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Transhumanist Conferences in Israel
Ilia Stambler   Nov 1, 2011   Ethical Technology  

I am happy to report about a series of transhumanist conferences organized by IconTLV—Israel’s International Science Fiction Festival—on October 16-27, 2011.

These were the very first broad public and academic events in Israel dedicated to transhumanism. The events included public sessions on transhumanism at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the academic conference on transhumanism and posthumanism at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, and the unconference on the singularity at the Hemda Science Education Center in Tel Aviv. Additional sessions were held in Haifa and Jerusalem.

crowd

The main events took place on October 16-18 at the Tel-Aviv Cinematheque, involving tens of presenters and hundreds of attendees. Special panels were held under the heading “Old-New Humanity” on the topics of “Bionic Man,” “Social Justice in the Future,” and “Life Extension,” and under the heading “The Age of Thinking Machines” on the topics of “The Future of Computing,” “Human-Robot Interactions,” and “The Technological Singularity.”

Among the speakers in Tel-Aviv were Prof. Doron Friedman, Prof. Hava Jablonka, Prof. Orzion Bartena, Prof. Elisha Moses, Prof. David Passig, Prof. Elana Gomel, Prof. Ruben Borg, Supreme Justice Elana Gomel, and many other leading Israeli intellectuals. Guests from abroad included Prof. Sheryl Vint and Mr. Michael Vassar. The presenters expressed high hopes and appreciation of the current astonishing technological developments, yet at the same time expressed deep apprehensions about some of their potential implications for human ethics and social justice.

The all-day Israel’s First Singularity Unconference, at the Hemda Science Education Center, involved over a hundred participants. Anyone could freely present on relevant topics, ranging from AI through biotechnology and life-extension, to robotics and technology forecasting workshops.

A conference titled “The Future of Humanity: Post-Humanism and Trans-Humanism” at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem was Israel’s first academic conference on these subjects. It featured a broad range of presentations on theoretical approaches to posthumanism, representations of the post-human in popular culture, and the impact of emerging technologies on society.

Special thanks to the chief organizers of these events: Mr. Uri Aviv, Ms. Ahuva Goldstand, and Mr. Adi Avnit, for their pioneering effort. The Israeli transhumanist community was active at these events, and it appears that the ideas of transhumanism are gradually gaining an ever greater social interest, acceptance, and support from various public bodies.

One thing to regret is that there were few guests from abroad. Yet, it is hoped that such thematic events will become a yearly tradition and will further instigate transhumanism-related discussions in Israel and internationally.

You can see some photos and links at the Festival’s Facebook page.

Ilia Stambler is an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He completed his PhD degree at the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Bar-Ilan University. His thesis subject, and his main interest, is the History of Life-extensionism in the 20th Century.”



COMMENTS

Thanks for the report, Ilia—I am really sorry I missed it and I hope to get there next year.  The event is in the midst of your holidays and the airplane tickets go up about 50%—so I will have to save up for next year.

Congrats to you and Uri on producing such a unique and excellent event!  And I do hope you get many international visitors next year.

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