Affirming Our Humanity in the Age of Digital Technology and Artificial Intelligence

Friday 11 October 7pm - Sunday 13 October 1.15pm

A conference organised by The Humanities and Social Sciences Sections of the School of Spiritual Science and the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain

The rapid global development of AI is inexorable, and offers infinite possibilities to enhance the quality and scope of our lives. There are no areas of our professional, financial, social, cultural, medical and personal experiences that are not amenable to the effects of this technology.

This challenges us to find ways of working creatively in what is also becoming an increasingly dehumanised culture, ever more disconnected from nature, and with virtual substitutes for true human encounter. 

We need to understand the significance of personal and sensitive data being undeletable, manipulable, and indiscriminately accessible, and of our being inextricably bound through mechanised connections and algorithms that serve commercial and questionable political interests.

To what extent is our evolution in our own hands? What inner practices can we adopt to hone the necessary discernment to engage healthily with the technology without becoming in thrall to it?  This technology cannot be avoided. Will the need to discern what opportunities these developments might have for humanity lead to positive engagement, as for example in a Manichean approach?

The aim of this conference is to explore and raise questions about these issues in the context of our conscious responsibility for our unfinished human evolution . 

Jeremy Naydler, Paul Levy, Edwin Hübner, and Malin Starrett will be the main contributors to this event.  Their professional, artistic, and life experiences will inform, inspire, and provoke discussion.  Each of their contributions  will be followed by time for discussion, which we see as an essential part of the conference.

                                                   Fritz Wefelmeyer and Andrew Wolpert

Friday 11th October

7:00 - 7:15  Welcome and Introduction

7:15 – 9.15

Introductory presentations by conference speakers

Jeremy Naydler, Paul Levy, Edwin Hübner, Malin Starrett

Followed by open space for questions for clarification and to prepare

the conference theme

 Saturday 12th

10 – 11.30   From Machine Intelligence to the Intelligence of the Heart  

Jeremy Naydler

11:30 - 12.00  Coffee   

12.00 – 13.15 Staying Awake and Conscious in the Digital Realm  

Paul Levy

13.15 - 2.30  Lunch

2.30 - 4.00   Choice of artistic activities

4 - 4.30   Tea

4.30 - 6.00  Between Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Spaces: Human

Thinking and Perception   Edwin Hübner

Sunday 13th

10 – 10.45   Machines with Memories   Malin Starrett

10:45 – 11.45

Workshops/group discussions

11:45 – 12.15   Coffee

12:15 – 13.15   Plenary discussion and closing contributions 

From Machine Intelligence to the Intelligence of the Heart
Machine intelligence is the product of the morally and emotionally disengaged “onlooker consciousness”, which was the driving force behind the Scientific Revolution. In the mirror of machine intelligence, the onlooker consciousness is presented with its own reflection. Both the human soul and nature call out for a counterbalancing consciousness that is morally awake and lovingly engaged with the natural world – an intelligence of the heart, through which a healthier relationship to machine intelligence can be forged. Jeremy Naydler philosopher, gardener, and author of several books including, In the Shadow of the Machine: The Prehistory of the Computer and the Evolution of Consciousness (Temple Lodge, 2018) and The Struggle for a Human Future: 5G, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things (Temple Lodge, 2020).

Staying Awake and Conscious in the Digital Realm
The rise of digital technology is now touching all of our lives whether we want it to or not. How do we remain awake in the digital age and not fall into digital stupor and distraction? What opportunity does the rise of technology create for our own development and the development of humanity as a whole? This will be a practical conversation about how we meet the digital realm with alertness and humble mastery. It is all too easy to surrender whatever real freedom we have gained in our lives to the world of digital technology. How do we maintain an upright stance both physically and spiritually? Drawing on over 30 years of research Paul Levy will share practical examples, exercises and pathways to remaining alert in a digital age.

Paul Levy is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, an Associate at the University of Warwick, founder of the theatre magazine FringeReview, an author and facilitator. He is the author of several books including Digital Inferno, The Poetry of Change, and Technosophy.

Between Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Spaces: Human Thinking and Perception

Thinking and perceiving are the two basic pillars of human cognition. Artificial intelligence threatens our ability to think for ourselves; virtual worlds tempt us to lose the real world. This threatens the very foundations of humanity. On the other hand, artificial intelligence and virtual spaces offer new possibilities for freedom and communication. However, this presupposes acquiring new skills allowing us to meet - and not just give into - the demands of high-performance technologies. Rudolf Steiner’s work offers precious inspiration for this.

Edwin E. F. Hübner is Professor at the Freie Hochschule Stuttgart - Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy. He studied Mathematics and Physics and taught at the Waldorf School in Frankfurt. Academic research in the area of media pedagogy. Publications include ChatGPT Symptom of a technological future: The Tasks of Education in the Age of the Mechanisation of the Spirit (2023), Human Spirit and Artificial Intelligence (2020) and Imaginations in Virtual Space: Technology and Spirituality (2008).

Machines with Memories
We now live in a world where nearly all knowledge expressible in words, where nearly all physical images and recorded sounds can be accessed at the touch of a button. In utilising the internet to communicate and to store personal thoughts, images and audio, many people are outsourcing their inner lives to partly exist in data centres. Such storing and processing of personal data may affect human beings while incarnated and also after death. This presentation will trace some relevant aspects of the history of machines with memories, leading to the situation today.

Malin Starrett trained in Anthroposophical approaches to science and technology through the Anthro-Tech Association, while also carrying out natural scientific doctoral studies in Ulster University (2001). Since then, he has continued studies and experimental researches in areas relating to science and technology, also writing and teaching on these themes.

Book a place: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/rudolf-steiner-house/t-eamqmoa

We can accommodate 50 participants. 

Full price £150 , Concessions £95

For further concessions, please apply directly to The Office at Rudolf Steiner House: ilona.pimbert.rsh@anth.org.uk

Tea and coffee will be provided. There are many opportunities for lunch in the area.

This conference is organised by the Humanities and Social Sciences Sections of the School of Spiritual Science and the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain