- Ethics Debate and Lightning Talks
Before we can decide what actions to take to create a "better" future, we need to determine what "better" means. Most futurists I know are hedonic utilitarians. "utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good" --https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/ But what is "good?" Some hedonists will say "pleasure" is good. Boss level hedonists say preferred states have positive valence. -- http://opentheory.net/PrincipiaQualia.pdf I'm sort of a stoic/virtue ethics person who thinks that exercising our capabilities toward the progress of civilization is good. -- https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/ I say that sometimes pain is useful which offends the negative utilitarians who put the abolition of suffering above all else to the point that some would even destroy all life to reduce suffering. (seriously) My friend Hank Pellissier (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Pellissier) thinks that futurists on the spectrum focus on AI rather starving children because they lack empathy or some such nonsense. He has offered to come debate me on the topic and I look forward to dismantling his conceptual frameworks for all to see. :-) . -- https://brighterbrains.institute/ UPDATE: Here are Hank's propositions: 1. Life Extension is useless if people are depressed 2. Ending Suffering should be the #1 Transhumanist Value for 2-3 reasons 3. "Aspies" view this differently than "Empaths"? or do they? 4. Effective Altruism has been locally sabotaged by crazy math nerds, and robbed of decent compassion I expect this to be a lively debate. Bring your own ethics related topics and we will have 5 min lightning talks as well. We had a wonderful turnout last time and I am pleased to be back at the Octopus this month. It's an outstanding venue for us. Be sure to spend some money to help them survive.
- Civilizational Collapse Scenarios
It seemed that civilizational collapse scenarios garnered a great deal of interest during the lightning talks last meetup, so let's revisit this cheerful topic again. Will ubiquitous sequencing tools allow bad actors to weaponize viruses? Will AI harvest all our carbon for it's own ends? Or will we end up with a mundane Mad Max scenario when the US Govt defaults on its debt? Bring your own scenarios to discuss. I will use the timer again to help us segment the time better and give everyone a chance to express themselves. We will be meeting at the Octopus Literary Salon which doesn't normally open on Saturday afternoons, so please spend some money on refreshments to help support them.
- Futurist Lightning Talks
Let's get together for an afternoon of five minute futurist lightning talks at MudRakers. Feel free to bring a futurist topic that you know well enough to talk about for five minutes. OR just join us to hang out for the discussion. Post topics in the comment section below. I might talk about how preppers and futurism intersect. Leo said he might have something machine learning related. Join us for refreshments and discussion and let us revive the East Bay Futurist scene a bit. Note: This meetup is on a Sunday for a change. Also, let me know if you know of good venues near BART to host future meetups.
- Global Warming Discussion
We are back at Muckraker's after a long hiatus! Dony is moderating a discussion on global warming. Come bring your own discussion topics. at the end of the year, I like to review our favorite Futurist developments from the past year. Come join the discussion and help us keep the East Bay Futurist scene alive and vibrant.
- Science Fiction Devices You Wish You Had
I was browsing the excellent Qualia Computing site and was reminded of Philip K. Dick's Penfield Mood Organ that allowed users to dial in any emotion they chose. https://qualiacomputing.com/category/valence/page/3/ What other as yet unrealized ideas has Science Fiction given us that deserve more contemplation? Bring your favorite SciFi ideas that haven't come to pass but might soon and let's discuss. We will be meeting at the historic Bellevue Club this week. Parking is available at the club. Just buzz the intercom for admittance and say that you are with the Futurist group, just as you would for front door entry. Please bring snack and refreshments.
- Futurist General Discussion
I apologize once again for the late notice. But perhaps you would miss Saturday coffee with Futurists in the East Bay if we didn't do it EVERY week. Come join us for a general discussion at Mudraker's tomorrow. Bring your own topics to discuss as usual.
- Consciousness Research: From Alchemy to Chemistry
Please join us for an in-depth exploration of consciousness, with our good friends Mike and Andres from the Qualia Research Institute. Michael Edward Johnson will first introduce some of the philosophical methods QRI uses to study qualia: - what it means to ‘solve’ consciousness; - how to go about interpreting the solution; - one of the results of this approach, the Symmetry Theory of Valence (STV). Andrés Gómez Emilsson will speak about a novel empirical measure of emotional valence (affect): - why emotional valence matters; - different models of what emotional valence ‘is’; - what emotional valence is according to QRI’s framework (STV); - novel predictions and experiments about emotional valence, centered around a promising new paradigm by Selen Atasoy. Qualia Research Institute conducts foundational research into qualia, value, and human flourishing. This event will be held in the Committee Room at the Bellevue Club in Oakland at 525 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA. Please ring the intercom for entry and tell the receptionist that you are attending the Futurist event. Please bring snacks and beverages as well. We look forward to seeing you there and digging into the hard problems of the mind together.
- Futurist General Discussion, also ALIENS!
Sorry for the late notice. But let's keep the tradition of Saturday coffee with Futurists in the East Bay alive with another general discussion at Mudraker tomorrow. I think Dony and Jamie wanted to talk about Aliens and the Fermi Paradox. Bring your own topics to discuss as usual.
- Futurist General Discussion
Let's get together for a general futurist discussion over coffee at Mudrakers. Some ideas that we discussed a few weeks ago include: human rights for uploads, Omohundro's Basic AI Drives, and the future of memetic superorganisms. Bring your own ideas as well and come schmooze with fellow futurists.
- Future of Morality
Leo will be leading the discussion this week and I'm so sorry to miss it since I DO so enjoy tearing down Peterson. Dust off your stone tablets and join the East Bay Futurists this Saturday for some fire and brimstone at our weekly kaffeeklatsch. Jordan Peterson, a polarizing figure in many recent futurist discussions, is making old testament prophecy cool again in his recent book "Twelve Rules for Life" (slatestarcodex review: https://goo.gl/hEL6ag). We will go through the rules and discuss them. In addition, we will explore broader questions that relate to morality and the future of humanity: * Does humanity still need common moral frameworks? Do we still need prophets? * Can scientific materialism serve as a basis of moral frameworks or do we need myths and stories? * Are religious groups super organisms? Should you join one? As usual, bring your own tangents, irrelevant asides and probing questions. Look forward to seeing you all.