Mark Stevenson

Wednesday, April 6 2011 at 7:00PM

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Old George Yard, Cloth Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1EZ

Mark Stevenson

What's the talk about?

Mark Stevenson’s early career saw him mixing two jobs; one as an expert in prime number cryptography, the other fronting a pop band, enjoying brief notoriety in Japan, France and much to his surprise, Chile. The videos still embarrass him.

After a brief stint trying to do what his parents would call 'a proper job' he quit - having decided that communication and learning were what really interested him. He now combines two other careers - one as a successful writer/ comedian (writing for TV, radio and print) and another as a director of the cultural learning agency Flow Associates and the science communication agency ReAgency, roles which see him regularly called upon to help organisations of all sizes think about their futures. A new mobile project, engendering conversations and stimulating learning and direct action within an audience of 300 million users, The Age of Smart, is coming in mid 2011. Mark is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

When unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality, Mark Stevenson - a writer, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian - began to ponder what the future holds for our species. Stevenson set out simply, asking, “What’s next?” and then traveled the globe in pursuit of the answers. His voyage of discovery took him to Oxford to meet Transhumanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronted a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback’s smartest farmer. He clambered around space planes in the Mojave desert, got to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delved deep into the possibilities of biotech, saw an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, had his genome profiled, glimpsed the next stage of human evolution … and tried to make sense of what’s in store.

A meticulous researcher, Stevenson sifts the genuine concerns about new technologies from fear-mongering - offering up a balanced take on everything from nanotech ‘grey goo’ to worries about population and resource crises, pandemics, climate change and new forms of terrorism. “I’m not saying the future will be better,” he says “but I do know there’s everything to play for.”