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Hplus uk2010 survey results


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Results (from 42 respondents) from feedback survey

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Hplus uk2010 survey results

  1. 1. Humanity+ UK 2010 feedback survey Interim results (as of 12 May 2010)
  2. 2. Stated purpose of survey • The purpose of this questionnaire is to gather feedback about the Humanity+ UK 2010 event, with a view to improving the design, planning, and operation of similar events in the future • Specifically, we are currently in the early planning stage for a possible "Humanity UK 2011" event to be held in London, perhaps at the end of January. Your answers to this questionnaire will help increase the likelihood of that event being a success • There are 10 questions in total. Answer as many or as few of the questions as you wish. It should take no more than 10 minutes. • You are welcome to answer the questionnaire whether or not you attended Humanity+ UK 2010 - though clearly you will need to skip some questions if you didn't attend. • An anonymised aggregate version of the results will be made public. Please submit your answers by midday on Sat 15th May at the latest • You can email the organisers at
  3. 3. Survey statistics so far • Survey can be accessed at • The survey can have up to 100 responses in total • So far, 41 people have submitted answers – As of 12th May • The following pages give the non-null and non-blank answers that have been submitted – The answers have been lightly edited
  4. 4. Initial comment on responses • The feedback – both positive and negative – is useful, constructive, and thought-provoking (and inconsistent!) • For most of the questions, the answers that are presented in these slides have been generally arranged from the ‘lighter’ to the ‘heavier’ • Concrete proposals for improving subsequent events will shortly be shared online • To join the online discussion group for volunteers to help/advise on the next event, please send an email to • Note: no personal data (e.g. email address) was collected during the survey - So it’s not clear who said what
  5. 5. Question 1 If you attended the event, did you find it a worthwhile use of your time?
  6. 6. Q1 answers (page 1 of 3) • Yes [12 answers just had this single word] • Definitely [3 answers] • Absolutely [2 answers] • Sure • Yes, I would attend again. • Overall, yes • Yes, I found it most informative and stimulating • Yes a very good use of time and a great way to network • Very useful - attended all day with little/no boredom • yes, well worth it and brilliant value for money • yes! interesting new contacts were made • Yes, it was great to see so many influential speakers and experts • Yes, I met people in "reality" I only knew from the Internet for a decade • Yes, mostly because of the networking and meeting people
  7. 7. Q1 answers (page 2 of 3) • An excellent use of my time that exposed me to a lot of new ideas as it was my first involvement in Humanity + • Yes - excellent. Very insightful. Learned about lots of new scenarios and concepts • Yes - it was interesting to learn more about the H+ philosophy, from the perspective of an academic psychologist and as an individual • Absolutely; and like many in the audience, I would happily have had a longer day if it were practical. Energising; great sense of energy from speakers and audience • It was an excellent use of time as there were so many high quality speakers expertly organized into a tight one day schedule. Thanks to all the organizers for putting together such a wonderful and highly successful event! • The conference was awesome and I'll definitely attend again! I found the event generally of great worth and interest. I'd certainly recommend any future events akin to H+UK2010 to friends
  8. 8. Q1 answers (page 3 of 3) • YES. but a bit too intensive; would like more time to talk about the inouts, implications, etc • Yes, but very little of what I heard was new to me. Then again, I've been familiar with transhumanism for many years • Not enough time to network + found most of it useless except for Nick Bostrom, Aubrey de Grey and Anders Sandberg who are professionals doing high quality research
  9. 9. Question 2 Did you take away from the event any insight or new idea that strikes you as particularly important? If so, what is it?
  10. 10. Q2 answers (page 1 of 7) • Yes, the need to inform other people about the topics discussed • Yes - from most talks • The whole event • Max More's assertion that the singularity isn't guaranteed • Progress in Aubrey's work • Synthetic biology, in-vitro meat: 2 ideas I'd not heard of before • Rachel Armstrong's little franken-cells were awesome • Numerous, at least one from each speaker • Longevity (Aubrey) vs existential risk and DNA synthesisers • Didn't know much about synthetic biology, so I enjoyed Rachel Armstrong's presentation • My favorite presentation was Max More's criticism of prevailing singularity thought, which I feel is detrimental to overall futurist activism • The mention by Aubrey de Grey for evidence that the connection between Alzheimer's and herpes are due to immune response
  11. 11. Q2 answers (page 2 of 7) • The need for transhumanists and posthumanists to think speculatively - in terms of long time frames and notional technologies • Was surprised and alarmed to hear that the smallpox genome is in the public domain and the costs of building virii are falling so quickly • Interested in idea of 'ending suffering in the world' and 'what would transhuman art look like?‘ • New contacts, a greater understanding of the possibilities that are occurring, new ideas for my artworks • I was completely new to the area so some of the basic stuff like singularity and wireheading were new to me • Rachel Armstrong's presentation on synthetic biology was fascinating and completely new to me. David Pearce's and Natasha V-M's presentations were thought-provoking too • I am typically more science focussed and this event really introduced me to the ethics/social side of transhumanism and related concepts • How to deal with the development of new technologies, especially by taking societal factors into account
  12. 12. Q2 answers (page 3 of 7) • What was important was the level of attendance and the growing amount of people who are interested in the Humanity + agenda • I came away with a new insight as to the diversity of the transhumanist movement. From scientists to "nutters" - there is a little bit of everything there... • DIY enhancement - find out the status of your own health first then start it from there. Such a simple idea but everyone forgot and jump straight to the deep ends with elusive & abstract ideas about life extension. The 1st step to life extension is to find out where and how you can start it right here right now... I know we don't have the time • Issues that humanity is facing today from a transhumanist worldview. Because the transhumanism is the most knowledgeable social group of people/thinkers, the transhumanist perspective is crucial • The most common human approach to a problem is to seek to simplify it, this approach may be wholly inappropriate for a complex system where enhancing our means of understanding may be more likely to succeed
  13. 13. Q2 answers (page 4 of 7) • No, though probably because I'd heard a lot of this before • Nothing new really. Most of the stuff was covered in the regular meetings • it was more the networks than the content for me really! I have read most of the stuff earlier • I'm afraid mainly a negative one - that futurism and transhumanism needs a bigger dose of style rationality. Would like to see much bigger emphasis on existential risk • I wondered if thinking about the future is worth the work when the course of events will be different anyway. So what are my precise goals in dealing with the Future? • Skepticism to a certain extent - there needs to be a recognition in the H+ movement that some of the concepts may not be possible - hence it was good to start with a skeptic speaker. Also, the talk on the oil droplet protocells by Dr Armstrong was very good, but I felt better at demonstrating emergence of living behaviour from non living systems, rather than in any futurist sense
  14. 14. Q2 answers (page 5 of 7) • I feel the movement needs to tease out the place of suffering in humans as well as in the whole of creation. It seems tome to be unreal to try and get rid of all suffering. A certain quality - and quantity - of destruction is inherent to all evolutionary processes, e.g., if we got rid of earthquakes we would have no earth, nor any of the life-forms currently extant. A perfect human would be a essentially a mechanical robot. Although post-humanists are not saying that, some of them come dangerously close to it • Knowledge is power - you can only make choices if you know what the options are. Natasha Vita More pointed out that we need to know as much as we can about the state of our own health and bodies as possible so that we can counter our own weaknesses and I think that was the most important, practical advice I took away. Even if it was just hammering home something I already knew.
  15. 15. Q2 answers (page 6 of 7) • H+ is becoming bigger and more professional, so soon it might be more acceptable to say you are H+. I thought the synthetic biology ideas were interesting and this made me think of how synthetic structures could be used to store knowledge as well as other structural, functional and hereditary information. I also felt a overwhelming fear that bad things were on the horizon and we didn't really know what to do about them, I felt it was particularly important that we do not get so caught up in the idea that because we cannot fully predict the future we cannot say whether things are moral or good. I felt that Nick Bostrom's approach to futurist technologies was of one that had lost the sight of the point of it all, to make people live longer and better. I also felt that it was particularly important that singularitarians do not talk like the singularity is happening or even worse, that singularitarians are somehow creating the singularity or making it happen. These ideas were striking and really affected me negatively. In many ways I was scared of the future that the other H+ members had in store for me. I almost felt that I was dealing with a lobby group that was trying to create a super AI that would probably destroy me, and so felt threatened
  16. 16. Q2 answers (page 7 of 7) • 1. The ideas being pursued by researchers are great, but largely Brownian. Whilst there is a sense that this is all going somewhere interesting - a heroic journey or quest, there is no combined vision of destination(s). There is a sense of general destination from each special interest groups in the audience and this piqued curiosity can be built on at each event. It might be worth sketching the next five events and then adapting to showcase the latest developments as we go. Each event should capture a 'well I thought the last one was good, but wow...' and nurture enthusiasm like Rachel Armstrong's. 2. We are approaching a point where humanity will have fundamental choices about where the journey is leading. Rather than attempt to corral everyone to agree that e.g. immortality is the destination, we need to be clear on the alternatives that different groups may follow, even if those are interim or later prove to be dead-ends. This will allow for the different levels of change-tolerance in humans at large. It might be worth articulating the types of immortality (etc) that will likely be on offer. Opposition groups will be easier to fend off if we segment the market for resistance. They will be more powerful if they have a single clear target to derail. 3. Humanity's present direction on its journey is provided by a mixture of beliefs and their economic survival, fuelled by ideas and public or private sponsorship. I believe we are reaching a terminal point of our current financial paradigm. Valuable researches and social goals are likely to be missed because ideas will fail to achieve long term survival unless there is hope of their becoming monetised. This is another derailing force sitting next to population and climate, but it is just only beginning to be acknowledged by economists and academics. Capitalism is also driving unsustainable consumption of planetary resources; it may be necessary to promote the ring-fencing of resources necessary to preserve humanity's future, but again we need to be clear what that is in order to protect the required resources. 3. Education remains a global priority. Laptops for all is an enabler, but the Mugabes of the world will not want their people to be educated for fear of revolt. The likes of Mugabe, loaded with corrupt cash, will be the first in the queue for immortality. It plays directly to their esteem needs. The people in such countries need to be made aware of the danger so that they recognise the signs when they arise. If they are not forwarned, they risk a prolongation of reduced circumstances and limited choices. 4. Humanity + could maintain its present role or it might evolve into e.g. an advisory or governing body of future projects and resources. Either way, it would be worth giving this some thought and identifying the milestones on the way, a 5-year plan at least. This is the transitional path from Brownian motion to human purpose as a managed endeavour - the human equivalent of the LHC or fusion project. Society wastes enormous amounts of personal and financial energy on things that don't actually matter. Even in the UK, the growth of self-store businesses signals the number of homes with insufficient space to store all the purchases for which there is now no interest or time to interact with. Not a good destination for declining planetary resources. 5. We might promote the formation of a UN department to govern humanity's future, but it would probably get mired in bureaucracy.
  17. 17. Question 3 Which aspects of the event were its highlights, for you personally?
  18. 18. Q3 answers (page 1 of 5) • Meeting other H+ people • Networking • Networking, meeting people • The chance to network with the speakers at the dinner after the event • Existential risks and augmented reality • The talks by Aubrey de Grey, Rachel Armstrong, and Anders Sandberg • Enjoyed Anders Sandberg's talk most • Nick Bostrom's talk, time spent talking to attendees esp Roko Mijic • Rachel Armstrong, Aubrey de Grey, David Orban and Natasha Vita-More • Existential risks and Aubrey • Rachel and Aubrey • Quality of speakers • The speakers line-up • Rachel's talk • That it happened at all!
  19. 19. Q3 answers (page 2 of 5) • Everything • Singularity Skepticism: Exposing Exponential Errors • I really enjoyed Anders Sandberg's presentation • Anders Sandberg. He is very funny and charming • Seeing in person the people whose work I had read so much of • The diversity of the speakers. David Pearce's ambitious agenda • Being able to see everyone and the talks • I got to meet some of the presenters • Rachel's videos. Nick Bostrom on existential risks. The general sense of occasion • Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg and Aubrey de Gray. Very coherent thinker and speakers. Really enjoy their talks • Rachel Armstrong's presentation on protocell technology • The inout of Rachel Armstrong - but I'd love to have had more time to tease out the implications
  20. 20. Q3 answers (page 3 of 5) • The poster session was great! Also I found the panels more interesting than the speeches, more dynamic, more surprising, less scripted • Aubrey's discussion (albeit brief and in passing rather than in depth) of *actual research* relevant to H+. - Animated Ander's talk! He's such a fantastically engaging speaker • The dinner at Little Italy was well worth the money - a great opportunity to meet the speakers. Aubrey's coverage of recent advancements in geriatrics/life extension research was for me, the most relevant scientific highlight • I really enjoyed how regular speakers such as Aubrey and Anders were presenting new material due to their audiences familiarity with their work, but wish that they could present more original stuff. I really enjoyed the food at the meal • I preferred the talked that were based in science - compelling data and method intrigue me
  21. 21. Q3 answers (page 4 of 5) • I enjoyed listening to Natasha Vita-More, her talk was inspirational about how one can enhance their personal health and her points were backed with the experience of having been a transhumanist for decades. I loved hearing David Pearce espouse his views of why and how technology should and must abolish suffering. I knew of his theories but had not heard him speak, nor heard his live feedback with an audience • Meeting David Pearce (a friend of mine from Facebook) and seeing the talk by Aubrey de Grey. Also just attending and meeting other people in the audience to see what the H+ philosophy is about and what kinds of people are enthusiastic about it • When the speakers went beyond the usual rhetoric that we as transhumanists read and hear again and again. When Aubrey de Grey talked about news clippings and recent developments in research, videos of "living technology" with animated and excited explanations by Rachel Armstrong and so on
  22. 22. Q3 answers (page 5 of 5) • Every speaker provided food for thought. Despite my scepticism, even David Pearce's view had unexpected interest. As I watched a bird eat a worm on my lawn today, the idea of removing suffering whilst retaining biological controls and balances seemed rather challenging, but I like the possibility of vat- grown meat - because it raises the possibility of improving on the original and that is a key idea in progressing change. I can't pick a single aspect. I thought the whole thing was excellent and I could not have done a better job myself!
  23. 23. Question 4 Which aspects of the event were its lowlights, in need of improvement?
  24. 24. Q4 answers (page 1 of 8) • Needs more informal "mixing time", possibly associated with speaker topics • Few opportunities offered for involvement other than commenting on transhumanist news articles • There were too many speakers - 6 speakers with more time for discussion would have been better than 8 with very little time for discussion. The talk on existential risk could have been simplified, and improved by better use of examples, rather than being the most meta-hypothetical talk of the day • The amount of stage time given to non-scientist. The lack of vegetarian items on the menu at Little Italy. Amateurish name badges. I was also disappointed that people weren't encouraged to visit the networking room - it was empty for the most part throughout the breaks, making the poster session pointless • Too many talks on "arts” • From the content side there was nothing really new to me (maybe it's because I'm an h+ futurist...), bad internet connection • Dinner was excellent, but too crowed of a space. Marvelous food, but small space and a little too far to walk
  25. 25. Q4 answers (page 2 of 8) • Most of the presentations and/or the ideas in them contained are not new, i.e. are available online in one form or another. I understand that not all speakers can produce new material for every conference they attend, but was hoping for something new • Date, publicity • Q&A, which is often the highlight in UKH+ talks, was too short and chaotic. The questions were too long winded and preachy and there wasn't enough time for proper debate • Perhaps the afternoon break could be half an hour longer and the event finish half an hour later? • Probably better networking, e.g. profiles of attendees should be published in advance so that we know who to contact • All speakers NEED to have slides, otherwise it becomes too hard to follow also if they had opened up the cafeteria already at 9 AM that would have been ideal, now we had to go out to get our coffees • Catering, consider free tea and coffee/biscuits, charge £5 more
  26. 26. Q4 answers (page 3 of 8) • Could have been a 1.5-day event, or run a bit later / started earlier. More time for Q&A and panels (smaller ones) would be good. Some of Aubrey's points were a bit too technical for many of the audience, I felt. The overall feel was maybe a bit too "academic" (posters etc) • Unfortunately Aubrey De Grey was a disappointment as I was hoping to see his more standard pitch. Most of what he talked about went over my head • Some of the questions from the audience were too drawn out and were more like statements than questions. I think it was well handled however • I thought the panel sessions were weak not least because of the apparent inability of a good few people in the audience to ask a question rather than deliver a speech • Questioning was terrible - perhaps a workshop on how to ask questions! Some sound issues made it hard to hear. Panel sessions weren't that interesting - perhaps related to questions. Some talks assumed much more knowledge than I had (Natasha in particular), and although Rachel Armstrong was very good, I could have done with some more background, basics
  27. 27. Q4 answers (page 4 of 8) • Mad stuff about eliminating all suffering this was a just a little to the left of people who write things down in the their special notebooks in the public library • The presentation on art and technology was under-theorized. There was no consideration paid to aesthetic theory • Philosophical discussion and "preaching". Not enough time for questions and discussion between the presentations •'s probably nothing to do with the speaker’s ability but I didn't quite understand the 1st presentation about singularity. However, a couple of points for future reference and others might have already pointed out already. - Keep presentation short to the point - Stick with objective - what the topic is about rather than jumping from one thing to the other; I got totally confused with some topic because I didn't study the background info about it first (which is my fault partially). - Some pictures/slides would help to help many words Very simple! Keep it short to the point and with a few pictures to keep our eyes rolling rather than shutting off... :-)
  28. 28. Q4 answers (page 5 of 8) • The poster room should be upgraded (not the posters but the attention to it), there should be more time to visit it and discuss them. Maybe it should take 2 days, so there could be more time for questions/ interaction between speakers and audience • The panel discussions were essential, but I was not sure about obliging each person to answer each question, even though each person had a different take on the answer. I would probably have preferred 7 answers to 7 questions rather than 7 answers to 1. In learning styles, there are 'tell' people and there are 'show' people. Many speakers don't recognise this and speak as though the audience comprised only of people with the same learning style as themselves. I am a 'show' person, but I show and tell when presenting. My recall of 'tell' speakers, those who use no slides, is poor. I would be inclined to require speakers to use visuals, or to provide a digest for distribution afterwards
  29. 29. Q4 answers (page 6 of 8) • First and foremost, the questions. This is a problem at all H+ events as far as I can see, and it's a tough one for organisers to address. They don't formulate what they want to say in advance; many questioners wasted approaching a person-hour each saying "What I, er, wanted to ask the er, speaker was, er, in the light of, er..." before reaching the actual payload of their question. Then, so many people want to make a speech, and when you try and hurry them on they just ignore you. One possible solution would be to get people to submit questions by Twitter/text/etc; then the chair can select the ones they think are any good. The questioners would still get the microphone to present their question directly, but the chair knows something about what to expect, and if they go on at length the chair can just cut them off (more IRON FIST please) and ask the question that they have in front of them. Many speakers also overran and made poor use of their time. In particular David Pearce running out of time just as he got to the only really interesting question raised by his position, of what do you do about wild animals. Can't see what more you could have done about this though!
  30. 30. Q4 answers (page 7 of 8) • Lack of any real in-depth presentation/discussion of cutting-edge scientific enterprise that goes some way to furthering H+. I would have very much liked to have seen "review" presentations concerning the latest developments in, for example, cognitive enhances. By this I mean (as Aubrey briefly did) explanations of research conducted (background concept, experiments, results, implications) on a particular drug, for example. Whilst I accept this is not a scientific conference, having one or two talks about upcoming H+ relevant scientific developments would instil in the delegates, I think, real confidence about the validity and relevance of H+, if they had any doubt. - The name badges were of low quality. Though this may seem like a pretty unimportant point, but name badges are a perfect opportunity to demonstrate some professionalism on the part of the H+ movement. If we're trying to break through to a more mainstream audience, my opinion is that we have to do this presenting H+ as a concept and as a movement/organisation in a serious, contemporary and professional manner. To me, the badge exemplified the exact opposite of this. To be taken seriously we have to act serious! In future, I'd like to see nicely printed tags with the H+ logo. I really don't think this would break the bank and it would make such a huge difference. Attendees would feel like 'delegates' and it would really confer a confidence in the professional attitude of the organisation. - In a similar vein, light refreshments ordinarily made available as part of the registration fee. Even if it meant increasing the reg fee slightly to accommodate this, I think it would be worth it. - Poster presentations - as above. Poster boards and printed A0 posters rather than A4 pieces of paper pinned to walls. Students could be encouraged to present information detailing the work they are undertaking as applicable - to clarify, if a PhD/post-doc student is involved in work *even loosely* associated with a H+ concept, it would be excellent to have them show this. - There were some talks that offered not much more than reviews of accepted H+ dogma. We can (and indeed should already have!) read about the basic concepts/ideas in H+ FAQs. Similarly, whilst I really don't doubt they're importance, tired philosophical musings quickly zap the concentration - that's just a personal preference thing though, I'm sure
  31. 31. Q4 answers (page 8 of 8) • I thought that the people at the conference needed more time to get to know each other for personal reasons i.e. H+ dating, making friends with things in common and networking with others in fields of interest. I also felt that a conference with more talks than posters seems to be a bit skewed, and the poster session was a bit out of the way. Young H+ members need encouragement in order for their to be more H+ speakers next time to freshen up the H+ scene and to make some of the more established H+ figures that don't do much research buck their ideas up. A particular low light was the focus on H+ and art. I have no idea what the heck that was doing and felt genuinely embarrassed for my own intellectual integrity when watching Natasha’s talk and also David Pearce’s talk. These were of low academic quality, as was Max's. I also felt that Amon could have explained what he was trying to get across better as what he was getting at was quite profound and interesting. I felt the meal was badly organised, cramped and it was not possible to network much. I also felt that the Singularity University guy was incomprehensible. Whether this was because I haven’t read enough definitions of the 'internet of things' or on the uses of power laws and information, or whether he was talking nonsense, I have no idea, but if he is going to talk about words that no one has heard of he should explain things in a concrete fashion. Okay, and the big one- the way the speakers answered the last question at the end...the one about what we could actually do to help, that was awful. I mean, we have 200 people sitting there, who between them probably have 300 degrees, who knows how many years of experience in how many fields, how many excellent contacts they have, how many hours of volunteering they could do...and the best the panel can come up with was- Aubrey-give me money Amon-change public opinion by blogging on new sites (at least easy and constructive so getting some members to do something) Nick- Do nothing at all as we have no idea what is good and bad That was a rubbish end message. If the idea of H+ is that who knows wha’ts going to happen, lets just do nothing, then I think we should all give up now. There should have been stalls with SENSFAI, UKH+ volunteering, Singularity University enrolment etc to get people on the way out and utilise the H+ man power available. H+ people should be donating money, writing news articles, setting up more conferences within their own business field, writing journal articles, collaborating...and H+ needs to provide a platform for this as an activist group.
  32. 32. Question 5 Do you consider the event to be good value for money?
  33. 33. Q5 answers (page 1 of 2) • Yes [15 answers just had this single word] • Definitely [3 answers] • Absolutely [2 answers] • Very good value • Yes - no question • Very much so • Yes, very • Excellent • The cost of the ticket was reasonable • Yes. It would be more so for those that were new to it • Yes! but as I live in London I did not have to pay for any travel or accommodation so it was not a big cost. Could have paid double to be honest! • I thought the event was good value for money. I'd be happy to pay more, in fact, if it meant a more "commercial" conference • Definitely. Did the event meet our own criteria for success? Are there measures in place to gauge the success of ongoing outcomes?
  34. 34. Q5 answers (page 2 of 2) • Yes, although the meal was probably not worth 40 • Yes for the conference. No for the dinner • Yes, I joined H+ as a member. It would be good to hear of future events also. It was a shame I was unable to afford the £40 for the meal, as I am a PhD student • Yes. I wouldn't increase the price though. £65 for conference+dinner is towards the upper limit of what I would pay • Yes but dinner was expensive - a buffet at end for networking would be good • Yes, it would have been nice if some snacks were provided for attendees. Rather than those who pay for the one day conference needing to pay for snacks. Those that want upgrades from what basic things would be provided could then give their support to the hosting college or organization's snack stand • Well, it's not about money to me personally. But to an outsider/stranger or someone whose completely not understanding what H+ is about they might consider it as a money earning scheme - which I am slightly concern about. But yes, it's ok for money
  35. 35. Question 6 How could we change the design of future similar events to make it more likely that you would attend?
  36. 36. Q6 answers (page 1 of 7) • Date - not election period • Less pressure to leave at X o'clock • Two days with more time to meet between the speeches • A later start? Can't think of much. Am very likely to attend a future event • Have said events in places easier to reach from remote areas • A title or similar to aim it outside the existing transhumanist sphere • More speakers like Anders Sandberg, Nick Bostrom, Aubrey de Grey etc • Cheaper dinner • Add some sort of more-or-less structured networking event for attendees • More focus on rationality needed- assign probabilities to events, etc • Replace the less interesting talks with breaks and free snacks. There weren't enough breaks • Shorter, punchier presentations Any demos or interactive exhibitions? Some form of handouts • Fewer artsy talks (which seem to not contain any info at all), perhaps a slightly more academic feel?
  37. 37. Q6 answers (page 2 of 7) • A more modern venue. At minimum Wi-Fi would have been good • Perhaps a little less conversation a little more action? In other words actual researchers from NBIC - and there are many in London and its environs - talking about what they are actually doing • Perhaps more focussed on actual and practical innovation potentials and strategies in relation to h+ technologies (e.g. h+ innovation summit) • If there are the numbers then run breakout sessions and main events to broaden range of discussion and allow us to choose areas of interest (eg, I'm not that interested in the art side) • I will come, because it is about who is attending to be speaking and the topics are of my interests • A networking area with tables that people can stand at and perhaps eat and drink at between sessions • Possibly lengthen the day by adding a couple of hours to the morning and the afternoon, so more speakers could attend. Also, having a short 5 minute break between speakers would be helpful
  38. 38. Q6 answers (page 3 of 7) • Perhaps one fewer talk with more time for discussion or a good environment for chatting with other attendees • New speakers. Perhaps about the future of computers (quantum computing, neural network chips, etc). A talk on the LHC would be very interesting as I feel that findings from that experiment will contribute greatly to the future • I think people would want to attend regardless if they want to know/learn more about the subjects. So probably keeping the subjects interesting is a priority • There was not enough interaction between participants, a pure "sage on the stage"-format. Perhaps it should be more interactive, a mix of keynotes and "unconference“ • Students are far more likely to attend when the vent does not conflict with an exam-revision phase. Early February or any time between mid June and late August would be best • A few debates about key issues. For example, it would be good to debate the so called "facts" about the Singularity (More vs. a Singulaity advocate). Or debate transhumanism More and Sandberg vs. Bostrom and Pearce
  39. 39. Q6 answers (page 4 of 7) • My main complaint was that the tone was occasionally rather evangelical. My attitude to transhumanism is sympathetic complex. I don't want it to be assumed by speakers that I buy into all its progressivist assumptions • Perhaps some smaller breakout sessions, smaller groups, better interaction. i know for a fact that many of the participants are just as knowledgeable as the speakers, now this dimension was not fully made use of • The conference was a great induction. Next time I would like about a third to half of the conference to focus on recent developments/headlines and dive into the topics. Could Aubrey develop some kind of status tracker to align to his 7 point strategy? Could Nick and Anders elaborate a bit more on the 'Future of humanity institute'? - Anders provided a good overview of the framework for his research, I would like to see some details for individual drug/enhancement studies - Nick covered the categorisation of risk. Perhaps an idea would be to include a speaker on one of the existential risks? e.g. supernova or end of simulation? We have a good representation from Oxford - what about Cambridge? they have great biotech credentials
  40. 40. Q6 answers (page 5 of 7) • The same with a single twist would probably do well for the next. After that I would probably favour syndicate breakouts to involve the audience in their favoured tracks. That might need a two day event, but a pilot of one breakout might be a useful proof of concept • I thought it was well organised, good format. Perhaps (as was suggested in the conference anyway) having people present who disagree with some of the speakers, i.e. a debate / discussion, would have been interesting. Constructive criticism and balanced viewpoints are always welcome • Could you create a forum of people sitting around tables in groups of 8-10, so that spntaneous conversations could happen more frequently. And people could chhange tables at lunch-break. This is a format used in many big conferences these days and is very useful for good dialogue
  41. 41. Q6 answers (page 6 of 7) • My brief comment on the Humanity + day is that it encompassed a lot of ‘Western’ thinking which is aimed at improving the ego, and Buddhism/Zen/Taoism, in their esoteric form, are about dissolution of the ego. Who wants to be 1000 years old if one is still harbouring jealousy, pride, greed and hatred… • Have 1 art talk (would rather hear talks from younger scientists and philosophers than artists because scientists are philosophers and artists too). Have more qualified speakers. Have more posters. Have more time to network and make contacts. Invite James Hughes. Invite Mark Walker. Invite Julian Savulescu. Invite one skeptic like at SENS3. Invite Susan Blackmore. Invite a humanist speaker with transhumanist leanings? • 1) Have a couple of break out sessions on particular topics - e.g. psychology, IT & internet, etc etc which people could attend depending on their interests. You would need someone to lead these seminars and the audience could contribute. 2) 6 speakers instead of 8 would allow my brain to digest the information presented instead of being overloaded 3) A cheaper after event restaurant!
  42. 42. Q6 answers (page 7 of 7) • The event promoted the idea of 100s of conversations but did nothing at all to help me join in these as there was no way for me to identify people who might have shared my main areas of interest (nano & informatics within health) and also as it was my first event I knew no-one. I think a workshop approach for at least some part of the event with participants splitting into groups would be good (however I know the practical problems!), also online and real world noticeboard where people can seek others with like interests before and at such events • The lineup of speakers was unbeatable, but I would favour one or two fewer speakers in favour of longer talks and more time for Q&A and debate. I think arranging some sort of voluntary group debates on different subjects, perhaps led by the speakers and voluntairs, could be very interesting and maybe each group would come up with one question for the Q&A. A primary alternative destination for people who did not go to Little Italy would have been nice to ensure everyone who wanted could meet in the same place for further discussions. Finally, it might also seem trivial, but sitting the whole day in those plastic chairs was a bit of a strain
  43. 43. Question 7 How could we change the design of future similar events to make it more likely that relevant acquaintances of yours would attend?
  44. 44. Q7 answers (page 1 of 4) • A speaker they've heard of might help, but not sure • A title or similar to aim it outside the existing transhumanist sphere • More directed towards business and policy-making • This is a specialist interest, that most people find loony or squicky • Date - not election period • Wider publicity! How to do that though, I don't know • I think many of my colleagues will attend now I have told them. Publicity was an issue • No artists, as science acquaintances would see this as a waste of time • More scientific and pragmatic • Well, probably change the name: people think H+ is a sect • If you value rationality have more dissenting voices. Invite some skeptics about transhumanism • Plan it on a Sunday or make it a two day event with evening activites for people coming from abroad
  45. 45. Q7 answers (page 2 of 4) • I think the format was great. Always hard to have to give up a Saturday but its not realistic to have it during the working week • Could we relate some of these topics to religion. It is two separate subjects but can also become one - depends on belief and speakers I suppose • Students are far more likely to attend when the vent does not conflict with an exam-revision phase. Early February or any time between mid June and late August would be best • Have a session or two re-interpreting it for "normal people" rather than longterm followers. Maybe have a session on politics, social implications of H+, or even an outright naysayer for contrast. Think through ways of getting a higher media profile • I think that a balanced representation of parties from a wide range of sources is required. This maximises the number of people (acquaintances) that would identify with the event. I am also glad that the event has support from older and already established institutions (Oxford, UCL) - this adds much needed credibility
  46. 46. Q7 answers (page 3 of 4) • Ensure that speakers’ content is reviewed by the organizers beforehand and that some of the actual new or cutting edge ideas are promoted beforehand • I work for the NHS and an event, or part of one, themed around health would undoubtedly make it easier for me to involve colleagues • More women speakers. More about design and immersive environments: metaverse, virtual reality, HCI, etc • Need to broaden range of interest. More politics, more "near" technology rather than looking what to many seems "far" ahead • I understand my acquaintances are still a bit "frightened" of most of the topics, because it is more of a scary science-fiction thing to them. I would propose to make more documentaries (without the sensation and drama, but more about the positive facts), and show it on TV • Make the first half of the conference about genuine cutting edge (but existing) technology - i.e. a scientific academic conference, and the 2nd half of the event the speculating future applications of that technology
  47. 47. Q7 answers (page 4 of 4) • A one day event, on a Saturday, in London ... I think is the best way to make it easy for people to attend. Perhaps an attractive location like an Oxford or Cambridge college would appeal to people? But it would have to be easily accessible • Good question, getting the next tier of individuals to engage is a key step. It's a case of building on success - people who enjoyed the event are more likely to promote it to their networks. Making the video of speakers available on the web so that attendees can show their friends what went on would be the best publicity. Word of mouth is inadequate, we need to provide the materials which attendees can use to market the ideas to their buddies. A Facebook link might go viral. A digest of key messages or questions from each speaker's viewpoint - the official output of the event - would be another marketing tool. At future meetings, you might ask the speakers to provide such material. It's like distance learning material, the chapter starts out by telling you what you'll learn and reinforces the learning at the end
  48. 48. Question 8 How could we change the design of future similar events to increase the lasting positive impact of the event on wider society
  49. 49. Q8 answers (page 1 of 5) • Advertise more broadly - eg Boing Boing and IO9 • More contacts with the press • Better publicity • Perhaps more PR activities • Invite the press and/or blogging community and use pithy, media-savvy statements • I'm not aware of any reporting of the gathering in mass media. The event needs to be better publicized I suspect • Easier said than done, but more extensive media coverage, positive if possible, is always helpful I'm sure • Perhaps adding a workshop • A greater focus on rationality and existential risk • Make it more relevant to the here-and-now • More opportunities for involvement • Get more people active and volunteering or involved so they can actually do something
  50. 50. Q8 answers (page 2 of 5) • Have excellent speakers who are able to explain complicated and unconventional ideas • Media coverage. Aim to get virality in social network engagement. Seed awareness through popular-science channels like the Dana Centre • Difficult one on the wider society side because it requires different level of intellects. So depends on what topic and how wide. You can't expect the beginners and someone whose involved for 20 years to appreciate the same simulation • More regular events. perhaps branch off each individual topic into a mini event. This would create a level of redundancy and also ensure a more considered approach to each topic and a means for growth • invite people with influence to the panels, like politicians, media people, people from outside the "subculture"! then of course make sure these people do not take over the event for their own agendas by skillful facilitation by the moderator! • Get EU and local officials to attend, give an intro speech. also produce a policy paper based in inputs from the event
  51. 51. Q8 answers (page 3 of 5) • Deal with an actual problem in society and invite the press :) • Making the presentations available on our website and promoting it both inside and outside the web. The website should become an increasingly valuable resource to the wider public • Emphasis on networking and providing the opportunity for the building of friendships between transhumanists • Have more scientists speaking about transhumanist-relevant topics. Perhaps the addition of a cryonics workshop • Maybe an art exhibition - you had two artists present and I know several more in the audience • The event was very “academic” in design, participants and feel. Making closer links between practical implementation and concept would be beneficial (OK I loved the proposal for rescuing Venice but I do query the practicality!) • Advertise in universities and among academics and professionals in science and engineering. Eyecatching and evocative artwork about the future we envisage on the website and banners • Stage was not very attractive
  52. 52. Q8 answers (page 4 of 5) • Invite more media, in particular local colleges could be encouraged to run an article beforehand to attract more students. Ask members who attend to take a moment when they are back home to share their favourite speeches from the conference or experiences in their favourite on-line communities • Identify specific actions for all attendees to take following the conference so that they can contribute to accelerating positive change rather than just spectating or talking about it. E.g. as a psychologist I am trying to identify and solve problems in peoples lives so that they can be happier and more productive. It seemed that after the conference, speakers such as Aubrey de Grey would be getting straight to work, whereas other speakers, and much of the audience might be carrying on as normal - not much change there! • Invite non-transhumanist speakers and critics of transhumanism. Make it a conference on transhumanism/converging technologies/etc, rather than a fan-club gathering
  53. 53. Q8 answers (page 5 of 5) • I thought the panel discussion at the end was heading towards something really positive. As I'm sure you've picked up on, people in the audience were really eager to know what the next step was and how *they* could help with it. A sort of end-of-conference "strategy discussion" would prove of real worth. If the meetings are planned for yearly intervals, a discussion of what was done in the past year would help focus and develop discussion concerning what could be done in the next year. From here, people should be instructed/advised/directed in some manner, explicitly, concerning how *they* can contribute to furthering H+ • One thing that was slightly touched upon was funding. The SENS organisation takes funds via donations, but there must be companies or research institutes that allow investing your own money (e.g. getting shares in startups) that would allow people to participate and possibly get something in return when/if the product/service actually becomes commercialised. I do think people would invest money in worthwhile projects. Also private investment is the way these areas would be funded as I doubt governments would (or should) support these endeavours
  54. 54. Question 9 Are you interested in volunteering some of your time or resources to help plan and run future similar events? How would you like to participate?
  55. 55. Q9 answers (page 1 of 3) • Possibly [3 answers] • Absolutely. Whatever needs doing • Possibly, although it's early days yet • Not at the moment - but if you are desperate drop me a line • Haven't got the time sorry • No, as currently committed to other activities • Difficult for me as I work overseas a lot • This would depend on the commitments I have at the time • Could potentially write material, but have limited time • Yes • Yes, I am ready to help at least a few hours and to make a gift • I would help with the online side of things like running forums • Yes, but mostly online • Yes. Via email to find out how I can • I could help with the strategic planning (content wise) of the event
  56. 56. Q9 answers (page 2 of 3) • Sure • If there was an art aspect then possibly. I am an artist/curator • Yes; I am already doing this by displaying info-posters on my art-exhibitions. If I could do some more and it fit's in my time schedule, I am always willing to help. Don't forget that I live in Belgium • Yes. I would be interested in approaching speakers or producing written material • I do not live in the UK, so it would be unlikely that I'd be able to help beyond what I already would do-which is help promote the event in various transhumanist/futurist organizations in which I volunteer & participate • Yes; I would be willing to help in any way possible if I could get there. I live in northern Scotland (against my will) and petrol is expensive • Yes (to the first question), but I live in west Wales, and I work overseas, so while I would like to help, this is in practice, rather difficult for me • I would be prepared to make a fixed number of hours available to help planning, and post-analysis, which you can call down over a period
  57. 57. Q9 answers (page 3 of 3) • Yes. If there are a group of people interested in practical health related aspects I would be happy to contact/meet and help organise events • Sure, but cut the needed activities into small chunks so it's easier to delegate responsibilities • Sure. It depends of what's required and needed at the time • Yes - more than happy to discuss with you, promote H+ externally as a spokesperson if appropriate, get involved in chairing / helping assist in next time's. Maybe think about setting up an Advisory Board mailing list? • I would like to hold a talk because I think I could do one that was more informative or proactive than many of the arts and utopia talks. I would be willing to give a talk on H+ activism and volunteering in general or on my personal research • I am a Podcaster and happy to promote your events in my shows. Perhaps we could discuss some things before the event via the shows • I could give a presentation on modern neuropsychology, and the implications in terms of neuroethics/free will/determinism argument. This is genuine science that is here now, but for which the societal consequences have not yet been fully realised
  58. 58. Question 10 Apart from large events like this, which other activities should the Humanity+ UK organisation prioritise?
  59. 59. Q10 answers (page 1 of 4) • The monthly meetings • The monthly events are very interesting • Talks/seminars but please publicise them • Monthly gathering, either with or without an invited speaker - social/networking gatherings would also be ok • Social, networking • Events outside London. Perhaps at venues in Cardiff, Edinburgh or provincial UK cities • A conference for next year • Look into eurotranshumanists and get a think tank idea going! • Let’s aim for a TV documentary series at BBC about transhumanism! • Campaigning Regional venues for lectures/discussions • Engagement with political organisation. (Pirate Party) • Spreading awareness among sympathetic MPs? • Singularity University style events. Providing education on various topics relevant to H+
  60. 60. Q10 answers (page 2 of 4) • Not sure - so much on offer already along similar lines! Perhaps aim more at public media, e.g., TV and Radio • Facilitation of interest/area related informal groupings so as to increase the number and breadth of its membership • An alternative to classical (continental European) Technology Assessment towards the direction of h+ innovation support • University based Humanity+ clubs. It's Our Future. There were a lot of students present, which universities did they come from? How many people viewed the live event online and where were they located? • Perhaps make some links to academic conferences? H+ needs to distinguish the consideration of future applications of existing technology and change, from the science fiction fantasies of some people in the H+ movement. There is a place for both, but if clear distinctions are made, the movement will be able to be taken more seriously by a greater number of professional scientists • Workshops for non-experts on specialist topics, by experts: e.g genetic engineering, AI • The existential threat aspect is compelling to everyone - H+ or not
  61. 61. Q10 answers (page 3 of 4) • I think you have it exactly right: a yearly-ish event in a venue like Conway Hall with many speakers, plus shorter events in a smaller venue with fewer speakers more frequently. Many many thanks for all that you do! • I think H+ is connected with all aspects in life so it can be related to anything that one can imagine and interested • Public engagement and awareness is #1 Maybe try to get some "celebrities" or politicians involved Maybe an annual "State of UK H+" report or study? • Profile awareness with academic researchers who are pursuing research relevant to H+ goals • Volunteer groups and activism and lobbying and inter-relations with humanism (who are dealing really well with educational systems, atheism, politics and ethics and welfare and would be good contacts to make) • Workshops to learn practical transhumanistic skills and how to use gadgets, supplements, arrange for cryonics standby, etc. Daytrips to companies and places of interest arranged by members - supplement manufacturers, nano labs, virtual reality labs, etc. Website updates about courses, jobs and other opportunities that can help further what we want to achieve
  62. 62. Q10 answers (page 4 of 4) • Lobbying and activism. Voting campaigns, writing to ministers and MPs to promote transhumanist causes. Funding drives for SENS, article writing, representation of transhumanism at other conferences and public debates, by way of speakers and posters • Continue to get high quality speakers for the monthly event. Possibly start a separate think-tank/book club of the most dedicated members to meet monthly (before the main monthly speech perhaps). When an important or relevant topic is discussed at each meeting (new books for instance, "homework" is assigned from month to month) and the ongoing effectiveness of Humanity+UK. This sort of meeting is good for community building and will ensure that the organization has new leadership to step up when the current leadership is unable to fulfill their duties at some point