Next Salon Discussion

First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 5 Jan 6:45pm start

Tuesday 5th Jan: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

Discussions on two topical issues will be introduced for wider discussion and criticism.

Public forum for engaging and debating ideas
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Salon Discussions

Welcome to the Drone Age? - Saturday 24th October 2015, 2:00pm startWelcome to the Drone Age?

Saturday 24th October 2015, 2:00pm start

Andy Miah, Anna Frew and James Woudhuysen will introduce a discussion on the ethics of drone flight


Andy Miah

Commercial drone use has dramatically expanded in recent years, with an increasingly inventive set of uses. Drones have been deployed in fields as diverse as aerial photography and humanitarian relief whilst retailers in Japan have even started to use them to deliver products (Amazon’s much-vaunted Prime Air is still in prototype testing). While much attention has been focused on their military functions and use by law enforcement – Indian police have purchased ones which could be used to pepper spray protestors – yet their increasing affordability and commercial ubiquity poses numerous problems for regulators. Dutch feminist campaigners were able to fly abortion pills into Poland to circumvent its restrictions on reproductive healthcare, whilst there are increasing numbers of injuries created by their use: the singer Enrique Inglesias was one high profile casualty, with a drone nearly severing his fingers on stage. There have already been several near-misses with passenger aircraft.


Anna FrewWhile new technologies are often praised by their ‘disruptive’ qualities, law-makers have had to act swiftly to regulate their civilian use. Yet, as with the development of the driverless car, there are also profound questions about how drones alters human relationships with technology. The use of drones in Chinese schools to prevent students cheating in exams is merely the latest example of the ethical questions raised by rapidly advancing surveillance techniques. Moreover, increased automation through smarts systems and advanced robotics in the ‘second machine age’ raises serious economic challenges, with the delivery and freight sectors only among the most visible jobs threatened by the use of drone technology. Yet others remain more skeptical about drones’ large scale commercial capabilities, as well as Western societies’ willingness to adapt to their needs.

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Battle of Ideas 2015Battle of Ideas

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October

The Battle of Ideas festival, currently being held at the Barbican in London, was initiated by the Institute of Ideas 11 years ago to encourage free thinking and open-ended public discussion, and is supported by a wide range of partners. The Battle of Ideas festival comprises 350 speakers at 75 debates and satellite discussions confronting society’s big issues and unresolved questions. It affords the opportunity for some clear thinking, rational debate and agenda-setting - above all, it's future-orientated, whilst retaining a healthy regard for the past achievements of humanity.


Inspired by the Institute of Ideas, the Manchester Salon is delighted to be organising a couple of satellite events of the Battle of Ideas. These satellite discussions are:


Hopefully see you at the Battle of Ideas, but if not then at these satellite discussions, helping to extend the weekend festival in both time and space.


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