Alternative pasts, alternative futures

Dear Futurists

1.) The pandemic that should never have happened

It’s the view of the speaker at tomorrow’s London Futurists webinar, journalist Debora MacKenzie, that COVID-19 is “the pandemic that never should have happened”.

In the five weeks since tomorrow’s event was arranged, a new description for the COVID-19 pandemic has also become sadly pertinent: “a pandemic whose second wave is becoming more serious than should have been the case”.

But each of these counterfactuals pale before the possibility that, not too far into the future, humanity may face a pandemic that could be significantly more dangerous than COVID-19.

To hear the arguments about these scenarios, and to have the chance to join in the conversation, follow the links on this meetup page. That will take you to a Zoom registration page.

In case all the Zoom webinar registration slots for this event have been used up before you secure one for yourself, you can also view the event as a live stream on the London Futurists YouTube channel.

2.) How We Can Repair the World in One Generation

For the London Futurists webinar on Saturday 28th November, our speaker will be Simon Anholt, the creator and publisher of the Good Country Index.

Simon has advised the presidents, prime ministers and governments of 58 countries over the last 20 years, helping them to engage more imaginatively and effectively with the international community. He has written his most important conclusions into his new book “The Good Country Equation: How We Can Repair the World in One Generation”.

Here’s the primary question addressed in the book:

How is it that, despite all the experience, power, technology, money and knowledge that humanity has accumulated, we are still unable to defeat the global challenges facing us today: climate change, migration, pandemics, extremism, slavery, war, drug trafficking, poverty and inequality?

To find out more about the topics that will be covered at this event, and to register to attend, click here.

3.) Jerks: Technological and social disruptions

In case you missed the most recent London Futurists event, Living in the Age of Jerk, or if you would like to watch parts of it again, here’s a lightly edited recording of what I found to be a fascinating conversation.

Many thanks to all the audience members who raised questions or added useful comments in the real-time chat window.

And a BIG thanks to the speaker, Michael Baxter!

4.) 15 huge ways the world could change by 2035

Earlier this year, I published electronic and paperbook versions of my latest book, “RAFT 2035: Roadmap to Abundance, Flourishing, and Transcendence, by 2035”.

The book set out 15 bold goals for how the world could change by 2035. They’re all huge changes, but I suggested credible steps in each case for how the goal could be achieved.

To the many potential readers of this book who have told me their preference is for audio books, I can now share some good news.

Thanks to some excellent narration by Craig Bowles, an audio version of RAFT 2035 has just been published. Here are the links to the book listing in the UK and the US Audible stores.

If you listen to it and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review!

5.) Neurotech 2020

Taking place online between Monday 30th November and Friday 11th December, Neurotech 2020 describes itself as “The digital congress for neurotechnology innovation and growth”.

Over these two weeks, an impressive set of speakers from around the world will address key neurotech growth subjects: consumer technology, research and development, clinical innovation, longevity and investment. Further details and free tickets can be found at www.neurotech2020.com.

Sessions will start each day at 4pm UK time.

My presentation at Neurotech 2020 will take place on Tuesday 8th December. The title is “From enhanced phones to enhanced brains”. Here’s the abstract:

Over the last twenty years, mobile phones have grown enormously more capable. Virtually every aspect of human life has been transformed as a result. Over the next twenty years, a similar transformation may take place, not in the devices we hold in our hands, but in the operation of the brains inside our skulls. What are the lessons from the remarkable successes – and many failures – of the smartphone industry, for the emerging neurotech industry?

Neurotech 2020 is free to attend, though there’s also an option to purchase a VIP ticket with additional benefits.

6.) Thoughts on the future – and past – of AI

I’ve recently taken part as the guest in a couple of episodes of the “AI and You” podcast which is hosted by Peter J. Scott of Human Cusp.

Previous guests in the podcast include names that will be familiar to some of you, as well as fascinating thinkers who deserve to become better known.

There’s lots to be learned from these discussions.

Click here if you want to hear what I had to say – about topics such as the possible ways AI might improve, stage by stage, from its present state, towards superhuman artificial intelligence.

7.) The Longevity Dialogues

From options for the future of AI, to options for the future of healthy longevity…

Mark Sackler already runs a very thoughtful “Seeking Delphi” podcast, which he introduces with this quote from Lao Tzu:

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Mark is now creating a special strand inside Seeking Delphi which he calls “The Longevity Dialogues”. Along with XPrize innovation board member and founder of the Longevity Vision Fund, Sergey Young, and transhumanist revolutionary Jose Cordeiro, I took part in the opening dialogue in this new series.

In that discussion, we explored some of the challenges and logistics involved in implementing radical life extension, as well as the implications for the very meaning of human life, should we attain it. Here’s a video recording:

The second dialogue will be recorded from 8pm UK time on Monday, 9th November, when the subject will be “Selling the Science”. Attendance at the recording is restricted to a small number of participants, but if any of you think you have a strong case to be included, drop me a note. (In case I fail to reply quickly to you, it probably means that the tickets have already been allocated, sorry!)

8.) Humanity Unshackled

From options for the future of AI, and options for the future of healthy longevity, to options for the future of transhumanism…

Let me draw your attention to another new podcast and radio show, “Humanity Unshackled”. The announcement is here:

Humanity Unshackled brings a fresh perspective to the subject of transhumanism – the vision that people all around the world can be liberated from the shackles of the human condition.

Guests on Humanity Unshackled will explore the viability and scalability of technologies key to transhumanism: regenerative medicine, mental augmentation, robotic automation of work, cyborg implants and exoskeletons, nanoscale molecular factories, biological reprogramming, abundant sustainable energy, uplifting animal species, journeys into both outer and inner space, and much more.

The show asks some vital questions. With all the capabilities of these new technologies, what could go wrong? And what could go wonderfully well? How should human systems of economics, politics, philosophy, and religion transform in the light of these dramatic possibilities? What will happen to our work, rest, and play? And what lies in the future for the age-old circle of life and death?

For Humanity Unshackled, no subject is taboo. Each episode features a number of guests with different perspectives and forthright opinions, but with a shared conviction that the discussion of transhumanist possibilities needs to reach the general public as quickly as possible. As the presenters point out, transhumanism is too explosive to leave to transhumanists!

The first episode is “Hopes, Dreams, and Definitions”. Along with regular presenters Rusty Burridge and David Wood, the episode features Kate Levchuk, founder of Transpire and Kate Goes Tech.

To listen to the episode, click below:

Or you can:

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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1 Response to Alternative pasts, alternative futures

  1. It all sounds quite interesting.

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