Opportunity with the Millennium Project, and more

Dear Futurists,

1.) Opportunity: Chair of the UK Node of the Millennium Project

London Futurists and the Millennium Project are looking to identify suitable candidates to step into the role of Chair of the UK Node of the Millennium Project.

Millennium Project Banner

The Millennium Project (MP) was set up in 1996 with the mission “to connect futurists around the world to improve global foresight”. Via a network of Nodes operating around the globe, the MP collects and assesses judgements about future scenarios. It defines itself as “a think tank on behalf of humanity, not on behalf of a government, an issue or an ideology” and as being “created to improve humanity’s prospects for building a better future”.

Among many other activities, the MP regularly publishes editions of its ground-breaking “State of the Future” assessment, runs real-time “Delphi” assessments on topics such as the future of work, and maintains an online “Global Futures Intelligence System (GFIS)”. For a full list of current activities see here.

Futurists from the UK have participated in a variety of different ways with the MP over the years. It is time to take this activity to the next level.

The role of the Chair of the UK Node will be to:

  • Liaise with the management of the MP, in particular, with Jerome Glenn
  • Identify, select, and organise UK-based experts to participate in MP studies and activities
  • Respond to requests from other Nodes
  • Conduct local activities with the State of the Future reports and the reports on the future of work
  • Update regional considerations in the 15 Global Challenges and other areas of the GFIS
  • Attend the annual MP Planning Committee Meeting or, if not possible, participate remotely via Hangout or Skype etc.

The role of Node Chair is unpaid but the following benefits will arise:

  • Opportunities for new consulting or writing engagements based on connections made within the MP
  • Early access to the futurist insight generated within the MP
  • Extending personal network of futurist practitioners
  • Increased public visibility
  • References useful for subsequent career steps
  • The inherent interest of being part of a lively global project community.

Anyone with a mix of the following attributes is invited to reply to this email, indicating their level of potential interest in this role:

  • A track record of foresight studies
  • Connections with organisations and bodies that could potentially partner with the MP on specific projects
  • Ability to identify sources of funding to cover future programme activities
  • Good communications skills – both externally and internally
  • Ability to work with people of different ideologies, professions, and ethnicities
  • Ideally based in or near London.

In the event of more than one suitable candidate being identified, we are open to exploring options such as joint Chair responsibility, or creating more than one sub-Node (e.g. with different geographical cover).

The goal is to announce the Chair(s) by mid December.

2.) The future of professions in a world of algorithms – Wed 14 Nov

The Future of the Professions

How will technology and automation transform work within professions such as law, auditing, surveying, education, architecture, healthcare, accounting, and the clergy?

Professor Richard Susskind has been researching this field since the 1980s. Along with his son, Daniel, he recently published a book bringing this research up-to-date: “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts”.

In preparing their book, the authors interviewed leading practitioners from numerous professions. The authors are fully aware of the arguments as to why automation will slow down in its impact on the workforce. In the book, they assess these arguments from many angles and find them wanting. They give strong reasons why all professions will, on the contrary, be increasingly transformed by ever-more powerful software in the decades ahead.

The two authors make the case that such a transformation isn’t something to be feared. Instead, it is something that will provide low-cost high-quality expertise to ever-larger numbers of people – rather than such expertise being accessible only to the wealthy.

In view of this background, I am delighted to be taking part in a forthcoming event, billed as the Harris Debate 2018, in which I’ll be one of a number of panellists responding to ideas presented in a lecture by Richard Susskind. We’ll also be responding to questions raised by audience members.

This is taking place in central London on Wednesday 14th November. A number of tickets are still available, for anyone wishing to attend in person. It will also be possible to watch the event live online. Click here for more details.

The event is organised by RICS – The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors, which was founded in a meeting in Westminster Palace Hotel in 1868. The Harris Debate 2018, therefore, marks the 150th anniversary year of the institution.

RICS has a long history: they claim they can trace the forbears of their institution back to 1792. To quote from their website:

We’re the global professional body promoting and enforcing the highest international standards in the valuation, management and development of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

It’s timely that they’re now seriously considering how the professions will be transformed in the years to come. The topics listed for discussion at the Harris Debate 2018 are:

  • Future role of professionals
  • Ethics of machine learning – how will ethical behaviour be regulated / maintained?
  • How do algorithms filter access to information, and impact on decision making?
  • What are the potential risks and impact?

3.) The future of coaching – Thu 22 Nov

As the professions are transformed in the wake of AI and other automation, humans will need to adapt, and acquire new skills:

  1. Skills in living alongside AIs
  2. Skills in working alongside AIs
  3. Skills in managing, designing, and controlling AIs.

In turn, this will require a transformation of the profession of coaching:

  • Changes in the types of skills covered
  • Changes in the ways that coaching is delivered.

I’ll be addressing that topic in my closing keynote at a conference in central London on Thursday 22nd November, organised by Barefoot Coaching:

Coaching past present and future

The title of my presentation will be “Radical Transformations in Society and Humanity and the Role Coaching has to Play”. The themes I am planning to address are:

  • Reasons why the speed of social transformation is likely to increase over the next 3-5 years
  • Scenarios for how smart automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will change almost every occupation
  • Forthcoming threats to the business of “coaching as usual”
  • The skills that will become more important in the years ahead – and the ones that will become less important
  • Ways in which coaching can increase in value in the midst of radical disruption
  • How coaches can take advantage of new technologies in the years ahead

For more details (including the other speakers) and to register to attend, click here.

4.) A Very Human Future – Sat 17th Nov

With powerful technological shifts reshaping our world and straining the old social fabric, how can we keep humanity at the centre of the story?

What priorities are required, so that we avoid dehumanizing ourselves and future generations?

How can we harness intense technological bursts of possibility to bring about a better world for all its inhabitants?

These topics will feature in the London Futurists event on Saturday 17th November, when the speakers will be Rohit Talwar and Steve Wells from Fast Future.

AVHF preview

In this session, Rohit and Steve will be sharing and discussing the key themes, ideas, and 12 point action agenda presented in their new book “A Very Human Future: Enriching Humanity in a Digitized World”.

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

5.) The future, from a transhumanist perspective: 19-21 Oct

You may be wondering: what’s the difference between “a very human future” and “a transhumanist future”?

Transhumanism places more focus on “transcending human limitations”. Transhumanism doesn’t see human nature as a fixed entity, to be preserved at all costs. Instead, transhumanism sees human nature as a mix of elements, some of which should be protected, some of which should be enhanced, and some of which should be transcended, or overcome.

It’s as I put it in the opening chapter of my forthcoming new book “Sustainable Superabundance: A universal transhumanist manifesto for the 2020s and beyond”:

A new era is at hand: the era of sustainable superabundance. In this era, the positive potential of humanity can develop in truly profound ways.

The key to this new era is to take wise advantage of the remarkable capabilities of twenty-first century science and technology: robotics, biotech, neurotech, greentech, collabtech, artificial intelligence, and much more.

These technologies can provide all of us with the means to live better than well – to be healthier and fitter than ever before; nourished emotionally and spiritually as well as physically; and living at peace with ourselves, the environment, and our neighbours both near and far.

This is not a vision of today’s society writ large – a mere abundance of today’s goods, services, activities, and rewards. It’s a vision of a superabundance, with new qualities rather than just new quantities…

If we choose well, constraints which have long overshadowed human existence can soon be lifted. Instead of physical decay and growing age-related infirmity, an abundance of health and longevity awaits us. Instead of collective dimwittedness and blinkered failures of reasoning, an abundance of intelligence and wisdom is within our reach. Instead of morbid depression and emotional alienation – instead of envy and egotism – we can achieve an abundance of mental and spiritual wellbeing. Instead of a society laden with deception, abuses of power, and divisive factionalism, we can embrace an abundance of democracy – a flourishing of transparency, access, mutual support, collective insight, and opportunity for all, with no one left behind.

If we choose well, the result will be liberty on unparalleled scale. The result will be people everywhere living up to their own best expectations and possibilities, and then more. The result will be a transformed, improved humanity, taking stellar leaps forward in evolution, as technology increasingly uplifts and augments biology. The result will be to advance beyond mere humanity to transhumanity.

TAM TOC graphic 2

If the ideas of transhumanism interest you, there’s a great opportunity at the end of this week – Friday 19th to Sunday 21st October – to immerse yourself in discussions with many of the world’s leading representatives of transhumanist thought and practice.

I refer to the TransVision 2018 gathering in Madrid, Spain, which is set to be one of the most noteworthy events in the history of the transhumanist movement so far.

I recorded some thoughts about TransVision 2018 in this short video. Click on it to find out more.

6.) The risks of superintelligent AI – Cardiff, Mon 26th Nov

Finally, in case any readers will be in the vicinity of Cardiff on Monday 26th November: I’ll be giving an updated version there of my Funzing talk on assessing the risks of superintelligent AI.

This video gives a brief preview:


Click here to find out more details, and to register to attend.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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