David Wood is the chair of London Futurists and on the Humanity+ board of directors. He is an eminent futurist whose valuable newsletter I myself have been subscribed to for several years now and so I was very happy that, at long last, we managed to sit down for a proper interview. Not surprisingly, I found our conversation both intellectually enlightening and spiritually entertaining. So block off the next 90 min because I believe you may feel the same way too.
During our conversation with David Wood, we cover a variety of interesting topics such as his background in mathematics, quantum mechanics, and mobile computing; his take on futurism and transhumanism; the importance of philosophy in general and ethics in particular; free will, determinism, making choices and taking action; P+, Transpolitica and the importance of (changing) politics; the singularity and our chances of surviving it; capitalism, abundance, and technological unemployment…
My favorite quote that I will take away from this interview with David Wood is:
Radical change lies ahead. We have to be better at discussing that change. If we are aware of the possibilities – we’ll prepare for them. But even more – we’ll be able to shape them. So let’s put more of our attention not in the past, not in the present, but into discussing the future. Let’s all become futurists so that radical change ahead is something we’ll be happy to embrace when it comes rather than something we wish we had anticipated and prepared for differently.
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Who is David Wood?
After 25 years immersed in the mobile computing and smartphone industries – envisioning, architecting, designing, implementing, and avidly using smart mobile devices – David Wood nowadays focuses his efforts on improving the quality of the global discussion about the future. He does this via:
In 1988 David joined the UK-based manufacturer of some of the world’s earliest PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), Psion, as a software developer (later software architect). Some of his software, written originally for the 16-bit “EPOC” operating system and subsequently ported into the 32-bit “Symbian OS”, shipped in half a billion smartphones between 2001 and 2012.
In 1998, David co-founded Symbian, a spin-out from Psion, and the creator of the world’s first successful smartphone operating system. He served on the leadership teams of Psion Software and Symbian from 1996-2009. At different times, his executive responsibilities included software development, technical consulting, developer evangelism, partnering and ecosystem management, and research and innovation. This included working closely with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Fujitsu, Siemens, and many other high-tech companies.
David was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in June 2005. In November 2005 he received an honorary Doctorate in Science (D.Sc.) from the University of Westminster, in recognition of his services to the smartphone industry. He was named in September 2009 by T3 magazine as one of the 100 most influential technologists on the planet.
From 2010 to 2013, David was Technology Planning Lead (CTO) of Accenture Mobility, and co-led Accenture’s “Mobility Health” business initiative.
As chair of London Futurists, David has organized regular meetings in London since March 2008 on futurist and technoprogressive topics. Membership of London Futurists now exceeds 3,400.
David was lead editor of the volume “Anticipating 2025: A guide to the radical changes that may lie ahead, whether or not we’re ready”, published in June 2014. His own book “Smartphones and beyond: lessons from the remarkable rise and fall of Symbian” was published in September 2014, and has been described as “One of the most candid and revealing books a technology executive has ever written”.
In January 2015 he founded the think tank Transpolitica, with the aim of “anticipating tomorrow’s politics”. He also serves as Treasurer for the Transhumanist Party in the UK and as a Fellow of the IEET. He has a triple first class degree in mathematics from Cambridge (UK) and completed four years of postgraduate research in the Philosophy of Science.