Opportunity for young futurists (and more)

Dear Futurists,

1.) The Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Award

Joseph Jaworski

Are you – or do you know someone fitting the description of – a “next generation practitioner” of foresight?

If so, there’s a prize of $25,000 that could be within grasp.

The following is an extract from the “Next Generation Foresight” website:

Foresight is a systematic way of engaging with uncertainty, through the exploration of alternative futures, including aspirational ones. As a discipline it has the potential to shape the future.

A foresight practitioner is anyone who takes a futures approach to their work to explore and understand the impacts of longer-term factors and drivers of change on the future, to better understand how different futures might evolve, and to generate insights for decisions made today.

The world is changing and as it does we need new sources of inspiration and innovation. Change will come from many arenas and peoples…

The Joseph Jaworski Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Award aims to identify these innovators and support them in their endeavours.

The Award will provide one winner with $25k funding to develop a new foresight initiative, and support Special Awardees to develop both personally and professionally. With our long term aim to create a global sensing-network of future-alert activists. It will provide a platform to showcase innovative practice from around the world.

As you can read on the website, there are a number of “special awards” available in addition to the main award.

The Main Award includes a year’s incubator funding worth USD 25,000 to support a new foresight initiative, mentoring and support for the winner, as well a free ticket to the SOIF2018 retreat (6th-10th August). Special Awardees will benefit from support to develop personally and professionally, and all qualifying entrants will have opportunities to showcase their work and be invited to join a new global “Sensing Network”.

People can apply for the Award if they meet the following criteria:

  • Aged between 18 and 35 years old at the time of entry, or have fewer than ten years’ experience working in strategic foresight.
  • Actively studying or working to develop innovative foresight practice.
  • Committed to foresight with impact, purpose and with people at the heart of the future
  • Actively studying or working to develop innovative foresight practice.

One issue is that applications need to be submitted by 1st July (Sunday).

But the good news is that the application process is lightweight. The details are here but in essence, applicants should submit

  • A 1000-word description of a past project
  • A 2 minute video on what they would use the money for.

I wish you success in becoming involved in this project!

2.) Living in an AI World – Thurs 19th July

An event taking place in the evening of Thursday 19th July has caught my eye: “Living in an AI World: How Startups are Shaping Tomorrow”.

It’s hosted by Entrepreneur First (EF), who position themselves as “Where outliers come together: the best place to find a co-founder, build a company and access the world’s best investors”.


The event on 19th July is described as follows:

Technology is completely changing the way we live, work, and interact as a society. The speed at which AI is permeating through various aspects of human existence and interaction is accompanied by a crucial conversation around its ethical parameters.

Startups are at the forefront of building this new AI world.

Matt Clifford, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, will lead our guests in a necessary discussion on the roles of entrepreneurs and governments in the AI era regarding education, the job market, ethics, inclusion and social impact.

The discussion will also touch on how AI and Machine Learning are impacting society, and how politics and policies need to change globally, so that society as a whole can evolve with these agile technologies.

All four of the panellists bring an interesting angle to the event:

Chris Mairs CBE

Chris is a Venture Partner at Entrepreneur First and prolific angel investor. After graduating in Computer Science from Cambridge, followed by a short spell at IBM, Chris co-founded Metaswitch Networks, where he was CTO for many years. He was chairman of Magic Pony Technology and currently chairs several technology businesses including Kheiron Medical GTN and Phoelex Ltd. As a passionate believer in digital skills education he is a trustee of The Raspberry Pi Foundation. He is a fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering, honorary fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and in 2014 he was awarded a CBE for services to engineering. Being blind since the age of 18, Chris devotes some of his time and energy to supporting sight loss charities. In 2017 he cycled 3,600 miles across America raising funds to restore sight to over 4,000 cataract sufferers in India, Ghana, Cambodia and other countries where this needless cause of blindness is still prevalent.

Dev Amratia | @devamratia

Dev Amratia is an EF Alumnus, CEO and Co-founder of nPlan, a company that uses machine learning to analyse construction schedules. Dev has worked for the UK Government where he led the national review on AI. Prior to that, he was a project manager with Shell and saw first hand how challenges in scheduling can make or break some of the most critical construction projects in the world.

Gosia Loj

Gosia Loj leads the vision and implementation of the AI Global Governance Commission, which brings together governments, industries and civil society to shape future AI policy and regulations internationally. Gosia has previously worked with several international organisations and the United Nations’ agencies, including the WTO, WIPO, NATO, and the European Commission, in the field of international standards, strategies and regulations as well as innovation management. She was a CEO of a greeNetSolutions start-up for two years prior to joining the Big Innovation Centre.

Jamie Susskind | @jamiesusskind

Jamie Susskind is an author, speaker, and practicing barrister. A past Fellow of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, he studied history and politics at Magdalen College, Oxford. His new book Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech delves into the debate of just how much our lives should be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems.

The event is free to attend, but prior registration is essential.

3.) TransVision 2018 – Madrid, 19-21 Oct

TransVision banner

2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first TransVision conference – held in 1998 at Weesp, The Netherlands. One of the attendees remarked presciently at the timeThis is the start of something great.

That attendee, Anders Sandberg, is one of the many eminent speakers already announced for TransVision 2018, which is being held at he famous and historic Ateneo de Madrid, Spain.

José Luis Cordeiro, TransVision 2018 Conference Chair, comments as follows:

Spain will host the next global futurist summit during October 19-20-21, 2018. HumanityPlus will be the main international organizer of this world congress, TransVision 2018, with the help of other leading associations and organizations working on futurist concepts like longevity extension, artificial intelligence, and human enhancement.

The first TransVision conference was held during 1998 in The Netherlands. During the last 20 years, we have seen phenomenal advances, and we expect to see much more during the next 20 years.

What will the future bring? Science and technology should lead the way!

The topics considered at TransVision 2018 will be very broad, ranging from recent medical advances to artificial intelligence and robotics. The first keynote speaker will be Sophia, the first humanoid robot that was awarded citizenship last year. TransVision 2018 will have other keynote speeches by pioneers of the futurist movement like Natasha Vita-More and Ben Goertzel, among many others.

For more details, and to secure early bird pricing on tickets, see here.

(For notes on the history of TransVision, see this H+Pedia page.)

4.) A word about this Saturday’s event

Mathijs Beckers banner

The number of RSVPs for this Saturday’s (30th June) London Futurists event at Birkbeck College, “A plea for sanity in the energy debate: the humanist case for nuclear energy”, is currently on the low side, compared to the usual figures for London Futurists events at this stage (five days to go).

Perhaps a Saturday afternoon in mid-summer was a bad choice of date. Or perhaps the topic is something about which London Futurists members prefer not to think about too much. But to my mind it’s a very important topic that deserves more focus.

Even with a relatively small audience, I am expecting a really useful and insightful discussion.

As a taste of some of the conversation that might arise, here’s an extract from an article that was recently drawn to my attention (thanks, Yates), “If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?” by energy and environment writer Michael Shellenberger:

Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically…

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?…

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply…

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighbouring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

I hope to see many of you on Saturday to continue this discussion!

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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