1.) UBIA2018, this Saturday, 2nd June
In two days time (as I write these words), many London Futurists will be participating in a set of discussions about UBI and alternatives – discussions catalysed by a range of presentations from speakers who have thought long and hard about this subject:
What do we know, in June 2018, about Universal Basic Income and its alternatives (UBIA), that wasn’t known, or was less clear, just a few years ago?
There’s still time to register for tickets to attend. Tickets cost just £15 if purchased in advance, online, or £20 if purchased at the door.
From my own discussions over the last few days with a number of the presenters, I anticipate that the event will help us reach new perspectives on this subject. The “alternatives” under review aren’t just alternative services that might conceivably address the underlying social requirements instead of UBI. They’re also alternative concepts – and alternative frameworks for thinking about the topic.
And last – because many of the most important insights arise when considering the potential interplay of more than one trend – the alternatives include alternative interactions.
I look forward to seeing you at Birkbeck on Saturday. We’ll be in room B33, which is one of the large lecture rooms on the basement level of the main building.
(Picture source: PatoLenin on Pixabay.)
2.) A Slack workspace for London Futurists
As some of you know, I’ve created an experimental Slack workspace for use by members and supporters of London Futurists.
The workspace address is https://londonfuturists.slack.com.
To join this workspace, you’ll need an invite. For the time being, anyone who clicks on this link will be able to create a Slack account (if you don’t already have one) and to join the London Futurists workspace.
(That sign-up link will expire on June 7th.)
Around 20 people have already signed up. For some more ideas on how this Slack workspace can enable and encourage valuable conversations about London Futurists events and projects, see here.
Among the channels you’ll find in the workspace are:
- #ubia – where we can continue discussions on the themes of Saturday’s UBIA event (see previous news item)
- #transpolitica – where we can continue discussions on the themes of Monday’s Hangout event “How the internet is killing democracy” (see next news item…)
3.) Live Hangout discussion on the internet and democracy – Mon 4th June
The start time will be 8pm UK time on Monday 4th June. To find that time in another timezone, see here.
The participants in the video discussion will respond to selected audience input raised via the “Live chat” feature of YouTube.
There is no fee to attend, and no formal registration process. Just point your browser at this YouTube URL a few minutes before the meeting is due to start.
To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from the meetup page for the event:
The internet was meant to set us free. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists? And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information, and artificial intelligence?
In his new book “The People Vs Tech”, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.
“The People Vs Tech” contains an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Jamie explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens, uphold a shared democratic culture, protect free elections, promote equality, safeguard competitive and civic freedoms, and trust in a sovereign authority.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.
4.) The humanist case for nuclear energy – Sat 30th June
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. At a London Futurists event on Saturday 30th June, 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, and to register to attend, see here.
5.) Some highlights from Nesta’s FutureFest, 6-7 July
Among the sessions which catch my eye are:
- Unequal futures: wealth and health – speakers Steve Fuller, Yasmine Khan, Kate Pickett
- Can we save the welfare state? – speakers from Finland and Singapore as well as the UK
- Doing business in the doughnut – speaker Kate Raworth
- Dr Robot: machine intelligence and stupidity in health – speaker John Loder
- Eurovision: long context – speakers Pat Kane, Neal Ascherson, Kapka Kassabova, Dr Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa
- The future of money – speaker Nathan Elstubb
- Machines that care for us – speakers Gareth Mitchell, Professor Tony Prescott
- On whose behalf do we resist machine control? – speaker Paul Mason
- Is politics broken? – speakers Indra Adnan, Jamie Bartlett, Peter Macfadyen, Sophie Walker
- How blockchain can, literally, save the world – speaker Vinay Gupta
- The new nationalisms – speakers Pat Kane, Ayça Çubukçu, Sunder Katwala, Professor Michael Kenny
- Future Frankenstein: visionaries and iconoclasts – speakers Dr Patricia Fara, Phillipp Boeing, Dr Güneş Taylor
- Not by bread alone: emotions and politics – speakers Indra Adnan, Yvonne Roberts, Jonathan Rowson
- Future humans: augmented selves – speakers Jasmine Idun Isdrake, Douglas Rushkoff
- Let there be bytes (the future of faith and religion) – speakers Elizabeth Oldfield, James Hughes, Shelina Janmohamed
I’m looking forward to listening carefully to these sessions and to raising the occasional question – particularly for the last of these sessions, when I’ll be offering some thoughts on the extent to which transhumanism and/or singularitarianism should be considered modern-day religions.
// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists