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Acceleration Studies Foundation

Improving the Way We Look at the Future.

Our Mission:

ASF is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit engaged in outreach, education, research, and selective advocacy with respect to issues and processes of accelerating change. We help communities, companies, and individuals improve their foresight capacity (innovation, creativity, strategy, planning, forecasting, and security) with respect to the most powerful force on the planet today - accelerating technological change.

Our Objectives

1. To promote a critical understanding of accelerating processes of planetary change, in service to societal, professional and personal evolutionary development.
3. To improve the methods individuals and organizations use to create, manage, and predict the future by advancing the emerging disciplines of acceleration studies, evolutionary development studies, and strategic foresight.
3. To broadly help individuals, organizations, and society to discover and create a future of "exponential promise".

ASF Mission in Plain English

Our Priorities

We seek to serve via four action priorities:

• advancing awareness and dialog through public Outreach,
• high school, undergraduate and graduate initiatives for Education,
• acceleration and evolutionary development studies, roadmapping, forecasting, and other data-driven Research, and
• selected technological, economic, political and social Advocacy

with regard to accelerating processes of change.

Our Vision

ASF's general and research visions are outlined in our vision for the future.

Our Perspective

Five keywords/phrases describe our strategic orientation to accelerating change:

Acceleration-Aware/"Accelaware". Special processes in our local physical environment will continue to run faster and more autonomously every year, as they continually "do more, better, with less." We seek to better understand these accelerating scientific and technological processes, and better guide them to improve world and ourselves.
Multidisciplinary. We are concerned not just with technology and business, but the science driving recent accelerations, and major social implications. We consider not just individual, cultural, and national change, but also global and universal systems of change.
Evolutionary Developmental. We seek to discover and analyze highly probable science and technology developments, as a subset of the far greater evolutionary (contingent, possible) futures, and ways to increase science and tegchnology's benefits while decreasing their risks.
Farsighted. We explore not only 5 year, but also 20-30 year time horizons, and how to make better decisions today as a result. We believe that only by looking far enough into the future does it become clear that a special subset of continually accelerating processes are the key enablers and shapers of our natural environment.
Professional. We recruit experienced practitioners who carefully think, study, act, and educate others on multifold trends in accelerating change.

Our Greater Goals

• We help people better understand, selectively predict, and guide accelerating developments in science and technology, and improve their impact on business and society.

• We explore the challenges and opportunities of converging technologies (infotech, nanotech, energy tech, biotech, sociotech), and the differences between evolutionary (unpredictable, contingent) and developmental (predictable, convergent) technological change.

• We seek funds for the development of academic programs in Acceleration Studies, Evolutionary Development Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Technology Policy, and Strategic Foresight degree programs globally.

• We advance the world's attention to these issues by networking considerate thinkers and organizing their literature and data.

• We encourage a proactive, “future shaping” attitude toward the future, as opposed to a reactive, “future shock” attitude, to make better personal and institutional choices in an accelerating world.

• We realize informed individuals create an informed society, thus we work to effect change one-on-one as well as in broader contexts.

If any of these are consistent with your goals, we urge you to lend your time and wisdom to our community.

In More Detail

The Acceleration Studies Foundation (ASF) is a nonprofit community of approximately sixty board members, associates and advisers, and a subscriber network of executives, technologists, systems theorists, and futurists. (See the ASF definition of futurist).

ASF explores the accelerating development of special domains in science and technology, and examines their impact on business and society. In particular, we consider longstanding accelerating scientific and technological trends in computation, communication, storage, digitization, simulation, sensing, energy density, energy efficiency, miniaturization, autonomy, and others, and the way these developmental trends interact with business and social agendas. We seek to use this knowledge in service of greater personal, executive, and professional development.

We seek members whose values push them to be technology adapters and creators, to become financially endowed, politically engaged, socially responsible, global learners, local actors, and spiritually and self-aware. Individuals who don't put off the sometimes hard work of guiding the world to a better place, one person or institution at a time.

We recognize that humanity's central choice in technology development is not a blind advocacy of acceleration, but a selective catalysis. Discovering which technologies (e.g., information and communication technologies, accountability technologies, democratizing technologies) hold the greatest promise, and preferentially advancing those in a beneficial manner, while regulating and delaying the destabilizing ones (e.g., weapons of mass destruction, dysfunctional and nonsustainable technologies), is the essence of our individual and social choice.

Roy Amara of the Institute for the Future has said, "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." Nowhere is this observation more true than in technologies of computation, communication, and nanoscience, which have grown exponentially (or greater) over the history of human civilization, and at the same time becoming increasingly self-catalyzing (autonomous) in their replicative evolutionary development.

We must be careful not to ignore the near-term shortcomings, dangers, and unanticipated consequences of our technological capacities, as has been done in a long succession of promising new technologies in recent decades. At the same time, it is also clear that most of today's institutions are not appropriately realizing the near-term value and long-term transformational power of our accelerating and increasingly self-catalyzed computation, communication, and nanotechnologies.

Many foresight organizations, such as the World Future Society (WFS), focus on "evolutionary" future scenarios—seeking consensus on the preferable, given the imaginable. ASF, by contrast, focuses more on "developmental" futures, seeking to discover that subset of new scientific and technological events (beneficial and detrimental) that are highly likely to emerge in coming years, whether we want them to or not, the likely timing of their emergence, and how we might best guide their inevitable development. In addition, we seek to better characterize the physical mechanisms and efficiencies that underlie the accelerating development of technology in special domains. See our brief comparison of WFS and ASF as futures organizations.

Finally, we engage in selective advocacy for increasing scientific and technological literacy and foresight, technological research, innovation, diffusion and assessment, economic interdependence, sustainability, responsible globalization, social unity, transparency, balance, respect, self-empowerment, accelerating compassion, and other scientific, technological, business and humanist priorities in guiding technology's apparently unstoppable acceleration.

History

In 1999, John M. Smart started SingularityWatch.com (renamed AccelerationWatch.com in 2005) possibly the first website to explore the phenomenon of accelerating technological change from a universal and complex systems perspective. In April 2003, a group of eight futurists in this community formed the Institute for Accelerating Change. In 2005 we received a small initial endowment and changed our name to the Acceleration Studies Foundation. For a few years we also ran an online newsletter, Accelerating Times. We also have free monthly future salon meetings in twelve U.S. cities. When in any of our host cities please drop by for discussion and dinner with fellow future-oriented thinkers.

Thank you for your interest in ASF. If you wish to become further involved, here are suggestions for some things you can do.

 

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