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:
* When you register to attend, register as an “Event supporters” (cost £10), to help to cover the costs of room hire and other event organisation: http://posttranscend...eventbrite.com/
* Help to publicise this event, by linking to the event website, this blogpost, or the event Facebook page – and by using the Twitter hashtag #hplusuk.