Accelerating Change 2005. September 16-18, Stanford University. Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Amplification. Transforming Technology, Empowering Humanity

The following are distinguished speakers and emcees at AC2005. They are all doing important work understanding and guiding accelerating planetary change. Talk titles and abstracts are below. Click on speaker name for offsite speaker biography, where available. Click Biographies and Read Aheads for all speaker bios and related links, or click Bio and Read Ahead under each speaker for their own bio and links.


Daniel G. Amen, MD
Medical Director and CEO, Amen Clinics, Inc.; Author, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life; Monthly columnist for Men's Health Magazine

SPECT and the Future of Mental Health

According to National Institutes of Mental Health director Thomas Insel, brain imaging is the next major advance in clinical psychiatry. Dr. Daniel Amen has been using brain imaging in clinical practice for the past 14 years. His clinics now have the world’s largest database of brain scans related to behavior. The work has given him many insights on better ways to improve patient care and prevent illnesses that are so expensive to our society. In this lecture, Dr. Amen will share the lessons he has learned from imaging, the roadblocks to further progress, and ways to use this technology to benefit society in general.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Janna Anderson
Assistant Professor, Elon University's School of Communications; Director, "Imagining the Internet" Predictions Database; Author of the upcoming, Imagining the Internet: Personalities, Predictions, Perspectives

Imagining the Internet

Abstract: In the "awe" stage of the late 1980s and early 1990s, internet stakeholders and skeptics predicted the new tool would bring the death of privacy, an end to the current concept of "property," a paperless society, 500 channels of television, world peace, and the extinction of the human race after a takeover engineered by intelligent machines. Pervasive networks are changing our lives, and smart people are motivated to act by the ideal that better social choices can be made if the coming impact of the intersecting of
humankind's knowledge is pre-assessed as accurately as possible. The more intelligent preliminary analysis we elicit, the better our chances of good outcomes. "Imagining the Internet" is an initiative led by Elon University and the Pew Internet & American Life Project to gather prescient statements into a collective repository for use by everyone concerned about the future. From the public internet's earliest days, select theorists, philosophers and scientists saw it as merely an early manifestation of what is to become a collective consciousness, a neobiological civilization with a global mind or godmind. Even today, those concepts go far beyond what most world citizens would acknowledge as the future of artificial intelligence; most people don't understand the potential ahead, necessitating better exposure of informed predictions on as many platforms as possible.

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Sonia Arrison
Director of Technology Studies, Pacific Research Institute (PRI)

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Change Leader
Ruzena Bajcsy

Director, CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society); Former Assistant Director, National Science Foundation, CISE; Former Director, GRASP, U Penn

What Should Be the Ultimate Goal of Our Education?

Abstract: The goal of education is to reach every child/person at their level of cognitive capabilities. This was the basic idea behind the tutoring system at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Today Information technology (IT) promises to facilitate  the Individualization of Teaching and Learning. There is no one way to teach; teaching and learning involves memorization, abstraction, problems solving, exploration and discovery. All these components must be adjusted to the individual levels of the student.

We will discuss what IT can do to help in this endavour.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Peter Barrett
CTO and GM of Engineering, Microsoft TV

IPTV’s Promise and Creation of the Networked Digital Home

Abstract: Mr. Barrett will discuss the continuing evolution of IPTV and its impact on content developers and distributors in providing consumer entertainment and information services in the networked digital home. He will discuss IPTV’s evolution as it helps transform the television set into a central link of the next-generation networked home; how broadband ubiquity is impacting connected consumer services; and describe the technologies underlying the digital lifestyle concept that provides consumers with entertainment and information at home, at the office, and on the go. Attendees will learn:

• IPTV – what’s here, what’s now
• IPTV’s impact on music, TV, movies, games, education, productivity, and communication.
• From chips to content – partnering to build the networked home ecosystem
• System-on-a-chip (SOC) developments and likely trends
• IPTV’s impact on acquisition of TV channels; pay-per-view access; and instant channel changing.
• IP video content development and the current state of digital rights management issues
• The Internet as a key facilitator of distributed entertainment, notably in the delivery of TV content in the networked home.
• Accommodating the multi-TV home reality; meeting the multi-headed STB

Bio and Read Ahead


Foresight Tutorial
Peter Bishop

Chair and Professor, MS in Studies of the Future program, U of Houston

Tutorial Title: Futuring 101: Successful Models In Foresight Consulting

Abstract: The faster change goes, the more acutely we need to develop foresight in our global, institutional, and personal affairs. In this intimate, daylong tutorial you'll get an overview from three different foresight leaders of the practices they use to prepare their clients for our complex future, as well as learn how to add greater foresight proficiency to your own organization and personal life. If you are interested in consulting in this growing field, either as a professional or informally within your organization, you don't want to miss this chance for small group interaction and extensive Q&A with some highly successful change leaders.

Developing strategic foresight goes beyond the conventional time horizon of strategic planning, which is typically three to five years, depending on industry. There are many methods available, and successful and questionable practices abound. Come learn the basics and best-class examples of foresight development, forecasting, and foresight consulting from some highly successful practicing experts, and some of the history and future of this fascinating field from the founder of the leading futures studies graduate program in the United States. [More]

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Change Leader
T. Colin Campbell
Professor Emeritus, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University; Author, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted...

Changing the World One Bite at A Time

Nutrition is a concept that focuses on the physiological activities of individual food chemicals or nutrients that function through specific reactions to effect change. Such focus specifies the quantities of nutrients to be consumed, the amounts of nutrients present in foods and food products (as in food labels), the chemical structures of nutrients and related analogues, the quantities of nutrients causing disease outcomes and other adverse effects, and the biochemical reactions that explain functionality, among others.

This scientific focus has multiple implications. In scientific research, experimental studies are designed and interpreted to identify specific nutrients and their activities (as in the conduct of randomized clinical trials of the effects of individual nutrients and as in the statistical adjustment for confounding in human observational studies). In commerce, a multi-billion dollar nutrient supplement industry encourages the consumption of specific nutrients to gain health and prevent disease, foods are fortified with specific nutrients, new drugs are sought that affect specific nutrient modified reactions, and the 'nutritional' value of food is judged by its content of specific nutrients. Many observers now consider nutrients to be 'nutriceuticals' and disease prevention by dietary and nutritional means to be 'chemoprevention'. This eviscerates nutrition as a natural biological science and turns it into something akin to a pharmaceutical science and a marketplace technology.

Such a view may make marketplace sense for the few but it does not make health sense for the many. Moreover, it seriously short-changes an understanding of nutrition and its impressive ability to maintain health and prevent disease. This is a serious problem that assigns nutrition a very low priority among biomedical disciplines when it should have the highest. The future health of individuals, their societies, their environmental surroundings and their planet will not long survive unless this highly reductionist view of nutrition is changed.

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Change Leader
Jamais Cascio
Senior Contributing Editor, WorldChanging; Writer and foresight consultant

Rise of the Participatory Panopticon

Abstract: The value of mobile phones with cameras as a way of capturing events in one's life—as demonstrated in London in early July of this year—will be further enhanced as these devices become more powerful, with better cameras, more capabilities and higher-bandwidth connections.

Work now underway at a variety of research groups will allow close to 24/7 coverage of one's life, with the mobile phone transforming into a "personal memory assistant." This will be driven initially by personal desires, but will come to play an increasingly important role in collaborative "sousveillance" for security, environmental monitoring, and keeping watch on the watchmen. But these capabilities will not be without a cost -- from a staggering lack of privacy to an inescapable collision between what we can remember and what is controlled by intellectual property regimes.

Bio and Read Ahead


Foresight Tutorial
Tom Conger
Consulting Futurist and Founder, Social Technologies

Tutorial Title: Futuring 101: Successful Models In Foresight Consulting

Abstract: See tutorial page.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Esther Dyson
Editor, Release 1.0 and Editor at Large, CNET Networks

The Accountable Net

Abstract: Some people think "the government" (or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, for that matter) should be regulating the behavior of all the entities on the Net. I don't believe government (or ICANN) is up to that task, especially not on the worldwide Net. But I do believe that the entities on the Net can regulate one another, if systems are set up properly and if individuals have the information they need to choose the peer-to-peer regulatory system they prefer. Call the whole set-up "the accountable Net."

Real reputation-based and quality-controlled competition among top-level domains (TLDs) would not be a solution to everything, but it would be one more important step towards cleaning up the Net. Either those who use domain names need to be accountable to those they interact with, or those who register the domain names need to be accountable for them, in a way visible to individuals and the public. This accountability needs to be specific and granular, so that one can separate the good from the bad. Otherwise, the public will hold the Net as a whole accountable for the actions of its malefactors.

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Change Leader
Mark Finnern

Collaboration Manager, SAP Developer Network; Blogger, O'Reilly Network; Board Member, ASF; Founder and Host, Bay Area Future Salon; Co-Producer, Accelerating Change Conferences

Introduction to Intelligence Amplification

Abstract: Growing up I always wished that I had a grandfather around that I could ask anything and everything. Now we have Google and Wikipedia. It takes intelligence to create a software virus, even more a biological virus. But that's not the kind of intelligence we want to amplify. The better question is how to amplify wisdom and maybe we should also shoot for Artificial Wisdom instead of AI.

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Change Leader
David Fogel
CEO, Natural Selection, Inc.; Author, Blondie 24: Playing at the Edge of AI; Founding Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computing

Accelerating Problem Solving by Combining Machine Learning and Human Learning

Abstract: Intelligence may be viewed as the ability to adapt behavior to meet goals in
a range of environments, yet artificial intelligence has focused traditionally on replicating human behaviors in software. This approach has achieved some very visible successes, including for example, Deep Blue, the chess machine that defeated Garry Kasparov in May, 1997. The approach is limited, however, to address problems for which people already have the answers.

In contrast, computational intelligence methods, such as evolutionary computing, can afford a computer with the ability to learn how to solve complex problems without relying on human expertise. A synergistic effect can be obtained by combining simulated evolutionary learning and human learning. Examples will be given in the areas of games, including checkers and chess, and other real-world applications in industry, medicine, and defense. Speculation on the future capabilities of these combined learning mechanisms will be offered.

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Change Leader
Dileep George
Founder & Principal Architect, Numenta

Understanding the Neocortex to Accelerate Our Understanding of Intelligence

Abstract: We are at a juncture where great progress has been made in the understanding of the workings of the human neocortex. This gives us a unique opportunity to convert this knowledge into a technology that will solve important problems in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.

In this talk, based on joint work with Jeff Hawkins, I will describe the state of our understanding of neocortical function and the role Numenta is playing in the development of a new technology modeled after the neocortex.

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Change Leader and Foresight Tutorial
George Gilder
Editor in Chief, Gilder Technology Report; Author, The Silicon Eye; Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

Tutorial Title: Futuring 101: Successful Models In Foresight Consulting

Abstract: See tutorial page.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Marcos Guillen

Founder and CEO, Artificial Development, developers of CCortex neural computing platform

Cortical Emulators Rapidly Coming to Market

Abstract: Artificial Development's CCortex (, a realistic virtual brain simulation presently running on a supercomputer, will soon become a commercial product, targeting medical and cognitive research, security & surveillance, and autonomous systems. CCortex Developer Box, a custom rack-mounted system to be available during the first quarter of 2006, includes a 64 bit Spiking Neural Network Engine. Each box can represent up to 250 Million Neurons, with 11,000 synapses each. Alternatively, it can update a data matrix of 1.5 Billion synapses, 10 times per second, for real-time applications. CCortex Development Boxes can also be clustered together, increasing both the speed and the neuron count. A detailed virtual simulation of most of the human brain, excluding the cerebellum, will be available as a single rack system during the second quarter of 2006.

The CCortex project began in 2003, and is the world’s first virtual brain, a 20-billion neuron simulation of the Human Cortex running on a supercomputer. The main cluster has been running non-stop since September 2003, and has already undergone 7 major revisions. The data that drives CCortex is a unique synthesis of multiple AD research projects, including the Cortical Database, which uses real neurological data from the neuroscience literature. Each neuron is assigned hundreds of variable parameters, and is connected to thousands of others to mimic the full extent of connectivity between real neurons in the brain. A team of 40 researchers and programmers, headed in India by Dr. Adity Gudi, have been updating the Cortical DB around the clock for 14 months, extracting, analyzing, and modelling the parameter sets used in the database.

While similar projects were recently announced, CCortex has been quietly running for two years. Three different teams of neuroscientists, engineers and programmers have been working in the US, EU and India to improve the algorithms governing CCortex. The wealth of intellectual property harvested during this two-year head start has positioned Artificial Development as the first company capable of delivering the first generation of biologically-inspired cognitive system.

Bio and Read Ahead


Special Host of "Q&A with Ray"
Moira Gunn
President and CEO, The Tech Nation Group; Host, Tech Nation and BioTech Nation

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Change Leader
Bruno Haid
Head of Strategy, System One, merging social software, semantic web, and AI

Complementing Worlds: Social Software, Protocols & Algorithms

Abstract: We are currently witnessing the maturing of the web from a technical distribution and communication channel to a new, formally independent medium. Social Software enables individuals to articulate, organize and communicate themselves in a digitally addressable way, and with the rise of reasonable Semantic Web concepts this is happening in a language shared by social as well as technical systems. As more and more walls are being torn down between humans and machines, we must ask what is the role of protocols and algorithms in the emerging field of synergetic intelligence.

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Change Leader
Marti Hearst

Professor, School of Information Management and Systems, UC Berkeley; Science Advisory Board for Search, Yahoo!

Challenges of Conversation

Abstract: Getting to a more natural, conversational user interface for information retrieval will require solving a number of difficult problems in the years ahead. There are clear inadequacies to our current search engines, and we'll consider several of them, in particular the lack of query assists. Better question answering would be an important step towards a more conversational experience.

As Jean Véronis notes, it would be nice if you didn't have to wade through pages of people complaining about their tedious day when the “boring” you are looking for concerns drilling techniques. There are some signs of progress in automatic language processing, and social search is an important and powerful new source of meta data. But the era of truly conversational machines may take longer to arrive than we think.

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Change Leader
(Live via Video)
Robert Hecht-Nielsen
Computational Neurobiologist, Institute for Neural Computation; Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC-San Diego

The Fundamental Mechanism of Cognition

Abstract: This talk describes the recently announced comprehensive confabulation theory of vertebrate cognition, including: the fundamental mathematical principles involved, an illustrative example of a computer implementation of these principles, and an overview of how the theory proposes cognition is implemented by human cerebral cortex. Cognition is starkly alien in comparison with existing neuroscience, computer science, and AI concepts. For example, cognitive functions (seeing, hearing, speaking, planning, origination and control of movement and thought processes, etc.) lack any algorithm. Instead, all cognitive functions are implemented as learned spatiotemporal ensembles of simple, mutually interacting, optimizations. The interactions take place via knowledge links (of which humans have billions) established in response to meaningful pairwise co-occurrences; essentially as postulated by Donald Hebb in 1949.

The optimization procedure used in cognition, confabulation, is implemented by a winner-take-all competition within a cortical module (neuronal attractor network). Each cortical module, of which humans have thousands, effectively develops, and permanently stores, a long list of symbols, and implements confabulation when commanded by its single analog control input. Movement and thought processes (actions, sequences of deliberate, precisely coordinated, analog, muscle and/or cortical module contractions) are themselves stored using knowledge links. Whenever any confabulation yields a decisive conclusion, an associated action (behavior) is triggered. Thus, the theory also offers an explanation for the almost continual emergence of behaviors during wakefulness.

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Change Leader
Joichi Ito
Blogger; CEO and Founder, Neoteny Co., Ltd.; VP International and Mobility, Technorati; Chairman, Six Apart Japan

The Rise and Future of Remix Culture and the Sharing Economy

Abstract: In our conversation we'll explore the rise of "amateur" content, open source, fan subs, and remix culture, and watch some video clips supporting these increasingly important ideas. I'll describe how I think the "sharing economy" might work out, and our discussion can go down the blogging/citizen journalist road, the music/movie distribution road, the open source road, or all three depending on which way we want to take it.

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Change Leader
Neil Jacobstein
President and CEO, Teknowledge Corporation, Chairman of AAAI’s 17th Innovative Applications of AI Conference, July 2005

The Evolution of AI Applications

Abstract: Since the early 1980’s the systematic codification of knowledge in computer languages has enabled a wide range of useful applications in industry and government. These applications may include performing complex tasks such as planning, monitoring, design, risk assessment, diagnosis, training, process control, classification, and analysis. Applications have been developed in fields as diverse as biotechnology, space flight, manufacturing, security, paleontology, construction, energy, music, military, intelligence, banking, telecommunications, news media, management, law, emergency services, agriculture, and treaty verification. None of these systems exhibited general intelligence, but each was an incremental contribution to our ability to harness the power of knowledge. These systems also had structural limitations, both technical and cultural.

Fortunately, a confluence of factors, including advances in neurosciences, the advent of large scale ontologies and the semantic web, the emerging development of nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing, and the exponential increases in computing hardware speed and memory, will eventually enable us to overcome many of the technical barriers to advances in AI. However, the cultural and organizational problems involved in the coevolution of machines and humans will still need to be addressed systematically.

Please see for background information.

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Change Leader
Shun-jie Ji, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University; Managing Editor, Journal of Futures Studies; CEO, Institute for National Development, Taiwan

Sir, Why Futures Studies?

Abstract: I will address the most frequently asked student question at Tamkang University: why do I need courses in Futures Studies to receive my degree? Future-oriented education has a long history at Tamkang. Our founder, Dr. Clement C.P. Chang, introduced it here in 1968. It is one of the three pillars of our educational policy: globalization, information-oriented education and future-oriented education. All 27,000 Tamkang undergraduates are required to take courses to better think about personal, organizational, and global futures. Tamkang offers core futures courses in five major areas: society, technology, economy, environment, and politics.

Traditional universities have required courses in history and current affairs, but litle or nothing on the future, which is puzzling in our modern age. In a recent national review, Tamkang was rated Taiwan's best private university. Perhaps this is some reflection on our educational policy. As our founder has said, in a rapidly globalizing and technological world, we believe universities should develop and offer cutting-edge core courses in "recognizing, adjusting to, and creating the future." I will share my journey as first a Futures Studies student and now instructor, coming from a background in political science. I grew up in this field along with all of my students at Tamkang.

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Change Leader
Steve Jurvetson
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Open Genes, Memes and Dreams

Abstract: What is the hidden value of open collaborative exchange and network effects in biotech, nanotech, innovation, venture capital, and co-evolutionary dynamics in general? How do we recognize, collateralize, and amplify that value?

I will briefly discuss examples from the VC business, Internet entrepreneurship and synthetic genomics (reengineered life forms). The abstractions and conclusions are a work in process, and so I hope a lively discussion will ensue.

Background: Empowered by the digitization of the information systems of biology, we have entered an innovation Renaissance – a period of exponential growth in learning, where the power of biotech, infotech and nanotech compounds the advances in each formerly discrete domain. Biology is often the muse. Perhaps biology will drive the future of intelligence and information technology – not literally, but figuratively and metaphorically and primarily through powerful abstractions.

Based on people’s interests, the discussion topics may include: IA vs. AI: “augment early and often” or “find solace in symbolic immortality”, genetic free speech and the First Amendment, path dependence in evolved AI, supra-human emergence in open collaborative systems, the dichotomy of design vs. evolutionary search, or perhaps quantum computational equivalence.

Please see for background information.

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Change Leader
Ronald Kaplan
Manager of Research in Natural Language Theory and Technology, PARC; Principle of the Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University

Converging on Conversation

Abstract: Computer interfaces are much better now than they were ten years ago. But they still aren't very good. Ordinary people count themselves lucky when a machine does what they want or a search engine actually provides useful information (cf. Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button). It isn't that the machine is incapable or unwilling to follow instructions or access relevant documents, the problem, after all these years, is a failure of communication. We can't be very subtle if all we can do is poke at a screen with a graphical user interface, walk down a menu tree of preset choices, or type in a few query terms.

What we need is the full expressive power of ordinary language to tell a machine what we want—and then have the machine understand and obey, perhaps asking for reasonable clarification from time to time. Natural conversation has always seemed a distant goal, but there has been increasing investment and rapid progress on all the technologies that must converge to make it possible. The Conversational User Interface is not here yet—but it may not be that far away.

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Investment Tutorial
Mike Korns
Intelligent Agent Investing Pioneer; Chairman, Korns Associates

Tutorial Title: Making the Future Work for You: A Successful Investor Teaches You How to Safely and Profitably Manage Your Own Account

Abstract: This tutorial is for anyone who wants to get significantly better at managing all or part of their own investments. Whether you are a low or high net worth individual, a beginning or experienced investor, you will learn skills to better make and manage your own investments.

Mike Korns, Founder and President of Korns Associates, and CEO, InvestByAgent, wants you to know the strategies he has learned over the years as a self-made investor with no prior financial education or qualification. The disciplined application of basic strategies anyone can learn has brought him wealth as a professional investor for more than a decade. Mike presently makes multi-million dollar annual returns, and regularly beats the stock market averages, including during these last few turbulent years. For many, investing is a complex and habitually difficult topic. This is a rare opportunity to gain experience on these issues directly from a successful multimillionaire investor in a relaxed tutorial environment.

If you are comfortable leaving all your investing to sales agents, large institutions, and professionals, this isn't the course for you. But if you would like to learn the inexpensive, uncomplicated strategies of successful self-made investors, this is a unique opportunity to learn how to safely grow your savings capital to where it will greatly exceed your annual income from all other activities.

Basic investment strategies explained include buying and selling equities, fixed income, safe option hedges appropriate for an IRA, and risk management to help you navigate occasional market crashes. We'll visit online resources from The Motley Fool, Value Line, and other sources, and you'll get a sense of what works and what doesn't for the busy professional with no prior financial education. Mike will also outline a few advanced strategies in agent-based trading, including genetic algorithms, that can be used by those with a technical bent to gain superior market returns.

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Ray Kurzweil
CEO, Kurzweil Technologies; Author, The Age of Spiritual Machines; Award-Winning Inventor

When Humans Transcend Biology

Abstract: Early in the twenty-first century, intelligent software will underlie everything of value. The paradigm shift rate is now doubling every decade, so the twenty-first century will see 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate. Computation, communication, biological technologies (for example, DNA sequencing), brain scanning, knowledge of the human brain, and human knowledge in general are all accelerating at an even faster pace, generally doubling price-performance, capacity, and bandwidth every year. The well-known Moore’s Law is only one example of many of this inherent acceleration. The size of the key features of technology is also shrinking, at a rate of about 4 per linear dimension per decade. Three-dimensional molecular computing will provide the hardware for human-level "strong" AI well before 2030. The more important software insights will be gained in part from the reverse-engineering of the human brain, a process well under way.

We are rapidly learning the software programs called genes that underlie biology. We are understanding disease and aging processes as information processes, and are gaining the tools to reprogram them. RNA interference, for example, allows us to turn selected genes off, and new forms of gene therapy are enabling us to effectively add new genes. Within one to two decades, we will be in a position to stop and reverse the progression of disease and aging resulting in dramatic gains in health and longevity.

The fraction of value of products and services comprised by software and related forms of information is rapidly asymptoting to 100 percent. The deflation rate for information technologies, both hardware and software, is about 50 percent per year, providing a powerful deflationary force in the economy. Despite this, the information technology industry grows around 18 percent per year, now comprises 8 percent of the GDP, and is deeply influential on the rest. Within a couple of decades, the bulk of the economy will be dominated by information and software.

Once nonbiological intelligence matches the range and subtlety of human intelligence, it will necessarily soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated in the environment, our bodies and our brains, providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses, experience "beaming," and enhanced human intelligence. The implication will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the evolutionary process it spawned.

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Change Leader
Sr. Denise Lawrence
Advisor of Academic Affairs, Certificate Program in Education in Values and Spirituality, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization

The Role of Meditation in Intelligent Learning

Abstract: Meditation, in particular Raja Yoga Meditation, alters the quality and process of thought. Thought processes are influenced by prevailing ideas thus limiting an individual’s ability to perform creative thinking and moral reasoning. Intelligent learning needs to come out of the box.

Conventional learning is based on the conventional scientific method and relies upon external acquired data. This limits intelligence to input through the five senses and disregards the entire world of intuition, association, memory, inspiration, subjective analysis and many other facets of consciousness.

Meditation unlocks this hidden treasure store. Meditation also shows you how to go into deep silence and tap the well-spring of original thought. Meditation enables you to focus and demands that your thinking is disciplined, coherent and contiguous. Whether you are an information technology professional, a virtuoso musician, a successful entrepreneur, your personal and professional life are enhanced and brought into healthy balance through regular meditation practice.

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Change Leader
Alex Lightman
CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc., an Company, and Author, Brave New Unwired World

Globalization to the Edge

Abstract: As the world flattens and our horizons widen, new challenges have opened up, even as many of yesterday's innovations are becoming commodities. China and India are rising fast, and there are strategic dangers to be avoided. Moderate forces in Islam must prevail, and we have the ability to play a valuable role in that process. Our proliferating global networks and emerging Brave New Unwired World are creating unprecedented opportunities for individual empowerment. We are building an Equitocracy by implication if not yet by name, but we are still a long way from where we can be. One way to accelerate positive change is to promote better standards for future-critical platforms, a role we are playing with IPv6 on a global level. Practicing good leadership and taking personal responsibility for change are more important today than ever before.

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Change Leader
Patrick Lincoln
Director, Computer Science Laboratory, SRI International

Prospects for Computing at the Right Level of Abstraction

Abstract: Along with the increasing value of the IT portion of products, services, and the entire economy has come increasing reliance on automated computing systems, and decreasing visibility by users and designers into the critical properties of these systems. Thus it is beneficial to provide designers and users tools and methods enabling them to understand and improve the trustworthiness of complex digital systems. Such tools are much more useful if the level of abstraction of human interaction and computational analysis are raised as far as possible.

We should enable rapid analysis and understanding of the critical properties of complex systems, even when the complex systems under study involve tight interactions with human components. We should do this before we strongly align our interests with automated systems (betting our retirement portfolio on a network of machines running fragile operating systems, betting our life on fly-by-wire aircraft, betting our national defense on networked systems). Recent rapid advances in automated reasoning make this plausible, though much more effort is required.

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Change Leader
Julian Lombardi
(with David A. Smith)
Principal Architect, Croquet Project; Manager, Division of Information Technology, U Wisconsin-Madison; Software designer and former biology professor

The Social Dimension of Croquet

Abstract: Croquet is a distributed, media rich, peer-to-peer environment that brings a powerful realtime interactive social dimension to the Internet. Every object and application is inherently collaborative from the ground up; there is no longer a seperate "collaborative environment" divorced from a single-user application space, rather, every aspect of Croquet can be part of a multi-user shared experience. In removing the barriers between applications and collaboration, Croquet treats human relationships as a first class citizen. It's no longer just a network of documents and information, it's a network of people.

Croquet is totally open, totally free, works bit identical across most major platforms, and is easily ported to new systems. It is a combination of rich media and simulation capabilities and network architecture that supports deep collaboration and resource sharing among its users. Its 3D interface provides a rich social dimension that provides them with a powerful context for collaboration within which to work and play together. The rendering architecture is built on top of OpenGL.

Croquet's treatment of distributed computation assumes a truly large scale distributed computing platform, consisting of heterogeneous computing devices distributed throughout a planet-scale communications network. Applications span machines and involve teams of users, enabling broad band, media rich, persistent conference spaces. In contrast with the more traditional architectures we grew up with, Croquet incorporates replication of computation (both objects and activity), and the idea of active shared subspaces in its basic interpreter model. More traditional distributed systems replicate data, but try very hard not to replicate computation. But, it is often easier and more efficient to send the computation to the data, rather than the other way round. Consequently, Croquet is defined so that replication of computations is just as easy as replication of data.

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Thomas Malone

Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management; Founder and Director of the MIT Center for Coordination Sciences; Author, The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life

The Future of Work

Abstract: This talk will suggest that we are in the early stages of a profound increase in human freedom in business that may, in the long run, be as important a change for businesses as the change to democracies was for governments. For the first time in human history, information technology now makes it possible to have both the economic efficiencies of large organizations and the human benefits of small ones: freedom, motivation, creativity, and flexibility. To take advantage of these possibilities we need to invent new—more decentralized—ways of organizing work (such as loose hierarchies, democracies, and markets), and we need to think about how these new organizations can be designed to help us get more of whatever we really value as humans.

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Change Leader
Harold Morowitz
Biophysicist; Robinson Professor of Biology and Natural Philosophy, George Mason University; Author, The Emergence of Everything

Living Cells and the Smallest Self Replicating Robots, What Nanoscience and Biology Can Do For Each Other

Abstract: Self replicating robots and living cells both take up components from the environment and assemble two identical units starting with one unit. As nanborobots become progressively smaller the building blocks and energy sources also decrease in size. An experimental generalization of autotrophic life is that the inputs are molecules of less than 200 daltons. A challenge to nanotechnology is to reach that limit.

If achieved the nanochemistry used will either map onto biochemistry or not. If not, contemporary earth based biochemistry is not a unique solution and the question "What Is Life?" has been generalized. This is of extreme importance to astrobiology. If no alternative chemistries can be devised, the result argues for the uniqueness of biochemistry. Other biological generalizations such as survival at zero Kelvin may be used to mutually understand life and self replicating nanobots.

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Change Leader
Peter Norvig

Director of Search Quality, Google; Author, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (the wold's leading textbook in AI)

AI in the Middle Between Authors and Learners

Abstract: So far we know of exactly one system in which trillions of facts are transmitted to billions of learners: the system of publishing the written word. No other system comes within a factor of a million of this performance benchmark. This is despite the fact that the written word is notoriously imprecise and ambiguous.

In the early days of AI, most work was on creating a new system of transmission -- a new representation language, and/or a new axiomization of a domain. Well-structured data was manipulated by sound means. One near future for AI is "in the middle" between author and reader. It will remain expensive to create knowledge in any formal language but AI can leverage the work of millions of authors by understanding, classifying, prioritizing, translating, summarizing and presenting the written word in an intelligent just-in-time basis to billions of potential readers.

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Change Leader
Beth Noveck
Associate Professor of Law Director, New York Law School Institute for Information Law and Policy; Director, Democracy Design Workshop; Founder, conferences

Peer to Patent: Collective Intelligence for our Intellectual Property System

Abstract: The patent system is broken. The United States Patent Office, which was intended to foster innovation and the promotion of progress in the useful arts, instead, creates uncertainty and monopoly. Underpaid and overwhelmed examiners routinely approve petitions without review. They struggle under the burden of 350,000 patent applications per year. As a result, multiple patents have been given for the same invention or patents awarded for inventions discovered previously. But what if we could also make it easier to ensure that only the most worthwhile inventions got twenty years of monopoly rights? What if we could offer a way to protect the inventor’s investment while still safeguarding the marketplace of ideas from bad inventions? What if we could make informed decisions about scientifically complex problems before the fact? What if we could harness collective intelligence to replace bureaucracy?

This modest proposal harnesses social reputation and collaborative filtering technology to create a peer review system of scientific experts ruling on innovation. By using social software, we can apply the “wisdom of the crowd” – or, more accurately the wisdom of the experts – to complex social and scientific problems and bring more expertise to bear. This has far reaching implications beyond the patent process. It implies a fundamental rethinking of our assumptions about governance.

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Change Leader
Bruno Olshausen
Director, Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience (formerly, Redwood Neuroscience Institute)

Neuroscience and Future Prospects for Intelligent Systems

Abstract: Despite much effort in the engineering and mathematics community over the past 40 years, there has been little progress emulating even the most elementary aspects of intelligence or perceptual capabilities found in the animal kingdom. The lack of progress here is especially striking considering the fact that the past two decades alone have seen a 1000-fold increase in computer power (in terms of computer speed and memory capacity), while the actual intelligence of computers has improved only moderately by comparison.

If we wish to make progress in building truly intelligent systems, it will require more than technological tinkering. It will require that we turn our efforts toward understanding how intelligence arises from the only system known to possess it: the brain. Neuroscience has produced vast amounts of data about the structure and function of neurons, and we now know bits and pieces about how neurons interact and how they represent various forms of sensory information in their activity patterns. What is missing however is a theoretical framework for linking these details to the overall, macroscopic function of the system - i.e., intelligence. Theoretical neuroscience seeks to bridge this gap by constructing mathematical and computational models of the underlying neurobiological mechanisms involved in perception, cognition, learning, and motor function. This talk will discuss some current efforts in this direction.

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Change Leader and Second Life Tutorial
Cory Ondrejka
VP of Product Development, Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, acclaimed 3D online world

Talk Title: One Thing To Tell the World About Video Games

Abstract: Games will save the world. With technology and connectivity exposing everyone to more information and misinformation than ever before, critical thinking is the most important skill of the 21st century. In a world where Presidents consult astrologers, extremists transform the faithful into weapons, schools choose creationism over evolution, and wars are justified by faulty intelligence, games are teaching hundreds of millions of players how to hypothesize, test, and verify. Games demand action before mastery, forcing gamers to experiment in order to succeed. Gamers learn that pronouncements from authority, whether from the game manual, in-game dialog, or guild leaders, must always be skeptically evaluated in light of direct experience and the  
knowledge of their fellow players.

More importantly, they aren’t learning these lessons alone. In online worlds like Second Life, gamers from all over the world are building communities, forming businesses, earning real money, and teaching each other. They are collaborating to solve problems and building skills that the best universities struggle to teach. Beyond the evidence linking game to improvements in IQ, spatial awareness, visual recognition, cognitive chunking, problem solving, and eye-hand coordination, games provide players with a critical toolkit that makes them better students, citizens, employees, managers, soldiers, scientists, and parents. So get ready, world – the gamers are coming!

Tutorial Title: Building the Dream: Creating and Profiting in Virtual Worlds

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Jerry Paffendorf

Community Director, Acceleration Studies Foundation; Founder and Host, Second Life Future Salon; Co-Producer, Accelerating Change Conferences

Brave New Virtual Worlds

Abstract: User-created virtual worlds like Second Life are pioneering the media-rich 3D Web, as in Neal Stephenson's Metaverse. Searchable, interactive virtualizations of our planet, like Google Earth, are opening the geospatial Web as in David Gelernter's Mirror Worlds. As an introduction to our Explorations session I'll take a brief look at these emerging platforms, building up and tearing down some ideas about their short- and long-term potential.

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Change Leader
Scott Rafer
President and CEO, Feedster

Smart Agents are People, not Software

Abstract: The dream of AI has been replaced by always-on, broadband connections.
Instead of HAL, we've got WordPress. That means constant access to millions of sector experts who can and will add structured text, tags, photos, video, and links to the common store of knowledge where hundreds of no-capital-needed startups are in a race for huge financial prizes awarded to those who slice, dice, filter, and deliver the right knowledge distilled from the ever-growing pool of user-generated information.

In other words, RSS and similar formats are now letting people share preferences at a such a scale, scope, level of detail, velocity, and frequency, that AI is rendered unnecessary to generate smartness, at least for the foreseeable future.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Robin Raskin
Consultant and author on family life in a digital world,; TV Personality; Former Editor of PC Magazine

Aren't We Forgetting Something? Social Responsibility In Cyberspace

As the pace accelerates and technology dominates both education and the workplace, it’s time to look at the effect of the tools on a new generation of screen-savvy workers. The newest hires demonstrate great dexterity on the keyboard, but have little sense of the larger implications of living in the digital world.

We’ll discuss the cut and paste mentality and the single screen-at-a-time effect on creativity and decision making. We’ll look at how students think about their personal audit trails, the need for privacy and the veracity of a digital communications. The industry has been all too quick to provide students with powerful tools; they’ve neglected to plan for the responsibility that accompanies usage.

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Change Leader
Philip Rosedale
CEO, Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, acclaimed 3D online world

Tipping the Metaverse

Abstract: When we all conclude that a digitally created online world inhabited by many - the Metaverse - has finally arrived, what will we say about it's history?  What will we agree finally got it started?  Will it have been a critical piece of enabling technology, or some specific type of experience or content? Online games, in their striking success, have something to say about the metaverse, but certainly aren't yet there.  Some science fiction has suggested that the metaverse starts as a giant analysis and storage tool for the collective data of a host of mega-corporations.  This is probably as unlikely as the discovery that we are actually living in a simulated world created for us by evil machines, as another piece of popular science fiction suggests. 

A critical combination of content, commerce, and community can be argued to be the minimal set of requirements for a critical mass metaverse to emerge.  We'll discuss what exactly those are.   

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Change Leader
Blake Ross

Co-Creator and Project Director, Mozilla Firefox; Open Source Entrepreneur; Computer Science Student, Stanford University

When Hacker Met Seller: The Next Generation of Coders

Abstract: Open source. Monopolized market. Microsoftian competitor. There isn’t a VC in the world who would have taken that bet. So how did Firefox find 80 million users in 8 months without ever purchasing an advertisement?

The Internet has been removing barriers for years. Distribution, development, quality assurance—the cost problem has virtually been eliminated. As usual, the only outstanding issue is the result of human error. Although developers have everything they need to create great code, they lack the only thing they need to create great products: end-user empathy. Companies are forced to split along three lines—the developers, who create the thing; the user experience teams, who prepare it for human consumption; and the marketers, who spend lots of money. Fuse them together and you have a team constrained only by the need to eat and sleep—and you can bet that’ll be the first problem they tackle.

Firefox is built by a team of developers who find coding the worst part of their job. Fueled by an intimate connection with users, they represent a new generation of hackers who take products from “Hello World” to hello, world! and will be at the top of tomorrow’s tech companies.

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Change Leader
Rudy Rucker
Computer Scientist; Author of The Lifebox, The Seashell, and the Soul; Spaceland; The Hacker and the Ants, and other books

The Third Intellectual Revolution: Everything is a Computation

Abstract: We're presently in the midst of a third intellectual revolution. The first came with Newton: the planets obey physical laws. The second came with Darwin: biology obeys genetic laws. In todays third revolution, were coming to realize that even minds and societies emerge from interacting laws that can be regarded as computations. Everything is a computation.

Does this, then, mean that the world is dull? Far from it. The naturally occurring computations that surround us are richly complex. A tree's growth, the changes in the weather, the flow of daily news, a person's ever-changing moods --- all of these computations share the crucial property of being gnarly. Although lawlike and deterministic, gnarly computations are --- and this is a key point --- inherently unpredictable. The world's mystery is preserved.

As an application of this notion, consider the current argument over evolution vs. intelligent design. On the one hand, molecular biology tells us that organisms arise as program-like outputs from the inputs of the DNA and the cell chemistry, with the DNA and cell chemistry having been tweaked by millennia of evolution. On the other hand, some feel that organisms seem to intricately patterened to have resulted from evolution's search of the space of all possible genomes. The synthesis is to recognize that gnarly biochemical computations are ubiquitous; fetus-like scroll patterns can, for instance, be found in a wide range of cellular automata.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
John Smart

Founder and President, Acceleration Studies Foundation; Co-Producer, Accelerating Change Conferences

How To Be A Tech Futurist: A Developmental Perspective on Accelerating Change

Abstract: Perhaps the most important thing we can do at Accelerating Change is to convene a spectrum of thoughtful, open-minded, and passionate folks who care deeply about guiding technology as we move into an ever-faster future. Perhaps the second most important thing we can do is to discover the probable within the simply imaginable future. Futures studies is dangerous territory. Futurists are not immune to drama, and may be guilty of twisting the truth to fit their passions more than many others. In a world of accelerating information we need more than ever to hone our critical capacities and our access to the right data, setting our filters to stay clear-eyed, balanced, and in control.

This goes for tech futurists as much as any other variety. Artificial intelligence, one of the themes of this year's conference, was oversold by the optimists in the 1960's, again in the early 1980's, and again as support systems for the Internet in the late 1990's. Early innovators learned "the market wasn't ready" for AI algorithms in the 1970's, for virtual reality and expert systems in the 1980's, and for web services in the 1990's. Yet even with the hype and inflated expectations there is excellent evidence, from a wide range of disciplines and companies (Google, Dell, eBay, HP, Amazon, Yahoo!, the list goes on...) that major constant change in the IT space is now our way of life. We are beginning to see that a profound transformation is taking place, and are giving ourselves permission to discuss this in the most open and critical way we can.

In this talk I will outline what has can be called the infopomorphic paradigm, a way to understand ourselves and the universe in information theoretic or computational terms. We'll discuss such apparently "developmental" (not simply evolutionary, but also predictably emergent) trends as the increasing space-, time-, energy-, and matter (STEM) efficiency and density of physical-computational systems over universal, biological, cultural, and technological timescales. We can expect this "STEM compression" to continually surprise us with what Carver Mead has called our "unreasonably efficient" advances in the microcosm, such as the recent production advance in carbon nanoribbons. Here's what may be the most important point: the very structure of our universe appears organized to drive accelerating discovery and computation in the microcosm, many orders of magnitude faster than in any other domain.

Such microcosmic acceleration in turn is enabling developments in intelligent agents and interfaces, immune systems, transparency, accountabilty, and an emerging computational dimension to our social space I call the Valuecosm, which I expect will dramatically improve the quality of human life, even as it brings new potential for misuse and abuse in its early years. We'll discuss the importance of balancing both accelerating innovation and sustainable development in the history of human civilization. I'll try to make the case that we need a lot more research into apparent developmental trends, as they make us more accurate forecasters and change agents, and as they are testable and falsifiable propositions about our future.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
David A. Smith
(with Julian Lombardi)
Principal Architect, Croquet Project; CTO, 3Dsolve; Co-founder, Red Storm Entertainment (w/ Tom Clancy) and Timeline Computer Entertainment (w/ Michael Crichton)

The Social Dimension of Croquet

Abstract: See Julian Lombardi

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Change Leader
Cecily Sommers
Strategic Principal, Unit 1; Founder and President, The PUSH Institute, producers of the annual PUSH Conference

Culture: The New Economy of Customer-Centric, Bottom-Up Innovation

Abstract: Just as the Experience Economy is finally getting off the ground, there are now signs of an even newer trend on the horizon: The Culture Economy. The Internet revolution of the 1990s has birthed an insurrection among consumers. “The customer is king” has been deposed, and now consumers are acting more like anarchists as they hack and fashion their way into to all kinds of inventive exchanges of cultural meaning and identity through discrete social networks.

The extraordinary number of variations of MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign, independently made and distributed iPod commercials, and the rise of remixing and “mashing” (from music to web services and now to RSS feeds) are just some examples. The threat that blogs and customized shoe design represent to traditional channels of content creation, innovation and distribution are just some of the early indicators of a deeper economic shift that is underway. Heads up: where culture leads, commerce must follow.

Bio and Read Ahead


Melanie Swan
President, Cygnet Capital

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Change Leader
Jon Udell
Lead Analyst, InfoWorld; Software Developer

Annotating the Planet: Freedom and Control in the New Era of Interactive Mapping

Abstract: The explosive innovation triggered by Google Maps produced a shock of recognition. We always knew that our meatspace coordinates would merge with our cyberspace addresses. Now that it's really happening, familiar topics—identity and privacy, grassroots collaboration and centralized control, ownership and use of data—will be newly refracted through the geospatial lens.

Bio and Read Ahead


T. Sibley Verbeck
Chief Scientist, StreamSage

Bio and Read Ahead


Vernor Vinge
Mathematician; Computer Scientist; Author, True Names; The Coming Technological Singularity

Can We Avoid A Hard Takeoff?: Speculations on Issues in AI and IA

Abstract: Based on raw hardware trends, it's plausible that within thirty years we will create superhuman intelligence -- and so pass through a technological singularity. This is a different form of change than imagined by futurisms past. In fact, to think that we can predict beyond this singularity is a bit like expecting a goldfish to understand AC2005.

Perhaps this transition will take decades, with the exact beginning and end points the topic of much entertaining debate. But the transition could take less than 100 hours.
Such a "hard takeoff" is almost certainly a Very Bad Thing. (Illustrations of this assessment will be provided!)

Is there any way to prevent a hard takeoff? Perhaps. In this talk, I will explore the virtues -- and dangers -- of Intelligence Amplification as a strategy for dealing with hard takeoffs.

Bio and Read Ahead


Change Leader
Terry Winograd
Professor and Director, Human-Computer Interaction programs, Stanford University; Principal Investigator, Stanford Digital Libraries Project and Interactive Workspaces Project; Founding Faculty Member, Stanford Institute of Design

Teaching Innovation: Inventing the d.School (Stanford Institute of Design)

Abstract: Design is an orientation we bring to the activity of creating technological artifacts and embedding them in people’s lives. Although we can label fields of design by the kind of artifact (“product design,” “software design,” “systems design”, etc.) every successful design is more. It is an intervention in the individual and social lives of the people who encounter it. The field of software design has often focused on the software artifact, identifying the design processes, tradeoffs, and decisions that will make the software robust, efficient, and malleable. It works in tandem (when things are going well) with interaction design, which focuses on the fit of the resulting software to human abilities, needs, and concerns.

Today, most of the challenging software design problems are not bounded by a particular application or device, but require attention to the totality of a socio-technical system. Security is one obvious example. The overall security of a network is not just a matter of well designed code, but requires understanding the ways people will interact, both individually and in the large. The design process needs to encompass knowledge that goes well beyond “computing” or “software” in the narrow sense. Today’s software architects and programmers are designing more than software-intensive systems: they are also designing people-intensive systems. The research challenge is to integrate the approach to design that has been applied in the more computer-focused aspects of software design with the broader orientation of interaction design and product design. There is a great deal of informal wisdom about designing human-machine and computer mediated-human-human interactions. Research is needed on how to make this wisdom rigorous and reusable.

I am one of eight founding faculty from Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Management Science and Engineering, and the Graduate School of Business, led by David Kelley of the Stanford Design Division (and founder of IDEO Design) who are working to create the d.School, the Stanford Institute of Design. See for more. This new program seeks to significantly advance interdisciplinary research and teaching and strengthen the connection between the university and industry. If successful, the ideas and people that emerge from this program will set the standard for how teams innovate, how universities integrate disciplines, and how design is taught around the world.

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