For this panel, Florina from 2b Ahead introduced everyone to the research perspective of their long-term study “The Future of Your Children” which helps to make futures thinkable and speakable. The long-term study describes possible future scenarios for the next 100 years which are based on scientific future research gathered from expert interviews with people working in future-oriented and -shaping fields such as education, business, technology and politics future theses. The output of the study comes in shape of plastic and approachable future scenarios and forecasts (described out of the eyes of the protagonists) which are based on a combination of the expert theses and the desirable future visions of representatives influencing the close environment of the ten children such as parents, teachers or mayors.
Florina asked the panel participants as well as the audience especially one thing: What is the next step of human evolution? “While brains are recorded to enable a transfer of our minds onto other hardware devices, lots of research is carried in the field of body preservation. When we can transfer our mind onto a hardware device, are we going to be able to copy ourselves and develop several new identities? When we could freeze our dead body, is there going to be a doorway to be woken up end of the 22nd century?”, Florina further clarified. Then she asked to imagine the following: What would you advise someone to do with their body if they had the chance to actually download their brain, to modify and optimize their body or to become an avatar?
The answers ranged from “No, never give up your body – who knows if we can actually feel something with a downloaded copy of our brain” to “Awesome, living on on a hard drive is the dream”. The discussion got very lively very fast. It showed us that people’s opinions are so diverse yet always a little anxious and hesitant when it comes to “far away” futures. What really stayed in our minds was a situation that came up when we were talking about self-driving cars and the responsibility of human beings to figure out the moral dilemma of the cars’ decision-making process in potential accidents (Who shall the car spare – the group of children or the Nobel price winner crossing the street?). A person from the audience said, that what bothered them most was that the responsibility for the mistakes of a self-driving car weren’t clear. “Who can I sue when someone I love gets hit by a car – I can’t sue the driver can I? Who else?”, they asked. Whilst all of the panelists shook their heads and didn’t know what to say to this rather unconstructive question, it’s important to look at it anyway: A lot of people that don’t occupy themselves with digitization, future scenarios, AI, etc. would have the same questions. Because the leap is just too big. It’s unbelievable and -graspable for many. So they go about the topic with fear and delusional finger-pointing. The panel “human and innovation” opened our eyes once again to the vast differences in openness, to our very own filter bubble and the unbelievable potentials of our future(s).
The title describes quite well what we discussed. This panel was part of Day 2 of THE HUMAN CONFERENCE in Mittweida, Eastern Germany. It was co-curated by Christopher Peterka. The basis of the panel was an input by scientist and future researcher Dr. Florina Speth from 2bAHEAD Think Tanks. With the long-term study “The future of your children” the think tank makes future scenarios speakable and thinkable. It contains concrete forecasts for the life and environment of ten (real) children born in Germany in 2015 which started into our world with a statistical life expectancy of 100 years. Florina introduced everyone to one of the most important questions she’s been asking future experts for her research: What is the next step of human evolution? We got deep fast in this panel and had a great discussion about scenarios that could happen in 2115, brain downloads and the great moral questions of AI.