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.