Futurists Move Ahead
to students Brent Bushnell and Chris Folk,
UCLA Futurists is now up and running, with monthly meetings on the
UCLA Campus. Our website (presently a one-page affair listing our
next speaker) is also up at http://ucla.accelerating.org.
Big thanks to Paul Grasshoff for sponsoring new
business cards, as we begin promoting our new location to 36,000
UCLA students and to the wider L.A. community. Thanks to graphics
whiz Marlon Rojas for the artwork. Is
anyone interested in starting Stanford Futurists? Rion Snow
is ready for company in that endeavor.
the Date: AC2005 is September 16-18, 2005
Change 2005: Intelligence Amplification and Artificial Intelligence,
will be September 16-18. We will have tutorials
all day Friday, Sept 16, on the Stanford campus.
New AC2004 Audio
Bell, Keith Halper, Cory Ondrejka, and
the Jaron Lanier vs Will Wright
debate are all newly available as a podcast (streaming or download)
at our media partner, IT
Conversations. Cory's talk (picture at left) on Virtual Worlds
is currently rated four stars, and was one of the favorites of all
the excellent presentations last year. Click
and listen at your computer or download to your iPod Mini and get
mobile enlightenment! You can regularly check the free AC2004
audio archive at IT Conversations, or register for email
notification of new postings.
The Arlington Institute's 3rd Annual Conference,
for the Development of Humanity, will be this April
25-26, 2005 in Washington, DC
Gary Hart, Futurist David Brin,
Theoretician Max Boisot, and authors Neale
Donald Walsch and Mark Ian Barasch, and
ASF President John Smart are six of 25 confirmed
speakers for TAICON2005. The conference marks The Institute's annual
tradition of sponsoring a forum to address humanity¹s most
conference program, Tools for the Development of Humanity,
addresses the big question: What can we do and what is available
to facilitate rapid, large-scale, global social value change? Building
on last year's Breakthrough Technologies for the World's
Biggest Problems, TAICON2005 provides a venue for an unusual
spectrum of provocative and insightful speakers covering everything
from social technology and new human institutions to large-scale
personal enlightenment. The more than 300 participants will have
the unique opportunity to personally engage and interact with provocative
speakers and thought leaders throughout the varied program format.
information and registration, visit http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org
or email TAICON2005@arlingtoninstitute.org.
"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important
thing is that we discovered the Earth." –
William Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut
is only important as an instrument for service to the powerless."
– Lech Walesa
Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal
by Steve Bass (2003), 200 pages. This short, easy-to-read
book gives you tips on maximizing your computer usage and minimizing
hardware and software settings annoyances that tempt you to throw
your PC out the window. It earned great reviews on Amazon.com.
Windows XP Annoyances: Tips, Secrets, and Solutions
by David A. Karp (2002), 586 pages. This to-the-point
book helps you get the most out of Windows XP, even when it appears
that the operating system is working against you. The author presents
valuable info on troubleshooting techniques, hardware advice, Registry
hacking, interface customization, and advanced networking subjects.
2 Picture Editor from Google.
download. Organizes pictures on your desktop, and easily embeds
them into your email. Thanks to Ann Duffy and Johann
PC Magazine and CNET Editors Choices for 2004 for anti-spam
software. $30. Works with Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows
98 to XP. Automatically whitelists all the email addresses in your
Contacts file. Requires everyone new who emails you who isn't on
your whitelist to click a link in a return email once, to get allowed
onto your list. Reports spam back to MailFrontier, improving the
internet immune system, and even has a fraudulent email reporter
when you get phished for information. Take control of your inbox!
Thanks to Tim Draper for the tip.
the Acceleration Story... in Five Spaces
covers world news and insight in five "spaces," with one
to three briefs in each space. The story of accelerating change,
the most fascinating story of our time, appears to be one 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)
you have important stories to share with our 3,100 acceleration-aware
readers, we'd love to hear from you.
science (biology, chemistry, geology, physics, research),
environment, universal systems theory (developmental physics, evolutionary
development, hierarchical substrates)
Living Through Curiosity, Tom Clynes, Popular Science,
by John Smart] An amazing six-page story
about Amar Bose and his Bose (Electromagnetic
Automobile) Suspension System. His approach,
like so many great inventors, is a testament to persistence.
One of his PhD researchers began work on the concept in the
mid 1980's. Bose realized then that computing power would
be good enough by the turn of the century to make his prototype,
and he's been working on the actuators, sensors, and algorithms
ever since. He's now created an automobile suspension system
that completely isolates the cabin from bumps, instantaneously
lifting or lowering the wheels as needed. Even hitting a curb
now has no chance to flip your vehicle!
next time you are being driven somewhere and realize that
you could use that time to get good work done if you had a
car whose ride was so smooth you wouldn't even realize you
were moving, you can thank this amazing human being for inventing
the solution for you. Now if only a foresighted company or
consortium of the auto industry will partner with Bose and
bring this to market within the next few years we'll see a
great improvement to our quality of life in the modern world.
Anyone want to give him a hand?
Dean Kamen, Bose has an inspiring and iconoclastic
approach to innovation. His MIT engineering class is legendary
for the way it helps students think deeply and independently
about worthwhile problems. Dr. Bose and his team, as you may
recall, created the Bose sound systems and Bose noise cancellation
systems. What will this genius bring us next? I'd like to
bottle up and sell everyone in the world his attitude toward
the future. Thanks to Miguel Aznar for this
Bose introduces a new automotive suspension system that uses
electromagnetic motors instead of springs or hydraulics. Sensors
monitor the car body as it hits bumps and potholes, sending
signals to a controller. At the controller’s command,
each motor expands and contracts to balance motion between
the wheel and the body of the car." (Pop Sci/Bose)
Divide Narrowing Fast by Thomas Atkins,
[Commentary by Iveta Brigis] According to the World
Bank, global access to telecommunications is growing at an explosive
rate. Half the world has access to fixed line phones, and a whopping
77% has access to mobile phones. The
Digital Solidarity Fund Foundation is a non-profit organization
based in Geneva, initiated by Senegal's President Abdoulaye
Wade, that aims to distribute money to various African
projects in order to further accelerate the narrowing of the digital
divide. According to research
on their website, from 1998 to 2000, ICT access accelerated most
in already developed countries, and Africa intends to catch up.
Thanks to Norman Gilmore.
Say Global Warming is Real by Reuters, [IB].
Scientists at the annual meeting of the AAAS
last week presented what they see as irrefutable evidence that global
warming is real and that it is caused by humans. How is their analysis
different from previous research? They're looking at trends in ocean
temperature, not air temperature like most other researchers. According
to Tim Barnett of the Scripps
Institution, this new evidence is so convincing that "the
debate over whether or not there is a global warming signal is now
over, at least for rational people." It will be interesting
to see when we can bring this issue into policy debates in the U.S.
bodies (biology, health, neuroscience), behavior
(business, education, foresight, governance, innovation, pre-digital
technology, society), minds (psychology, spirituality), human systems
theory (ecological psychology, memetics)
of Advancing Technology: IT Education for the
Who says educational reform is stagnant? Check out this cutting
edge private educational IT institution. (You might kill the annoying
flash). They even offer an online
M.S. degree in the emerging field of Artificial Life. An inspiring
example of innovation.
Acai Berries and the Domestication
of Fruits and Vegetables
There's a new berry hitting U.S. media, the açaí ("AH-sci-EE")
from Brazil. It has twice the anthocyanin antioxidants of blueberries,
which are already arguably the healthiest berries in our diets.
They reportedly taste like blackberries mingled with chocolate.
Right now there appears to be only one major distributor, Monarch
Health Sciences/MonaVie, a multi level marketing (MLM) company focused
as much on getting people rich as on getting people a healthy new
dietary addition. Acai grow on palm trees in the Amazon, so producing
them affordably in quantity may be difficult for the time being.
But if there's a way, perhaps we will see acai berries or juice
at our local healthy grocers soon.
recently noted that the nutritional value of our typical fruits
and vegetables has "decreased 50%" since we began breeding
for increased fecundity, size, and toughness. Assuming this is true,
we should also realize that increased productiveness and shippability
has gotten much more fruit and vegetables to many more people at
a lower price, so loss of some nutritional value may be a fair bargain.
It is also true but commonly forgotten that most of the natural
foods we eat today are domesticated versions of wild plants that
originally had significantly more noxious chemicals in them in their
undomesticated state (everything wild produces toxic chemicals internally,
like tannins, to keep other animals from eating them). Domestic
potatoes, for example, have a lot less arsenic in their skins than
the original wild ones. So there are a number of purposes to domestication,
and a balance to be found.
we would probably be smart to breed back for smaller, more flavorful,
and more healthful versions of our domesticated fruits and vegetables
in coming years. Plant breeding is aided by genomic maps these days,
so it is on an indistinguishable continuum with efforts at direct
genetic engineering. We can actually do a lot more with gene-map
aided breeding in plants than we can with "rationally guided"
genetic engineering, which tells you how difficult and overhyped
the latter field is. Furthermore, new breeds don't have the stigma
of having your product being labeled as a GMO (genetically modified
sum, let's hope we see even more nutritious, healthy and affordable
fruit and vegetables, both raw and prepared, at our local grocers
in coming years. As we learn more about the impressive cancer-fighting
properties of compounds like indole-3-carbinol,
found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, and that the
ideal way to ingest these is usually in high-nutrient natural foods
vs. supplements, I think we'll see our future food increasingly
move in this direction. Thanks to Marie Kacmarek.
energy, small tech (nanoengineering, miniaturization),
computer "bodies" (automation, computer hardware, nanotech,
robotics), inner systems theory (acceleration, efficiency, miniaturization,
Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss, Wired, February 2002
A commendable and prescient piece on the irresistable economic and
ecological advantages of next generation nuclear power. Peter
Schwartz, of GBN, shows again that he is one of our country's
best and boldest applied futurists. It looks very likely that inner
space, the unique power and computational ability available in the
microcosm, will yet again be transforming human interaction with
our environment. Since the early failures of Three Mile Island in
the U.S., Chernobyl in Russia, and Tokaimura in Japan, we have refined
nuclear power plant technology to a whole new generation of safety.
Today's most advanced nuke plants, like the modular
pebble bed reactors, can't melt down under situations of poor
management, and they don't produce waste that could be used by terrorists
for nuclear weapons. The amount of waste produced by nuclear plants
is negligible by comparison to the energy they produce, and we have
finally learned how to store it safely and economically. These reactors
are also incredibly compact. Ten of them together will produce 1,100
megawatts for 300,000 homes, in a space no larger than three football
fields. I say again: it is unreasonable to expect to live
in a universe where we get so much benefit from such primitive and
early forays into inner space, but such is the universe we inhabit.
I'll suggest some reasons for this in my forthcoming book.
energy is actually far less impactful on the environment than coal
or oil, as it adds no greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. I expect
that this fact, when it is combined with our increasing desire and
responsibility to live sustainably on the planet, will likely change
public opinion over the next generation to increasingly favor the
nuclear alternative. This of course assumes global warming continues
to be validated, and that alternative energy sources, such as nanosolar,
continue to represent significantly poorer alternatives. Hydrogen
has great potential as a clean energy storage infrastructure, but
not as a clean energy generation infrastructure, as several careful
thinkers have pointed out (e.g. The
Hype about Hydrogen, Joseph Romm, 2004)
gets 77% of its energy from nuclear power today, allowing it a large
measure of fossil fuel independence. I don't think that was a wise
course of action back in the day when nuclear plants were dirty
and unsafe, and I don't think France's record on exporting their
early dirty and unsafe technology helped us advance an agenda of
global nuclear weapons disarmament. I also don't think we need any
kind of crash program for nuclear plant rollout until we have evaluated
more of these new plants, and have much better global warming data.
There also seems to be no credible worry that oil will run out or
even begin to get prohibitively expensive for at least another generation,
regardless of the media hype on the issue of peak oil.
we can see that we are on the verge of swinging away from the fossil
fuel regime. We can do it first in our global electricity generation
by dumping coal, and like Patrick Moore, co-founder
of Greenpeace, I support diffusion of nuclear power technology for
this purpose in coming years. My third
law of technology says: "The first generation of any technology
is often dehumanizing. The second generation is generally indifferent
to humanity. The third generation, with luck, becomes net humanizing."
I think nuclear energy is very close to moving into the third generation,
and inner space has yet again provided us with an unreasonable return
on our investment in innovation.
and Stanford Collaborate on World-Class Spintronics Research,
Spintronic Science and Applications Center (SpinAps, logo right)
is a partnership of half a dozen IBM Almaden and an equal number
of Stanford researchers to investigate a fascinating area of electronic
nanotechnology: electron spin. This is one of several strong contenders
for extending the life of Moore's law well past 2020 by utilizing
physical properties at the quantum level. Read the press release
for brief history of spintronics. Expect continued unreasonably
excellent new breakthroughs in this field in coming years.
first mass-produced spintronic device has already revolutionized
the hard-disk drive industry. Introduced in 1997, the giant magnetoresistive
(GMR) head developed at the IBM Almaden lab, is a super-sensitive
magnetic-field sensor that enabled a 40-fold increase in data
density over the past seven years [1997-2004]. Another multilayered
spintronic structure is at the heart of the high-speed, nonvolatile
magnetic random access memory (MRAM), currently being developed
by an IBM-Infineon
collaboration and several other companies."
commercialization may lead to a new generation of "Instant
On" portable computers in just the next few years. "MRAM
has the potential to become the universal memory technology of the
future," said Dr. T. C. Chen, VP Science and
Technology, IBM Research. "MRAM technology is rapidly maturing
and could fundamentally alter the entire memory marketplace within
the next few years." Way to go IBM.
(co-evolution, automation, symbiosis), computer "minds"
(computer software, simulation), cyber systems theory (holism, information,
intelligence, interdependence, immunity)
Shoot, and Map: Augmented-Reality Machine Works in Real Time,
by Will Knight, NewScientist.com, 02.03.05,
Image by Andrew Davison.
[Commentary by Jerry Paffendorf] Researchers at Oxford
University, UK, have developed a way to build real time 3D models
of physical environments using a single video camera. As long as
their system knows the dimensions of a single object within its
view it can deduce the sizes and distances of all other objects,
even while the camera is in motion.
could be a significant step in developing machine vision for robots.
It also allows digital objects to be transposed onto real scenes
in consistent and believable ways, in real time (creating
a fluid mixed reality at 30 frames per second). A demo
video (80 MB) on the project
site shows virtual furniture added to live footage—something
that until now had only been possible in post-production.
commercial applications mentioned in the article are home decoration
and planning engineering projects. Some other applications that
come to mind are gaming (as in an advanced Sony EyeToy—EyeToy inventor Richard
Marks showed us some amazing new apps at Accelerating Change 2004 that are
already barking up this tree), a tool for mass customization and
or Intellifit writ large?), and
eventually maybe even something like David Gelernter’s vision of
Worlds: high-resolution software versions of entire cities.
In previous newsletters we’ve flagged Google’s purchase of Keyhole’s
eye-in-the-sky geo information system and A9’s use of GPS-enabled
cameras for carving out pseudo-navigable 2D maps of cities at street
level (Block View).
Could this new process (or something similar) eventually be the
most time and cost efficient way to realistically map the real world
in 3D at all scales and, significantly, to make the model navigable
by human-controlled avatars?
The project (named Real-Time Augmented Reality and Personal Localisation
using Single Camera SLAM) has been awarded £255,000 ($480,000) of
funding from the UK Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council. Hat tips and dance dips to Cory Ondrejka
for the link.
'Dream Team' Creating Gigapixel-Sized Images,
Sandia National Labs Press Release, Dec 9 2004
Artist Clifford Ross, Sandia Labs computer scientist
Carl Diegert, and other artists, technologists,
and scientists are developing a gigapixel digital camera and display
system. With that level of detail you can see tiny footpaths going
up a mountain with a picture taken seven miles away. Most definitely
"hyperreality" by comparison to human vision!
Labs' motivation is to display so much data, in so much detail,
that human intuition can be leveraged for better pattern recognition.
Sounds like a great "intelligence amplification" (IA)
strategy in a world where high level AI still appears many years
away. Here's a NYT article on the genesis of the project
homepage. Thanks to Iveta Brigis for the link.
hyperphysics (black holes, multiverse, string theory,
supersymmetry), hyper systems theory (computational limits, emergence,
phase transitions, technological singularity hypothesis, developmental
TV Poised for a Rollout, Bruce Myerson, Associated Press,
Feb 13, 2005
A major emergence is coming in the electronic media space. Ever
since the birth of broadcast technologies our media has been very
limited in the number of channels, and thus the number of specialized
interests it could serve. The history of television tells this story
well, though we can make a similar case in print, radio, and other
we had VHF broadcast TV, with channels 2-13. Then we got cable TV
without program guides, which allowed us to flip sequentially (remember
that?) through 60-odd channels before our brains and thumbs would
rebel. Then we got slow cable program guides on our grainy, lo-res
TVs, which currently let us flip through 250-odd channels, far too
slowly and poorly for most people's tastes. Note that a combination
of system bandwidth and interface technology has always determined
how many channels we get and can manage. As long as we have limited
bandwidth and terrible interfaces, we'll have a tiny number of channels
to represent the panoply of human interests, and a wasteland of
mostly lowest common denominator programming.
in 1993 came the world wide web, and we could click over to whatever
specialized interest we wanted. That was the beginning of total
ethical interest representation, and information transparency. Now
comes IPTV. After years of research and a number of false starts,
it looks like Microsoft has delivered an open-standard, internet-based
interactive television platform with enough margin in it for the
content distributors. IPTV can deliver compressed regular or HD
TV over the last mile internet pipe, so that your cable or DSL company
only has to deliver one signal at a time to the home. This allows
them to cache a literally unlimited number of channels at their
end. Just as with the internet, you can simply surf over to the
channel you want. IPTV will start as a conservative Video On Demand
type service, but when they add a good micropayments system down
the road, this will allow anyone anywhere to get into video content
distribution, for any specialized interest. And once you have an
HDTV, you have good internet browser, as you can use the screen
to show email and other fine text just like on your computer screen.
combine this system bandwidth with an excellent interface, like
an instant-on solid state tablet PC remote, and a great collaborative
filtering AI system like Amazon's on the back end, and you could
easily manage thumbnails of literally thousands of specialty channels
on your tablet remote, all competing to get to the top level of
your remote screen, and all one tap away from displaying on your
larger TV screen.
obvious result of all this is that television will finally develop
an incredible ability to be an educational, videoconferencing, dating,
exercise, and general professional development and collaboration
tool. It may take us twenty years to get IPTV to that level of general
service to humanity, but if we are diligent, and if we get lots
of early adopter activists, we might cut that rollout time in half.
Another obvious implication is that Satellite TV will be relegated
to rural and developing areas or vertical market applications, as
it just can't compete with the options we are going to have in television
in a few more years. To the right is a $3,000 DataMonitor report
on IPTV (at least the table of contents is free). Here's Microsoft's
overview page. As the article above says, SBC, Verizon, and
Bell South are all jumping into this now. SBC expects to have their
first IPTV deployments in select markets by the end of 2005. Datamonitor
believes 15 million households globally will be using IPTV by 2007.
Bring it on!
all deserve a little fun every day. Send your entries for the next
The next time you're in Paris or Berlin, check out Blinkenlights,
a cellphone download that lets you connect to a few tall buildings
there and play light games like Tetris and Pac Man on their walls.
Thanks to Josh Rubin for the tip.
and the Single Robot" Kim Jong-Hwan, originator
of the Robot Football World Cup, and director of the ITRC-Intelligent
Robot Research Centre in Taejon, South Korea, has developed a series
of artificial chromosomes that, he says, will allow robots to feel
lusty, and could eventually lead to them reproducing. He says the
software, which will be installed in a robot within the next three
months, will give the machines the ability to feel, reason and desire.
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 scan hits, article links,
original papers, questions, reader feedback, and artwork to mail(at)accelerating.org.
Accepted work will appear, fully credited, in future issues.