Reg Xmas lectures tackle transhumanism, driverless cars and life as a hostage

Stretch your brains as the days grow shorter...

Reg Lectures Whether you’re fascinated by what it means to be human, or what it means to be a machine, you’ll want to come to one or all of this year’s Register Christmas lectures.

We’ve assembled a top notch lineup of speakers who are not just experts in their fields, but are brave enough to go head-to-head with the most challenging bunch of readers in tech-dom.

Transhumanism: We can programme you to live forever

On November 17 we welcome Anders Sandberg, one of the world’s leading transhumanists, who is researching both the ethics of living forever, and the technology that will allow us to do so, at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. When he’s not doing that his work covers global catastrophic risk, cognitive biases, cognitive enhancement, collective intelligence, neuroethics and public policy. These are all topics that could be debated for ever and probably will. We’ll cover as much as we can in a single night. Ticket details here.

Will taking the driver out of the car take the human out of us?

The technology to run driverless cars is almost ready, but we are a long way from answering the associated societal and ethical challenges. Professor Nick Reed will pilot us through the technology and the possibilities when he joins us on November 24. Nick is Academy Director at the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, overseeing research on topics from road construction to the possibilities of wireless charging of moving electric vehicles and autonomous cars. He is also technical lead on the GATEway project, which is trialling the use of automated vehicles in the Borough of Greenwich in London. Ticket details here.

I went to work as an SQL programmer, and left as a hostage

On December 1, Peter Moore will tell us how he went to the office one day in 2007 to work on a finance system for the Iraqi government, and finally made it home over two and a half years late after being taken hostage by one of the country’s militias. During that time he endured what he describes with admirable understatement as “unnecessarily harsh” treatment, including mock executions and beatings. Peter sat it out, mentally designing new computer systems and a metro transport network, and putting up with being handed an Xbox for entertainment. Peter still works as a techy, as well as lecturing on the reality of being taken hostage. If you want to get an insight into how the techy mind copes with the sort of pressure that can break hardened military types, you’ll want to join us on December 1. Ticket details here.

We’ll be returning to the Yorkshire Grey on Theobalds Road, London, and yes, there will be vittles and victuals. More importantly, there’ll be plenty of time to quiz our speakers after the main talk, and to connect with your fellow Reg readers before and after.

It’s the perfect way to pep the grey matter and exercise your social and intellectual muscles before the Festive season kicks off in earnest. We look forward to seeing you there. ®

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