Monthly Speaker Salons. Friday,
Jan 21st San
Diego Futurists has Andrew Breese
discussing the 2005 World Question at Edge.org:
"What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"
Friday, Jan 28th, LA
Futurists joins UCLA Futurists at UCLA to hear Stephen
Coles, M.D. Ph.D. review Ray Kurzweil's
new longevity book, Fantastic
Voyage, 2005. Also Friday, Jan 28th Bay
Area Futurists hosts a panel with reps from Google,
Identity Commons, and Liberty Alliance on online identity. Friday,
Feb 11th Las
Vegas Futurists discusses Fareed Zakaria's
acclaimed book on liberal and illiberal democracies, The
Future of Freedom, 2003. You can sign up for monthly event
emails at the group links above. Hope you can join us!
New AC2004 Speaker Slides
Jim Spohrer's fascinating slides
on "service science," are now posted at the Accelerating
Change 2004 website. How do we ensure appropriate R&D and
innovation occurs in the growing services sector, which is now the
majority of the U.S. economy? Funding the development of service
science as a new academic discipline was a key recommendation of
the National Innovation Initiative report of the Council on Competitiveness
(see Business, below).
Gee Rittenhouse, VP of Wireless Networking at Lucent,
is the latest AC2004 speaker now available for streaming and download
("podcast") at our media partner, IT
Conversations. Listen to Gee's talk on "The
Future of Wireless Networking." or visit the AC2004
speaker archive (new entries every month).
these to your iPod Mini and get mobile enlightenment!
the Acceleration Story... in Five Spaces
Tidbits covers world news and insight in five "Spaces."
We've chosen these five because the story of accelerating change,
the most fascinating story of our time, appears to be a story of
movement from outer, to human, to inner, to cyber, and perhaps ultimately,
to hyper space. Each of these spaces deserves deeper understanding
by those who seek a multidisciplinary perspective on the future:
Space (science, environment, universal systems theory)
Human Space (bodies, behavior,
minds, human systems theory)
Inner Space (energy, small
tech, computer "bodies", inner systems theory)
Cyber Space (computer
"behavior", computer "minds", cyber systems
Hyper Space (hyperphysics
(black holes, multiverse), hyper systems theory)
Tidbits showcases one to three interesting stories in each
space. Stories that don't make the newsletter are posted to Accelaware,
our new discussion forum (to be announced soon). If you have important
stories to share with our 3,100 acceleration-aware readers, we'd
love to hear from you.
"The world operates on moral and spiritual principles just
as it does on the laws of physics and gravity. It is up to us to
learn what those principles are and then live by them." –
Sir John Templeton
science (biology, chemistry, geology,
physics, research), environment, universal systems theory
(developmental physics, evolutionary development, hierarchical substrates)
Seeing Evo-Devo at the Quantum Level
by John Smart] How does the strange, indeterminate,
and observer-dependent world of quantum physics turn into the stable,
classical reality we all see and agree upon? An evo-devo form of
"quantum darwinism" is just now being uncovered by our
best scientists, one that describes quantum events as a process
of evolutionary observations that "decohere" into developmental
subjective observer takes their own unique, unpredictable path,
but the environment maintains stable imprints ("pointer states")
of these observations, and certain imprints proliferate (replicate)
faster than others, and an environment-induced selection ("einselection")
this process runs, it rapidly closes off nonlocal correlations in
Hilbert space, and soon any subjective observer
coming along must get a picture that sees the same developed, "objective"
state: the classical macroscopic physics of the universe. Even at
the quantum level, change appears to be a beautifully balanced,
parallel process of evolution and development. (Wojciech
H. Zurek of Los Alamos National Lab, "Decoherence,
Einselection, and the Quantum Origins of the Classical,"
Dec 2004, reported in "Natural
Selection Acts on the Quantum World," News@Nature,
23 Dec 2004). Thanks to Alex Lightman for this
bodies (biology, health, neuroscience), behavior
(business, education, foresight, governance, innovation, pre-digital
technology, society), minds (psychology, spirituality),
human systems theory (ecological psychology, memetics)
others push for greater U.S. innovation, IDG
News, Grant Gross, 12.15.05
Innovate America is an excellent 68
page report just published by the National Innovation Initiative
(NII), co-chaired by IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, and
Georgia Tech president G. Wayne Clough. NII is
a 15 month project of the esteemed Wash, DC-based Council
on Competitiveness, involving 400 leaders of corporations, universities,
and professional societies. Palmisano says innovation is our most
important heritage, and should be our top national priority, yet
we are slipping badly in this area in recent years. Consider these
In 2002, U.S. Corporate R&D declined by $8 billion, the largest
single drop since 1950.
• 5 countries (Japan, Korea, Sweden, Finland, Israel) spend
more GDP on R&D than we do.
• China passed the U.S. in 2004 as the largest recipient of
foreign direct investment, and China's market for integrated circuits
will surpass the U.S. market in 2005.
• Foreign owned companies and foreign-born inventors now count
for nearly half of all U.S. patents, with Japan, Korea, and Taiwan
accounting for more than one fourth.
• Federal R&D funding is now only 1/2 of its 1960's peak
of 2% of GDP.
• Total scientific papers by American authors peaked in 1992
and have been flat since.
• Services are the fastest growing sector of many technology
companies, yet much of our services sector, now more than half the
U.S. economy, traditionally does little R&D on business process
design, organization, and management.
NII makes about 30 recommendations, and many seem excellent: immigration
fast tracking for sci-tech, technology graduate fellowships, better
innovation metrics, 10 designated "innovation centers"
federally funded for 5 years to reward regional competitiveness,
safe-harbor provisions allowing public companies to talk about intangible
innovation assets, tax credits for companies that create sci-tech
scholarships, and many others.
IBM and the rest of the Council help us bring back the magic to
the U.S. economy? Let's hope this report gets the political traction
their strategic model, NII proposes that innovation/competiveness/acceleration
(evolution) are more important than efficiency/cooperation/sustainability
(development) as national technology, business and social priorities.
Evo-devo systems theory would argue these priorities are equally
important long term, even as they are often in contradiction. But
innovation has clearly lagged in recent years, and its time has
what does Palmisano consider our biggest unrecognized opportunity?
Innovation partnerships, both corporate and personal, with the 3
billion new workers who have entered the global workforce over the
last 10 years, courtesy of IT and communications advances.
Let's make it happen! Thanks to Melanie Swan for
2014 Scenario: News Technology in the Future,
Museum of Media History, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, 2004 (8
minute web flash video)
Take a look at this scenario on the future of automated news technology,
by a couple of independent
artist futurists. Nice understanding of coming NLP (natural
language processing) technologies, and why search and AI companies
like Google will very likely buy human-run news media like the New
York Times within our lifetime.
a few quibbles: it oversensationalizes (NYT would never
go offline on the way to its eventual merger) and the timeline seems
about ten years (or more) earlier than NLP technology will probably
allow. But, in general, a good, provocative slice of future thinking.
Googlezon awaits! Thanks to Paul Grasshoff for
Dragon Halter USX China Portfolio Fund, Wall Street Journal,
Finally, a great exchange-traded fund (ETF) allowing average U.S.
investors to participate in China's economic miracle, by owning
equity in a diversified basket of Chinese companies. Democratized
globalization takes time, but it is worth the wait!
there are two Chinese ETF's available to U.S. investors, Global
Dragon (GD) and iShares Xinhua China 25 Index Fund. GD looks like
the best choice, as it covers 43 top companies while iShares only
has 25, GD has a lower expense ratio (0.6%, cost of running the
fund), and only GD emphasizes investment in Chinese companies' American
depositary receipts, which require higher accounting transparency
than non-U.S. disclosure standards.
to participate in an economy that reinvests 50% of its GDP, vs.
12% in the U.S.? Now you can!
Scientists Succeed in Stem Cell Therapy, Korea
by Jeff Hilford w/ JS] In South
Korea, multi-potent stem cells from umbilical cord blood were reportedly
transplanted into a 37 year old woman who had not been able to stand
up in 19 years due to a gymnastics accident. Three weeks later she
was apparently able to walk using a walker (see publicity picture
this is replicated, it is certainly a major medical advance. Cord
stem cells are apparently able to reconfigure their surface antigens
to avoid immune rejection, which is another appealing aspect of
the therapy (no genetic donor matching needed). The team (Chosun
University professor Song Chang-hun, Seoul National
University professor Kang Kyung-sun and Han
Hoon, Ph.D, from the Seoul Cord Blood Bank (SCB)) has applied
to replicate the experiment on four more patients, and will report
their results to the scientific community in the first half of 2005.
Hold your breath on this one.
There are other
reports of therapeutic benefit which must also remain suspect until
replicated by reputable independent sources. A Chinese
doctor operating without governmental restriction or oversight
reports impressive results by injecting fetal stem cells into the
afflicted areas of people suffering from disorders ranging from
paralysis to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In Brazil, a woman
who had been rendered unable to walk or talk in the aftermath of
a brain hemorrhage, reportedly regained
both abilities after receiving a stem cell transplant.
many know, the issue of stem cell research has become a major ethical
battle in the U.S. and around the world, pitting political progressives
and scientific researchers on one side against groups that consider
the use of fetal stem cells immoral on the other.
may be a classic case of local influence retarding a global agent
of accelerating change, as accelerating progress continues in stem
cell R&D at the fringes of the Western medical network.
We are beginning to see the miracle applications of stem cells and
advanced bio-tech, and, as the results become more frequent, remarkable,
and well-publicized, I think we can expect the average public response
to shift from protest to support. Thanks
to Peter Voss for the link.
energy, small tech (nanoengineering,
miniaturization), computer "bodies" (automation,
computer hardware, nanotech, robotics), inner systems theory
(acceleration, efficiency, miniaturization, reductionism)
Future's Bright for Diamond Dust, U of Bristol Press Release,
Dust May Make Televisions Thin, Sci-Tech News, Mike
In 1998, three Bell Labs researchers (W. Zhu et
al., Low-Field Electron Emission from Undoped Nanostructured Diamond,
Science 1998 282: 1471-1473) learned that dust-sized diamonds
emit electrons at a lower voltage than any other substance.
the commercial manufacture of nanodiamonds continues to advance,
researchers in Britain, in a $1M partnership with U.S.-based Advanced
Nanotech, are betting that this technology is ripe for commercialization.
Neil Fox at the University of Bristol envisions,
among other things, flat panel display screens that are hundreds
of dollars cheaper, and of course, more energy efficient, one of
the central stories of the microcosm. Thanks to Ted St.
(co-evolution, automation, symbiosis), computer "minds"
(computer software, simulation), cyber
systems theory (holism, information, intelligence, interdependence,
creates perfect-fit jeans, by Paula Hancocks,
by Jerry Paffendorf] Ever have trouble finding
cool clothes with a perfect fit? (Maybe you do and don’t even
know it there, baggy ;-) Bodymetrics
in the UK has a quick and simple system for mapping your body’s
shape at a high resolution in 3D. The scanning process—which
involves projections of white light stripes measured by cameras
capturing over 200,000 data points in under 10 seconds—builds
a customized digital avatar of your exact proportions that you can
use for modeling potential outfits and, in some cases, tailoring
that just-right size. Fashion designer Tristan Webber
is using Bodymetric’s technology to create a new line of unique-to-the-wearer
digitally fitted jeans he’s branded “Digital
process was also put to good use in the recent UK
National Sizing Survey. Among other findings, the survey revealed
that the average measurement around British “women’s
midriffs” has increased by 16.5 cm over the last 50 years.
Clothing retailers who purchase the survey’s data will be
able apply this kind of intimate sizing knowledge to their next
generation make of clothing. (That should make a lot of people very
This kind of
scanning process could also let individuals create avatars for self-introduction
into video games and digital worlds. Presumably it could also do
the opposite: move fashion designs prototyped in certain game worlds
out into the real world. Just take a look at the impressive Space
Think Dream webpage, full of high fashion and nifty gadgets
that Rivers Run Red presently
build and sell directly in the digital world of Second Life.
Look out for crossovers.
in Iraq Gung-Ho for Video Games, Associated Press, Nick Wadhams,
by Jimbob Peltaire and IB] Many
of our troops in Iraq are turning to shoot'em up violent games as
a way of relaxing in their down time. It would be interesting to
know if the military has conducted research showing that gamers
in general are more inclined to become soldiers. Games like America's
Army were created with the hope that this theory holds true,
as it allows young civilians to get a taste of the Army's training
question brought up by this article: Do gamers carry over the behavior
which they simulate inside of a game? Anti-violence activists are
worried that graphically violent or criminal games like the new
Grand Theft Auto
will cause kids to mimic virtual criminal behavior. Some replicable
research has shown that watching violence on TV causes people to
act more violently afterward. Other studies have shown the cathartic
value of videogames, however, so the issue is complex. Illinois
is spearheading the debate, at present, as on Dec. 17th Gov. Rod
Blagojevich proposed legislation that graphically violent
and graphically sexual video games be banned for distribution to
minors. Other states will surely attempt this as well, the more
realistic games get.
hyperphysics (black holes, multiverse, string theory,
supersymmetry), hyper systems theory (computational
limits, technological singularity hypothesis, developmental singularity
hypothesis, emergence, phase transitions)
Changes and Saturation
Power Law Behavior
and World Systems Evolution, Tessaleno Devezas and George Modelski,
Forecasting and Social Change, V70 N9, Nov 2003
Systems Theory] An excellent article modeling world social
organization as a multilevel, self-similar, nested power-law process,
following self-organized criticality. They suggest social change
involves a range of processes that range in "size" (time
duration) from 250 (or rarely, longer) down to 1 (very common) human
generation, with few of the long duration developmental processes
(e.g., world democracy, globalization), and a very large number
of single generation processes (e.g., typical cultural and legal
emergences). Assuming a human generational/cultural learning time
of 30 years, they describe "K-waves" of 60 years encompassing
developments such as the rise of leading sectors in the global economy
(e.g., the emergence of automobiles, or electricity), and "long
waves" of 120 years, such as the rise of world powers to a
position of global leadership. All of this has been observed by
other cycle scholars and seems quite reasonable.
of the more helpful insights from their model is that the time duration
of developmental innovations is inversely related to their importance
to the developmental process (e.g., irreversible processes that
take a long time to occur are both much rarer and more necessary
to advance the system as a whole). Another very interesting insight
is their observation that world system change, while still upsloped,
has been slowing for 1,000 years, with the inflection point at roughly
a logistic growth curve ("S curve") their model of world
system emergence proposes that human social development (the Y axis)
is in a decelerating phase and is about "80% complete",
and therefore that the major features of human social organization
are now in place. In other words, they propose that social change
is rapidly saturing, and will be significantly less dramatic and
novel every year forward. A plausible scenario here: We all end
up living in increasingly standardized individual empowering, fine
grained, and fair social democracies, with conflict a highly regulated
affair, and the only unregulated innovation occurring at the chaotic
edge of human understanding and social need.
authors delineate four phases of social change for the model, beginning
with the Ancient Period (3000BC to 1,000BC), then Classical Period
(1,000BC to 1,000AD) then the Modern Period (1,000-3,000AD) of "world
system consolidation", and a presumed Postmodern Period (3,000-5,000AD)
with little social change (though we can presume much change in
the technological sphere). Each 2,000 year period corresponds well
to the four phases in logistic growth: initiation, acceleration,
deceleration, and saturation.
from an understandable confusion of the concept of evolution and
development (few systems theorists use the evolutionary developmental
paradigm today) this is a commendable paper with a number of useful
insights. I think it makes a good case, using one of many possible
methodologies, for demonstrating what Modelski calls "world
system evolution" (what I would call world system evolutionary
development) as a system in saturation, falling off the leading
edge of change. Recent data on human population flatlining in all
developed countries is another soft indicator of human social system
saturation, as we have discussed in previous ASF newsletters.
next interesting question, unaddressed in this paper, is what new
agent of evolutionary development has already begun to take over
now that human social systems are decelerating. History argues that
there always is a new agent in the background, as the leading edge
of change always appears to be a second order "cascade of S
curves," a tangential "J curve" of smoothly continuous
acceleration (from the perspective of the network, not the individual
nodes). It is for this reason that we see such smooth acceleration
on a macroscopic scale (e.g., Carl Sagan's Cosmic
bet is that our increasingly autonomous technologies are the next
system already leading local computational change. How rapidly will
they develop their own human surpassing, "phase change"
emergence? We will need do some careful studies to better explore
that topic, but the best estimates I've collected to date suggest
anywhere from 20 to 140 years from now, with 2060AD as the rough
mean of the current careful predictive models. Thanks to Hal
Linstone for the reference.
all deserve a little fun every day. Send your entries for the next
week I purchased a burger for $1.58. The counter cashier took my
$2 and I pulled an additional 8 cents from my pocket and gave it
to him. He stood there, holding the change, looking down at the
pictographic keys on his register. Neither I nor the manager could
help him understand what to do next.
do I tell you this? To understand the consequences of the way we
teach math in the U.S., a society afflicted with affluenza
(the disease of affluence, of material and technological comfort):"
Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload
of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload
of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price,
or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1970: A logger sells a truckload
of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a
Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload
of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit
is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful
forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way
of making a living? Topic for class discussion: How did the forest
birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? (There
are no wrong answers.)
Teaching Math in 2000: Please punch the following
numbers on your calculators...
And we wonder why jobs requiring intelligence are being outsourced?
Cartoons at Pop!Tech 8
and JS] You will enjoy these beautiful
artist impressions of the thoughtful speakers and themes at Pop!Tech's
2004 conference, made by the talented graphic artists at Alphachimp.
by futurist Andrew Zolli, Pop!Tech has
developed a national reputation as one of the leading places to
think broadly about the human implications of social and technological
developments. (Accelerating Change, of course, is another
such place). You can view the pictures through your web browser,
or download all 35 images as a powerpoint by clicking on "Executive
Summary," and you can click forward and back through them
with no delay.
is seeking submissions for our Accelerating
Times (AT) web-based publication. AT
is a "free and priceless" monthly to bimonthly newsletter
covering scientific, technological, business, and social dialogs
in accelerating change. Anyone may submit reader feedback, scan
hits, article links, original papers, questions, and artwork to
mail(at)accelerating.org. Accepted work will appear, fully credited,
in future issues.