A change of direction
With London Futurists approaching its eleventh anniversary of its formation, it’s time for a change of direction.
In the early days of London Futurists, few other groups gave serious attention to the themes we covered in our meetings. Happily, more and more people are now interested in futurist topics. Some excellent newsletters circulate – for example, the Exponential View by Azeem Azhar. (If you’re not already a reader, it’s definitely worth subscribing to it.) And organisations such as Nesta and the RSA often host high quality meetings on futurist topics.
But there are three areas where, in my view, the public discussion is still deficient. These are the areas on which London Futurists will concentrate in 2019.
The first area is the opportunity and threat from artificial general intelligence (AGI) – AI that can match (or surpass) human reasoning skills in all aspects of reasoning. The mainstream view is that AGI won’t arise for many decades, and that there are more urgent matters which deserve our attention instead. I disagree. My view is that the time to prepare for the advent of AGI (an event often called “The Singularity”) is now.
The second area is a word that is poised to be heard more and more: “transhumanism”. My prediction is that the 2020s will be the decade of transhumanism – the decade in which more and more people become aware of the potential for human nature to be significantly improved by the application of technology – and see that potential as deeply desirable.
The third area is the way in which politics can be drastically transformed – either for good or for ill – by emerging technologies. The current state of politics in the UK is abysmal. Powerful new initiatives are needed, so that political discussion focuses on the truly most important topics.
If you dislike the topics of the Singularity, transhumanism, and politics, I’ll understand if you decide to leave this group (though I’ll be sorry to see you go).
But if you think there’s a chance I might be right with my assessment as to “where the puck is going” (in the phrase of Ice Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky), maybe you should stick around for a while!
One reason there’s been fewer London Futurists events over the last six months – and fewer newsletters – is that I’ve been working on a new book.
I intend the book to be a wake-up call – and a call to action.
It addresses all three of the themes mentioned in the previous section.
An ebook (Kindle) version is already available, for the bargain price of just US $4, and a paperback edition should follow shortly. See the links on the book website, where you can also read:
- The full content of the first two chapters, and extracts from the starts of all the other chapters
- A set of advance praise from different reviewers.
If you do read the book and find it interesting, it would be great if you could write a review for it on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thanks!
The Transhumanist Party UK
It’s now four years since the Transhumanist Party UK was formed. And, you’ve guessed it, it’s time for a change of direction for the Party, with more emphasis on campaigns to change the political landscape in the UK. The vision of the Party includes:
- Positive social change through technology
- All-round improvements in human wellbeing, with no-one left behind
- Policies to be evidence-based rather than ideology-based
A key part of the relaunch of the Party includes new leadership. I’m pleased to share the news that Mathieu Gosselin (a long-time member of London Futurists) is taking the role of co-leader of the Party. I’ll be the other co-leader. The two of us have complementary sets of skills and experience. And we’re being supported by an able National Executive Committee, including Julian Snape, Alexander Karran, Chris Monteiro, and Jean-Michel Carter.
You’ll shortly be able to read more about the Party’s structure and projects on the website http://www.transhumanistparty.org.uk/, where a spring clean is currently in progress. Also look out for:
- A personal message from Mathieu Gosselin
- A set of roles where the Party would appreciate volunteers
- A forthcoming survey of the opinions and ideas of Party members and supporters
To be kept informed about Party news, you can sign up for news online.
Politics for profoundly enhanced wellbeing – Sat 2nd Feb
If any of the above topics strike you as interesting, I suggest you attend the London Futurists event on Saturday 2nd Feb, “Politics for profoundly enhanced wellbeing”.
Here’s an extract from the description of the event:
Twenty first century science and technology, developed and deployed wisely, has the potential to profoundly enhance human wellbeing. Our health and fitness, in both body and mind, could be far higher than at present. Age-old tendencies to the abuse of power, to emotional depression, to deception and self-deception, to egotism and envy, to wastefulness, to divisiveness, to senility and disease, and to decay and death, could all become things of the past. A radically better future is within our collective grasp. But this future won’t arrive without some major shifts in attitude, in priorities, and the allocation of funds and resources.
Society needs the equivalent of a number of Apollo-scale projects, to accelerate the transformation from dangerously unstable situation of the present-day into a future in which the true positive potential of humanity is fulfilled. The focus of the leaders of society needs to change, quickly, towards the very large benefits that science and technology can deliver.
This event features three panellists who each offer their recommendations for political action in support of profoundly enhanced human wellbeing.
Two of the three speakers have already been mentioned earlier in this newsletter: Mathieu and myself. The third speaker is José Cordeiro.
José is the principal author of the Spanish-language best-selling book “La Muerte de la Muerte”, https://lamuertedelamuerte.org/. He is also the founder of a new political movement for longevity and rejuvenation in Madrid, Spain, and will be standing for election in May 2019 as a Spanish MEP in the EU Parliament.
José and I have been discussing the potential for transhumanist influence on politics since our very first meeting, in Helsinki, at TransVision 2006. We both feel that now is the time!
To register to attend the event on 2nd February, click here.
Full up (sorry) – the event on 28th January
Quite a few of you have been in touch with me asking how you can obtain tickets for the London Futurists event on “The future of work” happening at Conway Hall on Monday 28th January.
This event is being jointly organised by GlobalNet21 and Conway Hall Ethical Society as well as by London Futurists. Ticket allocation was divided up, bearing in mind the fixed size of the venue (the Brockway Room) and the expected drop-out rate from people who sign up (and pay for a ticket) but who fail to attend.
Unfortunately the London Futurists quota is already fully allocated. People without tickets will not be able to attend. My advice is to sign up more quickly, when you see other events publicised in the future.
But watch out for videos addressing the topic of the future of work, released in due course by the Transhumanist Party UK.
With best wishes for a successful 2019 and beyond!
// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists