Foresight Around The Clock

Dear Futurists

There have been no London Futurists events recently, as I’ve been concentrating on a number of related projects. I’ll share more details of these projects when the time is right.

In the meantime, London Futurists is pleased to support and partner with a number of organisations that are holding events covering important topics. Read on for more details.

1.) Foresight Around The Clock: Fri 4th – Sun 6th Sept

We need a change

The kind of thinking that has led humanity into its present set of crises isn’t sufficient for us to find our way out of these crises.

Instead, insights likely need to be absorbed and integrated from study of systems, resiliency, emergence, health, sustainability, and transhumanism.

That’s the thought behind the design of nine sessions happening online next weekend, starting at 12:30pm Friday 4th Sept, and finishing nearly 48 hours later.

(With gaps for sleeping or resting in between!)

The organisers are the FORMWELTen-Institute, which is based in Germany, and which has links worldwide.

The set of sessions have been called “Stream Around the Clock” and “We Need a Change”, but I prefer the name “Foresight Around the Clock”, since that’s what I am expecting the sessions to provide.

They’re free to attend. They’ll be broadcast live on YouTube, and the speakers and panellists will be responding to questions raised by viewers.

You can find more information here, along with a link to register your interest.

Note that the times given on the online agenda are all in German (CEST) timezone. Subtract one hour to find the UK time.

As you’ll see, the nine sessions are as follows:

  1. Accelerating a new kind of thinking and science for a sustainable future
  2. Economy of the future and climate crisis
  3. Climate crisis and clean energy: The pressing points of the UN Emission Gap Report
  4. Bildung
  5. Longevity and health as resilience factor
  6. Augmented humanity: Opportunity or threat?
  7. Emergent technologies, AI and ethics
  8. Social media competence and communication in times of crisis
  9. Leadership in crisis

You can attend any number of the sessions, depending on your availability.

I’m doing the opening keynote for session 6, “Augmented humanity: Opportunity or threat?” and I’m also a panellist in sessions 1, 2, and 7.

Speakers that I already know and fully expect to share thought-provoking opinions include:

  • David Pearce, author of The Hedonistic Imperative and co-founder of Humanity+
  • Nikola Danaylov, also known as Socrates, the host of the Singularity.FM podcast
  • Getnet Aseffa, CEO of iCog Labs, the AI lab based in Addis Ababa
  • Ilia Stambler, Chief Science Officer of Vetek, the Movement for Longevity and Quality of Life (Israel)

There are many other speakers with fascinating biographies that I’m also looking forward to hearing more from and getting to know.

2.) The OneShared.World Interdependence Summit 2020, 17th Sept

Some of you will, like me, have fond memories of listening to futurist and author Jamie Metzl in the London Futurists event “Hacking Darwin” back in May.

At that event, Jamie mentioned the work being done by his new organisation OneShared.World:

OneShared.World is a broad and inclusive movement of stakeholders working collaboratively across diverse cultures, communities, ethnicities, organizations, entities, interests, generations, and nations to ensure a better future for humankind and the sustainability of our collective home.

We seek to establish the democratic expression of our common humanity as a pillar of global power and influence to drive tangible progress toward addressing our greatest shared challenges.

On Thursday 17th Sept, the inaugural OneShared.World Interdependence Summit will be taking place, with the theme “Rise or Fall Together”. It will run from 9am to 12 noon EDT, that is, from 2pm to 5pm UK time. It’s free to attend.

I’ll let you read the online details to find out about the speakers. I’ll just draw your attention to the descriptions of two plenary events:

Interdependence as a key frame for addressing:

  • Pandemics
  • Climate change and ecosystem destruction
  • Systemic poverty and inequality

Beyond Westphalia and San Francisco:

  • Building a new pillar of global power representing our
    common aspirations as humans
  • Building a civil society network of networks promoting the
    mutual responsibilities of interdependence
  • The global responsibility of business in an interdependent
  • Education at the core of the interdependence platform
  • Grasstops Meets Grassroots

3.) The 7th Aging Research and Drug Discovery Meeting, 1-4 Sept

Participation at the annual “Aging Research and Drug Discovery” meetings normally carries a hefty price tag. This year, however, in the light of Covid-19, the event is entirely virtual and is free of charge!

There’s a very impressive set of speakers, many of whom are involved in cutting-edge research. You can see the details here.

The event is described as follows:

According to the United Nations, the proportion of people aged over 65 now outnumber children younger than 5. The enormous growth in the elderly population is posing a socioeconomic challenge to societies worldwide, and necessitates new sweeping interventions for age-associated diseases. This year we have an incredibly exciting program with global thought-leaders sharing their latest insights into aging and how we target aging process ensuring everyone lives a healthier and longer life.

I was thinking of picking out a few particular highlights from the agenda, but frankly there are so many to choose from. Take a look yourself!

Congratulations to the chairs of the event – including long-time friend of London Futurists, Alex Zhavoronkov of Insilico Medicine – for having pulled together such a fine set of speakers.

4.) Biostasis 2020: 24-25 Oct

Ongoing improvements in rejuvenation biotechnology (see previous item) are very encouraging. But what options are there for people who fall ill and die before rejuvenation biotechnology has developed sufficiently to be able to intervene and cure them of their disease?

One possibility to consider is biostasis, also known as cryonic preservation. A two-day conference was scheduled to be taking in October in Zurich, Switzerland, to bring attendees up to take with recent biostasis initiatives. But – you’ve guessed it – this is now taking place entirely online.

Biostasis 2020 will feature 20+ talks covering topics such as basic and applied research, ethics questions, legal issues, the marketing of cryonics, and new approaches in the field.

I’ll be one of the speakers. My topic will be “Anticipating changes in public attitudes towards death and cryonics”. I’ll be reviewing factors that could cause a switch in thinking about cryonics, away from general scepticism and hostility, towards general encouragement and support.

For more details of Biostasis 2020, click here.

5.) Pathways to Artificial General Intelligence

London is full of meetups on different aspects of AI, but my experience is that AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) is unduly neglected at these events. People tend to say they prefer to focus on the here-and-now. Or they offer some ill-thought-through reasons for believing AGI is a far-distant possibility. What people often don’t appreciate, in my view, are the scenarios in which AGI might arrive a lot sooner than would be expected from simple linear extrapolation from present trends.

That’s why I’m pleased to support the new Fast Future book which is being published on 1st March 2021, with the title “The future of AI: Pathways to Artificial General Intelligence.

The book is being jointly edited by:

  • Rohit Talwar – Global Futurist Specialising in AI Impacts and CEO of Fast Future
  • Ben Goertzel – Chair of the Artificial General Intelligence Society and CEO SingularityNET
  • David Wood – me 🙂

The deadline for us to receive chapter submissions for this book is 15th September. You can read more details about the book and the submission process here.

Some themes you may consider addressing (as listed on the webpage) are:

Capability, Applications, and Impacts

  • How might the capabilities of AI systems evolve in the years ahead?
  • What scenarios for the emergence of significantly more powerful AI deserve the most attention?
  • What new economic concepts, business models, and intellectual property ownership frameworks might be enabled and required as a result of advances that help us transition from today’s AI to AGI?

Pathways to AGI

  • What incremental steps might help drive practical commercial and humanitarian AI applications in the direction of AGI?
  • What practical ideas and experiences can be derived from real-world applications of technologies like transfer learning, unsupervised and reinforcement learning, and lifelong learning?
  • What are the opportunities and potential for “narrow AGI” applications that bring increasing levels of AGI to bear within specific vertical markets and application areas?

Societal Readiness

  • How can we raise society-wide awareness and understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities?
  • How can governments, businesses, educators, civil society organizations, and individuals prepare for the range of possible impacts and implications?
  • What other actions might be taken by individuals, by local groups, by individual countries, by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), by businesses, and by international institutions, to help ensure positive outcomes with advanced AI? How might we reach agreement on what constitutes a positive societal outcome in the context of AI and AGI?


  • How might societal ethical frameworks need to evolve to cope with the new challenges and opportunities that AGI is likely to bring?
  • What preparations can be made, at the present time, for the introduction and updating of legal and political systems to govern the development and deployment of AGI?

Personally, I’ve got a lot more to say about AGI, but I’ll leave that for another day.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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