London Futurists news, 26 Apr 2018

Dear Futurists,

As London weather is warming up, there’s a lot happening on the futurist stage too.

1.) Schedule and speakers announced for UBIA 2018

UBIA 2018 speakers

The speakers and schedule for the UBIA 2018 event on Saturday 2nd June have now been confirmed:

09:30: Doors open
10:00: Chair’s welcome: The questions that deserve the most attention: David Wood
10:15: Opening keynote: Basic Income – Making it happenProf Guy Standing
11:00: Implications of Information TechnologyProf Joanna Bryson
11:30: Alternatives to UBI – Exploring the PossibilitiesRohit TalwarHelena Calle and Steve Wells
12:15: Q&A involving all morning speakers
12:30: Break for lunch (lunch not provided)

14:00: Basic Income as a policy and a perspective: Barb Jacobson
14:30: Implications of Artificial Intelligence on UBIATony Czarnecki
15:00: Approaching the Economic SingularityCalum Chace
15:30: What have we learned? And what should we do next? David Wood
16:00-16:30: Closing panel involving all speakers
16:30: Event closes. Optional continuation of discussion in nearby pub

We’ll be addressing a number of questions about Universal Basic Income and/or Alternatives (UBIA):

  • What do we know, in June 2018, about UBIA, that wasn’t known, or was less clear, just a few years ago?
  • What are the main risks and issues with the concept of UBIA?
  • How might the ideas of UBIA evolve in the years ahead?
  • If not a UBI, what alternatives might be considered, to meet the underlying requirements which have led many people to propose a UBI?
  • What can we learn from the previous and ongoing experiments in Basic Income?
  • What are the feasible systems (new or increased taxes, or other means) to pay for a UBIA?
  • What steps can be taken to make UBIA politically feasible?
  • What is a credible roadmap for going beyond a “basic” income towards enabling attainment of a “universal prosperity” by everyone?

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

Note that tickets for this event are available for the reduced price of £10 until the end of April. From May onward, they’ll cost £15 each.

To register to attend, you need to click through to the meetup page for this event.

2.) Better foresight via better hindsight?

Many futurists have become interested in Basic Income as a result of considering the potential growing impact of technological unemployment and technological underemployment. However, the field has an extensive history.

My own preparations for UBIA 2018 have led me to read the most recent book by the opening speaker, Professor Guy Standing: “Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen”.

Basic Income Book Cover

Here’s an endorsement for this book from Brian Eno (founder member of the Long Now Foundation):

Guy Standing has been at the forefront of the [Basic Income] movement for nearly four decades, and in this superb and thorough survey he explains how it works and why it has the potential to revitalise life and democracy in our societies. This is an essential book.

In reading Guy’s book, I was reminded that, when seeking answers to the apparently new questions posed by the unprecedented acceleration and convergence of technology, there’s much value in reflecting on the wisdom available in earlier writing, and from people who have thought long and hard about related issues over many decades.

The goal of UBIA 2018 is to bring together multiple different perspectives on the same set of questions – to acquire better foresight from better hindsight, from a clearer sense of fundamental human priorities, and from a richer discussion of the risks and opportunities arising.

3.) A plea for sanity in the Energy debate – Sat 30th June

Another topic with a long prehistory of prior debate is the future role of nuclear energy. This is also a topic in which ideology can exert a strong influence.

On Saturday 30th June, London Futurists will be exploring this topic, in a meeting entitled “A plea for sanity in the Energy debate: The humanist case for nuclear energy”:

Mathijs Beckers banner

In order to lift billions of people out of different levels of poverty, while at the same time addressing climate change, we need more low-carbon, clean, high-tech energy. Can this be done by relying on wind and solar energy, supplemented with hydro and geothermal? Or should we reconsider a positive role for nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy is a field where dogma and emotions run high. In this London Futurists event, science advocate and writer Mathijs Beckers will set out what he calls “the humanist case for nuclear energy”, in a plea for sanity in the energy debate.

For more details of this event, and to register to attend, click here.

4.) Towards better collective intelligence

The video of the most recent London Futurists event, “The future of collective intelligence” is now available:

Thanks are due to Kiran Manam for operating the camera, and to the speaker, Joe Kay, Founder and CEO of Enswarm, for leading us through a fascinating conversation.

As discussed during the event, an enswarm has been created for London Futurists to address a key open question:

Teams only succeed when they are aligned on what “success” means. If Humanity and AI are going to coexist as a team we must be able to define what we are working towards as a species. What does “Team Success” mean for Humanity?

You can access this enswarm via this link (you’ll have to click on the button to “Create Account”, unless you already have an account with Enswarm).

As described in the videos that introduce the operation of the software, users can rate content in terms of how much value they think it adds to the conversation, mark items as something deserving action, and add further questions, comments, and answers.

I’ll keep this enswarm open for at least another seven days, to allow more people a chance to augment the emerging collective intelligence there.

5.) Towards better collective politics – Thurs 24th May

The subject of better collective intelligence, especially as applied to politics, is a major theme of my new recent book “Transcending Politics”.

I’ll be speaking about themes from this book at a Funzing event on Thursday 24th May, at the Trapeze bar in Shoreditch. Here’s the description on the Funzing event webpage:


Technology has been making politics more bitter and more divisive. Manipulative social media, all-seeing surveillance, and powerful AI algorithms can target voters more precisely than ever before, playing on our fears, and causing us in many cases to vote against our best interests.

But could technology, used more wisely, actually lead us to a radically better politics? That’s the vision of David Wood, Chair of London Futurists. He argues that the fruits of the fourth industrial revolution could lead us to a world of positive super-intelligence, super-health, super wellbeing, and super-democracy.

In this talk, he outlines a technoprogressive roadmap to avoid the politics of chaos and to accelerate a sustainable abundance with no-one left behind.

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

6.) Audio chapters from “Transcending Politics”

I’ve been making audio recordings of the chapters from “Transcending Politics”, with a view to releasing the entire book in due course.

Chapter list with headphones

For the time being,  audio versions of selected chapters are available for free access, via this link. If you listen to any of them, I’ll be interested in your feedback.

7.) DemCon, Balbriggan, Ireland, 18-20 July

There’s a conference taking place in Balbriggan, just north of Dublin, in Ireland, from 18-20 July, with the following description:

The Democracy Convention  – or DemCon – is an annual gathering of academics, NGOs, activists, journalists and technologists who understand that we are on the cusp of major changes in how democracy is exercised around the world. DemCon seeks to create the conditions for building a real, immediate, non-intermediated democracy with regular and deep citizen participation by learning from organisations and people engaged in moving democracy forward.

Democracy in 2030

The title of this year’s event is “Democracy in 2030”. Programme themes for the conference are:

  • What does the democracy of the future look like?
  • What is holding back real citizen participation?
  • What are the ideal conditions for democracy?

The organisers tell me that sessions will address how advances in technology, such as the Blockchain, micropayments, and distributed decision-making processes, as well as universal basic income, can help to radically democratise the political system.

Given the time of the year and the setting, it could be a great way to spend a few days away from home.

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

8.) Biohacker Summit, Stockholm, Sweden, Fri 18 May

Maybe, instead of hacking democracy, you prefer to hack your personal productivity?

Maybe, instead of travelling to Ireland in July (see previous news item), you fancy travelling to Sweden in May?

Then consider the Biohacker Summit taking place in Stockholm on the 18th of May.

Biohacker Summit

Here’s an excerpt from the Summit website:

Society today is driven by attention on productivity and results. Yet both mental and physical growth happens during rest rather than stimulus.

Rest is the ultimate performance enhancing drug.

Join us to discover proven and tested strategies for optimal recovery and peak performance.

Unique blend of world class speakers on health, nutrition, exercise, human augmentation, human performance, biohacking and quantified self: doctors, scientists, practitioners, communicators, entrepreneurs and investors – we have them all.

9.) The future of the NHS – Tues 15th May

Another forthcoming event that caught my eye is hosted by Britain’s oldest economics-based think tank, namely the Economics Research Council.

Economic Research Council

The event, which takes place in London on the 15th of May considers important questions about the future of the NHS (National Health Service), 70 years after its founding:

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the NHS, the largest single-payer health system in the world. Now facing unprecedented challenges, the NHS is under pressure from not just an aging population but the need to deliver ever more preventative, personalised, innovative and integrated care cost-effectively.

Without doubt, the next ten years will deliver a myriad advanced therapies, from cell and gene therapies, to a revolution in AI, the utilisation of blockchain and potential for a human Internet of Things. Can the NHS afford these? What role will technology play and can it keep the NHS healthy at 70?

This evening event will bring together some of the leading minds at the forefront of technological transformation in healthcare, who will delve into these themes and explore the opportunities and trials ahead.

For more details, and to register to attend, click here. Note that there is a 25% discount on tickets purchased before 29th April.

10.) Our digital selves and AI – Wed 16th May

A new group, The AI Talks, are holding their inaugural event at the WeWork premises in Old Street, London, on 16th May.

Digital Selves

Here’s an extract from the online description of the event:

Social media has played an important part in creating our digital selves. This has had an impact on the way we interact with each other; in the workplace, with our friends, families also how we relate to the world and our societies.

There is now a growing awareness and consensus that social media is having an influence on what we share, who we share with and for what purpose. How do we achieve a balance between privacy and better user experience achieved via usage of our data?

In this discussion, we aim to explore how Artificial Intelligence has affected social media now and how it could broaden our capability in feeling safer in future. With the help of AI, how do we ensure trust, authenticity and safety of our digital selves?

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

Best wishes for a great future!

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists






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