POSTPONED The value of the human in the age of automation

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Wednesday 29 April

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has been cancelled

  • Anders Sandberg

    Credit: Future of Humanity Institute


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, this event has been potponed. All attendees will be contacted to offer a full refund.

We are already seeing the impact of automation on the job market. Presently, machine intelligence is only domain-specific, but ultimately it will greatly exceed the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest. As such 'super-intelligent' systems develop, what jobs would humans have? Will there be any value to human life at all in such a scenario? 

There is still time. The next few decades are critical for humankind - not least because of looming ecological, military and economic crises - but principally because we will need to design a future where humans and machines can live in harmony and synchronicity. Anders Sandberg of the Future of Human Institute at Oxford will explore how it is not only machines that we must be responsible for reprogramming, but indeed our own selves. As artificial intelligence replaces the role of the 'specialist', it is multidimensional minds, or polymaths, that will become indispensable.

This event is part of the Polymath Festival 2020

About the speakers

Anders Sandberg's research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on management of low-probability high-impact risks, societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement, estimating the capabilities of future technologies, and very long-range futures. He is currently senior researcher in the FHI-Amlin industry collaboration on systemic risk of risk modelling.

He is senior Oxford Martin fellow, and research associate of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, the Center for the Study of Bioethics (Belgrade), and the Institute of Future Studies (Stockholm). He is on the advisory boards of a number of organisations and often debates science and ethics in international media.

Anders has a background in computer science, neuroscience and medical engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, Sweden, for work on neural network modelling of human memory.

The event will be chaired by Waqas Ahmed. Waqās is considered a world authority on multi-disciplinary thinking. His work spans several fields including art, science and international affairs. 

He is currently Artistic Director at The Khalili Collections – one of the world’s great art collections – and simul­taneously completed his postgradu­ate studies in Neuroscience at Kings College London, where he researched multi-disciplinary approaches to the treatment of chronic pain. Previously, Waqās was diplomatic corre­spondent at FIRST Magazine, where his exclusive interviews included Presidents and Prime Ministers worldwide. He was also the editor of Holy Makkah, which received praise from UNESCO, the Commonwealth and the Vatican. Born and raised in Britain, he has since lived in several countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia and has de­grees in Economics (BSc, SOAS) and International Relations (MSc, LSE). 

Waqās is author of the internationally acclaimed book The Polymath (Wiley 2019) and founder of the DaVinci Network, the global movement committed to unlocking the many-sided potential of humans worldwide. He recently curated the Official Opening Celebrations of the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery. 



The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 


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