Summary of London Futurists’ Engineering Greater Human Resilience Panel Discussion

Held online on Saturday 25th April 2020, and chaired by David Wood.

Although, inevitably, framed around the coronavirus pandemic the ideas were looking beyond that.

Here’s a summary of comments by the panellists.

Nell Watson

Risk of food shortage in coming years. Already have waves of locust swarms in Africa and looming droughts.

Worsened by Covid-19 as:

  1. workers are not able to migrate to pick crops
  2. restricted transportation to markets
  3. lack of contrails (due to reduction in flights) could affect climate

Potentially over 30 countries to enter famine in next year.

This is a version of World War 3 - humanity versus the virus.

What's Wrong With The World, by G. K. Chesterton , discusses how we try to mould humans to fit into the world, rather than moulding the world to fit us better.

Hopefully, next time we will be better equipped for economic externalities and have reduced fragility.

James Hughes

Most people are focussed on a single potential catastrophic risk - but there is a scarily long list.

Need to reduce the global web of interdependence, but that is still compatible with global governance and coordination.
need more local power and food production - including urban agriculture.

Neoliberalism results in lack of contingency.

Could people change their brains to help (e.g. more open to novel experiences, able to cope with lockdown)?

Private companies cannot make a profit from potential risks, e.g. developing pandemics drugs. Will need government/public support.

Amazing how quick China was able to use phone data to perform contact tracing.

In future we could connect nanotechnology within our bodies direct to the cloud - in the same way as computer anti-virus software learns and updates itself.

Can put a high value on freedom but shouldn't be an absolute right - it's always a balance.

Opportunity to think again about health system - can have a longevity dividend rather than a silver tsunami.

Paola Téllez Muñoz

Need to develop technologies to increase our capacities.

Future of technology dependent on the human mind - must see whole picture and be unbiased to make a positive impact.

Believes these advances will be driven by entrepreneurs.

Pandemic will focus people's minds on what is important and will have an impact in the world.

Technology could help us become more human (not less human).

New technologies need to be human focussed and ethical.

Hannes Sjoblad (aka Hannes Sapiens)

Pandemic is different this time as we are much better prepared than before. World's population is very connected, enabling distribution of information.

More technology being made available to more people faster than ever before.

Planet has the best immune system it ever had – with factories to manufacture protective equipment and scientists to develop new drugs.

Have an opportunity to fast track transhumanist ideas.

This is the first battle in last war against infectious disease - never again should a virus kill so many people – society will find this unacceptable.

His company, Dsruptive, is designing IoT sensors for the body.

In western democracies, it is up to the individual to decide how far to go, so need more people to get involved in the discussion.

Believes that culture beats company strategy, e.g. he is trying to make it culturally acceptable to have chip implants.

Need a National Anti-Ageing Service.

PS Hannes is also the winner of the “Best Bookshelf” award – or more of a massive pile really!

Mentioned in this blog post:

Resource David Wood

Resource Eleanor 'Nell' Watson - AI Faculty at Singularity University

Resource Hannes Sjoblad (aka Sapiens) - Thought leader and speaker biohacking on human augmentation

Resource James Hughes - Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Resource London Futurists - Looking to the future impact of technology on society and heatlh and everything

Resource Paola Téllez Muñoz - Founder of Impact Minds and Director of Community at Transformative Technology

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