Anticipating jerks

Dear Futurists,

One view of technological progress – and the consequent impact on society – is that it takes place reasonably constantly.

Another view is that the pace of technological progress is increasing steadily, moving along something like an exponential curve.

My own observation, however, is that progress proceeds through fits and starts. It’s by no means continuous. Disruptions can flare up unexpectedly, with one set of technology trends being overtaken and pushed aside by another.

That’s one of the ideas behind the notion of “jerk” – a change in the pace at which acceleration is happening.

The tale of human history is the tale of these disruptive jerks, as they interact with and complicate the tale of incremental progress.

And that will be one of the core discussion points in the London Futurists webinar that is taking place tomorrow evening, Thursday 22nd October.

For the details of that event – and for some news about other events you may find interesting – read on.

1.) Living in the Age of the Jerk – 22nd October

Strap yourself in; technology is going to change the world. The current political and economic turmoil is nothing compared to what the next two decades will bring.

Before there was Covid-19, it was as if humanity was heading towards two doors. Behind one door stood the opportunity to create the nearest thing to utopia that has ever existed. Behind the other was a path paved with the threat of growing inequality, eroding privacy, the return of fascism, conflict and then, at the end, stood dystopia.

The great pandemic of 2020 has pushed us much closer to both of these doors.

Why is this? Because technology is mutating. Thanks to Covid-19, the transformation will accelerate. Extraordinary change will follow, but nothing in our evolution has prepared us.

The consequences are terrifying. They are also wonderful.

We can emerge from the technology shift that is occurring triumphant, basking in the glory that is human civilisation. We can enjoy a kind of utopia, but we risk descending into a totalitarian nightmare.

If you want to see opportunity triumph over defeat, hope over despair, then join the debate.

The above words are taken from the Techopia website which describes the book “Living in the Age of the Jerk”.

Michael Baxter, one of the co-authors of “Living in the Age of the Jerk”, will be joining London Futurists in this online event to share some key ideas from his book and to answer questions from the audience.

This event will be hosted on Zoom. On this occasion, there is no charge to register or to attend.

For more details of the event and for the Zoom link to register to attend, click here.

Note: In case the Zoom registrations for this event have all been allocated by the time you try to register, you may be able to watch a live stream on the London Futurists YouTube channel.

2.) Biostasis 2020 – 24th and 25th October

A few days ago I found the time to watch Dying to be Frozen, a film that is available on iTunes. Here’s the trailer, which starts with some remarks from American TV host Larry King:

The movie is described as follows:

Dying in the prime of her life, a 22-year old woman sets out on a desperate quest to have her head severed and frozen at death. Following her journey, we hear from the leading voices for and against the controversial practice of body freezing, or Cryonics. As we learn about the tumultuous history and key events that have shaped the public view of cryonics, we get healthy doses of humor, hope, and pity for those who practice it, and the loved ones they leave behind.

It’s an impressive film, with quite a lot of material about the history of cryonics that I haven’t seen presented in this way before.

In the movie, the various advocates of cryonics come across as thoughtful, well-informed, and measured. There is also one critic who keeps talking about “pseudoscience” and “faith”, but in my view he has a poor understanding of the true nature of science. Just because there are still some question marks about a piece of research, that isn’t a reason to deny it can be called science. Far from it.

Quite a few of the people featured in that movie will be speaking this weekend at the online Biostasis 2020 event. At time of writing there are still some free tickets left. For more information, and to register, click here.

My own topic at Biostasis 2020 is “Anticipating Changes in Public Attitudes towards Death and Cryonics”. Here’s one of the slides from the current draft of my presentation.

3.) Transtech 2020 – 13th and 14th November

Since I mentioned Transtech 2020 in the previous London Futurists newsletter, the set of speakers announced for that event has come along in leaps and bounds.

As a reminder, here’s how The Transfomative Technology Conference (TTC) is described:

Make a bold leap to redefine wellbeing.

Join the most important annual event for Human Wellbeing and Tech.

This year’s conference is an inflection point – where you’ll discover future opportunities and current cases enabling a radically ambitious goal to make human wellbeing exponential.

The TTC is where you’ll meet the founders, investors and innovators in Wellbeing Tech.

And as another reminder, members and friends of London Futurists can use the promo code LondonFuturistsVIP to secure a 15% discount on the registration costs.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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