Future Humans and the Price of Progress

Future Humans and the Price of Progress

A Long Now Boston Conversation with James Hughes (IEET) and Nir Eiskovits (UMAEC).

November 4, 02019, at CIC, 1 Broadway, Cambridge MA
Doors open @ 6pm — Come early and meet other Long Now thinkers
Presentations start @ 7pm

Tickets are available on Eventbrite: Eventbrite Tickets

Humans invent technology to shape the world — but technology also reshapes humans.  What will future humans be like?

Recently, alarms have begun to sound about the impact of excessive screen time, the ethics of AI and the negative effects of social media  on culture and politics. These technologies have increased communication and inspired social change – but they are also changing the human beings they are intended to serve, in unanticipated and potentially harmful ways.  Nir Eiskovits (AEC UMass Boston), will discuss these impacts and how they could play out in the decades and centuries ahead.

At the same time, technologies are changing humans from the inside.   The outsourcing of our short-term memory to smart phones is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are moving into an era when human perception, reproduction, genetics, and even physiology and brain function, will be fundamentally enabled by engineering and biological technologies.  James Hughes (IEET) will discuss the prospects for engineered super-humans, and the many ethical issues that will be raised.

Join Nir, James, and other Long Now thinkers as we explore some of these questions:

  • What will humans be like in 100 or 1,000 years? What does it even mean to be human? 
  • Is humanity defined by physiology?  By mental cognition? By emotional and moral capacity?  
  • Will the post-human transition be a gradual process, or will a race of super-humans leap forward, leaving the bulk of humanity behind?  
  • As we embrace new technology to become “better, stronger, smarter, healthier and more long-lived”, what do we give up?  

Join the conversation and be part of the solution.
$15 in advance // $20 at the door. Students w/ID admitted free.
Audience participation is encouraged.
If Eventbrite tickets sell out, seating for walk-ups will unlikely be available due to room size.

About the speakers:

James Hughes Ph.D. is a bioethicist and sociologist, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), which he co-founded with philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2004.  James also serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. He is the author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, and from 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio.

Nir Eiskovits is an associate professor of philosophy and founding director of the Applied Ethics Center at UMass Boston, and has recently been working on the impact of AI of our everyday experiences. He was an associate professor of legal and political philosophy at Suffolk University and co-founded  the Graduate Program in Ethics and Public Policy. Nir is author of A Theory of Truces (Palgrave MacMillan) and Sympathizing with the Enemy  (Brill), and the guest editor the recent issue of Theoria on The Idea of Peace in the Age of Asymmetrical Warfare.   In addition to his scholarly work, he advises several NGOs focused on conflict resolution and comments frequently on the Middle East conflict for American newspapers and magazines. 

We’re proud and excited to welcome James and Nir to the Long Now Boston community.

Cambridge Innovation Center is an in-kind sponsor of this Long Now Boston conversation. We are very grateful for their support.

From Synthetic DNA to Billion Year Libraries

Long Now Boston Conversation SeriesOctober 7, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Featuring Dr. Hyunjun Park, CEO of CATALOG DNA, and Nova Spivack, Chairman of Arch Mission Foundation.

Synopsis: Human science and imagination are moving us to a reality we can barely comprehend.  Synthetic DNA is the basis for stunningly efficient data storage and sophisticated computational functionality – yet the microminiaturized manufacturing process defies visualization.  Using this technology, petabytes of data are encoded on strands of DNA and dried into something the size of a sugar cube.  Imagine such a cube layered into a small, superstrong container at the core of a small disk the size of a DVD.  That disk consists of a number of layers of nickel nanofiche analog imagery on top of high-density digital storage layers, bonded with an epoxy in which human and other DNA samples are stored — a complete library of human knowledge and history.  Now imagine those libraries scattered around the earth, on the moon, in orbit around the sun, where they will serve as the backup for planet Earth, lasting billions of years. 

Summary by George Gantz
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Indigenous Science Fiction, The Imagination, and Long-term Thinking

Indigenous Science Fiction, The Imagination, and Long-term Thinking

Presented by Long Now Boston and Emerson Contemporary

Wed, October 16, 2019.   Reception 6:30-7:30pm and Talk 7:30-8:30pm.

Emerson College, Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 

Space is limited.  RSVP HERE 

The event:

Join us for a provocative conversation about indigenous science fiction, the imagination, and long-term thinking. Featured speakers are artist Cannupa Hanska Luger and author Dr. Jimena Canales. Both speakers are concerned with the nature of time – historic, present, and future – and how science/fiction, storytelling and long-term thinking intersect.

This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition FUTURE ANCESTRAL TECHNOLOGIES nágshibi, featuring new art work by Cannupa Hanska Luger. Future Ancestral Technologies is an approach to making art objects, videos, and performance with the intent to influence global consciousness. This Indigenous-centered science fiction uses creative storytelling to radically reimagine the future. 

The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Henry and Lois Foster Chair of Contemporary Art Theory and Practice and Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College.

The Speakers:

Cannupa Hanska Luger is a New Mexico-based, multi-disciplinary artist. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota he is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel and repurposed materials, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. Luger lectures and produces projects around the globe and his work is collected internationally. He is a 2019 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, a 2019 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Honoree and the recipient of the 2018 Museum of Arts and Design’s inaugural Burke Prize. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. 

Dr. Jimena Canales is an expert in 19th and 20th century history of the physical sciences, working for a better understanding of science and technology in relation to the arts and humanities. Her book, A Tenth of a Second: A History explored the relation between science and history as one of the central intellectual problems of modern times. Her second book, The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time explores the nature of time, the meaning of relativity, and the place of philosophical thought in a scientific age. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the History of Science and a BSC in Engineering Physics from the Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Mastering the Balance – Loonshots and Franchise

Long Now Boston Conversation Series
September 9, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Featuring Safi Bahcall, author of Loonshots (2019)

Synopsis: According to Safi Bahcall, the people, companies, institutions and governments that drive progress take advantage of both the creativity that generates new ideas, and the logistical discipline that can take them to scale.  Creatives need the open environment of loonshot nurseries.  Soldiers need the structure and hierarchy of a franchise. Both are essential to long-term success, and the best leaders are the ones that love their creatives and soldiers equally.  

Summary by Paul Hoxie and George Gantz.
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Long Now Boston Garden Party 02019

August 17, 02019,Cambridge MA

Reflections on the 4th Annual Summer Picnic of Long Now Boston.  

A Timely Experience

A great deal of planning and preparation had gone into the afternoon picnic, but the time for planning was over. It was time for the event to begin. Thoughts and questions cross through your mind as you walk into a quiet Cambridge neighborhood.  Will the event be well-attended?  Who will I know?  What questions might be asked of me, and what questions would I like to ask?

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FLASH TALKS – Probing the Future

Long Now Boston Conversation Series
May 6, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Featuring eight talks by Long Now Boston Members.

On May 6, Long Now Boston held a 2018 FLASH TALK event.  Eight presentations had been selected in advance from the pool of entrants, and each presenter was given 5 minutes, and 3 slides, to explore their ideas.  The result was a wide-ranging and surprisingly robust discussion of topics in chemistry, climate, aging, cityscape design, science education and the future of democracy and capitalism.  

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Robotic Futures – A Cyborg Vision

Long Now Boston Conversation Series
April 1, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Featuring Bruce Blumberg, Principal UX Engineer, Universal Robots.

Coding, dogs, and robots have been Dr. Blumberg’s work and passion. This experience informs his expectations of the robotic future we can anticipate: rather than featuring generalized human-scale robots, our human capacities will likely be vastly enhanced by new generations of powered tools, personal aids and enabling devices, some potentially embedded in us – not a robotic but a cyborg future.

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DNA – Our Past is Our Future

Long Now Boston Conversation Series
March 4, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center

Featuring Preston Estep, CSO and co-founder Veritas Genetics, and Dennis Grishin, CSO and co-founder, Nebula Genomics

Synopsis: Two leading gen-tech entrepreneurs explored the profound evolutionary transition DNA technologies may bring at the Long Now Boston Conversation on March 4, 02019. However, a positive outcome is not assured unless we carefully navigate the landscape of technical, regulatory, ethical and privacy issues involved.

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Reimagining the Microbial World

February 4, 02019, at the Cambridge Innovation Center

Featuring Scott Chimileski, microbiologist and author, and Roberto Kolter, Director of the Kolter Lab

With stunning pictures and astounding mastery of scientific research and curiosities, Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter delivered an awe inspiring tour of the microbial world at the Long Now Boston Conversation on February 4, 02019.

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