2017 – Tuesday Keynote – Pia Waugh

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The Future of Humans – Pia Waugh

At a tipping point, we can’t reinvent everything or just do the past with shinny new things.

Started as a Sysadmin, helped her see things as Systems

Trying to make active choices about the future we want,

  • Started building tools, knowledge spread slowly
  • Created cities, people could specialise, knowledge faster
  • Surplus created, much went to rulers, sometimes rulers overthrown, but hierarchy started the same
  • More recently the surplus has got given to people
  • Last 250 years, people have seen themselves as having power, change their future, not just be a peasant.
  • As resources have increased power and resources have been distributed more widely
  • This has kept expanding, – overthrown you boss at work
  • We are on the cusp on a massive skyrocket in quality of live


  • Citizens have powers now that we previously centralized
  • We are now in a time of suplus not scaricity
  • Small groups and individual can now disrupt a country, industry or company
  • We made up all of our society, we can make it again to reflect the present not what was needed in the past.
  • Choose our own adventure or let others choose it for us. We have the option now that we didn’t previously
  • Most people’s eyes glaze over when they here that.
  • “You can’t do that” say many people when they find out what software can do.
  • People switch off their creativity when they come to work.

How Could the World be better

  • Property
    • 3D printing could print organs, food, just about anything
    • Why are we protecting business models that are already out of date (eg copyright) when we couple use them to eliminated scarcity
  • Work and Jobs
    • Everybody is scared about technology taking jobs
    • What do we care about the lose of jobs
    • Why is the value of a person defined by a full-time jobs?
  • Transhumanism
    • tatoos, peicing have been around forever
    • Obsession with the human “normal” , is this a recent thing from the media?
    • Society encourages people towards the Norm
    • Internet has demonstrated that not everybody is normal – Rule 34
    • “If you lose a leg, instead of getting a replacement leg, whey not have seven legs?”
    • Anyone who doesn’t make our definition of Normal is seen as something less even if they have amazing abilities
  • Spaceships
    • Still takes a day to get around the planet
    • If we are going to set up new worlds how are they going to run?
  • Global Citizenship
    • People are seen though the lens of their national citizenship
    • Governments are not the only representative of our rights


  • “How can we build a better world? Luckily we have git”
  • We have the power and knowledge to do things, but not all people do
  • If you are as powerful as the tools you use, where does that leave people who can’t use computers or program?


  • Systemic Change
    • What doesn’t you Doctor say about “scratching your itch” ?
    • Example: “diversity” , how do we deal with the problems that led us to not having it.
  • Who are you building for? Not building for?
  • What is the default position in society? Is it to no get knowledge, power?
  • What does human mean to you
  • Waht do we value
  • What assumptions and bias do you have?
  • How are you helping non-geeks help themselves
  • What future do you want to see?


  • How are Systems changing? How do out policies, assumptions laws reflect the older way?
    • Scarcity -> Surplus
    • Close -> Open
    • Centralise -> Distributed
    • Belief -> Rationalism
    • Win/Lose -> Cooperative competitive
    • Nationalism -> World Citizen
    • Normative Human -> Formative Human
  • I believe the Open Source Culture is a good model for society
  • But in Inventing the future we have to be careful not to drag the legacy systems and values from the past.