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Strategic Insights in Accelerating Technological Change

28 July, 2004

Accelerating Change 2004 is On! Join us at Stanford Fri-Sun, November 5th-7th.

Thanks to everyone who registered and RSVP'd over the last two weeks. We now have sufficient commitments to offer you another amazing event this year. Rather than delaying to 2005, we have rescheduled AC2004 to November 5-7, which will give us adequate time to provide maximum value to our sponsors, and to ensure a full roster of distinguished attendees. We had 279 wonderful folks last year, and have capacity again for 300 this year. We hope to see you at Stanford this November!

Take a look at the AC2004 conference website: We will bring you 36 world-class speakers over two and a half days, six keynotes, three debates, a Virtual Worlds demo, and a DVD conference record. Rates are $350 for Early Bird, and $150 for Student registrants. Note that AC2004 is priced well below other top-quality strategic technology, business, and humanist futures conferences such as AlwaysOn ($1,795*), Business 4Site ($1,095*), MIT Emerging Tech ($995*), O'Reilly Emerging Tech ($1,145*), Telecosm ($1,495*), and Pop!Tech ($1,695*). Our nonprofit is committed to remaining the low-cost, high value leader in this very important space.

ACC2003 DVDs Available

Our excellent 10 disc set of ACC2003 DVDs is now available for $99, tax and shipping included. Speakers include Ray Kurzweil (voice and PowerPoints), and voice, PowerPoints, and video for Michael Denton, Ilkka Tuomi, Keith Devlin, Jim Gardner, Bill Dembski, Nick Bostrom, Greg Papadopoulous, John Koza, William Calvin, Steve Jurvetson, John Smart, Robert Wright, Jim Crawford, Mark Finnern, Marcos Guillen, Ben Goertzel, Tim O'Reilly, Christine Peterson, Scott Hunt, and Ross Mayfield. Also included is Howard Bloom's special film presentation, "An Infinity of Singularities."

These are very important, acceleration-aware ideas, and we seek to promote them to the widest possible audience. Sets can be ordered from ASF by phone (VISA, MC, AmEx accepted) at (650) 396-8220.

As prep for AC2004, Tech Tidbits will feature at least three items weekly, arranged by our three conference themes. Have your own breaking news to submit? Let us know at

A Moving Mission, LA Times Magazine, 25 July 2004 (1 page) [Free Registration Required]
[Commentary by John Smart] Twenty five years ago, mechanical engineer Don Schoendorfer, was in Morocco and saw a disabled woman dragging herself across a hot dirt road using her one functional arm. "We wanted to do something but we didn't know how." Three years ago, Don had his inspiration. He subsequently designed the cheapest known functional wheelchair in existence, based on a $3 plastic lawn chair and two mountain bike tires, began producing it in two Chinese factories for $41.37 each, and is now distributing it free in the poorest areas on the planet. His nonprofit, Free Wheelchair Mission, has to date distributed 30,000 of the chairs in 37 countries, including Iraq last year (picture right).

FWM is an inspiring example of what Buckminster Fuller called technological benevolence: recognizing when certain technologies have become so mature and affordable that we can now use them to permanently address some basic world problem using our existing humanitarian and philanthropic channels, and then extending this solution to everyone on the planet in a sustainable manner. Schoendorfer's big hairy audacious goal is to distribute 20 million of these worldwide by 2010, so they can be shared by the estimated 100 million disabled and elderly that could use them today. Great job!

University of Illinois Study Shows Kids Don't Leave Much Room For Error When Crossing Street on Bike, Ascribe Newswire, 19 July 2004 (2 pages)
[Commentary by John Smart] Summary of a study published in July/August Child Development. A very creative collaboration between Jodie Plumert, professor of psychology, and Joseph Kearney and James Cremer, professors of computer science at the University of Iowa. Kearney and Cremer designed an immersive virtual environment where participants actually feel as if they are biking through a neighborhood. The virtual neighborhood is projected on three screens at right angles to one another, providing a wrap-around view and allowing for realistic peripheral vision and reactions. What they discovered is that ten and twelve year old's perception of the length of traffic gaps are more unrealistic than adults. Between 10-12 and adulthood they measurably improve their visual judgment. Plumert says,"being able to study childhood safety without putting participants at risk for injury is a major advance."

How soon will teens have virtual environments where they can improve their biking and driving skills? Sites like (picture right) provide highly realistic simulated Nascar racing, and are already improving the driving skills and reaction times of professional racers, by their own testimony. Thanks to Iveta Brigis for the article.

New Jacket Contains Telephony and MP3 Player, InformationWeek, 26 July 2004 (1 page)
[Commentary by John Smart] An innovative german semiconductor maker (Infineon Technologies AG) and a creative German clothing manufacturer (Rosner GmbH & Co.) have created a men's sport jacket with built-in Bluetooth telephony and an MP3 player. A textile keyboard on the sleeve controls the electronics. When the wearer places a call, the stereo becomes a headset and the audio is automatically paused when calls come in. To wash the jacket, it's necessary to remove the electronics module from its holder. Unfortunately, the battery supplies power for only eight hours, and it doesn't appear to be rechargable simply by hanging the garment up. Ideally the Bluetooth gateway should allow the wearer to use their cellphone outside the house and their Bluetooth-equipped landline inside. Orders can be taken August 1st at, for delivery way out in February 2005. Unfortunately, I'd also expect the price to be similar to "The Hub", the $600 snowboarding-cellphone-mp3 jacket (pictured here) that Infineon and O'Neill Europe announced in January (to be sold only in Europe, next month apparently).

Such developments bring us closer to the wearable computing dream: clothing that will keep you connected, entertained, and educated, wherever you are. There's a lot that could be done with a vest, like the $140 Scott eVest (now in Version 2.0) another step toward wearable, invisible, and hassle-free electronics. By distributing small power cells throughout the clothing, today's garments have the ability to get around the marginal battery performance of today's mobile electronic devices, though no commercial product has yet taken advantage of that fact.

For the future: Add XM Radio to this, so that you can have a hundred custom informational and educational channels available. We could also use jackets that will sync automatically with proprietary-format audiobook, eBook, and MPEG-4 content downloaders like and AvantGo. Also great would be a detachable PDA. Synchronization should happen in the closet when you hang up your eClothes. Tall order?

The Venture Development Corp. has forecast the intelligent textiles market at $1 billion in 2007. I think we are going to need smarter and less expensive versions of these products before those numbers can materialize. Designers? Let's do it!

Open Call for Submissions
ASF is currently requesting submissions for its Accelerating Times (AT) web-based publication. AT is a "free and priceless" newsletter, featuring broad coverage and incisive editorials on scientific, technological, business, and humanist dialogs in accelerating change. Anyone interested in submitting original material relevant to the broad study and analysis of accelerating change may do so via email to Submissions may take the form of articles, papers, scan hits, questions and even cartoons (for you illustrators out there). Contributers will be notified of their acceptance status in a timely fashion, and accepted work will appear, fully credited, in future issues of Accelerating Times. Visit for more details.


Accelerating Change 2004 is On! Join us Nov 5th-7th

ACC2003 DVDs Available


A Moving Mission: Tech Benevolence

UI VR Study on Teen Behavior

Infineon's MP3Blue



WorldFuture 2004, July 31- August 2 (Washington, DC). Annual event for lay and professional futurists.


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