More aware, more agile, more alive

Dear Futurists,

If humanity was  badly prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic, what else are we failing to properly anticipate?

1.) The next pandemic: mental distress? Sat 23rd May

Mental distress 4

A variety of types of mental ill-health are increasing alarmingly. Far too many people nowadays suffer from morbid depression, crippling anxiety, biting loneliness, bewildering mood swings, and suicidal tendencies. Many others are falling far short of their potential for emotional vibrancy and self-mastery. Stresses during the Covid-19 lockdown are adding to the pressures people are experiencing.

What can be done to address this potential coming pandemic of mental distress? What is the role of technology to address this trend and to enhance mental wellbeing? How can various products and practices dovetail with more traditional approaches to positive mental health?

Tomorrow, from 4pm BST, London Futurists will be joined by four panellists, made up of two sets of co-founders from each of two companies (BioSelf Technology and Maaind) that have developed very interesting technology and products, aimed at improving all-round mental wellbeing.

The panellists will be sharing their insights about the wider space of challenges and opportunities for mental health in a world that seems increasingly out of kilter. As usual for our meetings, audience members will be able to ask questions via a text interface, and to vote on which questions deserve priority attention.

Due to a number of performance issues with the Crowdcast software we’ve used for several of our recent online meetings, we’re switching back to Zoom Webinar on this occasion. Hopefully everyone will have a positive experience with this software!

For more details about the event, see this meetup page, which also contains this link where you’ll need to register in advance for the Zoom Webinar. (To avoid missing the start of the discussion, I recommend that you aim to complete the Zoom registration at least five minutes before the event is due to start.)

2.) Countdown to 1st June

Back to the opening question: If humanity was  badly prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic, what else are we failing to properly anticipate?

Or perhaps here’s a better question: Why was humanity badly prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic (as well as for other potential forthcoming crises and opportunities)?

Again: What prevents humanity from having a greater awareness and appreciation of key scenarios for the future?

I had these questions in mind when I wrote a chapter for the forthcoming book published by Fast Future, “Aftershocks and opportunities: scenarios for a post-pandemic future”. My chapter in that book is entitled “More Aware, More Agile, More Alive”:

Why have risks of major crises, such as a worldwide pandemic, been poorly handled, and how can a global risk management system emerge to manage future, nastier, more potentially impactful risks more effectively?

The book will be launched at a special 12-hour long online event taking place on Monday 1st June. I explain more about the book, the launch event, and my chapter in it, in this short video:

If you watch the video (it’s less than 6 minutes in length), you’ll discover a discount code which you can use to unlock a 30% discount on the cost of the book.

3.) Another chance to watch “Hacking Darwin”

Last Saturday’s London Futurists event featured a fascinating, thoughtful discussion on the subject “Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity”.

In case you missed it – or in case you’d like to refresh your memory by watching it again – here’s a copy of the recording:

Following the meeting, I visited the site One Shared World and added my personal signature to the “Declaration of Interdependence” that the site promotes. As the conversation during last Saturday’s event made clear, this is not a time for different groups to attempt to find purely local solutions to global problems. The hardest problems transcend localities and require shared solutions.

4.) Humankind with Rutger Bregman – 3rd June

Back in March 2017 I greatly enjoyed listening to the book “Utopia for Realists – How We Can Build the Ideal World” by Dutch historian Rutger Bregman.

I liked it so much that I listened to it again, all the way through (again), in 2019.

Bregman has a new book out, “Humankind: A hopeful history”. Early reviews are encouraging:

“Cynicism is a theory of everything, but, as Rutger Bregman brilliantly shows, an elective one. This necessary book widens the aperture of possibility for a better future, and radically” – David Wallace-Wells, author of ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’,

“This important book is almost preternatural in its timing and argument. Rutger Bregman is poetic in his rejection of a Hobbesian view of our true natures. The gigantic upheavals of 2020 have proved him right. Reading this during lockdown changed the way I think about our humanity. We are good” – Dan Snow

“Rutger Bregman is out on his own, thinking for himself, using history to give the rest of us a chance to build a much better future than we can presently imagine” – Timothy Snyder, Holocaust historian and author of ‘On Tyranny’,

“A devastating demolition of the misanthrope’s mantra. A beacon of hope for a frighted world” – Professor Danny Dorling, author of ‘Inequality and the 1%’

“Never dewy-eyed, wistful or naive, Rutger Bregman makes a wholly robust and convincing case for believing – despite so much apparent evidence to the contrary – that we are not the savage, irredeemably greedy, violent and rapacious species we can be led into thinking ourselves to be. Hugely, highly and happily recommended.” –  Stephen Fry

“It’d be no surprise if it proved to be the Sapiens of 2020’” – The  Guardian

Luke Robert Mason will be interviewing Rutger Bregman live on the Futures Podcast platform from 7pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday 3rd June.

For more information about the event, and to register for the live stream, click here.

For a remarkable extract from the book, see this Guardian article, “The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months”.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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