In a world awash with conflicting influences and numerous potential interesting distractions, how best to keep “first things first“?
A big part of the answer is to ensure that the influences we are closest to us are influences:
- Whose goals are aligned with our own
- Who can give us prompt, helpful feedback when we are falling short of our own declared intentions
- Who can provide us with independent viewpoints that enrich, complement, and challenge our current understanding.
In my own case, that’s the reason why I have been drawn to the community known as “Humanity+“:
Humanity+ is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. We support the development of and access to new technologies that enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives. In other words, we want people to be better than well.
I deeply share the goals of Humanity+, and I find some of the world’s most interesting thinkers within that community.
It’s also the reason I have sought to aid the flourishing of the Humanity+ community, particularly in the UK, by organising a series of speaker meetings in London. The speakers at these meetings are generally fascinating, but its the extended networking that follows (offline and online) which provides the greatest value.
My work life has been very busy in the last few months, leaving me less time to organise regular H+UK meetings. However, to keep myself grounded in a community that contains many people who can teach me a great deal – a community that can provide powerful positive peer pressure – I’ve worked with some H+UK colleagues to pull together an all day meeting that is taking place at the Saturday at the end of this week (8th October).
The theme of this meeting is “Beyond Human: Rethinking the Technological Extension of the Human Condition“. It splits into three parts:
- Beyond human: The science and engineering
- Beyond human: Implications and controversies
- Beyond human: Getting involved
The event is free to attend. There’s no need to register in advance. The meeting is taking place 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.
Full details are on the official event website. In this blogpost, to give a flavour of what will be covered, I’ll just list the agenda with the speakers and panellists.
09.30 – Finding the room, networkingOpening remarksBeyond human: The science and engineering10.50 – Philip Moriarty – From single atom manipulation to nanofactories: An impossible or an improbable dream?11.40 – Audience Q&A with the panel consisting of the above four speakersLunch break12.00 – People make their own arrangements for lunch (there are some suggestions on the event website)Beyond human: Implications and controversies14.40 – Audience Q&A with the panel consisting of the above four speakersExtended DIY coffee break15.00 – Also a chance for extended networkingBeyond human: Getting involved15.45 – Amon Zero – A New Transhumanism17.25 – Audience Q&A with the panel consisting of the above four speakersEnd of conference17.45 – Hard stop – the room needs to be empty by 18.00
You can follow the links to find out more information about each speaker. You’ll see that several are eminent university professors. Several have written key articles or books on the theme of technology that significantly enhances human potential. Some complement their technology savvy with an interest in performance art. All are distinguished and interesting futurists in their own way.
I don’t expect I’ll agree with everything that’s said, but I do expect that great personal links will be made – and strengthened – during the course of the day. I also expect that some of the ideas shared at the conference – some of the big, hairy, audacious goals unveiled – will take on a major life of their own, travelling around the world, offline and online, catalysing very significant positive change.