Acceleration Studies Foundation
the Way We Look at the Future.
ASF is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit engaged
in outreach, education, research, and selective advocacy with respect
to issues of accelerating change. We seek:
1. To promote a multidisciplinary
and critical understanding of accelerating processes of planetary
and universal change, to advance economic, political, social, professional
and personal development.
2. To improve the methods individuals and organizations
use to create, plan, benefit from, and predict the future by advancing
such disciplines as acceleration and evolutionary development studies
(in a variety of complex systems), and strategic foresight ( innovation
studies, planning, change management, forecasting, roadmapping,
risk management, and other foresight methodologies).
3. To broadly help individuals, organizations,
business, and society to discover and create a future of "exponential
in Plain English
ASF explores our increasingly technological and computational
world via four key services:
• advancing awareness and dialog through public
• high school, undergraduate and graduate initiatives for
• acceleration and evolutionary development studies, roadmapping,
forecasting, and other data-driven Research,
• selected technological, economic, political and social
with regard to accelerating processes of change.
ASF general and research visions are outlined in our
vision for the future.
Five keywords describe our institutional orientation
to accelerating change:
Certain aspects of our local physical environment run faster and
more autonomously every year, as they continually "do more,
better, with less." We seek to better understand and guide
accelerating systems to improve the world and ourselves.
We cover not just technology and business, but some of 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.
seek to discover and analyze highly probable science and technology
developments, as opposed to more speculative or contingent futures,
and ways to increase their 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 computatonal and
technological trends are the key enablers and shapers of our natural
recruit experienced practitioners who carefully think, study,
act, and educate others on multifold trends in accelerating change.
• 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
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
scenariosseeking 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.
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,
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
Thank you for your interest in ASF. If you wish to become further
involved, here are suggestions for some
things you can do.