From hedonism to asceticism. From the fabulous Cambridge Christmas Party to the first event of 2018, The Cambridge Union Challenge Debate. And what an event it was, long to be recorded in the annals of the Cambridge Society of Paris and the Grimoire of the Cambridge Union.
To whatever exotic locations the Union may travel in the future, Paris, and the debate against the Cambridge Society of Paris, will rest forever the first occasion, in its 160-year history, on which the Cambridge Union debated outside the UK.
When I threw down the gauntlet and challenged the Union to a debate on our home territory, here in Paris, the response from the Union was immediate, enthusiastic, and positive. Very impressive.
The Union team was headed by Jonah Surkes, their president, supported by Tom McArthur, Vice President, plus Penelope Jones and Jali Packer their chosen speakers.
The event was held on Saturday 27th January 2018 in the exotic salon of the Hôtel Païva (of silver bath fame) at 25 Avenue des Champs Elysées, debating the motion “This house believes that we shall have a post human economy run by robots with artificial intelligence within twenty years.”
In support of the motion, the Cambridge Society of Paris, through Edward Archer and myself, plus our guest speaker, writer, journalist and futurologist, Calum Chace. Against the motion the Cambridge Union, through Jali and Penny and their guest speaker, computer programmer, founder of Snips and, elected as a TR35 by the MIT Technology Review and as a “30 under 30” by Forbes, Rand Hindi.
Suffice to say that .. we lost! Maybe, with a slight adjustment of the wording. Maybe with a closer adherence to the core topic, the result .. well “he would say that wouldn’t he!” Well done the Cambridge Union.
In twenty years or perhaps fifty years’ time, we will know the answer. Meanwhile, the debate was an outstanding success. A benchmark in the history of CamSoc and the Union.
I would like to thank everyone for their help and, in particular, Edward and Anne Archer for inviting several of the Union members to stay, and for hosting such a magnificent dinner the night before. With so many young holders of Cambridge Firsts around us, I have seldom known such interesting post dinner discussion.
A short video of the debate has been up-loaded to our new You Tube Channel, which can be visited via: https://youtu.be/9stkBge2gBI When you look at the video, could you also please click on Subscribe to become a subscriber. We want to create a dedicated name for the Channel but cannot do so until we have 100 subscribers. When I last looked we were at 58. Please help us to get to 100. No cost or obligation involved.
With best wishes,
President, Cambridge Society of Paris
11th February 2018