history of life's development on Earth has apparently been an increasingly
faster emergence of computational complexity (or modeling intelligence')
within a special subset of locally emergent forms. Curiously, these
new forms are often much more resource efficient (per physical
or computational output), denser, or miniaturized,
so that they continually avoid resource limits to their accelerating
growth. Historians have long noted that significant cultural advances
(language, civil society, law, science) emerge at an accelerating
rate in human history. Many scholars (Jared Diamond, James Burke,
Robert Wright) consider such factors as increasing population density,
technological diffusion, and communication rates to be key drivers
of these social transformations.
Over the last
millennium, rates of planetary technological innovation and diffusion
have broadly accelerated as a whole, with ever-briefer pauses between
new phases of acceleration. This accelerating trend in what may
be called the "average distributed complexity"
of our socio-technical systems has been apparent even as wars, local
catastrophes, and revolutions have caused discontinuities within
specific civilizations. In other words, while catastrophes
continually occur in specific cases, some type of general immunity,
resiliency, or social learning is apparently built in our most successful
physical (civilizations, economies, cultures, technologies) on a
distributed and redundant basis, like the human immune system, keeping
them on an accelerating growth curve for long spans of time.
dramatically in recent decades, our modern computer technology,
when considered as one broadly distributed system or "substrate,"
has been smoothly and continuously doubling in average complexity
for the entire twentieth century. Ray Kurzweil's data propose
that price performance was originally doubling every three years
in our 1890 mechanical computing systems, and is now doubling every
12-14 months, by some estimates, in our latest computing systems.
This computational acceleration has been independent of type of
computer design, through five separate manufacturing paradigms (mechanical,
relay, vacuum tube, transistor, and integrated circuit), and it
is largely independent of the fortunes of individual technology
companies – even of major social, political, or economic crisis,
such as World Wars, the Great Depression or our current recession.
Today we are
creating a panoply of successively more miniaturized, resource-efficient
architectures, which grow measurably more autonomous (evolutionary,
biologically inspired, self-directing, self-monitoring, self-provisioning,
self-repairing, self-improving, partially self-replicating) with
each new computer generation. Recently, a breathtaking array of
new commercial applications (e.g., Google's cluster architecture,
electronic design automation software, reverse compilers, self-diagnosing
and semi-autonomic systems, pattern recognizing neural networks
and genetic algorithms, innovative machine learning paradigms such
as support vector machines) have further increased our breathtaking
pace of technological change.
this continual acceleration phenomenon come from, where is it going,
and what does it mean for the near future of humanity? ACC2003
is the place where today's leading thinkers explore science, technology,
business, and humanist dialogs in accelerating change.
At the present
time, what might be called "singularity studies"
(analysis of accelerating change, increasingly autonomous technology,
metrics and models of exponential and asymptotic computational development)
is an underdeveloped yet critically important area of study. With
our collective effort, consideration of accelerating change will
soon gain greater critical attention from the scientific, engineering,
business strategy and forecasting, technology entrepreneur, political
and social science, science and technology studies (STS), future
studies (FS), journalism, technology and public policy (TPP), and
other important communities that are currently engaged in science
and technology assessment, diffusion, policymaking, development,
Come join us
in Palo Alto this September as we investigate some of the most fascinating
and important issues of the modern era.