as the RSA, another organisation that coordinates many interesting talks in London is Funzing. Take a look at their list of “Inspiring Lectures and Talks in London”.

As an experiment, I’m going to host some talks via Funzing – starting with a talk “Can we abolish aging” taking place on the 25th of April:

Can we abolish aging

By 2040, could we have abolished what we now know as biological aging?

It’s a big “if”, but if we decide as a species to make this project a priority, there’s around a 50% chance that practical rejuvenation therapies resulting in the comprehensive reversal of ageing will be widely available as early as 2040.

People everywhere, on the application of these treatments, will, if they wish, stop becoming biologically older. Instead, again if they wish, they’ll start to become biologically younger, in both body and mind, as rejuvenation therapies take hold. In short, everyone will have the option to become ageless.

This possibility tends to provoke two powerful objections. First, people say that it’s not possible that such treatments are going to exist in any meaningful timescale any time soon. In other words, they insist that human rejuvenation can’t be done. It’s wishful thinking to suppose otherwise, they say. It’s bad science. It’s naively over-optimistic. It’s ignorant of the long history of failures in this field. The technical challenges remain overwhelmingly difficult.

Secondly, people say that any such treatments would be socially destructive and morally indefensible. In other words, they insist that human rejuvenation shouldn’t be done. It’s essentially a selfish idea, they say – an idea with all kinds of undesirable consequences for societal harmony or planetary well-being. It’s an arrogant idea, from immature minds. It’s an idea that deserves to be strangled.

Can’t be done; shouldn’t be done – this talk will argue that both these objections are profoundly wrong. The speaker will argue instead that rejuvenation is a noble, highly desirable, eminently practical destiny for our species – a “Humanity+” destiny that could be achieved within just one human generation from now. The abolition of aging is set to take its place on the upward arc of human social progress, echoing developments such as the abolition of slavery, the abolition of racism, and the abolition of poverty…

Depending on my initial experience with Funzing, I envision hosting many more events with them in the future.

4.) Revolution Against Aging and Death (RAADfest), 9-13 August

One step further than “The Abolition of Aging” is the “Revolution Against Aging and Death”, also known as RAAD. The first RAADfest took place last year in San Diego, California.

I found RAADfest 2016 to be a mind-stretching experience, where I could meet lots of fascinating people from around the world who shared my interest in finding out how healthy lifespans can be dramatically increased. I also learned a surprising amount from the wide range of speakers.

RAADfest 2017

RAADfest is returning to the same venue in San Diego on 9-13 August this year. Here are some excerpts from the event website:

It’s time for us to come together, to learn about the newest life extending science and super longevity strategies, to take pride in our progressive views, and to be empowered to make our voices heard.

Learn everything from the latest life extension science, to how to strengthen your immortal mindset, to ageless sexuality, nutrition, fitness and financial planning for forever.

Don’t miss this opportunity to make history by joining the revolution against aging and death to be heard and help make the difference.

Accelerate your own personal evolution with the cutting edge thought-leaders of radical life extension all in one place at one time.

RAADfest combines the energy and fun of a festival, the empowerment and interaction of personal development, with cutting edge science presented for a lay audience to create the first and best holistic radical life extension event ever. 

Hear from top scientists, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders addressing every aspect of radical life extension, from nutrition and new gene therapies, to the power of personal intention, the sociology of immortality and advancement in artificial intelligence.

You will also have the opportunity to interact with our experts as well as share your own views.

Early bird discounted pricing is available until the 12th of March. If this is of interest to you, don’t delay…

Note you can use the discount code FUTURISTS to obtain an additional $50 reduction from the cost of registering.

To view the list of presenters who have already been confirmed, see here.


5.) International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit, Madrid, 25-27 May

In case you prefer to hear about healthy life extension in a Spanish accent rather than in an American accent – or if you would prefer to travel to Madrid in May rather than to San Diego in August – then take a look at the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit.

(You can of course choose to attend both events.)


Tickets have just gone on sale. Early bird options are available before 15th March. There are additional discounts available for academic, non-profit, and student attendees.

6.) Biohacker Summit, Stockholm, 19 May

Instead of healthy life extension, perhaps you’re more interested in biohacking, to gain improved productivity, reduced stress, enhanced performance, and human augmentation?

Then consider the Biohacker Summit which is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden, on 19th May. The theme is “better living through science, technology, and nature”:


This unique biohacking conference & exhibition will teach you everything you need to know about taking your health and well-being to the next octave…

International audience consisting of well-being and health experts and pioneers:

  • Entrepreneurs & executives
  • Investors & innovators
  • Technologists & early adopters
  • Medical & wellness professionals
  • Academics & designers

If that date doesn’t work for you, note that a follow-on event in the same series will be taking place in Helsinki, Finland, 13-14 October.

This video gives a good impression of what will happen:

7.) HealthTechXEurope, London, 20 June

I’ve got one more health-related event to mention – one organised by Ibis Capital, a specialist investment and corporate finance advisory group. The event is HealthTechXEurope, which is taking place in Euston Square, Central London, on the 20th of June. The key themes are:

  • “Now & Next of HealthTech”: 21st Century Perspectives from Global HealthTech Thought Leaders
  • “International Perspectives”: Highlights of Global HealthTech Trends and Innovation
  • “HealthTech All Stars”: Showcasing Leading Growth Companies HealthTechx20 Awards.


For a limited period, members of London Futurists are able to obtain tickets at a whopping 50% discount. The discount code to use while registering is HTXGEB50JR.

8.) London Quantum Computing meetup, 14 March

Quantum Computing (QC) is poised to become one of the key accelerators of technology over the next few decades. A new meetup has just been formed, London Quantum Computing, addressing this technology and its applications:

This Meetup is for London based developers, entrepreneurs and scientists interested in quantum computing. We will host regular Meetups with speakers both from the field of quantum computing and from the emerging businesses in this exciting new field.  We will also host workshops where computer programmers from outside of the field can learn about and pair program quantum algorithms and emulators (using e.g. jQuantum – a Java based Quantum Computer Simulator).

Quantum computing is on the cusp of an explosive growth curve, with applications that will have unimaginably large effects on the human race – including AI, material science, finance, general computing and medicine.  Tech entrepreneurs, developers, existing QC businesses and researchers in London can share knowledge using these meetups to take advantage of these exciting new opportunities.

People not involved in the field are welcome as well as quantum computing practitioners.

This group will be holding their inaugural event on Tuesday 14th March. The speaker will be Professor Winfried Hensinger from the University of Sussex:

Winfried Hensinger

In the Schrödinger’s cat paradox, quantum theory predicts that a cat can be in limbo between being dead and alive – at the same time. This Quantum spookiness stunned many scientists – most notably Albert Einstein. Incorporating such quantum effects in new technologies may change our lives in the same ways as the invention of computers has transformed society.  In this talk Winfried will provide an overview of the work to construct practical quantum technologies, in particular, a quantum computer.

Computers built with quantum technology (a quantum computer) may fundamentally change what a computer may be able to accomplish. Many problems are so complicated that even the fastest supercomputer would currently take millions of years to provide an answer. Optimising financial transactions, machine learning, creating new medicines, understand protein folding and breaking codes are just some of the problems where the existence of a quantum computer could change everything.

The team at University of Sussex are in the process of constructing a practical quantum computer utilizing ultracold trapped charged atoms. Winfried will give an overview of the work and provide an introduction to the technologies used to build such a device. He will also explain the phenomena that give rise to such a massive increase in computational power and he will speculate on some of the applications for this device.

Winfried Hensinger is Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex. Hensinger heads the Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group and he is the director of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies. Hensinger’s group works on constructing a trapped-ion quantum computer demonstrator device, a quantum simulation engine as well as portable quantum sensors.

For more details, and to RSVP, see here. The event will be held at the CodeNode near Liverpool Street and will be held in the large 300 seater room. There are already 150 people signed up, but there’s still room for more.

9.) Ethical issues arising from technological change

Another meetup with many members from London Futurists is “Project for a Progressive Ethics”, led by Dil Green.

Progressive Ethics

That meetup held its inaugural event last Saturday. Dil has written up a useful set of notes on the ideas arising from that event. You can read them here (split into four parts). Here’s a brief extract from near the end:

If I were to make an Ethical Proposition right now, it would be that working at new ways to develop public discourse about ethics is a Good Thing. I’m excited about working with many more of you, in many ways, to develop the potential of this Project.

Indeed, this is an important project, and I wish it well.

10.) Forthcoming London Futurists events

Given all the pending changes in individual technology areas – such as life extension, biohacking, quantum computing, artificial intelligence – what is the big picture that makes sense of the opportunities and issues arising?

That’s the overall theme of the London Futurist events that will be taking place on Saturday afternoons at our usual venue of Birkbeck College over the next couple of months. Here’s a quick reminder of what’s lined up:

The age of technology arrived. Now what? – Sat 18th Mar

  • Speaker Azeem Azhar

Industrial strategy for a sustainable world – Sat 8th Apr

  • Speaker David Bent

Could a reformed European Union save humanity? – Sat 29th Apr

  • Speaker Tony Czarnecki

Radicals: A disturbing guide to the future? – Sat 20th May

  • Speaker Jamie Bartlett

Please click on the links for more details, and to RSVP.

At all four of these meetups, there will be plenty of time for audience members to get involved in the discussion with the speaker.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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