An important debate over ethical principles has become overdue. Should the widespread disruptions of the digital age alter our conceptions about morality and ethics? Which ethical principles from previous eras should we continue to uphold (perhaps with extra urgency)? Are there new considerations and realisations that we would want to inform our decisions about the future of technology and the future of humanity? In such discussions, what should our starting point be?
Here's the context. Rapidly advancing technology is placing within our reach unprecedented power to remake human bodies, human minds, and human society. Age-old constraints and limitations are being swept aside. But just because we now have the opportunity to remould human character, it does not follow that we should take these steps. If our viewpoint is too short-sighted, or too techno-centric, we might miss the bigger picture. We might edit key features of human nature in ways we'll soon come to regret. Like King Midas of old, we may discover that our wishes have devastatingly bad consequences.
This event, which is jointly organised by GlobalNet21 (http://www.meetup.com/GlobalNet21/) and London Futurists (http://www.meetup.com/London-Futurists/), will feature a number of panellists offering some opening thoughts on the topic of "progressive ethics in the digital age". Audience members will then be welcome to join the conversation.
Note: this topic received the highest number of votes in a recent survey (https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2FTKZ6F) of the combined membership of these two organisations.
This is no mere academic discussion. It has profound real-world consequences. Engineers are awaiting input from philosophers for the "moral guidance" modules of powerful new robots and AIs. Politicians, likewise, are looking around for assistance in drafting legislation governing new technology. What advice should we be offering?
The panellists at this event will be:
• Dr. Stephen Minger (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenminger), former Chief Scientist, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, and former Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology at Kings College London
• James Lawford Davies (http://www.hempsons.co.uk/contact/james-lawford-davies/), Partner, Hempsons. James qualified as a solicitor in 2000 after training with a specialist healthcare firm. After qualifying he became increasingly specialised in the regulation of assisted reproduction and embryo research, and subsequently in broader human tissue and cell based therapies and research. James advises a large number of clinics, hospitals, universities and research centres licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). He has been involved in most of the leading cases relating to assisted reproduction, embryo and stem cell research.
• David Wood (https://hpluspedia.org/wiki/David_Wood), Chair, London Futurists.
We are grateful to Newspeak House (https://www.nwspk.com/) for once again hosting this event, free of charge to attendees. The address is[masked] Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E2 7DG. Doors will open at 6.30pm and the event will start promptly at 7pm.
No food or drink is available at Newspeak House itself, but there are plenty of diners, pubs, and coffee shops in the vicinity. (For example, between Shoreditch High Street station and Newspeak House, you can find a Pret a Manger and a Costa Coffee.) Feel free to bring some drinks or light refreshments with you to the event.
A number of attendees will be continuing the discussion after the event at one of the nearby pubs.
This event is free to attend, but to avoid over-crowding, entrance will be strictly limited to people who sign up in advance.
Optional preparatory reading:
Consider taking a look at:
• "Project for a Progressive Ethics" (https://transpolitica.org/2016/10/16/project-for-a-progressive-ethics/) - by Dil Green
• "Transhumanist ethics" (https://hpluspedia.org/wiki/Transhumanist_ethics) - on H+Pedia
• Other suggestions welcome here!