London Futurists news, 22 Mar 2019

Dear Futurists,

Politics in the UK has never seemed so broken.

Yet despite all the Westminster treacle, a few encouraging signs are emerging. Read on…

1.) Extinction Rebellion – Mon 8th Apr

Overcoming entrenched politics

What are the factors that prevent sufficient attention being given to the potentially ultra-important topic of impending climate breakdown? And what are the best methods to overcome this state of learned ignorance, and to advance practical solutions?

On the evening of Monday 8th April, London Futurists will be hosting Andrew Medhurst  from Extinction Rebellion, the global movement focussed on creating mass nonviolent civil disobedience as (they say) “a last resort to get governments acting sensibly and urgently on the global climate emergency”.

In his talk, Andrew aims to share the latest climate science on where our planet is heading, discuss some of the current psychology around climate change, and offer solutions through the study of social movements.

The meeting will also feature comments from a number of other climate change thinkers and activists, representing different perspectives. Questions to be explored include: Is Extinction Rebellion the trailblazer for better ways to overturn entrenched politics?

The talk will take place in the Great Hall area (on the ground floor) of Newspeak House. Please arrive in time to be seated for the start of the presentation at 6.30pm.

This meeting is free to attend, but numbers will be restricted, so please RSVP in advance.

2.) The Future of Mental Health – Sat 13th Apr


Poor mental health is the singular crisis of our time – one that arguably lies at the root of many of the biggest threats facing humanity as we approach the 2020s.

We are witnessing a growing epidemic of depression, alienation, bitterness, and suicides. Inner personal demons are leading too many of us to pursue destructive courses of action. Emotional instability is warping our thinking, subverting our rationality to favour unhelpful philosophies and policies. Even people with “normal” mental health often perform far short of their full potential.

Twenty first century science and technology has the potential to improve almost every area of human life. What can it do for our mental health?

A London Futurists meeting on the afternoon of Saturday 13th April will feature three speakers offering their recommendations. This includes revising society’s opinions towards psychedelics, and promoting other evidence-based tools and techniques to enhance all-round intelligence and heightened states of consciousness.

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

3.) Rupert Sheldrake at Virtual Futures, Mon 25 Mar

Someone who has spent more than four decades pondering the evidence for different ways to improve mental wellbeing is the biologist and writer Rupert Sheldrake.

I first met Rupert some 39 years ago, at a conference in Cambridge, in long ago 1980. He gave me a typewritten draft of the book he would publish the following year, A new science of life: the hypothesis of morphic resonance. I remember finding it fascinating but not entirely convincing. Since that time, I’ve kept an occasional eye on his work.

Rupert is visiting Virtual Futures in London on Monday, 25th March, to discuss ideas from his latest book, Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work: Spiritual Practices in a Scientific Age.

Rupert Sheldrake

Here’s an extract from the Virtual Futures webpage for the event:

To go beyond is to move into a higher state of consciousness, to a place of bliss, greater understanding, love, and deep connectedness, a realm where we finally find life’s meaning – experiences for which all spiritual seekers seek.

Dr Rupert Sheldrake, writing as both a scientist and a spiritual explorer, looks at seven spiritual practices that are personally transformative and have scientifically measurable effects. He combines the latest scientific research with his extensive knowledge of mystical traditions around the world to show how we may tune into more-than-human realms of consciousness through psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, and by taking cannabis. He also shows how everyday activities can have mystical dimensions, including sports and learning from animals. He discusses traditional religious practices such as fasting, prayer, and the celebration of festivals and holy days.

Why do these practices work? Are their effects all inside brains and essentially illusory? Or can we really make contact with forms of consciousness greater than our own?

I don’t expect I’ll agree with everything Rupert says during his talk, but I’ll be listening carefully for data points and potential explanations of methods to improve mental wellbeing (refer back to item #2 in this newsletter). Given the present epidemic of mental ill-health, we need as much insight as possible. And some of that insight is very likely to arise from people outside the current political and cultural mainstream.

I’ll bring my 1981 hardback copy of A New Science of Life with me, to ask the author to sign it.

The event will be happening in Shoreditch. For more information, and to obtain tickets, click here.

4.) Transhumanist Tea-Time

Earlier today, Mathieu Gosselin and I recorded the first of what will become an ongoing series of “tea-time” discussions bringing a transhumanist perspective to news and projects.

Topics covered in this episode include (1) a better future for mental health, (2) recommendations for doing politics better than what has been the “Brexit experience” in the UK over the last few years. There’s also news about the Transhumanist Party Discourse forum, changes in the Party imagery, and opportunities to build a more diverse NEC (National Executive Committee).

Next time you’re taking a break for tea, coffee, or any other refreshment, click on the video and listen in to the discussion. Please let us know, via the comments, what you’d like us to cover in future such recordings – and which guests we should invite to join us.

5.) Undoing Aging, Berlin, 28-30 March


This time next week, perhaps the most important conference in history so far, on the subject of longevity research, will be well under way, in Berlin.

Here’s an excerpt from the conference website:

After the incredible success of the 2018 Undoing Aging Conference with 350 participants from 36 countries and over 40 brilliant speakers, SENS Research Foundation and Michael Greve’s Forever Healthy Foundation  are pleased to announce that Undoing Aging 2019 will take place in Berlin at the Umspannwerk Alexanderplatz from March, 28 to 30.

The annual Undoing Aging conference is focused on the cellular and molecular repair of age-related damage as the basis of therapies to bring aging under full medical control. Undoing Aging 2019 will again focus on bringing together scientists and startups from around the globe in their respective fields, who are leading the charge in maintaining and restoring full health in old age.

Speakers include leading researchers from around the world focused on topics including stem cells, senescent cells, immunotherapies, biomarkers and drug discovery.

Undoing Aging 2019 is not only open to the scientific community but also welcomes all members of the broader rejuvenation movement and interested media. The conference will feature a student poster session showing the work of innovative undergraduate and graduate students in the field of damage repair.

Scientific Organiser: Dr. Aubrey de Grey

Unless you’ve already got some very important plans for those days, I strongly recommend you to consider attending Undoing Aging. The set of speakers lined up is truly world class.

For more information, and to obtain tickets, click here.

6.) The social impact of new technologies – Sat 23rd Mar

Just in case you’re not sure what you should be doing with your time tomorrow (Saturday 23rd March), let me pass on a suggestion.

Whatever happens with the current political shenanigans that are damaging and dividing the United Kingdom, we’re all going to need better awareness of trends that threaten to change society even more radically than what has been happening in the last few decades.

I’m talking about the potential disruptions due to combinations of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognotechnology – collectively “NBIC”.

To my mind, most observers hugely underestimate both the potential upsides, and the potential downsides, of these technologies. Managed well, these technologies could take us to an era of sustainable superabundance. Mismanaged, these technologies will dramatically intensify feelings of “loss of control” and of being “left behind”, that will make current social unease with “elites” and “outsiders” feel quaint.

That’s what I’ll be talking about mid afternoon tomorrow, in Bush House Auditorium of Kings College, London, as part of the KIIPSoc event on Emerging Technologies. It’s free to attend, but you need to register first. Tickets can be obtained from Facebook or Eventbrite. The doors will be opening in Bush House at 9.30am tomorrow, ready for presentations to start at 10.00am.

If you attend, please come up and say hello!


// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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