We’re all familiar with the idea of the singularity, the end-result of rapid acceleration of technology development caused by positive feedback. This will add greatly to human capability, not just via gadgets but also through direct body and mind enhancement, and we’ll mess a lot with other organisms and AIs too. So we’ll have superhumans and super AIs as part of our society. But this new technology won’t bring a utopia.
We all know that some powerful people, governments, companies and terrorists will also add lots of bad things to the mix. The same technology that lets you enhance your senses or expand your mind also allows greatly increased surveillance and control, eventually to the extremes of direct indoctrination and zombification. Taking the forces that already exist, of tribalism, political correctness, secrecy for them and exposure for us, and so on, it’s clear that the far future will be a weird mixture of fantastic capability, spoiled by abuse.
Even without deliberate abuse, many people tend towards illogical thinking processes that result in bad decisions and that will both delay good things and worsen them when they finally come.
The big question (that I can’t answer and will need some debate) is what are the relative strengths of these forces? And will the future be a whole lot better than today, worse, or just different?
About the speaker:
Ian Pearson is a full time futurologist, tracking and predicting developments across a wide range of technology, business, society, politics and the environment. He is a Maths and Physics graduate and has worked in numerous branches of engineering, from aeronautics to cybernetics, sustainable transport to electronic cosmetics.
His inventions include text messaging and the active contact lens. He was BT’s full-time futurologist from 1991 to 2007 and now works for Futurizon, a small futures institute. He writes, lectures and consults globally on all aspects of the technology-driven future. He has written several books and made 500 TV and radio appearances.
Ian is a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, the World Academy of Art and Science, the Royal Society of Arts and the World Innovation Foundation, with a Doctor of Science and a US Army Award for Excellence.
2pm-4pm, Saturday 16th February 2013.
Venue: B34, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.
Room B34 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.
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 informal settings in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. The rear “restaurant room” has been reserved for London Futurists from 4.30pm onwards.
The meeting is free to attend – no charge.
But please consider making a donation towards the costs of running the group:
- see How You Can Help London Futurists.
Optional pre-meeting rendezvous – please feel free to join a small number of regular London Futurist attendees at the Marlborough Arms any time from 12.30pm onwards, for general chat over a light lunch and/or drinks. To find us, look out for a table with a futurist book on it.