Club of Amsterdam

Despite the sluggish attempts to engage people for H+, yesterday I had the fortune to create the opportunities to create massive strides forward. Depending on what I’d assume my goals are (networking? making money? having fun? being iconoclastic? making money? leaving a lasting legacy of value? living forever? create ze better vorld for ze childrrren?) … I judge the day a great success.

I attended the gathering of the Club of Amsterdam, using an old meatatar I have in storage for that purpose. I booted her up, and hauled her ass off to Amsterdam and at first scared the natives. First I met with a delighfully cute and naughty little artist, who was quite interested in transhumanist and whom I had been engaging in email engagements for some weeks, Jorrit. And when I mean cute, I’d say, very. we met on the rambrandplein, had a beer, talked (like usual, 90% me talking in headless chicken mode) but it was nice. Then we strolled to the place where the Club of Amsterdam meets. Jorrit was perplexed, and I am still not sure where his research is going, and I think there were things happening behind his eyes I don’t fully grasp yet. You could see those little wheels turning 🙂

Great news, a guy Jos has translated “The Singularity Is Near”. It’s of course good, since it makes this particular upbeat utopian message about technological take-off more accessible well to “the dutch”. But aside from that it was the firm time I saw a presentation of this outspoken character. They really said it all here. A few in the audience smiled, and nodded, but a few in the audience really got it and were thinking ‘how the fuck do I get out of this asylum‘, meaning – these people realized in rough term what will happen to this planet in the next decades.

No pity from me there!

Yuri van Geest
If someone had done a flying leap of a building and landed in the bade of my neck with his or her knee, it couldn’t have made more impact that Yuri. Well maybe Kwela, but seriously. Yuri studied at SU, and he threw the kitchensink, multiplied exponentially, at the audience. He did it in a manner that left it “pretty tricky to debate for defectors, denialists, luddite-inclined or cynics” that at least something really wild is happening in terms of technology right now. Sure, one cannot make any compelling scientific argument ‘a singularity’ is going to happen, but who cares? After Yuri piledroved the presentational format, the tone was set – we live in exponential times and we live in an era where there will be new things under the sun. Clearly Yuri is of the school of unbridled ‘application optimists’, and I would love to talk to him about a bunch of topics away from the bright glare of tangible things, and look more closely at the bigger reality of macroeconomic implications.

Miriam Leis
I have known Miriam for a few years now, and she will kill me soon. I have said too often that she may in fact be cute, and I have risked my mortal soul….. But seriously, it is easy to overlook this small professional playful minded woman, and miss the intellect hidden behind those cheshire cat blinking eyes. Miriam is one of the most relevant transhumanists, struggling franticly to link academia, engineering, the future, hope, governments and everyday survival into a coherent body of meaning. And I can argue she is getting annoyed and frustrated by the sheer catastrophic inability of our existing decision-making systems to move in concordance with fast paced reality of technological change. Miriam really gets it, and it is extremely uplifting to see that we get along so well.

Felix Bopp
All around smiling nice guy, Felix is central spider in the spiderweb of the club of Amsterdam. He’s the kind of guy that is clearly amusing himself a lot with the good things in life and with what he sees around him. I didn’t talk at length – I probably offended him assuming he is German, but he is from Basel. He’ll be very good to know long term.

Henny van der Pluijm
A conventional, businesslike, straight-up guy who doesn’t like nonsense and who doesn’t stand foolishness. He saw me and you could see the expression, ‘wtf’, but it took him less than an hour to engage in very spirited conversation. Sure – he thinks I am deranged, but he clearly indicated “there comes sense out of my pie-hole”. Henny is a very acute analyst of trends, and he argues some very ambiguous and unnerving things about the flow of humanity. I am positive he was a great influence on the writing of Accelerando, or there is some kind of peculiar synergy going on here, because many conclusions he espoused were major plotlines in that novel. We had lively conversation strolling through Amterdam and I just couldn’t help myself occasionally trolling him – he’s an excruciatingly nice and civil man – but you can just see him flinch in horror when I argue certain wilder aspects of existence. 🙂 Yes I am exaggerating hihihihi.

Frank Theys
The maker of the movie Technocalypse, and a very nice guy. I sat across from dinner, and we exchanged notes over a lot of things. Gossiped even, but with some necessity. He made a few basic introductory point on existing foward and upward trends, but he was softer spoken and more demure than the other speakers.

Kwela Sabine Hermanns
While not a speaker at the event, sometimes you meet people and you just know you are going to see a lot more of them. A very striking and inspiring attendee at the conference, and a very plausible PR activist for H+ the next decade. I can see extremely tangible results emerge from her hands, by and large because she has the insights, presentational skills, charisma and resources to drive the message home. In practical terms – if she ever becomes an actress, she could do an amazing interpretation of a drow. Unrelated detail, the word Kwela is southafrican. Kwela is doing like these events and I’ll be attending the next one, keeping a low profile to protect myself. And she dances Tango.

Arjen Kamphuis
I was nervous as an Eliezer on a Biker BBQ before meeting Arjen. Arjen is what I’d call the kind that made it in the areas that I would have loved to have been. He visited all the transhumanists in the 1990s, and did the entire forum circus back then – to the point of deciding ‘yah we talked it all over by now’. He is a career professional. He is a stylized charismatic force of nature. He lives abroad, and travels over the whole damn planet. Oh yes, and he has absolutely optimal understanding of the issues at play, and he can translate these to real implications. Better still, he has the balls to call it. Even better, every step of the way I found myself in resounding agreement. I assume he thought I was highly nuts before he attended but it went great. He tied down to holding the H+ meetings at the Gendo office spaces, which will be a very practical long term arrangement.

I can clearly see this domino towards a Transvision 2011 or 2012.

There were LOTS of people I’d love to have met and engaged and got to know. This was like great. I’l be back, clearly.

I am extremely sad Amanda wasn’t there.