Sunday, June 23, 2013

Future shock or Coping with the future

In this BBC video, economist and futurist Robin Hanson presents ideas related to living as long as we can. He asks, "If any of our visions of technological revolution come true, then how will humans cope?"

Video: How to survive the future (4:04 minutes)

Questions I asked students before viewing the video:
  • How long would you want to live?
  • What do you think would be the best way(s) to live longer?
  • What problems do you think there would be with a longer life?
  • What current and future technologies do you think will help us to live longer?
  • What skills or characteristics do you think you would need in order to cope with living far in the future?
Students had very different responses to the first question, ranging from only wanting what is now considered a "normal" life span, to wanting to live to over a hundred -- if they could be healthy and active. Their ideas for living longer focused on diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle.

But when we started to discuss technological innovations for prolonging our life-span, they became very creative, and their focus depended on which type of engineering they were studying.

The ideas in the video mainly focus on cryogenics and on artificial intelligence. But Robin Hanson also talks about how he imagines preparing for a coping with life far in the future.

While we watched the video, the students took notes and afterward discussed Robin Hanson's ideas. This led to quite a lively discussion rating the pros and cons of each idea.

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