Brochures are Done!
out our spiffy new PDF
brochure. We've mailed the print version to the 280
attendees at Accelerating Change 2003, along with a free surprise.
Send us a mailing address (mail(at)accelerating.org) if you or a
colleague would like a physical brochure.
brings you forty 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 (40 student spaces). We have 350 spaces
at the event (300 for registrants, 50 for speakers and volunteers)
and they are closing fast. Register soon if you think you can join
us this year.
Spotlight: Helen Greiner
Ms. Greiner will be one of our two keynote speakers
for the Physical Space theme at Accelerating Change
Greiner is Co-Founder and Chairman of iRobot Corporation,
a company delivering robots to the industrial, consumer, academic,
and military markets. She was named an Ernst and Young New England
Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003 (with iRobot co-founder Colin
Angle). She has also been honored as a Technology Review
"Innovator for the Next Century," invited to the World
Economic Forums as a Global Leader of Tomorrow, and has received
the prestigious DEMO God Award at the 2001 DEMO Conference. Her
15 years of experience in robotic technology includes work at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory and MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Computer
Science, both from MIT.
Title: Mobile Robots - Saving Time, Money, and Lives.
robots are an emerging technology field, and iRobot Corporation
of Burlington MA is leading the way. iRobot's products are not far-flung,
far-off science fiction, but robots for the real world. They are
practical, reliable, innovative products that effectively answer
users needs with creative engineering and design.
the consumer side, iRobot is credited for inventing the first successful
home robot, originally priced at $199.99. The disc-shaped Roomba
finds dirt and cleans it up on all kinds of household surfaces all
without human intervention. iRobot's Roomba© Robotic Floorvac
is already cleaning floors in more than a half-million homes. iRobot
also provides the PackBot™, a unmanned ground robot that was
used by the United States Government inspecting caves in Afghanistan,
and clearing buildings in Iraq. Currently, this tough, mobile, easy
to use robot is being used on hundreds of missions a day in Iraq,
clearing terrorist-set bombs.
talk will describe this new class of technology, how technology
accelerations have affected the field, and how mobile robots will
themselves catalyze accelerating change.
Have you wondered what consumer, industrial, and military bots are
on the horizon? What about those rumors of a window cleaning microbot
that can sit on car and house windows, moving to the corner when
its done? How about laundry folding robots? Plant watering bots?
Kitchenbots? Massage beds? Waking up to a massage from our BioBeds
in 2015 would be a more humanizing world than alarm clocks. Want
to give your kid something fun to do over the summer? Here's a $1,500
humanoid robot kit from Korea (scroll
down to see the video) that is great fun. iRobot
is a U.S. company that is leading the charge in creating compelling
tools that "save time, money, and lives."
Years of Relative Safety and Improving World Conditions: May it
by John Smart]. We've had three years without a
major terrorist incident in the U.S., and the doomsayers are losing
steam. There have been aborted plans, but our security climate today
is vastly better than it was during our last great domestic terrorism
spike, just three decades ago during the Vietnam War era. According
to the U.S. DoT, the total number of aircraft hijackings from 1968
through 1972 was 364. Eight airliners were hijacked to Cuba in January
1969 alone. Universal screening of U.S. airline passengers started
in 1974. Will it be another thirty years before we see a spike similar
to 9/11/2001? If we work hard, perhaps we'll be able to leave that
legacy for the next generation.
technological change accelerates, we are finally seeing substantial
improvements in world political and economic conditions, even in
the third world. The U.N.'s 2003
Human Development Report, which charts progress toward such
noble goals as halving world poverty, halting HIV/AIDS spread, and
enrolling all children worldwide in primary school by 2015, notes
that dramatic progress is being made in many nations, though some
continue to stagnate. Let's hope that we can even out the extremes,
and provide technology's "measurable exponential value"
to everyone on the planet, at the same time improving their political,
economic, and social conditions to the extent that their culture
prep for AC2004, Tech Tidbits features at least three thought-provoking
items in each issue, arranged in our three conference themes. Find
news we should know about? Tell us at mail(at)accelerating.org
Surveillance: Shot-Spotter, Rafe Needleman, AlwaysOn,
6 September 2004 (2 pages)
by John Smart]. Accelerating Times readers
may recall our discussion of this promising technology during the
Washington Sniper crisis last year. Shot microphone arrays have
digital signal processing chips that can identify gunshots, and
triangulate them within a few hundred feet. With repeated shots,
they can resolve within inches. They can be used with multi-angle
video cameras and telephoto lenses to provide detailed visual images
in public spaces. In any community that is willing to move into
untested civil liberties territory, this video can easily be posted
to nightly television so that local citizens can help ID unknown
departments in a few metro areas (like Rampart district in Los Angeles)
have deployed shot microphone arrays on telephone poles in gang-heavy
neighborhoods, and have a policy to show up soon after gunshots
and knock on doors, asking if anyone saw the shooter.
policy fits well with the Broken
Windows theory (registration required) of political scientist
James Wilson and criminologist George Kelling
(The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982), the idea that rapid
response to and repair of the visibly "broken" aspects
of a local community causes everyone to feel in control, to value
community building, to take their own initiative and be more vigilant
of crime. In a participatory climate, billboards with easy reporting
phone numbers and the list of the top ten acts people should report
should also help reduce the incidence of crime.
(see the FAQ)
is attempting to move from fixed microphone arrays in law enforcement
settings to mobile arrays that can be deployed in military settings,
using mesh network communications, so that if any local arrays are
destroyed the system still works, with graceful degradation. The
first economical use of well-performing mesh network shot microphones
plus video cameras in battle zones will turn gridified areas into
inherently defensive rather than offensive zones.
fits well with trends in networked weapons. In 2001 I forecast that
that within thirty years, leading first world countries will no
longer allow the sale of guns that don't have either a communications
network or a "black box recorder" built into them, GPS
localizers and audio and video streams that begin as soon as the
safety is taken off the weapon. I would also expect integrated 911
cellphone dialers and detachable earpieces in some of the more popular
models. As with the microphone arrays, such networks turn what was
originally an offensive weapon into an inherently defensive asset.
using networked weapons for defense have proof that they operated
within the law, and those using them for offense, or using nonnetworked
weapons, are that much more rapidly identified by our increasingly
transparent society. I hope ShotSpotter and Centurist
Systems succeed in expanding their market for this valuable
technology. They might consider selling their cutting edge equipment
in Ireland, South Africa, and other global markets that are leading
the way in creating safe city centers through rapid police response
to sensor-detected crime. Thanks to Mark Finnern
for the hit.
Virtual Reality Apps and the Futurelife House, September 2004
[Commentary by Iveta Brigis] Ninety percent of
the innovations launched in the automobile industry are now based
on software and electronics developments. BMW uses virtual reality
across an excitingly broad spectrum that includes designing and
testing their vehicles, engines, and facilities; training
their engineers, designers, technicians, and salespeople; selling
their products; and simulating
traffic to develop new traffic and vehicle technologies.
stuff: Two years ago, the BMW
Virtual Center included a 175-square foot wall display, three-sided
room display, datavisor 80 head-mounted display, Electrohome 9500
stereo-capable CRT projectors and Christie DLP projectors, ARTrack
optical tracking system with Flystick, SGI Onyx graphics system
with Infinite Reality2 graphics pipes, Silicon Graphics Octane2
and Silicon Graphics Fuel workstations. Today, BMW’s virtual
and haptics technology is so advanced that even the surfaces of
metal, plastic, and leather on their virtual cars, MINIs, motorcycles,
and Rolls Royces all feel authentic to the touch, and they even
reflect light. One example: researchers can immediately notice in
the windshield the reflection of a piece of white paper resting
on the dashboard - a potential source of distraction to the driver.
of the most innovative (not to mention cool!) projects BMW sponsors
today, run by a forward-thinking nonprofit, is Futurelife
House, where a Swiss family lives in a futuristic home that
is networked with their 5 Series BMWs. Think of opening the door
to let in friends while you’re not at home, or turning the
lights, heat, and oven on or off all from the comfort of your car.
Some of VR's potential benefits: quicker design, testing, training,
and production time; more intricate design capabilities; increased
communication and ease of collaboration between departments; potentially
better products and services; lots of time and money saved.
in our community have “unusual innovations for the mobile
future?” Check out BMW’s
Virtual Innovation Agency. They solicit small and medium sized
companies to help them shape the future.
the War on Spam
(and the Email Stamp Tax Proposal), Steven Johnson, Discover,
June 2004 (2 pages)
by John Smart] The deep thinking Steven
Johnson, founder and editor of FEED and author of Interface
Culture, 1997, Emergence,
2001, and Mind
Wide Open, 2004, weighs in on the evolving, epic story
of spam control in cyberspace. He relays what seems to me like a
really great idea: an email "stamp tax" of around a penny
per email sent, intended to reflect the "true-cost" of
using public cyberspace, and with the proceeds used to improve the
our cyber commons is a digital dumping ground, with little accountability
and 60 percent of internet traffic being spam, by some estimates.
There is historical precedent for oversight: for a long time roads
were also free until governments needed road improvement committees.
The telegraph and telephone likely also started this way as well.
contentious issue of internet taxes has been debated several times
by U.S. politicos since 1999.
This isn't just a bureaucrat's dream: a number of business folk,
like David Pottruck, president of Charles Schwab,
have come out in favor of a use tax. The issue clearly is complex,
and there needs to be a compelling case that better oversight is
needed before we should intervene in this accelerating engine of
change. Spam and the lack of secure digital identity may be that
compelling case, if these problems persist, as many expect they
will. Today's first generation firewalls and software immune systems
get better every year, but they may not be enough, by themselves,
to take care of the problem.
us a penny per email sent would be "coffee money" for
the average user, but an unsupportable investment for somone emailing
millions of Nigeria investment scams per day. Paying this modest
email postage may continue to be affordable for the Viagra spammers,
but at least then we'd know that they are paying their fair share
for wiring up the next generation internet that will keep them permanently
out of our sight. I love the Cato
Institute, limited government policy, and free market thinking,
but we must also acknowledge that spam is the "tragedy of the
digital commons." Right now, these spammers are all just free
riders, majorly impacting our servers, polluting our inboxes, and
stealing our precious time. Major reduction of spam would be a clear
public good, in my opinion.
also notes Cynthia
Dwork's proposal to hobble the compute cycles of all
email sent through mail servers. Clever as it is, this seems to
fly in the face of MEST-compression (doing more, faster, with less
resources) trends: it would create a real loss of efficiency in
any society that attempted such a communications-delaying scheme
would suffer. We need a spam-free internet, but we also need lightspeed
communications. No society could retreat from that benefit without
losing competitive advantage. A spam-free digital commmons, set
up as a government-sanctioned testbed in certain protected ISPs
first, would greatly improve communications efficiency in any society
that developed it. Better regulation is going to be needed, it's
just a matter of by who, how much, and when. Discover notes
that the first spam was sent in 1994, so we've all lived with this
problem for a decade. Let's hope we see some intelligent proposals
is seeking submissions for our Accelerating
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Submissions may be reader feedback, scan hits, article links, original
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