Brave Conversations London 2019
Brave Conversations London 2019 took place at Newspeak House on July 16 and 17, 2019, at Newspeak House, Bethnal Green, London.
Brave Conversations London was the first joint event held between Intersticia, Newspeak House and the Web Science Trust. Drawing on Newspeak’s community of people interested in Political Technologies meant that we had quite a number of well informed technologists in the room. In addition we invited our partners Founders and Coders and three of our six Founders were in attendance. This meant that we were able to try out some new and innovative digital exercises and also start to build on the global footprint that Brave Conversations is beginning to develop.
Brave Conversations London 2019 was held in the context of ongoing Parliamentary debate around BrExit and a rejection of Prime Minister Teresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement whilst Nigel Farage launched the Brexit Party. Teresa May then resigned and the competition for the Conservative Party leadership began with Boris Johnson as the clear front-runner, but not before Teresa May committed the UK to be the first major industrialised nation to target net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. US President Donald Trump visited the UK to be greeted by massive protests. Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond was arrested on multiple accounts of sexual misconduct, and there was a stark increase of reported knife-crimes with the largest ever reported number of fatal stabbings. Thousands of school students joined the global climate strike and the Peoples Vote matches calling for a Second Referendum grew in participation and frequency.
In 2008 a group of people from industry, government, academia, and the community sectors came together to create the first Brave Conversations (then called the Meta conference) to create a forum for people to discuss and debate the emerging issues related to humans and their use of digital technologies.
At about the same time a group of luminaries from the Web world were creating Web Science in order to focus interdisciplinary research on precisely the same thing.
Since that time the world has changed.
The Web has evolved from being read-only to read-write and now dominates how the majority of society interacts with digital platforms, giving rise to the largest companies of the modern era. These companies are now pushing the boundaries for how data and information are used and are becoming a key driver for the next step in human evolution.
We can all feel that the world ahead is very different from the world behind, but:
- How often do we find the time to step back, to engage in robust and challenging dialogue and debate with others from diverse backgrounds about what sort of future we want to create?
- How often do we feel that our opinions are respected, that we have the space to imagine real possibilities, and that we can take some proactive control of the world that is emerging?
The goal of Brave Conversations is to challenge everyone who participates - regardless of what background they come from, or what their skillset and expertise are - to more fully explore and understand the interplay between humans, the societies we live in, and the technologies we have created.
We want to empower people to proactively make decisions about how we live our everyday lives, how we participate as commercial actors within the economy, and how we operate as digital citizens and exercise our political rights. That empowerment comes from demystifying data and information and understanding how it informs the everyday decisions which gradually create the future.
Each of those decisions begins on an individual human level - our bodies and our minds - and then emanates out to our families, communities, societies and from there to nation states. We are all responsible for the world we are creating and never has there been a time when we have more potential to influence the changes around us. But we need to be given the space for robust debate and respectful curiosity, learning from each other, playing with ideas, and asking the questions that are both confronting and potentially will take us to uncomfortable places.
How it works
The best way to learn is through experience and the act of playing with ideas.
We have deliberately chosen to partner with Newspeak House to co-host Brave Conversations London 2019 to build on the work we have been doing around the world over the past two years. Our aim is to enable teams of diverse participants to critically examine our current societies through the lens of systems, communications, governance and technology.
This is important as the geopolitics of political governance is now playing itself out as the Internet and the Web become more enmeshed in how regimes govern.
Brave Conversations complements the work being done at Newspeak House to address the challenges and opportunities which face contemporary society.
"We ... need to be prepared for the internet that we know to evolve unpredictably, and work to ensure that it remains beneficial for humankind."