Transhuman Visions #5: Global Existential Risks & Radical Futures (June 14 Piedmont, SF Bay Area, California)
Apocalypse? or Transcendence? Utopia? or Dystopia? Is Human Destiny an Immortal Paradise? or Miserable Extinction via a Bang, or a Whimper?
Will Tomorrow Bring: Pandemic Diseases? Killer Asteroids & Comets? Famine? Nuclear Annihilation? Water Scarcity? Poisonous Arctic Methane Gas? Volcanic Eruptions? UnFriendly Artificial Intelligence? Run-Amok Nanotech Grey Goo? Unending War? Dysgenic Idiocracy?
or Will the Future be Miraculously Wonderful? Via The Singularity? Global Neuroweb? DIY Activist Decentralization? Elevated BioIntelligence? Elimination of Poverty? 3D Printing? Oxytocin? Social Transhumanism?
TRANSHUMAN VISIONS 5th conference will explore this topic.
Global Existential Risks & Radical Futures” will be June 14 (Saturday) at Piedmont Veteran’s Hall, 401 Highland Avenue, in Piedmont.
The event is from 9:30 am – 8 pm. Doors open at 9:00. Co-producers are Hank Pellissier, director of Transhuman Visions and the Brighter Brains Institute, and Alexey Turchin, co-founder of The Longevity Party and founder of Stop Existential Risks. (their bios are below)
Tickets for the event cost between $25 – $30. They can be purchased at EventBrite HERE
Lead Sponsor: The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.IEET.org is a nonprofit think tank which promotes ideas about how technological progress can increase freedom, happiness, and human flourishing in democratic societies. Located in Hartford, Connecticut, the IEET aims to shape public policies that distribute the benefits and reduce the risks of technological advancement.
IEET generously donated funds to pay airfare for Seth Baum (the Keynote Speaker), and it provided publicity to the conference via its website and mailing list. Several of the conference speakers are IEET Fellows, Affiliate Scholars and contributing writers.
Co-Sponsor – The Lifeboat Foundationencourages scientific advancement while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of powerful new technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI.
Lifeboat Foundation is helping to develop technologies to defend humanity, including: 1) new methods to combat viruses, 2) effective nanotechnological defensive strategies, and 3) self-sustaining space coloniesif other strategies fail.
Global Existential Risks & Radical Futures will present the future’s worst “Catastrophic Scenarios” and what we can do to avoid them. Numerous “Radical Futures” will also be examined.
Seth Baum is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (GCRI, http://gcrinstitute.org). He received a PhD in Geography from Pennsylvania State University and was recently a post-doc with Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. His research covers a broad range of topics, including artificial general intelligence, environmental policy, ethics, economics, education, and astrobiology. He also helps lead the global catastrophic risk research community via GCRI, the Society for Risk Analysis, and other organizations.
Dr. Baum is also active at the interface of academic scholarship and other sectors of society. Through GCRI, he is building ties between global catastrophic risk researchers and other relevant professionals. He is also active in public scholarship through collaborations with artists, entertainers, journalists, and other members of the media. His research has gotten wide media attention including interviews in the Discovery Channel, Fox News, and Talk Radio 702 (South Africa), plus additional coverage in The Guardian, MIT Technology Review, MSNBC, and other publications.
Dr. Baum’s travel expenses at this conference are generously provided for by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology (IEET). He will lecture on the following topic: “Navigating The High-Stakes Turbulence To Our Future.”
In his book The Meaning of the 21st Century, the late James Martin described this era of history as like a deep river canyon with turbulent rapids. The turbulence threatens to sink the entirety of human civilization through environmental collapse, war with increasingly destructive weapons, and new technologies that could ruin the planet by accident. It is our challenge as inhabitants of this era to navigate humanity through the turbulence. If we succeed, a very long and bright future awaits. In this presentation I will survey the threats that drive the turbulence and the actions we must take to navigate through it. Important contributions can come from public policy, business, technology, media, research, and other sectors, though each also has its limitations. A pluralistic, collaborative approach will ultimately be most successful.
David Brin, a scientist and best-selling author whose future-oriented novels include Earth, The Postman, and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War, is a 2010 Fellow of the IEET. Brin is known as a leading commentator on modern technological, social, and political trends. His nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the Freedom of Speech Award from the American Library Association. Brin’s most recent novel, Kiln People, explores a fictional near future when people use cheap copies of themselves to be in two places at once. The Life Eaters—a graphic novel—explores a chilling alternative outcome of World War II. David’s newest novel – Existence – is now available, published by Tor Books.
Michael Anissimov is a futurist thinker focused on emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. He previously managed Singularity Summit and worked as media director for theMachine Intelligence Research Institute, as well as co-founding the Extreme Futurist Festival. The Singularity Summit has received coverage from Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, the San Francisco Chronicle, award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer, The Verge, and a front page article in TIMEmagazine. Mr. Anissimov emphasizes the need for research into artificial intelligence goal systems to develop “Friendly Artificial Intelligence” for human civilization to successfully navigate the intelligence explosion. He appears in print, on podcasts, in documentaries, public speaking at conferences, and other media to spread this message. He lives in Berkeley, California.
Darshan Elena Campos – A traveling professor and academic consultant, Darshan Elena Campos, Ph.D. has taught face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses for almost 4000 students. She has also organized national conferences and numerous workshops over the past decade. Darshan’s current research focuses on how educators use digital technologies to foster student leadership, collaboration, and critical literacy. She is a big nerd. Darshan can be reached via her website, www.darshancampos.org.
her presentation is: Building a Transhuman Social Movement
Grassroots social movements are curious, living, evolving beings with many centers. Their success rests in the energy and vision of individuals but also their strategies for creating and sustaining community. In other words, grassroots social movements are most successful when they inspire participation, harness collective intelligence, distribute responsibilities, and share leadership. With the rise of digital technologies and advances in neuroscience, we have even more opportunities for igniting grassroots social movements and shaping transhuman futures. In this presentation, I offer a model for turning a largely intellectual movement into a broader grassroots social movement. This presentation has three threads. First, I provide an overview of the teaching method I use to guide college students in gaining a deeper understanding of transhuman technologies and transhumanism as a future vision. Second, I speak to what folks outside the traditional classroom environment – folks like us – can gain by developing a shared definition of transhumanism. Last, I outline strategies for building a grassroots social movement in light of both digital technologies and transhuman developments. I end by presenting several practical strategies for igniting the transhuman movement, starting with the folks gathering in this room at this time.
Dr. Pavel Luksha Leader of the Russian think-and-do tank Reengineering Futures Group (refuture.me), professor of SKOLKOVO Moscow School of Management, co-founder of Russian Neuroweb Group (www.globalneuroweb.org) and Russian R&D Directors Club. Program Director of Russian Foresight Fleet, the largest future-awareness educaton project in the world.
Leader of Education 2030, Skills 2030 and NeuroWeb Foresight projects, author of Future Agendas for Global Education (published internationally in Summer 2014), creator of Rapid Foresight methodology.
John Gertz is the President and CEO of Zorro Productions, Inc. which he founded in 1977. He has been responsible for four Zorro motion pictures, ten different TV versions of Zorro, and about fifty Zorro stage productions. A resident of Berkeley, California, John holds an M.A. in psychophysiology from Haifa University in Israel – where he was also decorated for distinguished service in an elite combat unit. He is an amateur astronomer, a classical pianist, a beekeeper, a mycologist (wild mushrooms), and an organic vegetable gardener. He recently completed his third term as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the world-famous SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of a new non-profit, Foundation for Investment in SETI Science and Technology (FIRSST) whose mission it is to raise very large sums of money for peer reviewed SETI research worldwide.
Alexey Turchin is author of the book “Structure of the Global Catastrophe. Risks of human extinction in the XXI century” and numerous articles on the topics of existential risks and the Doomsday argument. He studied Physics and Art History at Moscow State University. Since 2010, he has worked at the Science for Longer Life Foundation where he wrote a book “Future Studies” with Michael Batin. Now he is working on the book ‘‘Immortality”. He is one of the founders of Longevity Party, and the founder of Stop Existential Risks on Facebook. He organised first ever street action in US for Life extension in Googleplex in Feb 2014 and several actions in other countries. He will lecture on the ideas below:
From 2000 – 2008 was the golden age of x-risk research. Many books and articles were published – from Bill Joy to Bostrom and Yudkowsky – and many new ideas appeared. But after that, the stream of new ideas stopped. This might be good, because every new idea increased the total risk, and perhaps all important ideas about the topic had been discussed…but unfortunately…nothing was done for preventing x-risks, and dangerous tendencies continued. Risks of nuclear war are growing. No FAI theory exists. Biotech is developing very quickly and geneticaly modifed virusus are cheaper and cheaper. The time until the catastrophe is running out. The next obvious step is to create a new stream of ideas – ideas on how to prevent x-risks and when to implement these ideas. But before doing this, we need a consensus between researchers about the structure of the incoming risks. This can be via dialog, especially informal dialogs during scientific conferences.
Chris Hables Gray focuses his research and activism on the role of information technologies in war and peace making. Author of the booksPostmodern War: The New Politics of Conflict (Guilford and Routledge 1997), Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age (Routledge 2001) and Peace, War and Computers (Routledge 2005) and over 100 articles in academic and popular journals, his research is interdisciplinary and pragmatic.
He earned his doctorate from the notorious History of Consciousness Board of Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and much of his understandings of the world crisis from his experiences during 40 years as a revolutionary anarchist feminist active in the nonviolent direct action movement in many protests, and a dozen jails, around the world.
Currently he is a Visiting Professor in Digital Humanities at University College Cork, Ireland and normally works as a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and California State University at Monterey Bay.
Only by creating a radical future will we be be able to overcome the existential crises humanity faces today. New technologies are a big part of the problem and just as big a part of the solution. Sorting out the specifics is the hard part, but, Hables argues, it is possible through horizontalist praxis, participatory evolution, and cyborg citizenship.
Anatoly Karlin – San Francisco-based Russian businessman, writer, thinker, and blogger at http://akarlin.com, where he blogs “about various esoteric and not so esoteric things: Futurism, human biodiversity and psychometrics, transhumanism, China, Russia, the Arctic, geopolitics, cliodynamics, peak oil, climate change, the paleo lifestyle… What passes for “debate” between Team Left and Team Right in most Western countries is stale, banal, and insipid. Both are bursting at the seams with hamsters. I prefer to deal with objective reality, even if it does put me outside all the mainstream ideological groupings. Anything else would just be dishonest…” His conference presentation will be: “The Future of Russia.”
Bryce A. Lynch is a mostly organic entity with a nontrivial number of software augmentations. By day he works as an integration security engineer in the field of financial cryptography. By night he is an open source hacker, blogger who tracks outbreaks of the future (http://drwho.virtadpt.net/), information security researcher, and social activist. He is a consulting agent of the hacktivist collective Telecomix, with whom he was active as an intelligence analyst and subject matter expert during the Arab Spring. He considers Agent Cameron a close friend. In his spare time he teaches classes on cryptography, operational security, privacy, and anonymity to activists, journalists, and anyone else who asks politely. He is one of the core developers of Project Byzantium, a live distribution of Linux for rapidly and easily setting up wireless mesh networks during emergencies and disaster situations to facilitate communication within the community and first responders.
Presentation: As transhumanists, hackers, scientists, and grinders it is well and good to keep our eyes on our eventual goals: Immortality in some form, extended continuity of consciousness, and augmentation of our current cognitive and physical abilities. It’s easy to spend our time discussing what might come to pass but neglect developments in technology and technique that we can develop and employ as first steps toward achieving these goals. Some of the technologies which we can build upon right now are open source prosthetic limbs, censorship circumvention technologies, civilian brain/computer interface devices, ad-hocratic operational templates, and free/libre intelligence analysis and data mining software. Examples of these technologies and techniques will be briefly discussed along with their implications for practical, applied transhumanism in the present time.
Yoni Binstock went to Rollins College, graduating with a BA in Political Science and a minor in International Business. He was columnist and business manager of the school newspaper, President of Rollins Democrats, and started the Green Rollins Initiative. Next, he attended Boston University for a MA in Energy and Environmental Analysis. After this degree, Yoni became Operations Coordinator at DailyFeats, a web startup committed to building and maintaining healthy habits in people’s lives. In 2011 he started Climate Scores to keep Congress accountable on climate change.
In 2012, Yoni joined Ashoka to manage online fundraising efforts, targeting Gen Y donors. In 2013, he organized a TEDx event and started a mobile appcompany. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at Mosaic as a Data and Marketing Fellow, then at SolarCity as a Sales Consultant, and currently works at Change.org as a Business Development Associate. He is also a fellow at the Clinton Global Initiative University and StartingBloc. Yoni’s presentation at the conference will be on 3D Printing.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan
Susan Kuchinskas is the author of “The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love” – a book that explains the physiological link between love and wellbeing, what happens in the brain when we connect with others—and what’s missing when we can’t. She also wrote “Oxytocin Parenting: From the Womb through the Terrible Twos”, about how parenting shapes the brain’s social circuits. She works as a journalist covering science, business and technology.
Susan Kuchinskas will not only discuss generational trauma in the United States, she’ll also talk abut the concrete strategies that could reverse the global collapse of trust. Find out more atwww.ChemistryofConnection.com. 510-644-2612 www.kuchinskas.com @susankuchinskas
Her Presentation: Emotional Catastrophe and Unnatural Selection: Are We Breeding Humans Who Hate? Our brains have the capacity for boundless love—and also for all-consuming hatred. While the hman brain was shaped by thousands of years of evolution, we confront today’s world with neural equipment not much different from that of a hunter-gatherer who lived 200,000 years ago. But each individual’s brain is also shaped by experience in the womb and during the first three years of life, as the brain circuits organize in response to its surroundings. Today, we face a global emotional catastrophe that’s as deadly as war and environmental collapse. In fact, this emotional catastrophe could be seen as the direct cause of human’s inability to stop war, halt global warming and create an equal society. Even the wealthiest, most privileged humans on the planet—here in the U.S.—experience often experience early trauma that limits their ability to trust and love.
Hank Pellissier – director of Brighter Brains Institute, a think tank dedicated to brain health and enhancement. He founded Transhumanity.net & ImmortalLife.info after a year as Managing Director at the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technology (IEET). He’s the author of Brighter Brains – 225 ways to injure or elevate intelligence, Invent Utopia Now and Why is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High?, and editor of Human Destiny is to Eliminate Death. Hank is a writer forGreatSchools.org, he was the “Local Intelligence” columnist for the New York Times (San Francisco edition), daily columnist for Salon.com (“Naked World), he wrote two columns forSfGate.com (“Urban Animal” and “Odd Barkings”), and he’s written 100+ futurist articles for IEET, H+ Magazine, World Future Society, Acceler8or, and other publications, occasionally under his nom de plume, “Hank Hyena.”
Karl Doerrer will discuss “how cryto-currencies can survive without depending on fiat exchange and the benefits of that happening”
Anna Petrova will discuss Catastrophic Risks associated with Artificial Intelligence.
9:40 am – Hank Pellissier (intro)
9:45 – Alexey Turchin
10:00 – Anna Petrova
10:20 – Romano Machado
10:50 – BREAK
11:00 – David Brin
11:30 – Darshan Elena Campos
12:00 – Michael Anissimov
12:30 – Bryce Lynch
1:45 – Chris Hables Gray
2:15 – Seth Baum
3:00 – Alexey Turchin
3:15 – Susan Kuchinskas
4:00 – Pavel Luksha
4:30 – Anatoly Karlin
5:30 – John Gertz
6:00 – Karl Doerr
6:15 – Panel on Catastrophic Risk – Alexey Turchin, Seth Baum, Anna Petrova, Michael Anissimov