to Action: ASF Needs 70 Registration Commitments for AC2004 by
this Sunday, July 18th.
we are at a decision point for our conference this year, and need
Would you like ASF to produce another Accelerating Change
conference this September, rather than have to wait until Sept.
2005? We need to know now if you are planning to register this year.
or a simple RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
including your name and "I commit" will suffice.
time last year we had quite a few commitments for ACC2003. Since
our new conference theme is somewhat broader, we aren't presently
sure how many of our prior attendees plan to reattend. We
will need 70 commitments by this Sunday, July 18th
(eight weeks before the conference) to be able to run AC2004. Otherwise,
we'll run Accelerating Change in September 2005 instead.
take a moment to check out the conference website:
We will bring you 36 world-class speakers over two and a half days,
six keynotes, three debates, a Virtual Worlds demo, and a DVD conference
record. Rates are $350 for Early Bird, and $150 for
Student registrants. Note that AC2004 is priced well below other
top-quality strategic technology, business, and humanist futures
conferences such as AlwaysOn ($1,795*), Business 4Site ($1,095*),
MIT Emerging Tech ($995*), O'Reilly Emerging Tech ($1,145*), Telecosm
($1,495*), and Pop!Tech ($1,695*).
Your vote matters. First and foremost,
we seek to best serve our constituency of acceleration-aware
science, technology, business, and humanist strategic thinkers.
Let us know if you'll be joining us
at Stanford this September.
Our 10 disc set of ACC2003 speaker
DVDs was finally reproduced and packaged last week, and sets are
now being mailed to Virtual Attendees. We've priced this amazing
compilation at a very low rate of $99 to get these speakers'
important ideas out to the widest possible audience.
If you'd like your own set, you can
order them from ASF by phone (major credit cards accepted) at (650) 396-8220.
Electronic commerce coming soon.
prep for our next Accelerating Change, Tech Tidbits features
at least three items weekly, arranged by our three conference themes.
Have your own breaking news to submit? Let us know at mail-at-accelerating.org
Have Mega Impact in the Brain, Caltech Media Relations,
24 June 2004 (2 pages)
by John Smart] One of the great remaining mysteries of biology
is something called "long term potentiation" (LTP), or how the human
brain stores memories, both at the level of the neuron and in brain
architecture as a whole. Erin Schuman's group at Caltech
has just made a surprising new step forward in uncovering this story.
Her lab recently discovered that neurons can create synaptic changes
using only "minis", or single vesicles of the
neurotransmitter glutamate. Neurotransmitters were previously considered
to have biological effect only in a gross statistical sense. The
discovery provides us with a new appreciation for hidden complexity
that exists at the very smallest scales of cellular inner space.
insights, Schuman's discovery provides indirect evidence for a longstanding
theory by Terrence Sejnowski that the slow-wave periods of
deep sleep (stages 3 and 4) we experience every night, when very
little synaptic activity is occurring and "minis" can speak an intricate
language across nearly quiet synapses, may be the time when we transfer
our day's most important experiences from the working memory in
our hippocampus to the "hard drive" of our cerebral cortex. (For
more on Sejnowski's hypothesis, see this permalink to Sandra
Blakelee's 14 Nov 2000 NY Times article, " Experts
Explore Deep Sleep and the Making of Memories".) If proven true
this tells us there is a lot more of certain types of computation
going on in the brain at a much lower level of miniaturization than
brain's LTP algorithms will be one of the most important advances
in the history of biology. More than any other insight, this could
lead to the development of biologically-inspired electronic neural
networks with far better learning—and forgetting—performance
than those we use today. We are living in a very privileged time,
when the most enticing mysteries of the mind are finally becoming
accessible to our explorations in inner space. Thanks to Iveta
Brigis for the scan hit.
Camp Trains Soldiers in Arabic, and More, Margaret
Wertheim, NY Times, 6 July 2004 (2 pages, Registration
[Commentary by John Smart] This sounds like a distinctively
poor implementation of a very important concept, virtual worlds
(VW) simulations for the rapid immersive training of tactical language
and local culture for modern soldiers. As important as virtual training
is, I suggest this particular academic-government project has some
significant shortcomings as currently implemented. Why create primitive
versions of artificially intelligent avatars to teach tactical foreign
language when networked Arabic-speaking youth, operating in-world
characters, could provide far superior real cultural and tactical
training? The massively multiplayer approach would also build up
local intelligence, employment, and expertise in Arabic-speaking
a weak, underperforming top-down artificial intelligence project
is something that still happens too often in academic centers with
big governmental contracts. There certainly may be value to projects
like this for developing controlled, top-down designed pedagogies
and gaining precise feedback on learning the most basic elements
of "tactical language." But for years to come these systems
will be intrinsically less useful for language learning than well-trained
and specialized human teachers, who are now available for pennies
per hour in online environments.
perhaps that latter solution is more politically difficult to implement.
Nevertheless, I hope that our government-funded labs become more
acceleration-aware. Connectivity is a mature accelerating technology,
but most AI is presently not. It's my opinion that we should be
putting hundreds of real world Arabic-speaking "trainers"
into this virtual world, and relying only very lightly on today's
mostly brain-dead and sterile avatars for instructional assistance.
Chatham, DARPA project manager, notes that $7.2 million
dollars are being spent on the DARPA Tactical Language Project at
USC's ISI. Let's hope he sees fit to ask for online supplementation
to this worthy project in its next version, to better deliver results
in an age of accelerating change. Thanks to Mark Rotenberg
for the scan hit.
of a 1,000-Year Camera:
Sam Raimi Wants to Document a Millennium, CNN, 29 June
2004 (1 page)
by Jerry Paffendorf] Presenting
a vision akin to The Long Now
Foundation with their 10,000-year-clock,
Spider-Man 2 director Sam
Raimi has hopes to record 1,000 years worth of urban
development with what he calls a “Century Cam”—actually
a whole network of cameras capturing one frame each day for a millenium.
In Raimi’s words: “It’s the same idea of all time-lapse
photography, but over an outrageous amount of time… So you
could watch the city of Los Angeles rise, and maybe an earthquake
might come in 300 years or a tidal wave.”
tiny parts of Koyaanisqatsi
time-lapse films still haven’t approached their potential
for depicting cycles, development, complexity and emergence on scales
outside of direct experience. While Raimi’s particular vision
might sound more like conceptual gesture than effective strategy
for visually documenting change and development over time, keep
an eye on this idea. Seeing is very close to believing, and the
ability to witness systems over time can say more about them than
a million momentary accounts from within them. Come right down to
it, why leave time-lapse entirely to film? For the truly grand stuff,
won't waiting take too long? How about a Lord
of the Rings-quality agent-based CGI time-lapse of Carl
Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar? It wouldn't be the straight
dope, but it just might get the picture across. (Let me confess
to having my own time-lapse ambitions. If anyone else has a personal
interest in this genre, drop me a line at jerrypaffendorf-at-accelerating-dot-org.)
Call for Submissions
is currently requesting submissions for its Accelerating
Times (AT) web-based publication. AT is a "free
and priceless" newsletter featuring broad coverage and incisive
editorials on scientific, technological, business, and humanist
dialogs in accelerating change. Anyone interested in submitting
original material relevant to the broad study and analysis of accelerating
change may do so via email to mail-at-accelerating.org. Submissions
may take the form of articles, papers, scan hits, questions and
even cartoons (for you illustrators out there). Contributers will
be notified of their acceptance status in a timely fashion, and
accepted work will appear, fully credited, in future issues of Accelerating
Times. Visit http://singularitywatch.com/news.html
for more details.