London Futurists news, 10 June 2017

Dear Futurists,

Next week, 12-16 June, is London Tech Week. Over 300 different events have been organised under the Tech Week umbrella, with an anticipated total attendance of around 40,000 people from upward of 70 different countries.

London Futurists are involved in a small number of these – read on for more details. I’ve also included details of a few other events and projects that may be of interest.

1.) Tuesday: Should we be worried about machines?

Tug, a  digital media agency with offices in London, Toronto, and Sydney, have organised a series of events with the overall theme “Human vs. Machine”, taking place in Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London. There will be 12 separate events, spread over four days. They’re all free to attend, but you need to register in advance, via Eventbrite.


It’s the third year in which Tug have organised a series of events of this type. Hence the headline name “Tug Life III”.

Much of the content will be practical and short-term focused, and will refer to business skills and opportunities for the next 6-18 months. The material on the first day aims to provide a bigger picture. I’ll be one of the speakers in the very first session, which takes place from 9am-11am on Tuesday 13th June. That session is described as follows:

What happens to humans as machines become more embedded in our lives?

Should we be worried about the effect of machines on our minds and bodies?

How is constant connectivity changing us mentally and physiologically as a species? Is our growing dependency a cause for concern? Should we take more control back? Or is there a bright side to it all?

In my talk, I’ll be drawing people’s attention to the very significant changes in our mental and physical abilities that could be taking place over the next 10 years, as we incorporate ever more technology into our minds and bodies. It’s my judgement that big surprises lie ahead in these fields, and we need to become better at preparing for these changes. We also need to become better at assessing, beforehand, the likely upsides and downsides of these potential changes.

For more details of this session, click here.

2.) Wed: Should we be worried about the Technological Singularity?

One day later, I’ll be addressing a similar set of questions, but with a longer timespan in mind, namely 25-30 years, rather than just 10 years into the future.

On this occasion, the questions will be:

  • Will the ongoing acceleration of technology result in a “technological singularity”?
  • Is the notion of the technological singularity confused, misguided, and wishful thinking?
  • What factors govern the speed of improvement of artificial intelligence?
  • What are the most likely scenarios for the future of artificial intelligence? And with what timescales?
  • Is it credible that humans could become radically “augmented” and thereby avoid becoming surpassed by artificial intelligence?
  • What steps can society take to increase the likelihood that the singularity turns out profoundly positive rather than profoundly negative?
  • Does the notion of a “hard take off” (illustrated below) for self-improving AI stand up to serious scrutiny?

Intelligence explosionThis meetup is taking place from 5.30pm-7.30pm on Wednesday 14th June, in London’s ExCeL centre, Royal Victoria Dock, as part of the three-day-long TechXLR8 event. You can read more about the meetup on the London Futurists page for the event. But note that, as explained on that page, you will need to register beforehand to attend TechXLR8, in order to gain entrance to the venue.

Registration to many parts of TechXLR8 (including this event on the Technological Singularity) is free of charge. Some portions of TechXLR8 are restricted to people who purchase additional packages (these packages are mainly suited to corporate attendees).

3.) Thurs: 5G World Futurist Summit

On Thursday 15th June, from 11am to 4pm, London Futurists is hosting the 5G World Futurist Summit at TechXLR8 (see previous news item for more details of TechXLR8).

The Summit will commence with me interviewing Hagay Climor, Regional Vice President of EMEA consulting, Oracle Communications, on the subject “Anticipating the elephants on the 5G roadmap“.

DW 5GFS Slide 1

The Summit will then move on to a series of panels looking at vertical industries, and how these are likely to be transforming themselves over the same time period (2017-2022) as 5G wireless networks are entering wide commercial adoption:

  • What effect will 5G networks have on the healthcare industry?
  • Mobile learning – How will the education sector be affected by 5G networks?
  • Taking advantage of improved networks to advance the construction industry
  • 5G and precision farming – How will 5G make agriculture better?
  • Blockchain and 5G for Financial Services – hype vs reality

Each of these panels will feature two futurists or industry experts:

DW 5GFS Slide 2

For more details, see here. Note that, as explained on that page, you will need to register beforehand to attend TechXLR8, in order to gain entrance to the venue.

Registration to many parts of TechXLR8 (including the Futurist Summit) is free of charge. Some portions of TechXLR8 are restricted to people who purchase additional packages (these packages are mainly suited to corporate attendees).

Apparently the Futurist Summit will be taking place on the main stage area of 5G World, so we should be relatively easy to locate!

4.) Fri: Team Human, with Douglas Rushkoff

On Friday 16th June, from 6:30pm-8:30pm, Virtual Futures Salon will be hosting a discussion with media theorist, author, documentarian, and world-renowned public intellectual, Douglas Rushkoff.

Douglas Rushkoff

Named one of the world’s 10 most influential thinkers by MIT, Rushkoff has written 15 bestselling books and coined such concepts as “viral media,” “social currency,” and “digital natives.” His talks are a culmination of his pioneering work, and an infallible source of what’s to come.

Among his bestselling books, translated to over 30 languages, are Present Shock, an exploration of our instantaneous, always-on culture, Program or Be Programmed, a clarion call for digital literacy, and his newest, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, a critique of the digital economy and a set of actionable principles for thriving within it. The Financial Times calls it “a brilliant, bomb-hurling critique of the flaws in our digital economy, identifying what has gone wrong and what can be done about it.”

Rushkoff’s particular theme on this occasion will be “Team Human: Creating toward human ends, rather than the end of humans”. For more details, and to register to attend, click here.

5.) Mon 26 June: Can technology abolish aging?

I’ll be returning to Funzing on Monday 26th June to deliver an updated version of my talk “Can technology abolish aging”:

Will technology provide us the means to slow down and even reverse aging? If so, what are the consequences? Should we seek to avoid that outcome, or to accelerate towards it more quickly?

This talk – held courtesy of Funzing as part of their LDN Talks @ Night series – takes a serious look at the suggestion that, by 2040, we could have abolished what we now know as biological aging.

Note: this talk is largely a repeat of the one held on 25th April (also with Funzing), except that some parts will be updated with analysis of recent breakthroughs. In view of the high numbers of positive reviews by attendees, Funzing have requested a re-run.

Funzing clock

This will be taking place in Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL, from 7pm (doors open) to 9:30pm on 26 June. For more details, and to register to attend, click here. (You can use the code ‘david10‘ for a 10% discount from the normal Funzing entry fee.)

6.) Sat 1st July: The future of AI and sustainability, with Alex Housley

Artificial intelligence (AI) is powering the fourth industrial revolution. Intelligent machines are tackling new cognitive tasks at scale, leading to enormous economic efficiency gains and disruption across the labour market. But what will be the net impact of AI on society and the ecological environment?

On Saturday 1st July, Alex Housley will be visiting London Futurists at our usual Birkbeck College venue, to explain how the collaborative approach to AI development helps transform industries and provides the macro-scale opportunities for AI to make the world a better and more sustainable place.

Questions Alex will address will include:

  • What role can AI play in the transition to a sustainable economy?
  • What successes can we already identify, with AI systems improving uses of energy, waste recycling, and the circular economy?
  • What extra results can reasonably be expected, with future enhancements in AI?

Alex Techstars Profile Square

Alex is on a mission to help people solve the world’s biggest problems with machine intelligence. He is currently CEO and founder of Seldon, a machine learning deployment platform working with blue chip clients and a popular open-source project.

For more details, and to register to attend, click here.

7.) Sat 2nd Sept: Agenda for the Future

After a break over the height of summer, London Futurists will be back in force on Saturday 2nd September, with a multi-speaker all-day event “Agenda for the Future”:

Unless we urgently change our culture, we risk collectively rushing towards a future which will turn out to be hostile to humanity. Can we identify and agree a better Agenda for the Future?

AftF v4

Speakers at this event will give their opinions on topics such as the transformation of politics, the challenge of artificial intelligence, the reform of capitalism, the increased importance of business ethics, a new approach to money, the risks to the environment, a simpler form of taxation, the benefits and risks of immigration, manipulation of the mass media, and changes in healthcare. The speakers have in common the view that better solutions are at hand, provided we act with sufficient foresight. The aim of the event is to stimulate informed debate on the demands of the future.

Speakers at Agenda for the Future will include:

  • Derek Bates: Consulting Scientist and Director, Materials Technology Ltd – Why we need an Agenda for the Future
  • Vicky Pryce: former Joint Head of the United Kingdom’s Government Economic Service
  • Tom Levitt:  Member of Parliament for High Peak from 1997 to 2010 – Why Business Doing Good is Doing Good Business
  • Michael Mainelli: Professor Emeritus of Gresham College and Chairman of ZYen – Taking Advantage Of Mutual Distributed Ledgers (aka Blockchains)
  • Tim Pendry, Director of Research, Internationalist Future – How predictable are political events? Futurist adaptability in the face of history and ideology
  • Indra Adnan, Co-initiator, The Alternative UKReimagining politics
  • Pat Kane, Co-initiator, The Alternative UK – From Homo Economicus to Radical Animal (Or more simply, from Homer Simpson to Lisa Simpson)
  • Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future Publishing – Crossing the Chasm of Chaos: Navigating the Second Storm
  • Dean Bubley, Founder, Disruptive Analysis – Anti-Forecasting: Taking the Impossible Off the Table
  • Alvin Carpio, Founder & Chief Executive, The Fourth Group – Creating a New Politics for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

For more details of the speakers and their topics, see here.

Note that early bird registration (£12) to attend this event expires after 12th June. After that, tickets will be available at the full price of £18 for the whole day. (This is to cover room hire, refreshments, and IT and AV expenses.)

8.) Forthcoming book “Transcending Politics”

One reason London Futurists will be taking things easier over the height of summer is that I will be concentrating on finishing my forthcoming new book “Transcending Politics: A technoprogressive roadmap to a comprehensively better future”.

FiPo cover hires

I’ve been releasing chapters online for feedback as I finish drafting them. Yesterday I uploaded a draft of Chapter 7, “Resources and Renewal”. As you can see, the section subheadings for this chapter are as follows:

  • The potential of green technology
  • Technology is not enough (again)
  • Unreliable politics
  • A disappointing decade
  • The countdown to climate catastrophe
  • A proper price for externalities
  • What Milton Friedman would do

I’ll welcome comments – ideally on the Google Doc versions of the chapters online.

By the way, the cover of this book has been designed by Kevin Hawkes –

Seven chapters written, six to go…


// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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