11.7.12

ANNOUNCEMENT

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18.6.12


Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization, with Ayesha Khanna
Saturday, 23 June 2012, 14:00 until 16:00
Room G16, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London


Technology and innovation strategy expert Ayesha Khanna will be addressing the topic of "Hybrid Reality", as covered in her June 2012 book of the same name.

Here's how the book is described:

What human civilization needs more than anything is not greater IQ or EQ, but TQ: technology quotient.

In their manifesto Hybrid Reality, husband-and-wife team Ayesha & Parag Khanna explore the frontier of the information revolution: The Hybrid Age.

In this era of disruptive technologies, accelerating change, and deep anxiety about the future, the Khannas explain how the “balance of innovation” has superseded the military “balance of power” as a measure of national potential, and provide a global tour of how the smartest countries, cities, and companies are harnessing new technologies to gain an edge. Each of us also needs better TQ to adapt to a future in which robots are normal social actors in our lives, healthcare becomes a vehicle for physical enhancement, academic pedigree dissolves in a global skills market, and virtual currencies enable tax-free transactions.

Whether the future is a dystopian global class struggle over technology or a Pax Technologica of transparency, access and equity will depend on spreading TQ above all else.

Meeting logistics

Room G16 is on the ground floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

As desired, coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ

The meeting is free to attend - no charge.

About the speaker

http://ayeshakhanna.com/

Ayesha Khanna is Founder and Director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory group focused on human-technology co-evolution, geotechnology and innovation. She is a Partner at K2S Advisors which provides strategic and financial advisory services in smart and sustainable cities, technology and infrastructure. She is also a Faculty Advisor at Singularity University and directs the Future Cities group at the London School of Economics.

A technology and innovation strategy expert, Ayesha has over ten years of experience advising clients and cities on scenario analysis, product development, digital branding and customer experience. Her clients have included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, American International Group, and Deutsche Bank. Ayesha is frequently interviewed in the media and was featured by the New York Times. She is a regular speaker at industry, marketing, and academic conferences related to emerging technology trends and intelligent cities.

5.5.12

Envisioning the future of technology

Saturday 26th May, 2pm-4pm
Room 415, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London

We're fortunate to have as our lead speaker Michell Zappa, a London-based emerging technology strategist. Michell has spent his life between São Paulo, Stockholm & Amsterdam. His work, called Envisioning Technology, focuses on explaining where society is heading in the near future by extrapolating on current technological developments.

In an attempt to make sense of the future of technology, Michell will explain his "sci-fi scaffolding" methodology to fellow futurists. Still in development, the methodology approaches the outlook of emerging technologies from a combinatorial point of view, extrapolating a series of highly speculative sci-fi scenarios by looking at existing trends.

For an introduction to Michell's work, see http://envisioningtech.com which sets out plausible timelines over the next 30 years for changes in 11 different technology areas: AI, Internet, Interfaces, Sensors, Ubicomp, Robotics, Biotech, Materials, Energy, Space, and Geotech. As Michell suggests, the true worth of this analysis is "when you start connecting the dots between the individual technologies and start thinking about the critical paths between them".

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions, make suggestions, and to contribute to the debate:

*) How well can we foresee the likely changes of the next 30 years? How does the "sci-fi scaffolding" methodology compare to other forecasting approaches?

*) Which combinations of change from different technology areas are the most likely?

*) Which would cause the biggest disruptions?

*) And should a better knowledge of likely future changes cause changes in our present-day behaviours and beliefs?

Location

 Room 415 is on the fourth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

As desired, coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ

The meeting is free to attend - no charge.

2.10.11

Beyond Human: Rethinking the Technological Extension of the Human Condition

Organised by Humanity+ UK, with support from Virtual Futures, London Futurists, and Zero State.

Logistics

Saturday, 8th October 2011: 9.30am-5.45pm.
This event will be held in lecture room B34 in the Malet Street building (the main building) of Birkbeck College.  This is located in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square), London WC1E 7HX.  (Map – PDF)  Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations. The event is free to attend.  There’s no need to register in advance. However, the room may become full, so it would be prudent to arrive on time.

Agenda

Details subject to minor revisions

09.30: Finding the room, networking, chatting
09.45: Opening remarks
10.00: Beyond human: The science and engineering
12.00: Lunch break
13.00: Beyond human: Implications and controversies
15.00: Extended coffee break
15.45: Beyond human: Getting involved
17.45: Room closes

Speakers and panellists

Note: speakers’ views are their own, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the organisations supporting this event.

Amon Zero

Amon Zero is the founder and leader of Zero State: “a new transhumanist movement, exploring the impact of accelerating technical growth on society, economics, politics, and the human condition through science and art”. Amon is also the founder of Xykogen, a London-based electronic band, which was established in 2004, and a researcher in Cognitive Science at University College London.
At Beyond Human, Amon will be one of two speakers representing Zero State (the other is David Pearce), and will be giving a talk entitled “A New Transhumanism”. He will be speaking about the current state of transhumanism as a movement, the role of Zero State within that movement, and emerging modes of transhumanist activism.  For more details, see Amon’s recent blogpost:
…As the old trope goes, technology is neither intrinsically good nor evil, oppressive or liberating. If you don’t want technology to end up being the tool of Transhumanism’s political and social opponents, you – and yes, I mean you – need to get personally active. Now.
…We are arguably now on the verge of a fourth phase in the development of the Transhumanist movement.
…To put it simply: I believe that the time is right to take our message to a much wider circle of people, and to apply Transhumanist logic to contemporary problems. The future is at the gates, and it is time for us to do something about it.

Anders Sandberg

Anders Sandberg is a James Martin research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. As a part of the Oxford Martin School he is involved in interdisciplinary research on cognitive enhancement, neurotechnology, global catastrophic risks, emerging technologies and applied rationality. He has been writing about and debating transhumanism, future studies, neuroethics and related questions for a long time. He is also an associate of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, as well as co-founder of the Swedish think tank Eudoxa.

At Beyond Human, Anders will talk on “Boosting Brains 2011: how far have we come?” This presentation will assess smart drugs and other biomedical techniques, as well as some broader methods of brain enhancement, such as collective cognition.

Ayesha Khanna

Ayesha Khanna is Founder and Director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory think tank focused on the intersection of technology trends, data intelligence and geopolitics. A technology and innovation strategy expert, Ayesha has over ten years of experience advising clients on scenario analysis, product development, digital branding and customer experience. Her clients have included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, American International Group, and Deutsche Bank. Ayesha is frequently interviewed in the media and was recently featured by the New York Times. She is a regular speaker at industry, marketing, and academic conferences related to emerging technology trends and intelligent cities.
Ayesha is the author of Straight Through Processing (Reed Elsevier, 2007), and was series editor of The Complete Technology Guides published by Reed Elsevier. She has written for publications such as BusinessWeek, TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, Strategy+Business, and Foreign Policy. She also blogs on human technology co-evolution at Big Think. In Aug 2011, she co-authored the lead essay on how technology comes to life for the Foreign Policy magazine issue titled “The Future is Now”.

Ayesha is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation, a Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and co-curator of TEDxGotham. In 2010, she co-chaired the Innovation Advisory Board for the New York City congressional campaign of Reshma Saujani.  She has a BA (honors) in Economics from Harvard University, an MS in Operations Research from Columbia University and is writing her PhD in Information Systems and Innovation at the London School of Economics.
At Beyond Human, Ayesha will talk about “Designing Cities of the Future”.

Brian Degger

Brian Degger is a scientist, part time cryptozoologist,  interdisciplinary researcher, and artist, based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK with a doctorate in biotechnology from Queensland University of Technology.  He has contributed to research on a broad range of topics including fish growth factors, developmentally regulated proteins, freshwater fish population studies, artists use of cutting edge technology and locative technologies.

In interdisciplinary contexts in the arts, Brian has worked with Blast Theory(UK) on developing and performing I Like Frank in Adelaide,(Fringe Festival 2004). He assisted Ken Rinaldo with installing AutoTelematic Spiderbots as part of AVFest06Newcastle upon Tyne and recently been in the team that developed infected textiles with lead artist Anna Dumitriu as part of the LabLife project (lighthouse arts, 2011).  His ongoing research is on understanding the relationship between creators (artists and scientists) and their biofacts/model organism systems.

At Beyond Human, Brian will talk about “Getting to know your inner microbes”.

David Pearce

David Pearce is an independent researcher and vegan animal activist based in Brighton UK.  In 1995, he wrote an online manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative, advocating the use of biotechnology to abolish suffering throughout the living world. He predicts that our descendants will be animated by gradients of cerebral bliss orders of magnitude richer than anything accessible today.  He has also written on the philosophy of mind and perception; utilitarian ethics; psychopharmacology; life extension; cognitive enhancement technologies; mood enrichment; genetic recalibration of the hedonic treadmill; ecosystem redesign; reprogramming predators; and – more speculatively – on a posthuman future based on “paradise engineering”.  In 1998, in collaboration with Nick Bostrom, David Pearce set up the World Transhumanist Association – subsequently rebranded as Humanity+.

At Beyond Human, David will speak on “The Anti-Speciesist Revolution”:
“Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Each year humanity kills over 50 billion sentient beings. We confine and kill our animal cousins in ways that would earn the abuser a life sentence in prison if our victims were human. This talk will explore how Humanity+ can overcome the moral and cognitive limitations that have shaped our traditional relationship with members of other races and species. Can transhumanists consistently support the commitment in the Transhumanist Declaration to the well-being of all sentience without adopting a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle? How close are technologies that will allow us to abolish the biology of experience below hedonic zero throughout the living world? What kind of “sentience explosion” do we want to create in our forward light-cone?

David Wood

David Wood has spent 23 years designing, developing, and avidly using embedded software for mobile devices – helping to create PDAs at Psion and then smartphones at Symbian.  He is presently working on a major project for Accenture Mobility Services.  He has been Meetings Secretary of Humanity+ UK since March 2008.  He has a BA in Mathematics from Cambridge University and an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Westminster.  In September 2009 he was included in T3 magazine’s list of “100 most influential people in technology”.  In 2010 he featured in the world’s first Augmented Reality CV.
David’s talk at Beyond Human, “From superphones to superhumans?” will set the scene for the event:
The dramatic evolution of mobile technology from 2000-2010 supported the vision of “smartphones for all” – increasingly ubiquitous mobile handsets, delivering more and more functionality. These devices are now so powerful that they have been given a new name: “superphones”.
The period 2011-2015 will follow the additional vision of “smartphone technology everywhere” – increasingly inexpensive, miniature, and reliable technology components, matured in the heat of the smartphone revolution, can now be recombined in numerous new ways inside different product form factors – such as tablet computers, automobile dashboards, mobile medical equipment, wearable computers, and smart connected robots. Since these devices have smartphone technology submerged inside them, they have been called “subphones”.
With a slightly longer timescale in mind, the period 2011-2030 could be described as “from superphones to superhumans”. The same broad accelerating technology improvements which are resulting in superphones and subphones have the potential to provide humans with greater strength, speed, intelligence, and longevity.  The movement that champions this development is called “Humanity+”.  But what can the recent history of  technology accelerators and decelerators lead us to expect about future progress?  And aren’t there profound dangers of enabling powerful superhumans without first ensuring greater kindness, insight, wisdom, and cooperation?

Kerstin Dautenhahn

Kerstin Dautenhahn is Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Adaptive Systems Research Group, School of Computer Science, The University of Hertfordshire.  Her main areas of research are Human-Robot Interaction, Social Robotics, Socially Intelligent Agents, and Artificial Life.  With respect to robot-human interaction she thinks in terms of building robots as “friendly” partners, showing interesting behaviours and/or dynamic types of movement; robots as toys to entertain people and help children with special needs to relate to the environment (see project AURORA), or service robots as helpful assistants and companions in home scenarios.  As one of many examples of media interest in her work, the Guardian has published an article on “At home with the android family”, including a video featuring the robot KASPAR.
At Beyond Human, Kerstin will talk on the subject “Robots as helpful companions”.

Luke Robert Mason

Luke Robert Mason is a researcher, filmmaker and digital media artist. Having recently graduated from the University of Warwick, he will be joining Philter Phactory early next month as their Research Director, helping to develop their post-user software Weavrs.com.

His work deals with issues of cyberculture, the post-user web and infomorphology. Mason was also responsible for the revival of the cult cyber-conference conference Virtual Futures which aimed to reconnect the University of Warwick with one of the most important intellectual and cultural developments of our times – the technological extension of the human condition.
More details can be found here at the website Virtual Futures on the Warwick Knowledge Centre.
At Beyond Human, Mason will speak about “The post-user net: infomorphology and being human”.

Philip Moriarty

Philip Moriarty is a Professor of Physics and an Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham. His research interests span a number of topical themes in nanometre scale science with a particular recent focus on single atom/molecule manipulation. He is currently Chair of the Institute of Physics Nanoscale Physics and Technology Group committee, a member of the Science Board of the Institute of Physics, and was a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team for Physics from 2005 – 2006.

Moriarty has a keen interest in public engagement/outreach activities and science funding policy and, in addition to being involved in a number of research council-funded projects in these areas, has interacted with national and international media (including The Independent, The Guardian, Times Higher Education, BBC Radio 4 and Die Zeit) on these issues. He is also a regular contributor to Nottingham’s Sixty Symbols YouTube project which has, as of August 2011, attracted a total of 6.2 million views (across ~150 videos).
At Beyond Human Moriarty will discuss the viability of a molecular manufacturing capability based on nanoassemblers and nanofactories – the essence of what is known as Drexlerian nanotechnology. His presentation “From single atom manipulation to nanofactories: An impossible or an improbable dream?” will focus on the fundamental science and technical challenges underpinning the manipulation of matter at the atomic and sub-atomic levels.

Sarah Marr

Sarah Marr is a co-founder and Executive Vice-President of SENS Foundation, dividing the majority of her time between London and California. She is also on the Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation.
Sarah has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, from the University of Oxford, and another in Theoretical Physics, from Imperial College London, where she also built the prototype web portal for the European grid computing network of the Large Hadron Collider.

Her postgraduate studies include a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester, specializing in the nature of cultural misappropriation in Western subcultures and concepts of the body, the self and ‘belonging’. She has a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Imperial College London, covering the quantum and relativistic properties of black holes in discrete spacetimes.

Her previous position was as the Head of Operations of the UK political think-tank, Demos, where she also co-authored a global survey of public service design practices.

In the 1990s she spent several years as a business and IT consultant with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), working on a variety of projects from systems analysis to the streamlining of European, Middle Eastern and Asian operations.

As well as writing about, and presenting, the Foundation’s work, she has previously been awarded a place on the Science Writing Project, run by The Arvon Foundation and the 1851 Commission, popularizing science concepts through their appearance in Shakespeare’s works. She has written for the Times Higher Education Supplement, and worked with artists from London’s Royal College of Art, providing publicity copy and reviews.

She is a keen photographer, with her last show, Pause, showing in London, in October, 2009.
At Beyond Human, Sarah will talk about “SENS Foundation and the Future of Rejuvenation Biotechnology”:
SENS Foundation works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address the disabilities and diseases of aging.
The Foundation catalyses progress toward a comprehensive panel of rejuvenation biotechnologies through its growing global networks and collaborations, and through key research projects, executed in its own Research Center and numerous affiliated universities, research organizations and other centers of excellence.

Stefano Vaj

Stefano Vaj is the secretary of the Associazione Italiana Transumanisti, and one of the organisers of Transvision 2010. He served as a professor in New Technologies Law at the University of Padua, is a journalist, a writer and a practising lawyer.

A member of the editorial board of Divenire: Rassegna di Studi Interdisciplinari sulla Tecnica e il postumano, Stefano Vaj is the author of, inter alia, of Biopolitica: Il nuovo paradigma (http://www.biopolitica.it). An English translation of another book (Dove va la biopolitica?) will shortly become available.

Stefano Vaj will talk on “The End of Eschatological Narratives: From Posthumanism to a Posthuman Change, or How to Make A Singularity Happen”.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller is the Auguste Comte Professor in Social Epistemology, the Department of Sociology, the University of Warwick.  He graduated from Columbia University in History & Sociology before gaining an M.Phil. from Cambridge and PhD from Pittsburgh, both in the History and Philosophy of Science.  His major areas of research are the future of the University and critical intellectuals, science and technology studies, the interdisciplinary challenges in the natural and social sciences, and the political and epistemological consequences of the new biology.

Steve’s major publications are: Social Epistemology (1988), Philosophy of Science and its Discontents (2nd edn.)(1993), The Governance of Science: Ideology and the Future of the Open Society (2000), Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History of Our Times (2000), Knowledge Management Foundations (2002), Philosophy, Rhetoric and the End of Knowledge (2nd edn) (2003), Kuhn vs Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science (2003), New Frontiers in Science and Technology Studies (2007), and Science: The Art of Living (2010).

Steve’s talk at Beyond Human will highlight and extend some themes from his forthcoming book “Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human Past, Present and Future“:
Social thinkers in all fields are faced with one unavoidable question: what does it mean to be ‘human’ in the 21st century? As definitions between what is ‘animal’ and what is ‘human’ break down, and as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and nano- and bio- technologies develop, accepted notions of humanity are rapidly evolving.
Humanity 2.0 is an ambitious and groundbreaking book, offering a sweeping overview of key historical, philosophical and theological moments that have shaped our understandings of humanity.  Tackling head on the twin taboos that have always hovered over the scientific study of humanity – race and religion – Steve Fuller argues thar far from disappearing, they are being reinvented.
Fuller argues that these new developments will force us to decide which features of our current way of life – not least our bodies – are truly needed to remain human, and concludes with a consideration of these changes for ethical and social values more broadly.

Steve Lowe

Steve Lowe has been an academic policy analyst, IT manager, strategy consultant and corporate financier.  He is currently developing ThinkOfTheFuture.com to deliver various projects associated with innovation and society as well as marketing a consortium of established small services businesses to major organisations.  He is the organizer for the London Futurists Meetup.  His website notes:
Few major corporations of a century ago survive; most failed to adequately prepare for their unfolding futures.  Successful organisations adapt dynamically to what they see ahead.  With masses of external and internal data to digest, key tasks are filtering, identifying and responding to ‘actionable information.  The future is steeped in opportunity.  A better future begins with better future thinking.
At Beyond Human, Steve will talk about “The Billion Year Project”:
The billion year project is a proposed crowd sourcing exercise seeking enthusiastic and knowledgeable supporters to take it forward. At its heart is a novel futures-mapping framework; a highly improbable story and an explanation of how these, plus ultimately input from ‘the crowd’ which can then be applied. The proposed benefits include conflict resolution and future-proofing businesses, through informing public policies, to helping to develop tomorrow’s multiplayer games and virtual worlds.

Food, drink, and refreshments

Due to space constraints at the venue, the event organisers are not able to provide food, drink, or refreshments.  There are a couple of nearby locations inside Birkbeck College (a Fairtrade Costa Coffee in the reception area, and a small kiosk opposite room B34) where some food and drink can be purchased, but these will not be able to cope with 150+ event attendees all arriving at the same time.
However, there are a number of other coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants within 5 minutes walk, such as on Torrington Place.  Simple lunch will also be on sale in the Lunchbox cafeteria in the ULU (University of London Union) building at the end of Malet Street (opposite Waterstone’s, where there’s another Costa Coffee).  Attendees may also wish to bring some refreshments with them.

19.3.11

Post Transcendent Man

To drill down more deeply into the potentially radical implications of Kurzweil’s ideas and projects, the UK chapter of Humanity+ has arranged an event in  Birkbeck College (WC1E 7HX), Torrington Square in Central London on the afternoon (2pm-4.15pm) of Saturday 9th April.  We’ll be in Malet Street lecture room B34 – which seats a capacity audience of 177 people.  For more details about logistics, registration, and so on, see the official event website, or the associated Facebook page.

The event is privileged to feature an outstanding set of speakers and panellists who represent a range of viewpoints about the Singularity, transhumanism, and human transcendence.  In alphabetical order by first name:

Dr Anders Sandberg is a James Martin research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. As a part of the Oxford Martin School he is involved in interdisciplinary research on cognitive enhancement, neurotechnology, global catastrophic risks, emerging technologies and applied rationality. He has been writing about and debating transhumanism, future studies, neuroethics and related questions for a long time. He is also an associate of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, as well as co-founder of the Swedish think tank Eudoxa.

Jaan Tallinn is one of the programmers behind Kazaa and a founding engineer of Skype. He is also a partner in Ambient Sound Investments as well as a member of the Estonian President’s Academic Advisory Board. He describes himself as singularitarian/hacker/investor/physicist (in that order). In recent years Jaan has found himself closely following and occasionally supporting the work that SIAI and FHI are doing. He agrees with Kurzweil in that the topic of Singularity can be extremely counterintuitive to general public, and has tried to address this problem in a few public presentations at various venues.

Nic Brisbourne is a partner at venture capital fund DFJ Esprit and blogger on technology and startup issues at The Equity Kicker. As such he’s interested in when technology and science projects become products and businesses. He has a personal interest in Kurzweil’s ideas and longevity in particular and he says he’s keen to cross the gap from personal to professional and find exciting startups generating products in this area, although he thinks that the bulk of the commercialisation opportunities are still a year or two out.

Paul Graham Raven is a writer, literary critic and bootstrap big-picture futurist; he prods regularly at the fuzzy boundary of the unevenly-distributed future at futurismic.com. He is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The Dreaded Press, a rock music reviews webzine, and Publicist and PR officer for PS Publishing – perhaps the UK’s foremost boutique genre publisher. He says he’s also a freelance web-dev to the publishing industry, a cack-handed fuzz-rock guitarist, and in need of a proper haircut.

Russell Buckley is a leading practitioner, speaker and thinker about mobile and mobile marketing. MobHappy, his blog about mobile technology, is one of the most established focusing on this area. He is also a previous Global Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association, a founder of Mobile Monday in Germany and holds numerous non-executive positions in mobile technology companies. Russell learned about mobile advertising startup, AdMob, soon after its launch, and joined as its first employee in 2006, with the remit of launching AdMob into the EMEA market. Four years later, AdMob was sold to Google for $750m. By night though, Russell is fascinated by the socio-political implications of technology and recently graduated from the Executive Program at the Singularity University, founded by Ray Kurtzweil and Peter Diamandis to “educate and inspire leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges”.

The discussion continues

The event will start, at 2pm, with the panellists introducing themselves, and their core thinking about the topics under discussion.  As chair, I’ll ask a few questions, and then we’ll open up for questions and comments from the audience.  I’ll be particularly interested to explore:
  • How people see the ideas of accelerating technology making a difference in their own lives – both personally or professionally.  Three of us on the stage were on founding teams of companies that made sizeable waves in the technology world (Jaan Tallinn, Skype; Russell Buckley, AdMob; myself, Symbian).  Where do we see rapidly evolving technology (as often covered by Kurzweil) taking us next?
  • People’s own experiences with bodies such as the Singularity University, the Singularity Institute, and the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University.  Are these bodies just talking shops?  Are they grounded in reality?  Are they making a substantial positive difference in how humanity responds to the issues and challenges of technology?
  • Views as to the best way to communicate ideas like the Singularity – favourite films, science fiction, music, and other media.  How does the move “Transcendent Man” compare?
  • Reservations and worries (if any) about the Singularity movement and the ways in which Kurzweil expresses his ideas.  Are the parallels with apocalyptic religions too close for comfort?
  • Individual’s hopes and aspirations for the future of technology.  What role do they personally envision playing in the years ahead?  And what timescales do they see as credible?
  • Calls to action – what (if anything) should members of the audience change about their lives, in the light of analysing technology trends?
Request for help

If you think this is an important event, I’ve got a couple of suggestions for you:

21.2.11

Post Transcendent Man

Responding to Ray Kurzweil’s “Transcendent Man”

The next meeting organised by Humanity+ UK is a panel review and audience discussion on the afternoon of Saturday 9th April 2011.  The subject of the discussion will be the groundbreaking but controversial ideas and projects of Ray Kurzweil, especially as featured in the film Transcendent Man which has its London premier earlier in the same week. 

Ray Kurzweil’s ideas are far-reaching.  They cover many aspects of the ways in which rapidly changing technology is impacting what it means to be human: computers may soon become more intelligent than humans, and humans may soon be able to live indefinitely long.  Biology is merging with technology.  A kind of unpredictable “singularity” in human evolution could be just around the corner.

How credible are these ideas?  What do expert reviewers think about these ideas – and about the way these ideas are portrayed in the film?  What are the highlights – and the lowlights – of the film?  What (if anything) should we do differently, as a result of these ideas?

These (among others) are the questions the panellists are expected to tackle.

Some online reactions to Ray Kurzweil’s life and work

Recommended as useful background reading:
Event logistics

This event will be held in lecture room B34 in the Malet Street building (the main building) of Birkbeck College.  This is located in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square), London WC1E 7HX.  (Map – PDF)  Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

The first speaker will start speaking at 2pm, and the session will close at 4.15pm (although informal discussion is likely to continue for some time in the room afterwards – and subsequently in nearby pubs, for those who wish to explore the ideas further).

Speakers and panellists

The speakers and panellists will represent a range of viewpoints about Ray Kurzweil’s projects and ideas, and a range of different walks of life.

Please check back here later, for more details of the speakers and panellists.

Anybody wishing to join the panel should contact the event organiser, humanityplusuk AT gmail DOT com.

Registration

So that the organisers can keep track of likely attendance, please visit the associated registration site for the event, where you will have an option to:
  • Register as a guest attendee – for zero charge
  • Register as a supporter of the event – for a £10 charge, which will help to cover the costs of room hire and other event organisation.

1.1.11


The Humanity+ UK 2011 conference, being held at London’s Conway Hall on Saturday 29th January, is an opportunity to meet some of the most interesting futurist thinkers in the UK -  to listen to their ideas, hear about the progress of their projects, ask them questions, and debate with them.
The principal theme of the conference is “Making a human difference”.
Speakers so far announced are (in alphabetical order by first name):
  • Ajit Jaokar – Meditation as a transhumanist technology;
  • Dr Anders Sandberg – The future of ideas on machine intelligence;
  • Dr Aubrey de Grey – Approaching the human longevity escape velocity;
  • David Pearce – What is empathetic superintelligence?;
  • David Wood – Five key questions for futurists;
  • Dean Bubley – Session chairman;
  • Professor Kevin Warwick – Human Enhancement: A Practical Guide;
  • Luke Robert Mason – Traversing the Transhuman: Bridging the Gap Between Biology and Technology Through Art;
  • Dr Marios Kyriazis – Achieving human biological immortality;
  • Michael A. Woodley – How clever-sillies might thwart the singularity;
  • Rachel Armstrong – Living megacities: the forthcoming habitat of synthetic biologies;
  • Richard Osborne – The next steps to the solar system;
  • Tom Michael – Evidence based cognitive enhancement: a neuropsychological perspective.
See http://humanityplus.org.uk/speakers/ for more details.  The agenda for the day is at http://humanityplus.org.uk/agenda/.
To cover the costs of hiring the main rooms in Conway Hall for an entire day, there will be a small entry fee for attendees.  This is described at the page http://humanityplus.org.uk/registration/ – which links in turn to an EventBrite page.
Note that the ticket prices increase at 10pm on 8th January, so there’s an advantage in registering early.  (And prices will increase again on the day of the event itself.)
There should be more news about the conference soon – including one or two more speakers.
Examples of the kinds of questions that will be explored during the day:
  1. Setting aside hype, what are the realistic scenarios for progress with emerging technologies that have the potential to make us all smarter, stronger, healthier, longer-lived, kinder, more fulfilled, and more sociable?
  2. What are the most serious risks (“existential risks”) facing humanity over the next few decades, and what is the role of technology in addressing these risks?
  3. What are the implications of rapidly changing technology for what it means to be human?
  4. What are the pros and cons of aspiring to a “Humanity+” phase of evolution, with powers and experiences as far above those of present humans as human experience exceeds that of pre-human apes?
  5. If people want to become involved in activism supporting Humanity+, what are the best steps they can take?

16.10.10

The neuropsychology of self control - and its implications for AI and brain simulation

13 November · 14:00 - 16:00

Room 416, 4th floor, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London

Tom Michael provides a summary of converging findings from neuropsychology, neurology and neuroscience, about how the frontal lobes (and to a lesser extent the limbic system) are involved in human decision making and self control, and how these processes can go wrong following brain injury.

By studying brain injured individuals we can make much ...more sophisticated psychological models of how the human brain works, which ultimately will be very useful for anyone wishing to reverse engineer the human brain in order to create an artificial intelligence

** About the speaker

Tom Michael is is currently carrying out research towards a PhD in neuropsychology. His area of research is about brain injury of the frontal lobes, an area of the brain which is critical to self control, and how the cognitive and behavioural difficulties that are caused by this type of brain injury affect relatives and carers of the brain injured person.

Tom's ambition is to work in clinical psychology rather than to remain in academia, although he intends to always maintain an interest in psychological and neuroscience research in order to better understand the human condition.

http://sites.google.com/site/tommichaelpsychologist/

** About the venue:

Room 416 is on the fourth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

** About the meeting:

There's no charge to attend, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

Why not join some of the UKH+ regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of a book displayed.

1.9.10

Towards the Abolition of Suffering. Reflections on the Abolitionist Project - by David Pearce

2pm-4pm, Sat 16th Oct, 2010

Room 417, 4th floor, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX.

About the talk:

The Transhumanist Declaration (1998, 2009) advocates "the well-being of all sentience, including humans, non-human animals, and any future artificial intellects, modified life forms, or other intelligences to which technological and scientific advance may give rise." Yet is "the well-being of all sentience" serious science - or just utopian dreaming? What does such a commitment entail? On what kind of realistic timeframe might we command enough computational power to police an entire ecosystem?

In this talk, the speaker wants to review recent progress in understanding the neurobiology of pleasure, pain and our core emotions. Can mastery of our reward circuity ever deliver socially responsible, intelligent bliss rather than crude wireheading? He also wants to examine and respond to criticisms of the abolitionist project that have been levelled over the past decade - and set out the biggest challenges, as he sees them, to the prospect of a totally cruelty-free world.

Links to the Transhumanist Declaration:

2009: http://humanityplus.org/learn/transhumanist-declaration/

1998: Contained in http://www.changesurfer.com/Acad/TranshumPolitics.htm

About the speaker:

David Pearce is an independent researcher and vegan animal activist based in Brighton UK.

In 1995, he wrote an online manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative, advocating the use of biotechnology to abolish suffering throughout the living world. David predicts that our descendants will be animated by gradients of cerebral bliss orders of magnitude richer than anything accessible today.

David has also written on the philosophy of mind and perception; utilitarian ethics; psychopharmacology; life extension; cognitive enhancement technologies; mood enrichment; genetic recalibration of the hedonic treadmill; ecosystem redesign; reprogramming predators; and – more speculatively – on a posthuman future based on "paradise engineering".

In 1998, David and Nick Bostrom set up the World Transhumanist Association (now rebranded as Humanity +). Transhumanists promote the responsible use of advanced technology to overcome our biological limitations.

For more details, see David Pearce's entry on Wikipedia

About the venue:

Room 417 is on the fourth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

About the meeting:

There's no charge to attend, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

Why not join some of the Extrobritannia regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of a book displayed.

29.7.10

The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution - by Dr Timothy Taylor

2pm-4pm, Sat 11th Sept, 2010.

Room 414, 4th floor, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX.

About the talk:

There are seven species of great ape on the planet. How did the weakest ape come out on top?

With breathtaking scope and depth, archaeologist and prehistorian Timothy Taylor presents a new and much-needed theory of technology. It not only turns Darwinian theory on its head, but also argues that (alongside physics and biology) it is the human relationship with artifice that has as powerfully framed and formed human evolution.

About the speaker:

Timothy Taylor, MA PhD FSA FRSA, is currently Reader in Archaeology at the University of Bradford. He is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of World Prehistory.

Taylor is known for his closely reasoned, wide-ranging, and provocative ideas, and for his ability to connect with general readers and viewers. He has an award winning track record in radio and television in UK, US and Canada on programmes including History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, BBC Timewatch.

Taylor is the author of The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture and The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death. His latest book, The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution, is being published in September.

About the venue:

Room 414 is on the fourth floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

About the meeting:

There's no charge to attend, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

Why not join some of the Extrobritannia regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the book "The Artificial Ape" displayed.

5.7.10

Cryonics: Purpose, History, and Problems - A Scientific and Cultural Perspective

Ben Best, President of the Cryonics Institute

Date: Friday 23rd July
Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm

Venue: Room 415, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX

About this talk:

The presentation will begin by outlining the motivation and procedures for implementing cryonics, touching on social problems. This will be followed by a brief history of the cryonics movement. Then some of the technical and scientific challenges will be described. A question period will follow.

About the speaker:

Ben Best has been President of the Cryonics Institute since 2003 and has been a cryonics activist since the late 1980s, joining Alcor in 1991. He has written extensively about every aspect of life extension on his website www.benbest.com

About the venue:

Room 415 is on the fourth floor (via the lift near reception) in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations (map)

6.6.10

How to think rationally about the future

Saturday 3rd July 2010, 2pm - 4pm

Speakers: Paul Crowley and Roko Mijic

About the talk:

Over the past forty years, science has built up a substantial body of experimental evidence that highlights dozens of alarming systematic failings in our capacity for reason. These errors are especially dangerous in an area as difficult to think about as the future of humanity, where deluding oneself is tempting and the "reality check" won't arrive until too late.

How can we form accurate beliefs about the future in the face of these considerable obstacles?

This talk will outline ways of identifying and correcting cognitive biases, in particular the use of probability theory to quantify and manipulate uncertainty, and then apply these improved methods to try to paint a more accurate picture of what we all have to look forward to in the 21st century.

About the speakers:

Paul Crowley is a cryptographer and computer programmer whose work includes breaks in ciphers designed by Cisco and by Bruce Schneier. His website is http://www.ciphergoth.org/

Roko Mijic graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA in Mathematics, and the Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics. He spent a year doing research into the foundations of knowledge representation at the University of Edinburgh and holds an MSc in informatics. He is currently an advisor for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Both speakers are contributors to the community website for refining the art of human rationality, http://LessWrong.com/

There's no charge to attend this meeting, and everyone is welcome.

There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

Why not join some of the UKH+ regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the book "The Singularity Is Near" displayed.

About the venue:

Room 416, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX (map)

Room 416 is on the fourth floor (via the lift near reception) in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

31.5.10

The future of economics

Saturday 5th June 2010, 2pm

- How does the monetary system actually operate, and what are its consequences upon society?
- What are the consequences of increasing displacement of human labour by machines?
- Are monetary incentives necessary to spur product development?
- What prospects are there to transition to more rational systems for allocating resources and pursuing technological innovation?
- Is an economy without money feasible?

The speaker:

Ben McLeish is one of the most active members of the Zeitgeist movement UK.

There's no charge to attend, and everyone is welcome. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments. Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

The venue:

Lecture Room B20 is on the basement level in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

For the ones who wish to do so, they can meet some of the London Futurist regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the book "The Singularity is Near" displayed.

27.4.10

Cryonics UK, One Year On - An update from David Styles

Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010
Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Room 414, 4th floor (via main lift), Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX.

Are you interested in the possibility of cryonics - sometimes called "a ticket to the future"?

Cryonics (to quote Wikipedia) is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. The rationale for cryonics is that people who are considered dead by current legal or medical definitions may not necessarily be dead according to the more stringent information-theoretic definition of death. It is proposed that cryopreserved people might someday be recovered by using highly advanced future technology.

About the speaker:

David Styles took over the role of "Organiser" for Cryonics UK from his long-serving predecessor a year ago, and has been the actor of a lot of change in that year. He is also serves on the Board of Directors for the Immortality Institute, though his work for ImmInst is not confined to cryonics-related matters.

About the talk:

David will describe the extent of changes in Cryonics UK over the course of the past year since he last spoke in London. The talk will include:

*) what problems and shortcomings have been remedied
*) how the organisation has grown and become stronger in that time
*) where UK suspension capabilities currently stand
*) where the organisation is going from here.

There's no charge to attend this meeting, and everyone is welcome.

Why not join some of the meetup regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the Stephen Hall's book "Merchants of immortality: chasing the dream of human life extension" displayed.

Informal discussion and socialising will continue after the event, back in the Marlborough Arms, for those who wish to spare the time.

Reminder: as a break with recent custom, this UKH+ meeting is happening on a Sunday, rather than on a Saturday.

5.3.10

Aging and dietary supplements - correcting some myths. With Michael C Price.

Venue: Room 416, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX (map)
Date: Sunday 28th March 2010
Time: 2pm-4pm


About the talk:

This talk will review where we are (and aren't) with respect to understanding aging. It will cover theories of aging, and the (largely failed) promises of gerontologists and immortalists, past and present. It will then make some suggestions for what we can do now - including a discussion of which dietary supplements may work, which may not, and why dietary supplements are generally discredited.

About the speaker:

Michael Price trained as a physicist and has a BSc and MSc from Imperial College, London, where he studied unified field theories. He has been involved in UK cryonics, extropianism and futurism for 30 years.

There's no charge to attend this meeting, and everyone is welcome.

There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Discussion will continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay.

** Why not join some of the Extrobritannia regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the Stephen Hall's book "Merchants of immortality: chasing the dream of human life extension" displayed.

** About the venue:

Room 416 is on the fourth floor (via the lift near reception) in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Reminder:

As a break with recent custom, this Extrobritannia meeting is happening on a Sunday, rather than on a Saturday.