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, in service to better 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 Evo Devo Studies (applied in
universal, biological, cultural, and technological domains), and
Futures Studies ( 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
• AEDS, roadmapping, forecasting, scenarios and other data-driven
• 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 an inaugural academic
program in Acceleration Studies, and more Science and Technology
Studies, Technology Policy, and Futures Studies degree programs
• 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 personal or institutional
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 3,100 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.
In today's fast-paced technological environment, we
suggest that understanding accelerating change involves a new way
of thinking, learning to see the most powerful and broadly applicable
innovations, processes, trends, and physical efficiencies, and discovering
where, when, and how to harness those to create value in the modern
Which technological and sociotechnical changes are
presently occurring the fastest? Which are occurring the most broadly,
and to greatest effect? For how long can we expect each trend to
continue? What opportunities and challenges are created by today's
spectrum of technological changes, both for the United States and
for our rapidly globalizing neighbors?
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.
ASF emphasizes "developmental"
technological roadmapping and forecasting, that is, we focus primarily
on highly probable and convergent futures, based on intrinsic physical
properties of the human sociotechnological infrastructure. We then
seek to determine what choices and responsibilities we have within
the framework of humanity's continually accelerating technological
development. (For one account of exponential historical trends in
the growth of computation, see Ray Kurzweil's "The
Law of Accelerating Returns.")
This approach has occasionally been called "techno-transcendentalist"
or "techno-utopian," and this critique has historical
merit. While a number of generally defined computational capacities
and efficiences have undergone predictable, sustained acceleration
for decades (some even for centuries), many specific computer innovations
(artificial intelligence, multimedia, the internet, wireless computing,
nanocomputing) have been greatly oversold in the near-term.
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, 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. Unfortunately, these profound
observations are obscured by the fact that many weakly computationally-related
technologies (jet engines, magnetic levitation, solar power, space
travel, nanotechnology) have been much less impactful over the long-term
than the original innovators imagined.
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. We must also realize the deep intrinsic constraints
on many programs of technological development. Much of our "top-down"
driven biotechnology and genetic engineering, for example, will
be significantly more technically and politically difficult than
is commonly realized. 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 information, communication, and computational
In our research capacity we seek to improve foresight and control
of accelerating planetary changes via data-driven analysis, informed
technological and social forecasting, technology roadmapping, the
promotion of science, technology, business, and humanist dialogs,
and the advancement of developmental systems theory using universal,
global, and local perspectives. We investigate why increasingly
fast, powerful, intelligent, and autonomous computing systems are
continually emerging, whether they are likely to exceed human-level
complexity during this century as increasing numbers of scholars
are now proposing, and, if so, what we can do to make this evolutionary
developmental path better serve human ends.
An important long-term goal for the foundation
is to fundraise for the development of an educational institution,
where professional degrees and certificate courses in technological
and social forecasting and acceleration studies are offered to improve
the long-term analysis, prediction, and management of our rapidly-changing
technological world. As our models and measurements of accelerating
change advance in coming years, we hope these issues will be discussed
not simply by technologists and academics, but more broadly and
deeply in human society.
Many futurist organizations, such as the World
Future Society (WFS), focus on "evolutionary" future
scenariosseeking consensus on the preferable, given
the imaginable. ASF, by contrast, focuses 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, the likely timing of their emergence, and how we
might best guide their 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
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
Smart started SingularityWatch.com (renamed AccelerationWatch.com
in 2005) perhaps the first website devoted to multidisciplinary
discussion of the accelerating pace of planetary change. In April
2003, a group of eight futurists
in this community formed the Institute
for Accelerating Change, renamed
later that year to Institute for the Study
of Accelerating Change.
In 2005 we received a small initial endowment and changed our name
to the Acceleration Studies Foundation.
During this time our community has grown to 3,100 acceleration-aware
readers who receive our monthly newsletter,
We also have free monthly future
salon meetings in twelve U.S. cities, and one in the online
virtual world, Second Life. When in any of our host cities
please drop by for discussion and dinner with fellow future-oriented
Thank you for your interest in the Foundation. We hope you will
join our growing community. If you wish to become further involved,
here are suggestions for some things
you can do.