an echo study group

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has posted a call for participants in a study group on Catastrophic Risk: Technologies and Policy.

From the webpage:

Technology empowers, for both good and bad. A broad history of “attack” technologies shows trends of empowerment, as individuals wield ever more destructive power. The natural endgame is a nuclear bomb in everybody’s back pocket, or a bio-printer that can drop a species. And then what? Is society even possible when the most extreme individual can kill everyone else? Is totalitarian control the only way to prevent human devastation, or are there other possibilities? And how realistic are these scenarios, anyway? In this class, we’ll discuss technologies like cyber, bio, nanotech, artificial intelligence, and autonomous drones; security technologies and policies for catastrophic risk; and more. Is the reason we’ve never met any extraterrestrials that natural selection dictates that any species achieving a sufficiently advanced technology level inevitably exterminates itself?

The group will be convened by Bruce Schneier and is open to students and non-students. They are aiming for a particiaption group of around 16-20 people. If you are interested and in the Harvard area, then the page has details on how to register your interest in participation.

I am not in the area sadly, but very interested in the topic and what outcomes and possible future projects and papers may come from such a study group so I have proposed to host a parallel group in London.

We will aim to hold meetings around the same time, or at least the same day, so that when we have finished, some of our notes, thoughts and outcomes will be available online for the US group to look at.

I expect that we will have a different approach and our participants will be from different groups. I am currently a research fellow at Central Saint Martins school of Art and Design, working in the Design Against Crime research unit. My critical approach to this will bring different inputs than say someone from UCL or Imperial (who hopefully would also take part).

As with the Harvard group, this will be open to students, academics and non-students / academics.

If you are interested in taking part, then email me with some details on your background and why you would like to take part by August 20th, 2015.

The dates for the US study group are:

  • 14 September
  • 28 September
  • 5 October
  • 19 October
  • 2 November
  • 16 November

In the evening, (5pm – 7pm). We will be aiming to stay close to these dates as well, though actual date, times and venue are to be confirmed. It will be held in central London.