The noise and the signal

Dear Futurists,

Never in human history has there been so much noise.

I’m referring, not to auditory bangs and crashes, but to informational noise – to the flurry of ideas that can saturate our minds and leave us psychologically deafened. As a result, it takes real effort to discern the information that would actually be most valuable to us.

1.) Three types of noise

This noise floods toward us through multiple different communications channels. It has three aspects:

  1. Deliberate distortions – when someone has created narratives intended to distract us, confuse us, or intimidate us;
  2. A swamp of mediocrity – when our attention becomes preoccupied by material that has some innate interest, but which is of lesser overall importance given the existential challenges and opportunities of the present time;
  3. Lack of alignment – when we hear isolated bits of truly significant messages, but lack an appropriate vantage point to integrate these different individual perceptions together.

An analogy for the third category of noise is if we heard eight separate tracks of a recording of a glorious piece of music, but these tracks were misaligned in their timing. Instead of harmony, we hear cacaphony.

London Futurists is committed to rising above all three types of informational noise, so that we can, as soon as possible, perceive more clearly the vital signals of both danger and solution.

Spotting these crucial signals in the midst of so much noise is a hard, hard task. However, in our favour we have the benefit of the size and wisdom of the extended London Futurists community. What we are unable to perceive as individuals, we can more easily perceive as an engaged, open network of researchers, activists, and scouts.

Also in our favour we have some unusual ways of looking at the world – the paradigms that can start to make sense of apparently diverse perceptions. It’s like finding the right location in a room, where the audio tracks from eight different loudspeakers coincide at our ears with their original intended alignment rather than a muffle of pandemonium.

To switch the metaphor one more time, it’s like being able to see the entire elephant, rather than being locked into a blindfolded perception of just the trunk of the creature, or just its ears, or just its tusks, or so on.

2.) The Programmed Younging Theory of Aging and Rejuvenation

The metaphor of the blindfolded observers and the elephant features in what has come to be called “the programmed younging theory of aging and rejuvenation”.

As you may guess, the name is in deliberate contrast to the various “programmed aging” theories that argue that evolution has favoured mechanisms in which individual members of a species age (grow weaker) over time. Why do we age? Because evolution has programmed us that way, say these theories. Not so fast, comes the rejoinder from the programmed younging theory.

The programmed younging theory has been developed by two independent longevity researchers, Vincent Giuliano and Steve Buss. They presented their ideas at a London Futurists event in November last year (recording here). In the wake of that public discussion, the “younging team” has grown from the initial two researchers to a group of five who hold weekly progress review meetings.

Vincent and Steve are returning to London Futurists this Saturday, to share an update on their findings. On this occasion, they will focus on practical interventions that (they say) can already trigger the younging mechanisms built deep into our biology. Once again, they have an image of an elephant to illustrate their ideas.

The picture might look daunting, with its collection of acronyms: EWOT, PEMF, PBM…

But as I said earlier, the merit of a good perspective – a valuable paradigm – is that it accelerates understanding of a number of different individual ideas.

That’s what Vincent and Steve, Saturday’s speakers, told me in a pre-meetup conversation yesterday. From the perspective their team is developing, the various interventions that feature in this image suddenly make a lot more sense. They move from being weird isolated observations into part of an interconnected explanation.

If you want to dive deeper into this set of ideas before Saturday, you can find lots of fascinating material on the Anti-Aging Firewalls website that Vincent Giuliano has been publishing since January 2009.

However, the event on Saturday will be self-contained, without assuming any prior familiarity with this set of ideas. For more details, and to register to attend, click here.

I’m looking forward to an excellent discussion about practical measures that each of us can take, here and now, to improve our healthspan, our vigour, and our vitality.

With improved physical health, we’ll be able to apply ourselves more effectively to the other great challenges of the present time. That brings me to the Vital Syllabus project.

3.) The Vital Syllabus: Project Update 2

The Vital Syllabus is all about identifying and elevating the signal over the noise.

It seeks to highlight the skills that will make the biggest difference to the prospects for humanity having a comprehensively better future.

The project has made considerable steps forward in recent weeks. At the time of writing, there are now 105 videos embedded into the various syllabus pages. The project has also benefited from additional publicity: it featured in “The Alternative” publication a few days ago.

There’s an opportunity on Tuesday next week (12th April) to take part in a Vital Syllabus project update meeting.

People who have attended a previous Vital Syllabus project get-together, or who have already visited the project Slack, will be encouraged on this occasion to:

  1. Suggest at least one new video or other online resource that should be added onto the Syllabus webpages; or
  2. Give reasons as to why one or more of the existing videos are actually unsuitable – perhaps you disagree with their content, or find their presentation style uninspiring or boring, or simply think the subject matter (whilst interesting) is insufficiently “vital”; or
  3. Make another constructive suggestion about the project objectives, operation, architecture, or processes.

People for whom this will be their first Vital Syllabus get-together will be welcome to listen quietly in background – though any suggestions or comments you make will be welcome too!

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

4.) Selected partner events

I’ll close by highlighting a couple of “Future Frontiers” events organised by Fast Future.

They’re scheduled for Thursday 21st April and Thursday 28th April. In each case, there’s a choice of timeslot to attend, since the meeting is held twice:

  • From 09:00-09:45 UK (= 10:00-10:45 Central European Time, etc)
  • Repeated 14:00-14:45 UK (= 15:00-15:45 CET, 09:00-09:45 US East Coast time, etc)

The event on 21st April is Exponential Technologies – a Ten Year Perspective:

  • Drawing on a ten year deep dive of over 400 technologies, this session will examine how technologies such as AI, blockchain, computing platforms, and  communications architectures might evolve and the transformational opportunities they could enable.

The event on 28th April is Cities of the Future – Pathways to 360 Degree Sustainability:

  • This session will provide an exploration of proven practices and powerful new ideas on how to ensure a sustainable future for our cities from community, health, education, and environment through to economy, infrastructure, business, and employment.

Click on the links above for more information and to register to attend.

// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists

PS In addition to the two London Futurists events covered above, three more forthcoming events are already in our calendar. You can find a complete listing here.

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