There was just the one speaker, Jamie Bartlett, author of the Dark Net. As such, I won't bother breaking this post down into different sections.
I thought that the talk was really interesting - Jamie covered a few topics (with the focus more on the 'radical' than on the 'technology', in my opinion). It was a pretty deep chat, and so my blog post will be equally deep - don't expect much in the way of tech examples in this one 🙂
THE BEST BITS
Of the various topics, I particularly enjoyed the section on transhumanism, mainly because it's a topic that I've found interesting for a long time (I've been known to read the occasional Iain M Banks novel). And I certainly agree that we are getting closer and closer to the point where technology will start enabling some 'radical' concepts to become more mainstream, and will ultimately force us to ask ourselves some important questions about how (or whether) we should use the power of such technology.
I often find myself wondering how far away we are from seemingly far-off concepts like true bio/nanotechnology, or integrated human/computer interfaces.
I suppose that my own opinion is that many such advancements probably all hang off one key concept - self-improving AI. If (I don't think I'm ready to say 'when') we ever manage to create a self-improving AI (and allowing that it doesn't immediately exterminate us all for being an inherent risk to the universe), then I think an avalanche of human-centric technologies would quickly follow (developed by our benevolent AI buddy, obviously).
I also quite liked the section on Liberland - (the proposed micro-nation that stands on a piece of disputed land in between Serbia and Croatia). The visionary types who have taken it upon themselves to stake a claim to the land as a sovereign nation, have the goal of transforming it into a Monaco of the digital age. It's an interesting concept, which for the most part is viewed as a bit of a publicity stunt, but I thinmk it really does present some interesting questions. The concept of a nation state has been around for a long time, and is a product of its time, where people knew little beyond their borders and physical boundaries were a logical means of population identification and regulation.
In our digital world, most online communities have no such physical restrictions. Anyone can identify, connect and collaborate with anyone else. Likewise, globally distributed groups of individuals (assisted by huge networks of bots in some cases) can wage cyber-warfare with other groups, or with nation states.
It'll be interesting to see if the archaic concept of a nation state with defined borders, laws and culture will continue to be strong enough to resist the slide toward online culture and maintain itself as the primary means of self-identity.
Stuff is moving fast. I know it probably always feels like this, but I do really feel like the world is in a transformational state, and the adoption of new technologies is something that happens so fast now, driven I suppose by our increasingly interconnected society. As I write this, smartphones are just turning ten years old. Ten! Can you remember a world without them?
There are big decisions ahead. Some of these 'radical' ideas will eventually become normalised, but that will be dependent upon our decisions and the subsequent levels of adoption each idea garners. Which ones will make it?
Got any thoughts on radical societal changes likely to be driven or enabled by technology? Start a discussion in the comments section, or get in touch if you think you've got a blog post in you on the subject 🙂