Changing fundamentals

Dear Futurists,

1.) Adventures at the Frontier of Birth, Food, Sex & Death – 13th July

Consider four of the fundamentals of life: giving birth, eating food, intimate personal relations, and dying.

Consider also that various entrepreneurs and technologists are actively trying to create products or services that would change each of these fundamentals:

  • After conception, a baby might develop in an artificial womb, rather than inside their mother’s body
  • Meat of all sorts might be grown in industrial scale laboratories, without any sentient animals needing to be slaughtered in the process
  • Sex robots might acquire rich conversational skills, to engage humans emotionally as well as offering a physical relationship
  • Euthanasia on demand might remove the pain and uncertainty from the process of bodily decline and drawn-out death.

What should we make of the aspirations and the potential of these entrepreneurs and technologists?

Journalist and documentary-maker Jenny Kleeman has travelled the world finding and interviewing the extraordinary characters who are pursuing these ambitions. She shares her findings in her forthcoming book “Sex Robots & Vegan Meat: Adventures at the Frontier of Birth, Food, Sex & Death”. I’m in the middle of reading a pre-publication version and am finding it by turns fascinating, troubling, and inspiring.

Birth food sex and death

London Futurists are fortunate that Jenny will be talking about some of the themes of her book in a Zoom webinar on the evening of Monday 13th July. In this discussion Jenny and I will be joined by:

  • Rohit Talwar – global futurist, award-winning keynote speaker, author, and the CEO of Fast Future
  • Gemma Milne – Science & Technology Writer, Author of “Smoke & Mirrors”, and Co-Host of Science: Disrupt

Attendees will be able to raise questions about what they hear. As per usual London Futurists practice, the questions that receive the most audience upvotes will be passed into the conversation for the panellists to address.

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

2.) H+ Summit, 7th and 8th July


Beyond pandemic. Beyond mortality. Beyond scarcity. Beyond cruelty.

These are the declared themes of the H+Summit taking place online on the 7th and 8th of July. Eighteen speakers are lined up to share their ideas – including me: I’ll be speaking on the topic “Practical steps to improve the public perception of the future”.

DW H+Summit 2020 Slide 1

Some of the schedule is still subject to change and fine-tuning, but here’s what it looks like as I write these words (the times below are all UK times, i.e. BST):

Tue 7th July:

  • 6.00pm: Natasha Vita-MoreWelcome and Intro
  • 6.15pm: Ben GoertzelThe Elimination of Death and Disease is Fairly Near
  • 6.45pm: Max MoreBeyond UBI: Ownership, Responsibility, and Dividends
  • 7.15pm: Anders SandbergWill there ever be a last pandemic?
  • 7.45pm: Nell WatsonWhisking and Genetic Variations
  • 8.15pm: PanelBeyond Mortality
  • 8.45pm: Break (with video)
  • 9.00pm: Alishba ImranGlobal Energy Storage: A Proposed Fix to the Current Problem
  • 9.30pm: Ryan O’SheaPreparing for a Future of Human Augmentation
  • 10.00pm: Michael MasucciBrain Bursts of Arts & Sciences (or why STEAM is better than STEM)
  • 10.30pm: Panel – Beyond Scarcity
  • 11.00pm: David Brin – The Near and Far Beyond: A context for our Climb from Cave to Stars
  • 11.30pm: Day wrap-up

Wed 8th July:

  • 5.00pm: Natasha Vita-MoreWelcome and Intro
  • 5.15pm: Betty DessieScarcity and Beyond
  • 5.45pm: José Cordeiro – The Death of Death
  • 6.15pm: Didier CoeurnelleTechnoprogressive and Ecological Ideas for a Viridian Future
  • 6.45pm: Break (with video)
  • 7.00pm: Zoltan IstvanSaving Lives During a Pandemic: A Transhumanist Approach
  • 7.30pm: David ErnstLiquid Democracy: Democracy for the 21st Century
  • 8.00pm: Natasha Vita-MoreRadical Life x Manifest: Augment and Liberate!
  • 8.30pm: PanelBeyond Cruelty
  • 9.00pm: Break (with video)
  • 9.15pm: David WoodPractical steps to improve the public perception of the future
  • 9.45pm: Maria Entraigues-AbramsonThe pandemic and the longevity field:  Setback or catalyst?
  • 10.15pm: Kat CotterProtect Against These 5 and Stay Alive
  • 10.45pm: David KelleyIAmTranshuman and the Psychology of Abundance
  • 11.15pm: Event wrap-up

For more details about the event and the speakers, follow the links on this Eventbrite page, where you can also register to attend.

3.) The Future of Artificial Intelligence – 9th July

Regular readers of London Futurists newsletters will have heard me express exasperation with many of the “Future of AI” events that are taking place with increasing regularity these days. Too many of these events hardly make it out of first gear. They focus entirely on issues with today’s AI, rather than appreciating the multiple ways in which the AI of five or ten years time could be dramatically different from today’s.

But here’s one that will be different. It’s organised by Fast Future and will take place on Thursday 9th July.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

My topic in this webinar will be the seven ways in which the AI of five or ten years time could be dramatically different from today’s.

The other speakers in this webinar will be:

  • Patrick Bangert – VP of Artificial Intelligence, Samsung SDS America
  • Irakli Beridze – Head, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, UN ICIRI, Netherlands
  • Julia Mossbridge – Executive Director at The Institute for Love and Time, USA
  • Rohit Talwar – CEO, Fast Future, UK (Moderator)

This is taking place on Zoom. The registration page is here.

4.) Video recap: Politics for greater liberty

In case you missed the most recent London Futurists webinar “Politics for greater liberty: transhumanist perspectives” – or if you would like to watch portions again – here’s a video of the discussion:

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the event, as panellists or by providing questions and comments in real-time.

5.) Video recap: Being 100 years young

On the 8th and 9th of June, the Society for Vital Life Extension, which is based in Slovenia, held a two-day online conference with the title “Being 100 years young”.

Video recordings from this event are now available on this YouTube channel.

The talk I gave at that conference was quite different from my previous presentations about healthy longevity. It considered four different scenarios for the period 2020-2025, for “how society might respond to a growing anticipation of healthy superlongevity”.

If you’d like to check the contents, here’s the recording.

If you’d like me to speak at any event that you’re organising, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists


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