Events for conferences, seminars, and salons
New Year to our acceleration-aware friends and colleagues everywhere.
Have you stopped to take a topsight perspective on your life's accomplishments
so far? Reconsidered your future? Counted your blessings? One New
Year's Ritual we recommend is reading Edge.org's Annual Question
and responses (Jan 1, 2006: "What
is your dangerous idea?"). Write your own response after
reading these if you can and share it with your friends! Sorry for
the two month delay in publishing. We're back in the saddle and
ready to ride again. Thanks for all your emails and support in 2005.
Paffendorf ] ASF is embarking on a major foresight project
in 2006: the Metaverse Roadmap: Pathways to the 3D Web. For a brief
intro to technology roadmaps, see our Roadmapping
page. For an overview of the project, see our Metaverse
Roadmap (MVR) page. The MVR is made possible by generous start-up
support from The Electric
Sheep Company. We are creating a team of partner companies and
organizations interested in supporting the project. Partners to
date include the Arden
Institute virtual worlds research center at Indiana University
and the State of Play conference
on law, video games, and virtual worlds at the New York Law School.
ASF Research Director Jerry
Paffendorf to join the project, or for more information.
and Event Manager(s) Needed
Smart] ASF is seeking one or two bright, energetic managers
with strong organizational skills and a passion for serving technology
and futures communities. We are paying $15-20/hour ($30-40K salary
for full time) for an individual or individuals to lead several
of our 2006 projects and events on a full-time or part-time basis.
The position(s) involve administrative and budgeting work as needed,
and require a great phone presence and willingness to make contacts
for network building and occasional pitches to potential sponsors.
One benefit is that the manager can work from their home, managing
our ASF team online and through daily conference calls. If you or
someone you know is interested in the position, let us know! You
can also send a resume and references to John
Smart, and find more in the MVR
Project Manager Job Description at our public wiki.
Donations for 2006
the new year off right with an act of foresight and philanthropy.
Pledge $50 to a worthy cause, the Acceleration
Studies Foundation, the only 501c3 educational nonprofit dedicated
to improving understanding and guidance of accelerating processes
of planetary change. Your contributions are tax deductible, and
will greatly help us serve our community in 2006. You can donate
to our Bear Sterns endowment account
(where the donated principal
generates interest income for the ASF in perpetuity), to our general
fund, or to any of our specific projects, such
as building our Future Salon Network, producing our acclaimed conference,
Accelerating Change, writing our Foresight Development
university coursework curricula, doing top-quality technology roadmapping
research, or creating great future-oriented podcasts next year!
See our Donations
page for donation options.
University's Ph.D. in Futures Studies
[JS] ASF Board Member Iveta
Brigis and I were in Taiwan last month for the annual
foresight conference of Tamkang
University. As you may recall, Tamkang is the only university
in the world that requires all its undergraduates (27,000
of them) to take at least three courses in thinking about
the future in order to graduate. They offer 15 futures courses
at the undergraduate level, from personal development, to
careers, to a range of topics in national and global futures,
and about as many at the Master's level as well. In one of
the trip highlights for us, Dr. Clement Chang,
president of the university, invited ASF to help Tamkang develop
curriculum for their Ph.D. program in Futures Studies, which
they plan to inaugurate circa 2008. If any of you have an
interest in developing acceleration-aware foresight curriculum
at the university level, let us know what you'd like to research.
There's a world full of students out there waiting to understand
the history and future of technology in a very powerful and
practical new way.
to R) John Smart, Founder Dr. Clement Chang, Walter Kistler,
and Graduate Institute of Futures Studies Director Dr. Chien-Fu
“You don’t have to dominate the
food chain to get by in the Web world; you can find a productive
niche and thrive, partially because you’re building
on the information value created by the rest of the Web.”
2.0 Arrives”, Discover 10.05
you harness collective intelligence and the power of blogging,
it doesn’t [at first] mean power to the individuals.
It means power to the people best able to aggregate those
individuals. Google is a profoundly powerful company because
it has figured out algorithmically to learn from [hundreds
of] millions of people at once.” — Tim
stock market will lower to 6,000 and then accelerate to the
equivalent of 30,000 points by 2020." — Patricia
Moody and Richard
Technology Machine: How Manufacturing Will Work in the Year
CCleaner.com (Crap Cleaner):
System Optimization Freeware
Try this great spyware-free system optimization program
for deleting cookies, temporary files and other 'crap' from your
cache on IE, Firefox, in the Windows Registry, Recycle Bin, etc.
12 million people have downloaded this application so far. It took
me 11 secs to delete 600 MB of crap off my laptop, and 67 seconds
to delete 1.6MB of crap off my desktop machine. My browsers are
much snappier now. I run it on the first of every month, when I
do my scheduled backups. Wish I could get it to automatically 'take
out the trash', but maybe we'll see that in the next version. If
you are using IE and want faster browsing, you should also set your
Temporary Internet Files (TIF) Cache to 50 MB instead of 350 MB.
Under XP, go to Tools>Internet Options>General>"Settings"
button to find the TIF cache and change the value from the default
350 to the speedier 50.
VGN-TX and Verizon's BroadbandAccess
Card: An Ultraconnected Ultraportable Laptop, Sept 2005
At 2.7 pounds and with a carbon-fiber body this laptop is ultraportable.
I carry it in a small backpack when I leave the house—almost
a wearable like the TummyPC.
This was the hot ticket in the electronics district in Taipei when
we visited there last month. It recently debuted in the U.S. as
well, for the same price: $2,200. The new Vaio has several features
(like a DVD burner) you wouldn't expect in anything this small,
but the neatest thing is the screen. It's barely an eighth of an
inch thick, lighter and thinner than any we've seen before, and
incredibly bright. The reason it's so bright and crisp is because
the entire backplane is white organic LED (the "light
source of the future") with an LCD screen overlaid on it.
That makes it far more energy efficient than other screens to date,
giving the laptop 6.5 hours of real-world battery life (or 10 hrs
with the extended battery), twice as long as previous models.
Don't buy the
U.S. version, the VGN-TX670GP, because it comes with the Cingular
2.5G cellular modem installed, which is significantly slower than
home broadband. Instead order the international version from your
local Sony store, the VGN-TX17GP,
and then for ultraconnectivity, go to your local Verizon store and
get their BroadbandAccess
3G EVDO card ($80/month, unlimited bandwidth) on a one year
contract. This is the only setup in the U.S. at present that I know
of that will let you surf the internet at better than cable modem
and DSL speeds, from anywhere you can get cellphone reception, including
as a passenger in a car driving at 60 miles an hour. That makes
it either Star Trek technology or the minimum requirement
for 21st century living, depending on your attitude with regard
to these things. Finally, you should know Sony has a reputation
for being overly aggressive with their digital rights management
tools (eg., their recent rootkit
fiasco). If you believe they will ultimately play fair when challenged,
as I do, you may be willing to support their innovation by buying
[Iveta Brigis] It seems like everyone is trying
to prevent the common cold by taking supplements like Airborne
John E. Smart (the father of our very own JS) recommends
a new Canadian product called Cold
F-X. The difference between Cold F-X and something like Airborne?
F-X has results from randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled
to prove it works. The results are particularly strong for elderly
people in nursing homes and hospitals.
Acceleration Story in Five Spaces
covers world news and insight in five "spaces," giving
one to three briefs in each space. The story of accelerating change,
the most fascinating story of our time, can be told as a story of
movement from outer, to human, to inner, to cyber, and ultimately,
to hyper space, the world beyond the present. Each of these deserves
understanding for a multidisciplinary perspective on the future:
Space (the world around us: science, the natural
and built environment, universal systems theory)
Space (the human world: our bodies, behavior, minds,
human systems theory)
Space (the world below: energy, small tech, computer
"bodies", inner systems theory)
Space (the virtual world: computer "behavior",
computer "minds", cyber systems theory)
Space (the world beyond: new paradigms, phase transitions,
hyperphysics, hyper systems theory)
you have important stories to share with our 3,200 acceleration-aware
readers, we'd love to hear from you
science (biology, chemistry, geology, physics, research),
the natural and built environment, universal systems theory (developmental
physics, hierarchical substrates)
Toward an Electric Future: Natural Gas, Nanobatteries, and PHEV's
(Next-Generation Hybrids), John Smart,
purpose of this article is to try and convince you that a quiet
revolution is underway in the electric grid, and that the trojan
horse involves a mix of several innovative technologies, including
liquified natural gas (LNG) storage and transportation, natural
gas electric generation, nanobattery storage systems, and the Plug-in
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The new nanobatteries promise to
make electric car recharging as fast as gas tank filling at home,
recharge station, or destination, and tomorrow's transportation
power grids will be much more decentralized than today's gasoline
stations, supporting even greater city densities. Natural gas, the
electric industry, battery companies, and the hybrid auto industry
all look like great places to invest over the next several decades.
Take a moment to skim this article and see if you agree. When you're
done, take a look at CalCars.org,
a great site about PHEV's in general, though they don't yet discuss
the significance of nanobatteries to their paradigm.
bodies (biology, health, neuroscience), behavior (business,
education, foresight, governance, innovation, pre-digital technology,
society), minds (psychology, spirituality), human systems theory (ecological
Democracy of Groups, First Monday, Beth Noveck,
[JS] Beth Noveck gave
one of the neatest presentations (on reforming the U.S. patent system)
at AC2005. Here
she explores an issue rarely discussed in our consumer culture of
leisure individualism: the growing rights and democratic powers
of groups, a process sure to be a major influence on the future.
The twentieth century was defined economically (and to a lesser
extent, legally) by the rise of the corporation, a major new multi-state,
multinational network of groups. The twenty first century will clearly
continue that trend, but add great new powers to smaller and less
commercial groups within the network as well. Beyond the incremental
improvements we are already seeing in online collaboration and education,
I think the last critical step needed to empower all smaller groups
will be an infrastructure capable of supporting better online preference-sharing,
polling, and voting. Free group survey tools like SurveyMonkey.com
are good first efforts toward making our group minds open to reflection
and refinement. In the same way that it took a relatively well-developed
trade and finance infrastructure before corporate law could come
into its own, an infrastructure of full digital democracy (first
at the local and state levels, if history is precedent) would be
a force capable of reforming plutocratic power structures that are
well defined at the state and individual rights levels, but presently
poorly developed in the "excluded middle" of groups, as
Noveck notes. After reading her fantastic piece, you might also
also my discussion of the network-oriented concept of the "valuecosm"
(section B3 of this
scenario) for another example of how groups may be greatly empowered
by tomorrow's IT infrastructures. Thanks to Tim Moenk
for the link.
the Language-Perception Debate, World Science,
26 Dec 2005
[JS] U.C. Berkeley researcher Aubrey
Gilbert and colleagues have brought some clarity to the
persistent but controversial Sapir-Whorf
Hypothesis (the theory that your language shapes your perceptions,
thought, and even nature of consciousness). Using
split-brain glasses and simple color distinction experiments, as
reported in this week's
PNAS, Gilbert et.
al. have discovered Whorf was half right: Language does shape our
perception, but only in the left half of the brain! (Remember your
psychology class mnemonics? Left is for "Language and Logic",
Right is for "Ridiculous" (Emotion, Art, Humor, General
Silliness, etc.). Perhaps this means our right hemisphere keeps
us all on a common footing emotionally, regardless of culture. What
an excellent design, if any of us can only be half-misunderstood
at most, as long as we always remember to pay attention to the nonverbal
cues of our fellow conversants! Thanks
to Alvis Brigis for this excellent hit.
energy, small tech (nanoengineering, miniaturization),
computer "bodies" (automation, computer hardware, nanotech,
robotics), inner systems theory (acceleration, efficiency, miniaturization,
Nanotechnology and the
Poor, Meridian Institute, Jan 2005 (29p
This foresighted study by the famous conflict-resolution group Meridian
considers the great potential benefit to the developing world of
the $3.7B being spent annually on nanotech internationally. This
level of research investment is already twice the highest annual
outlay that occurred during the Human Genome Project. That seems
about right to me, as the next-generation yields of biotech are
likely to be much less dramatic than most futurists anticipate.
Nanotech, however, can be implemented on fast technological rather
than slow biological timescales, in a wide range of global platforms.
In addition to great new products like Argonide's NanoCeram
electropositive filters and Seldon Lab's Nanomesh
for clean water, the report mentions nanoenvironmental and health
issues that are only now beginning to be assessed. None of this
is nanotech in the Drexlerian self-replicating
assembler vision (as described best to date in Kinematic
Self Replicating Machines, Bob Freitas Jr. and
Ralph Merkle, 2004) but rather the exploitation
of fascinating new properties that occur in materials science and
manufacturing processes when we get them very small. Want a trivial
example? Try Ghirardelli's new chocolate
powders. They are ground so finely they dissolve instantly in
water, making the others seem positively primitive. Nanochoc for
the world, hurrah!
(co-evolution, automation, symbiosis), computer "minds"
(computer software, simulation), cyber systems theory (holism, information,
intelligence, interdependence, immunity)
is Web 2.0, OReillynet.com, Tim O'Reilly, 30
Good brief (5 page) introduction to the new technologies, standards,
and infrastructure capacities of the post-bubble web, by one of
the best thinkers in this space. Such advances are the infrastructure
powering the next-generation collaborative economy and society.
In just two short years since its coining the term Web 2.0 has come
to mean quite a number of things. Tim's article begins with a history
lesson and ends with a discussion of new web services protocols
like AJAX, and some of the opportunities of this new, more complex
interaction environment, including a few Web 2.0 Design Prescriptions.
Beyond the marketing buzzword, I believe Web 2.0 portends some very
valuable new business models, and by extension, a selective stock
market resurgence in coming years. Keep your eyes and ears open
(and don't sell your Google stock), interesting things are beginning
to happen in this space. Thanks to Tim Moenk.
Year in Second Life, Slashdot | Games, Zonk,
29 Dec 05
[JP] Two cool announcements
were recently made at ASF’s Second Life Future Salon. First,
future salon presenter Phillip Torrone, Associate
Editor of MAKE Magazine,
announced that O’Reilly Publishing, the world’s largest
independent publisher of technology books, will create a book called
Second Life Hacks (see this
post for more). That kind of exposure should bring a lot of
new creativity to this fast-growing virtual world. Second, SLFS
blog contributor Glitchy Gumshoe (SL name) announced on the SL
Future Salon blog that he’ll be producing an SL fashion
show for MTV’s Overdrive online channel and made a call for
participation (announcement here).
OK all you virtual designers, here's a good opportunity to get some
Blur the Scenery along the Digital Divide, SEO Blog,
16 Nov 2005
[JS] Great article on how rapidly the internet
search engine space is evolving, with Google Analytics, Google Base,
Yahoo Publishers Network, and other recent innovations. Stunning
rates of progress!
new paradigms (including evolutionary development),
phase transitions, hyperphysics (black holes, multiverse, string
theory, supersymmetry), hyper systems theory (computational limits,
emergence, phase transitions, technological singularity hypothesis,
developmental singularity hypothesis)
Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, Sean
In this well written and illustrated primer Carroll, a
U. Wisconsin geneticist, helps the reader understand that "every
animal form is the product of two processes—development from
an egg and evolution from its ancestors." Charles Darwin
understood the latter of these processes, but had little idea how
constraining the former was on the trajectory of the tree of life.
One of the great lessons evo devo science promises is the perspective
of DNA as a developmental constraint space. Molecular biology has
taught us in recent decades that the same set of master genes (homeobox
genes) guides the development of body structures in all animals,
from planaria to humans. More generally, all the variations we see
in cell type, body type, and other yet to be clarified types (brain
type, psychological type) are due to different combinations of on-off
switches built on top of genes which are for all practical purposes
identical from human to human. That developmental path dependency
limits variation to about 200 different cell types, 35 metazoan
body plans, and some equally limited number of types in the neurological
space. In other words, there just aren't that many ways to work
within the historical constraints to generate new functional complexity.
What's more, these optimal ways are almost inevitably discovered
by different evolutionary linages in similar developmental environments,
as convergent evolution shows (eg., the development of the antifreeze
molecule in the blood of northern vs. southern hemisphere cold water
fish, which has a different structure and genetic background but
identical function in both environments). Carroll understands this,
as he clearly sides with Simon Conway Morris (Life's
Solution, 2004) ("Yes") rather than Stephen
Jay Gould ("No") on the clarifying Contingency
Question ("Would evolution on Earth have produced the mostly
same forms if it was run over again, or run on a similar Earth-like
planet?") One major insight we will get from developmental
biology, hinted at in Carroll's book, is that complex human beings
are more "terminally differentiated,"
meaning that there is a declining amount of useful variation we
can get out of changes to their regulatory genes, the more extended
and ramified the DNA tree of life becomes. I believe tomorrow's
evo devo science will show we are nearing the end of useful genetic
variation in complex structures like human beings. Endless forms
most beautiful indeed, but not in biological space, where developmental
constraints rise ever higher the more complex the system being developed.
Look instead to the reinstantiation of evo devo mechanisms in our
technological systems for the next adaptive radiation of complexity.
Carroll's book is a great introduction to evo devo to lay audiences,
but if you are already well versed in biology and want more a more
radical exploration of its future, try Mary Jane West-Eberhard's
Plasticity and Evolution, 2003. West-Eberhard will get
you beyond simplistic ideas about evolution, and help you understand
that genetic mutation and other evolutionary forces are entirely
subservient to developmental opportunity in response to environmental
opportunity, in the big picture.
all deserve a little fun every day. Send your entries for the next
"It's funny, it's quirky,
and you'll walk away a genius." This is the tagline for the
new Mental Floss trivia
game ($24.95), created by the folks who publish the magazine
of the same name. Hailed as a refreshing change from the old-school
trivia games you already have sitting on your shelves, Mental Floss
differentiates itself through its intriguing, relevant, and funny
questions. Try it the next time you have friends or family over.
Last year's Best Documentary Oscar-winner Born
into Brothels is now available on DVD. If you haven't seen
this eye-opening movie, I highly recommend renting or buying it
now. New York photographer Zana Briski takes you
into the heart of Calcutta's red light district through the eyes
of sons and daughers of prostitutes. The story hits you deeply,
and you can see why Zana was moved to try to help these children
break free of their parents' and caste's fate. It is rare to catch
such an inside look at such a different life. Read
reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or order
the rental on Netflix.
- Internet Radio Grows Up
[JS] Free customized "radio stations" built based
on your tastes. You can maintain up to 100 stations at a time and
access them from any computer. Plug in an artist or song you like
and Pandora will serve you more in the same style, as categorized
by their Music Genome Project. Click on each song as it is playing
and you can thumbs up or thubs down their selections, which is supposed
to adapt based on your feedback. You can save the titles of your
favorite songs. The ad-based version is free. I set my first radio
station on Paul Oakenfold and got a day long few-repeat no-commercials
trance track in the background. Then I tried Ambient Generation
as my next seed and got great ambient work music, though unfortunately
here the selection was more repetitive. Another downside of this
early version is that their music licenses limit the number of songs
you can skip, and they don't let you back up and replay anything.
Eventually we'll see this on our iPods and carPods too, of course.
If you had a choice, why would you ever listen to music without
being able to have it respond intelligently to your feedback? I'm
really looking forward to the future evolution of these "conversational"
is always seeking interesting submissions for our Accelerating
Times (AT) web publication. AT is a "free
and priceless" monthly newsletter covering scientific, technological,
business, policy, and social dialogs in accelerating change. Anyone
may submit scan hits, mini-articles, pictures, artwork, quotes and
questions to mail(at)accelerating.org.
Accepted work will appear, fully credited, in future issues. Also
please submit your feedback on Accelerating Times articles
to the Future Salon
Weblog, beneath each article as posted. Thanks!