Bresnahan, Public Relations
Acceleration Studies Foundation
(650) 396-8220, tombrez(at)accelerating.org
TECHNOLOGICAL ACCELERATION: A HIDDEN LAW OF NATURE?
and Singularity Researcher Kurzweil to Debate Vitalist Denton
and Techno-Philosopher Tuomi at "Accelerating Change Conference"
(August 18, 2003) - Ray Kurzweil, noted inventor, software developer
and futurist, will present his work on "the law of accelerating
returns" and debate its merits with biologist Michael Denton
and innovation theorist Ilkka Tuomi to kick off a weekend conference
devoted to rigorous examination of the apparent acceleration of
technology's development, and the way it affects the human world.
Change '03," organized by the Acceleration Studies Foundation
(ASF), will be held at Stanford University's Tresidder Union, September
12-14. Twenty-four prominent thinkers will offer their insights
from across a broad spectrum of cutting edge disciplines, such as
computing, nanotech, interface design, cosmology, and futurism.
acceleration a hidden law of nature? Is Kurzweil on to the ultimate
"next big thing"? Is there a trend, as he believes, of
increasing technological acceleration that leads to a "singularity"
- a change so great that it can't be understood before it occurs?
His data shows
that many trends in technology's development have accelerated independent
of economic conditions, marching to their own increasing efficiencies,
and periodically taking us into an "exponential economy."
But can this be extrapolated to all computational systems?
After his presentation,
Kurzweil will debate Michael Denton, noted post-Darwinian biologist
and Platonist ("Protein Folds as Platonic Forms," J. Theoretical
Bio, 2002), who proposes that our living proteins have unique emergent
properties that will not easily, or perhaps ever, be modeled by
technological systems. Denton thus asks whether there is something
"vital" to biological systems that must remain inaccessible
then debate Ilkka Tuomi, noted technology scholar and critic of
Moore's Law (the apparent doubling of computer power every 18-24
months). Tuomi contends that Moore's famous "law" has
been subject to both cultural overstatements and bad data. He proposes
that processor innovation is not supply driven, but results from
the paradoxical fact that the users of information technology have
been able to innovate new social uses for semiconductors faster
than engineers have been able to develop improved technology. Tuomi
sees the potential for stunning productivity increases through the
intelligent use of technology, but argues that the future of semiconductors
is finally determined by social innovation.
controversy of technological acceleration is whether tomorrow's
technology will be increasingly more "autonomous"? That
is, will it be more self-repairing, self-adapting, and self-governing?
John Koza (Genetic
Programming IV: Human-Competitive Machine Intelligence, 2003),
another distinguished speaker at the event, will present the latest
evidence for self-organizing machine intelligence, and the increasing
number of areas where it matches or outcompetes biological intelligence.
organizing 'Accelerating Change '03' to create broader awareness
of the way 'offspring' of complex systems always seem to accelerate
over time," says John Smart, President of ASF, the nonprofit
organization behind the event. "Carl Sagan noted that replicating
stars give rise to life-hospitable planets, which give rise to genetic
evolution, which gives rise to cultural evolution, which gives rise
to technological evolution, in a continual quickening process that
is still unexplained by our physics textbooks. And now, systems
that exceed even our own biologically-paced computation are pulling
us toward an unknown future."
"Kurzweil is one of a growing number of ground-breaking theorists
from a broad range of fields who have important things to say about
the next 10 to 30 years. Even with many of the dot coms gone, the
economy and culture remain permanently on a new, faster 'internet
time.' To engineer sustained economic recovery, we must learn how
to guide accelerating change. It is our organization's view that
a multidisciplinary, big picture, and long range view is necessary
to really answer this question, which is the reason for creating
our new forum."
about the conference and ASF is available at http://www.accelerating.org/.
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is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Los Angeles,
California. Our mission is to help business and society examine
the potential risks and benefits of the accelerating pace of change
through our conferences, reading groups, publications, websites,
and sense of community. For more information about ASF and ACC2003,
contact Tom Bresnahan, Public Relations, (650) 396-8220, or tombrez(at)accelerating.org.