Anticipating a sea-change in public attitude

Dear Futurists,

What changes the world? Sometimes an individual person can change the world. Consider Napoleon, Margaret Thatcher, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, Catherine the Great, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Sometimes an invention changes the world. Consider the printing press, the steam engine, the Haber Bosch process to synthesise ammonia and transform agriculture, the Gatling machine gun, fractional reserve banking, the nuclear bomb, and the computer.

And sometimes it’s an idea, at the right time, which changes the world. Consider the idea of salvation by faith alone. Evolution by natural selection. The germ theory of infectious diseases.

And sometimes it’s an anticipation which can change the world – an anticipation of an idea, an anticipation of an invention, and an anticipation of radically improved circumstances in the lives of individuals all over the world.

We futurists need to pay attention to scenarios in which all four of the above types of factor play leading roles. That’s the subject of several of the news items that follow.

1.) Anticipating an accelerating anticipation of Longevity Escape Velocity

“Think about a situation in which, less than five years from now, perhaps in a period of about a week, half of the developed world is going to shift from an expectation that they will live only slightly longer than their parents did, into an expectation that they could live far longer than anyone has ever lived before.”

With these words in a recent Foresight Institute podcast episode, biorejuvenation researcher and activist Aubrey de Grey urges an “anticipation of anticipation” regarding the scientific conquest of aging.

As Aubrey points out, the growing realisation that therapies to reverse aging could become available within just a few decades is going to cause a profound sea-change in public attitudes. There will be a major dislocation in the kinds of things the general public desires: changes in the organisation of healthcare systems, health and life insurance, pensions, inheritance arrangements, allocation of funds to research, and other big ticket items.

In the absence of good forethought, this could be a traumatic period of time. It could make pale in comparison a lot of what currently occupies people’s minds.

How should people interested in the future help society prepare for that sea-change transition in attitude? And what can and should be done to accelerate and steer that transition?

In our London Futurists webinar on Saturday 17th July, Aubrey will be sharing his analysis of recent developments in the fast-moving field of biorejuvenation technology, offering suggestions regarding potential large changes in public attitudes, and answering audience questions.

For more details of this webinar, and for links to the Zoom registration page, click here.

As a reminder, the setup of our Zoom webinars cater for audiences of up to 100 participants, who can raise questions in the live Q&A window, vote on the questions that others have raised, and exchange ideas in the chat. It’s also possible to watch these webinars on our YouTube channel, as a live stream, or, later, as a recording. If the Zoom registration slots have all been booked before you reach it, you can switch to YouTube instead.

2.) The future of Transhumanist Studies, with Dr Natasha Vita-More

Sea-changes in public attitude don’t come out of the blue. They can be catalysed and steered by the timely spreading of key ideas, memorable images, and engaging narratives.

In other words, the world can be changed by education.

Our webinar on Saturday 31st July will feature a new educational initiative: Transhumanist Studies. Who better to tell us about the vision, progress, and plans for Transhumanist Studies than the lead course designer and presenter, Dr Natasha Vita-More?

Since the 1980s, Natasha has been a thinker, designer, mover, and shaker within what has become the worldwide transhumanist community. She has a unique perspective on how the movement has evolved and the challenges and opportunities it faces. It’s her view that transhumanism is particularly relevant in light of ongoing changes in the public perception of technological possibilities, human potential, and accelerating cultural evolution.

Here’s how she describes Transhumanist Studies:

Transhumanism is an intellectual and cultural movement that supports the ethical use of technology and evidence-based science to improve the human condition.

“This course examines the primary ideas that define the philosophy, emphasizing its views on human evolution, social change, emerging technologies, longevity sciences, healthy ecology, and the future potential of humanity. Our portfolio of knowledge includes learning about transhumanist research that reaches across science, technology, philosophy, ethics and the arts, to develop a practical approach responsive to our changing understanding of ourselves and the world.”

In this webinar, Natasha will be sharing her views on the need for Transhumanist Studies, the course material that’s already available, the roadmap for new courses, and how people can become involved in this important project. She’ll also be answering audience questions on the past, present, and future of transhumanism.

For more details of this webinar, and for links to the Zoom registration page, click here.

3.) Vital Foresight – now available

Proof copies of my new book Vital Foresight reached me recently. After some careful checks, I was happy to give my approval. Accordingly, this book is now available in both Kindle and paperback versions.

This page gives links to online stores. It also contains an extract from the Preface to the book, an outline table of contents, and some feedback from early readers.

Here’s a review that has been posted to Amazon:

Excellent, provocative, and informative – a must for fans of the future!

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 June 2021, by Steve Wells

Vital Foresight: The Case For Active Transhumanism is a wonderfully constructed proposition that well conducted foresight can help society to navigate the opportunity that “Active Transhumanism” represents in enabling a future world that provides abundance for all through the use of technology. The Transhumanist movement has its detractors, but David skilfully underpins his proposition with research into good and bad foresight, the implications of each, and then explores the future potential of an Active Transhumanist mindset. One might think this book would be a heavy read, but David’s use of language lightens the load, explains ideas, concepts, and arguments with great clarity which is engaging and moves along at a wonderful pace. If you are a Transhumanist, Transhumanist-Curious or simply interesting in the future this is an excellent, provocative and informative.

And this is on Goodreads, by Yates Buckley:

The author has put together a complete evaluation of Transhuman thinking and how it fits within current socio-political perspectives. He includes many of the most common critiques and thoughtful responses to these.

He argues for a more active role in this movement to avoid existential risks facing humanity and to be prepared for unpredictable synergy between technological developments in NBIC (nano info bio cogno).

The book is not short but could be even longer and cover areas like philosophical objections to Transhumanism, and technological risk.

I’ll be grateful for any other reviews that any reader of Vital Foresight is able to post, on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other online site.

And I’m now ready to take part in all sorts of events, podcasts, etc, to explore themes covered in the book. My webpage at deltawisdom.com suggests some potential themes for such discussions:

  • Foresight: good, bad, and vital
  • Transforming the future of Artificial Intelligence
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution: major shocks ahead
  • The abolition of aging – a brighter future within our grasp
  • Technology and the radical transformation of politics
  • The Singularity: the reality behind the hype
  • The case for active transhumanism
  • Prospects for sustainable superabundance
  • The vital syllabus: uplifting education for the 2020s
  • Smartphones and beyond: learning from Symbian
  • Thriving in times of profound change

4.) What is the Future of Work? – Vichaar Manthan, this Saturday, 7pm

One event where I’ll be exploring some themes from Vital Foresight is at the Vichaar Manthan (VM) online event this Saturday, from 7pm: “What is the future of work?”

I’ve spoken at one of their events before, in a real-life gathering in Leicester in 2018. I found them to be an engaged, thoughtful, well-informed, open community.

The organisation explains its name as follows:

Vichaar (vi’chār): Ideas & thoughts; Manthan (man’than): churning.

Our mission is to provide a Hindu platform for earnest thinkers, to permeate earnest ideas throughout society and to build a better cohesive yet plural society.

Learn, Live and Share Hindu ideas via VM, a platform for earnest thinkers.

This is from the description of the event:

Our world is changing! Are we prepared to face it?

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D printing, biotechnology and virtual reality are changing how we work and live. Will millions of jobs become obsolete, and mankind be made insignificant? Or will technology free humanity from mundane work to explore the heights of culture? Will we live in a utopia, or should we be fearing a dystopia – a world where a few corporations control everything and power is exploitative?

What will our working lives look like in 30 years’ time? How does dharma inform us in navigating through the uncertainty?

For more details, and to register to attend, click here.

5.) Consensual Debating for Citizens’ Assemblies – Thursday

One strong prerequisite for a better future is a better democracy – systems that enable and encourage a constructive consensus between diverse parts of society.

This is not a matter of allowing the loudest voices to prevail – or the ones with the most financing, the most control of media, or with the most devious skills in manipulating perceptions. Instead, it’s a matter of facilitating the best insights to come to the surface, and to shape and transform the debates ahead of democratic decisions being taken.

One person who has thought long and hard about these possibilities is Tony Czarnecki of the Sustensis think tank.

Tony writes as follows:

Imagine that you want to sign a parliamentary petition. But when you read the details, you realize you only partially agree with the proposal. Since there no option allowing you to suggest your own modified version you abstain are reluctantly sign. But that doesn’t have to be like that if we implement entirely new solutions partially enabled by the advanced digital technology. This is what Consensual Debating is about. Together with other innovations, such as Citizens’ Assemblies it may contribute to long overdue deep reform of democracy.

Consensual Debating can be used at any level of governance, including parliaments or local council, whenever complex policies are to be debated. Apart from using it for tens of participants, like at a parliamentary committee, it can also be used for tens of thousands of participants, like at the current Conference on the Future of Europe, debating thousands of topics simultaneously and coming to an agreement in a consensual way perhaps 100 times faster (in a few days rather than in months).

Tony is the lead speaker at an online mini-conference this Thursday (tomorrow).

The event is “Consensual Debating for Citizens’ Assemblies” and is described as follows:

There are already over 5,000 ideas on the Conference on the Future of Europe digital platform. There are also many Citizens’ Assemblies linked to that Conference and set up in various countries. How could we make such debates more effective and much shorter?

This the subject of this webinar, where we will explain the entire ‘know how’ of Consensual Debating, which is particularly well-suited for complex political debates. It has been developed by combining Sustensis’ concept of Digitized Structured Content, with digitized debates developed by POLIS and applied in many countries such as the USA, UK, Australia or Taiwan. It allows tens of thousands of participants to debate thousands of topics simultaneously and come to an agreement in a consensual way in a few days rather than in months.

Sustensis has set up Euro Agora to facilitate such debates with Consensual Debating. There are already over 50 structured Ideas (topics) related to improving the European Democracy, logically grouped into 9 main topics:

  1. Consensual Debating
  2. Values and Responsibilities
  3. Consensual Democracy
  4. Citizens Assemblies
  5. Federalism
  6. Constitution
  7. Parliament
  8. Elections
  9. President

For more details about this event, and how to register to take part, click here.

6.) Anticipating TransVision 2021 – Madrid, October 8-10

2021 – and before that, most of 2020 – has been a time of limited international travel. Most conferences and events have been online. My own last trip abroad was on the 1st of March, 2020.

However, the odds are looking good for people to be able and willing to travel to Madrid, the capital of Spain, for TransVision 2021, which is taking place 8-10 October (with some optional extra excursions on the following two days).

The conference is described as follows:

Spain will host the next world futurist summit on October 8, 9 and 10, 2021. HumanityPlus will be the main international organizer of this world congress. TransVision 2021 collaborates with leading associations and organizations working on futuristic concepts such as longevity extension, artificial intelligence, human enhancement and other future technologies and trends.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen extraordinary progress, and we expect to see much more in the next 20 years. One wonders, what will the future bring? Science and technology should lead the way! 

The topics covered at TransVision 2021 will be very broad, from recent medical advances, to artificial intelligence and robotics. The first keynote speakers will be Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey. In addition, TransVision 2021 will feature other keynote presentations, such as those from pioneers of the futurist movement Natasha Vita-More and Ben Goertzel, and members of HumanityPlus and other leading institutions.

For more details of the event, and to book your tickets at reduced prices, click here.

I’m really looking forward to it!

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

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