London Futurists news, 7 Apr 2017

Dear Futurists,

This newsletter is a bit shorter than usual – not because there’s less to report, but simply because time is pressing. I’ve had a busy week!

1.) Accelerating the transition to a sustainable footing

“A funny thing happened on the way to the world of abundance…”

Future historians might look back with sadness at the first decades of the 21st century. They may describe how expectations of a much better human condition – greater intelligence, enhanced health, profound new experiences – were ambushed by dramatic social and environmental upheaval.

The speaker at tomorrow’s London Futurists event, David Bent, puts it like this:

We face a number of global issues, from climate change to inequality, which significantly challenge global society, today and into the future.

Unless our plans for the future include sustainability, we may find that all our other plans are rudely interrupted.

Some analysts say that all that we need to achieve sustainability is to hurry up and develop better technology – greener, cleaner, less wasteful technology. But others say we need to consider social and political pressures too.

What David Bent will be recommending, in tomorrow’s event, is that social and political leaders need to develop an “industrial strategy” that will actively guide the creation and use of new technologies. I happen to think he’s right. I also think this is a particularly important discussion.

Industrial strategy

For more details of tomorrow’s event, and to register to attend, click here. I look forward to a stimulating discussion.

2.) A record number of forthcoming events

The meetup page which shows our forthcoming events currently shows a record number (ten!) of meetups ahead:

  • Three in April
  • Three in May
  • Three in June
  • One in July.

With the variety of topics being covered – and with the events happening at different times in the week – there should be something for every type of member of London Futurists.

I hope you’ll take the time to browse what’s coming up. For example, there will be one online webinar (Tues 23rd May), and one whole-day event “Agenda for the Future” (Sat 3rd June).

I’m glad that we’ve been able to build up such a positive momentum of constructive discussions about future scenarios. Many thanks are due to everyone who has helped make our events a success.

Please note that several of these events have different registrations methods, in addition to RSVP’ing on the meetup site. In cases when the meetup has been jointly organised with another group (e.g. Funzing, GlobalNet21, or TechXLR8), you’ll usually need to register with the other organisation as well. This should be clear in each case from the description of the events.

3.) Opportunity to contribute to reports on healthy longevity solutions

I’m passing on a message from Franco Cortese, the the Deputy Director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation (BGRF). It describes an opportunity that should be of interest to several members of London Futurists.

The Biogerontology Research Foundation, Deep Knowledge Life Sciences, and Aging Analytics Agency are looking for writers, analysts, editors and individuals experiences in graphic design and desktop publishing to contribute to a series of analytical reports analyzing the emerging longevity and geroscience industry.

These reports will be made publicly available in several forms (specialized volumes dealing with different topics relating to the emerging longevity industry), eventually culminating in an online interactive platform. Users of the online platform will be able to view and manipulate the content contained in the reports, gain access to databases resulting from the reports and visualize different subsections of those databases via graphs, figures and interactive visual networks.

While the emerging longevity industry is still young, these reports are the first of their kind to the best of our knowledge, which means that they have the potential to set the standard for reports of this nature in the years to come and that making a contribution to these reports could mean having a lasting impact on the tone and trajectory of industry analysis and projection as it pertains to the longevity industry.

Volume 1 is an overview of the science, technology and policy of geroscience, and lays the groundwork and provides a sufficient background necessary for Volume 2, which is a more specific analysis of the industry landscape of emerging geroscience and longevity companies, which also includes industry analysis of related and convergent sectors (like the regenerative medicine industry and the personalized medicine industry).

The content for Volumes 1 and 2 is nearing completion. Volume 3, which is in an earlier phase than Volumes 1 & 2, will consist of more specialized case studies, including an overview of the longevity industry landscape in the UK and the EU, and case-studies relating to (for example) over-hyped “anti-aging” products and approaches that are not backed by validated, reproduced and/or legitimate science.

We are very excited about these reports and feel that they could have a lasting impact on the tone and trajectory of industry analysis and projection as it pertains to the longevity industry for years to come, and we would welcome your involvement in this exciting project. If you’d like to become involved, and have relevant skills and experience to offer, please get in touch.

4.) Transhumanist Party (UK) prize challenge

Here’s the start of the latest blogpost of the Transhumanist Party (UK):

The Transhumanist Party (UK) announces a new prize challenge: “New Social Contract”.

The purpose of the prize challenge is to encourage the development of ideas that will accelerate a positive transition to a society in which automation benefits everyone, and in which people are no longer evaluated according to the extent of paid employment that they undertake.

Background

Transhumanism considers humanity to be an unfinished project.

Thanks to the application of science and technology, human nature can be dramatically enhanced. We need no longer fall victim to frail bodies and frail minds. We can transcend the cruel limits we have inherited from our biological heritage and from our social history. We can become better than well, experiencing superintelligence, superlongevity, and super well-being.

It’s not just our bodies, brains, and minds that can be significantly improved. The Transhumanist Party observes that our social relations can – and must – be improved too.

As automation, robots, and AI take over more of the tasks which previously filled our hours of employment, more people will experience technological unemployment or technological under-employment. Unsurprisingly, this prospect can cause fear, alienation, and anger. That’s why a new social contract is needed…

You can read the rest of the blogpost here. The central section is as follows:

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Transhumanist Party has agreed that a fund of up to £500 be made available as prizes for contributions, between now and the end of May, in the H+Pedia online wiki.

Contributions will be rewarded that document, curate, and identify key ideas about technological unemployment, automation in the workforce, universal basic income, etc, all from the transhumanist angle.

Note that the goal isn’t to duplicate, on H+Pedia, lots of information that’s already available elsewhere. Instead, the goal is to provide good links and recommendations about that material. Where there are gaps in that material, contributors are encouraged to provide original analyses, and to explore pros and cons of specific proposals from a technoprogressive point of view.

5.) The creation of a London chapter of the World Future Society?

On Monday evening, from 5pm to 7pm, a small number of friends and members of the World Future Society (WFS) will be meeting in a venue in Victoria, London. We’ll be discussing the possible formation of a London chapter of the WFS.

There will also be news of other developments with the WFS.

If you’re interested to attend this get-together, drop me a note over the weekend, and I’ll do my best to get you added to the invite list.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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