Automation and Utopia

London Futurists
London Futurists
Public group

Birkbeck College

Torrington Square WC1E 7HX · London

How to find us

We'll be in B18, which is on the basement level

Location image of event venue


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 and

== 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,

== Meeting logistics ==

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

Venue: B18, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room B18 is on the basement 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 (, 38-51 Bedford Way, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0DG.

== Wifi access ==

Wireless network: BBK-Guest
Username: January11
Password: ijnvKd

(The username and password are case sensitive. In practise, it seems this wifi system often needs 2-3 attempts to make a successful connection.)

== Event hashtag ==


== Covering meeting costs ==

A small fee (£8) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room hire costs. Please pay in advance, online, after you RSVP.

(NB you don't need a PayPal account to use the PayPal interface.)

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment of £10 in that case can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser in advance.