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Automation and Utopia – London Futurists

Human obsolescence is imminent. We are living through an era in which our activity is becoming less and less relevant to our well-being and to the fate of our planet. This trend toward increased obsolescence is likely to continue in the future, and we must do our best to prepare ourselves and our societies for this reality. Far from being a cause for despair, this is in fact an opportunity for optimism. Harnessed in the right way, the technology that hastens our obsolescence can open us up to new utopian possibilities and enable heightened forms of human flourishing.

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Human obsolescence is imminent. We are living through an era in which our activity is becoming less and less relevant to our well-being and to the fate of our planet. This trend toward increased obsolescence is likely to continue in the future, and we must do our best to prepare ourselves and our societies for this reality. Far from being a cause for despair, this is in fact an opportunity for optimism. Harnessed in the right way, the technology that hastens our obsolescence can open us up to new utopian possibilities and enable heightened forms of human flourishing.

These are some of the claims advanced in the recent new book by John Danaher, “Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World Without Work”. John will be speaking about these themes at this London Futurists event. Propositions covered include:

1. The automation of work is both possible and desirable;
2. The automation of life more generally poses a threat to human well-being, meaning, and flourishing;
3. One way to mitigate this threat would be to build a Cyborg Utopia, but it’s not clear how practical or utopian this would really be;
4. Another way to mitigate this threat would be to build a Virtual Utopia: instead of integrating ourselves with machines in an effort to maintain our relevance in the “real” world, we could retreat to “virtual” worlds that are created and sustained by the technological infrastructure that we have built.

For more information, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl1bZCD-FBE and https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2019/09/automation-and-utopia-is-now-available.html

About the speaker

John Danaher is a Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway, Ireland, and the coeditor of the book “Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications”. He has published over fifty papers on topics including the risks of advanced AI, the ethics of social robotics, meaning of life and the future of work, and the ethics of human enhancement.

John is also an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET). His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Sunday Times, Aeon, and The Philosophers’ Magazine. He is the author of the popular blog Philosophical Disquisitions, https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/

Meeting logistics

2pm-4pm, Sat 11th January 2020.

Venue: TBA (To Be Announced), Birkbeck College (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/maps), Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room TBA is on the tba-th floor 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.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub – The Meeting Place bar in the Royal National Hotel (https://www.imperialhotels.co.uk/en/restaurants-and-bars/the-meeting-place), 38-51 Bedford Way, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0DG.

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Event Details

Start date: January 11, 2020

End date: January 11, 2020

Start time: 14:00

End time: 16:00

Venue: Birkbeck College

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