Avatars meet in Second Life to celebrate Future Day 2012

March 5, 2012 by Natasha Vita-More
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Natasha Vita-More kicks off Future Day 2012 in Second Life

The first Future Day on March 1 featured events in 14 cities in 8 countries. The largest event was at Terasem Island in Second Life, with about 50 attendees.

The auditorium at Terasem Island was full and we were eagerly awaiting three of the speakers to arrive: Ben Goertzel, Martine Rothblatt, and Howard Bloom.

I introduced the event by asking: “What kind of future do we want to design?  In what diverse directions are the set of emerging and speculative technologies heading? What types of societies and cultures can be developed and what types of people will inhabit them?”

I believe this future cannot be developed by just science and technology, although they’re crucial building blocks. “The future is a story — a narrative and we are the strategists, the scenario makers of our own lives.”

I spoke about being bold in a world of caution. I said that there are plenty of naysayers — those who discount innovators for not being practical enough. Instead we need more innovators, not less.

“Nature has its many surprising, unexpected, uncertain events that can turn our plans inside out. We need continually ask questions about what we are attempting to create and challenge our own intentions. One necessary tool is speculation, and what could be called ‘emerging and speculative design.’”

Martine’s talk (via text chat) suggested each person could bring Future Day into her/his life making commitments to working toward better cooperation, a broader outreach across the world, more compassion and giving. She also suggested projects that we could work on and the concept of a film came up.  What a wonderful idea!  We talked about many of Martine’s projects, include the “Bina48” robot head. We also talked briefly about the Alcor Life Extension Foundation and the backup technology of cryonics being timely.

Giulio Prisco said the future is not fixed in stone, and that the positive Singularity that we want to see will only happen if we work to make it happen, which requires enthusiasm and positive thinking. He also proposed a film project, with positive visions of the future to stimulate enthusiasm and drive.

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Giulio Prisco (in space suit) proposes film project

Howard spoke jubilantly about pushing forward, not accepting the naysayers, and in fact being every more selfish about our own futures: “It’s our life and we should create it in the visionary way we desire — no holds barred. We can be the future!”

Adam A. Ford’s talk (from Australia, where he had just organized Australian Future Day) was a recipe for preparing for the future, knowing the skill set, and using it. “Let’s go negative with caution. It is very important to empower people to help, instead of giving the impression that we are helpless or that making a better future is intractable. If we scare with scale, we’ll lose a lot of the people we are trying to connect with. If we empower with feasible steps, we’ll make social change.  And what we are really after is social change around thinking about the Future.”

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Adam A. Ford teleports in from Australia

Ben Goertzel in Hong Kong had a bandwidth problem, but sent an audio file: “Welcome to Future Day 2012. I conceived the idea of a Future Day holiday because I think it’s important for us all to focus our attention on the future. We shouldn’t forget or ignore the past, but this is a critical juncture in human history — the next few decades hold the possibility of amazing transcendence or terrible destruction for humanity, and we need to be focusing our attention on how to guide things in a positive direction… and reveling in the amazing positive possibilities. A Future Day holiday is one fantastic way to do this.  So thanks for joining the celebration!!”

As I noted in closing remarks, “Future Day is a day for action!  If all matter in the universe is comprised of patterns, let’s redesign what doesn’t work and form new methods for approaching the future with fluidity. Let’s grow neuromolecular wings for deeper perceptions in our flight in fostering a world of diversity and compassion.” And I closed with a quote from Sonia Arrison: “Future Day is important since it reminds us that a great future does not create itself. In order to realize our hopes and dreams, we have to actively work to make them happen. One of my dreams is to see a day when disease, and the suffering associated with it, is obliterated.”

We look forward to next year’s March 1 Future Day!