Almost half the jobs in America could be lost to computers by 2030. This is one of the many scenarios – not all quite so alarming – to be explored by futurologists at the How To Academy’s one-day conference, How To Change The World, at the Royal Institution in London. Others include the possibility that everyone will live to 100, and that cardiovascular disease could be defeated by teaching the human heart to regenerate itself. The keynote talk by Ian Goldin, the editor of “Is the Planet Full?”, considers what the world will be like in 15 years, while the urban-planning expert Christopher Choa looks at how self-driving cars might alter the way we design cities. For those keen to move to another planet or contact alien life forms, Dr Lewis Dartnell introduces the science of astrobiology; Patrick Decowski gives the latest update on the search for dark matter, and Steven Cowley explains why fusion energy could soon be a reality. DNA data-gathering will also be under the microscope; and if you thought that psychedelic drugs were yesterday’s news, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris – the first scientist since the 1970s to test LSD on humans – outlines their potential for revolutionising psychiatry. ~ Anthony Gardner
How To Change The World Dec 1st; howtoacademy.com/conference
TALKS AT A GLANCE
Singapore Writers’ Festival (Oct 30th to Nov 8th). The mesmerising Robert Douglas-Fairhurst celebrates 150 years of “Alice in Wonderland”; Xinran looks at the products of China’s one-child policy; Sophie Hannah discusses poetry and crime writing.
Elizabeth Kolbert (Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh, Nov 16th). The Pulitzer prize-winner introduces her eco-alarm call, “The Sixth Extinction”.
Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival (Oct 31st to Nov 8th). Lydia Bradey, the first woman to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen, headlines in the Canadian Rockies, talking to fellow mountaineer Greg Child.
John Irving (Toronto Reference Library, Dec 7th). The world according to Garp’s revered creator, focusing on his new novel, “Avenue of Mysteries”.
Hong Kong Int’l Literary Festival (Oct 30th to Nov 8th). Culminates in a dinner at the Helena May Club, with Margaret Drabble reflecting on half a century of novel-writing.
Folkestone Book Festival (Nov 20th to 29th). Deborah Moggach, Wendy Cope, Tracey Thorn and Lynne Truss bring winter cheer to the Kent coast; Louis de Bernières switches on the Christmas lights. ~AG