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Dear ASF Friends,

This is the archival website for the ASF nonprofit. Foresight University (education) and Evo-Devo Institute (research) are our new websites.

In 2003-2005, under the leadership of ASF President John M. Smart, we ran three conferences at Stanford University on Accelerating Change. The first explored Acceleration as a Universal Process, a process we believe is partly driven by human creativity, and partly by human discovery. In our view, humanity doesn't fully control accelerating change. It is likely happening on all planets with intelligent life. Our great responsibility is to understand and guide it better, toward the most humanizing ends possible. The second explored The Metaverse, which we define as the accelerating physical/virtual interface, in all its forms (MW/VR/AR/MR/XR etc.). The third explored two faces of accelerating planetary intelligence, IA and AI, or Intelligence Augmentation (for people) and Artificial Intelligence (for machines). The great Doug Englebart, coiner of the term Intelligence Augmentation, spoke at this event. So did several artificial neural network pioneers.

In 2006-2007, we ran a cross-industry foresight project, The Metaverse Roadmap, that explored the 20-year future of mirror worlds, virtual worlds, AR, and lifelogs. Check it out, it's pretty good technology and societal foresight work, in our view.

In 2008, we started the Evo-Devo Universe research community, to explore processes of universal evolution and development, one of which is accelerating change. From this point forward, our acceleration studies research has been done within the framework of bio-inspired complexity science and philosophy. We think that the evo-devo framework is the most useful model available today for understranding our increasingly network-centric, complex and adaptive futures.

In 2015, we started a new education division, Foresight University, for foresight methods and adaptive futures stories. We began The Foresight Guide, a permanent and free online book (at ForesightGuide.com) and a two-volume print and digital work on foresight methods and adaptive futures stories. Volume 1, Introduction to Foresight, on Personal, Team, and Organizational Foresight, was published in 2022. Volume 2, Big Picture Futures, on 21st century visions and perils in an exponential world, will be published in 2024.

Central to both works is Evo-Devo Foresight, a systems model of complex adaptive systems as both evolutionary (creative, unpredictable, exploratory), and developmental (conservative, predictable, on a life cycle) in nature. These two processes seem fundamental to all complex systems in our view, and yet they are both in tension with and often in opposition to each other. The better we understand these two dynamics, in ourselves, our teams, our orgs, our societies, and our environment, the better we can understand our individual and collective evolutionary and developmental purposes, create value, and flourish.

In 2024, ASF changed its reseach community name to the Evo-Devo Institute (EDI). Over the years, our focus has broadened from acceleration studies (the nature and impacts of accelerating change) to a broader mission: The Foresight and Actions that Grow Collective Adaptiveness ("Flourishing") in an Exponential World. For a recent version of John's views on the implications of evo-devo foresight, see The Goodness of the Universe, 2022 (YouTube, 80 mins).

We also launched a newsletter, Accelerating Times (2001-2006) and with futurist Mark Finnern, we started the first Future Salons (2001+) a network of independently run, in-person monthly futures discussion and support communities, some of which still meet today.

Our Outreach, Education, Research, and Advocacy now span five domains:

  • Accelerating Change. Understanding the universal drivers of exponential processes, including densification and dematerialization ("D&D"), and their expression in biological, scientific, technological, economic, environmental, political, and social systems. We call this "The (Great) Race to Inner Space". Most of the world's academics and policy thinkers still don't recognize the key drivers of accelerating change. The nature of acceleration is one the greatest blind spots we have with respect to the future.
  • Evo-Devo Adaptiveness. Understanding complex adaptiveness, in life, in organizations, in societies, in our learning technologies (AI) and in all other autopoetic systems, from the lenses of evolution, development, and their intersection (evo-devo). We believe evo-devo biology and philosophy offer us the most useful way to explore the future of complex systems.
  • Foresight. Human foresight is a conflict between Probable, Possible, Preferred, and Preventable futures--"The Four Ps". To adapt to accelerating change, we believe all good leaders, managers, and self-leaders must strive to master all four of these assessments, and ensure a productive and balanced conflict between probability and possibility thinking, and optimistic and pessimistic visions.
  • Values. There is a social psychology of universal (cross-cultural) values. In our modern world. Our research in moral foundations theory has found eight values, four evolutionary, and four developmental, that seem particularly universal. Being values-aware, values inclusive, and values-balanced is now critical to being personally and organizationally adaptive.
  • Networks. The most generally adaptive systems in nature are not individuals, and not even groups. They are networks (ecosystems) of diverse individuals and groups. Hormesis (capacity-building under stress) in any complex system comes directly from the strength, diversity, and quality of its supporting networks. In addition to adaptive Values and Foresight, maintaining healthy Networks (personal, org, societal, tech) is one of our top strategies for personal success and societal progress

At our start in 2003, ASF was the only organization in the world focused on both the academic study and societal guidance of accelerating change. In our view, the curious and continous acceleration of universal complexification (see Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar), of human history (Gerard Piel's The Acceleration of History, the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene), and modern technology (Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near) can be understood, together, as a special set of physical and informational processes likely to be found on all Earthlike planets in our universe. Several of these processes (D&D, STEM compression, evo-devo dynamics, IES goals, network dominance) appear to drive and stabilize accelerating change. These processes, which science has yet to validate, nevertheless seem to have major implications for the nature, choices, and future of civilization. The better we understand both universal and human accelerating change, its evo-devo drivers, network stabilizers, and its knowns, unknowns, visions, and risks, the better our foresight and action can become.

To this end, ASF President John M. Smart has published a series of papers, Evo-Devo Universe? (2008), The Transcension Hypothesis (2012), Humanity Rising (2015), Evolutionary Development: A Universal Perspective (2019) and Exponential Progress: Thriving in an Era of Accelerating Change (2020) that use evo-devo systems theory to better understand complex adaptive systems. Evo-devo models are a branch of both biological science and theory and complex systems philosophy that offer us powerful new ways to understand exponential processes, and to explore the nature, goals, and futures of autopoetic systems under selection. For a brief talk that explores evo-devo models at the universe and subsystem scales, see The Race to Inner Space, 2012 (YouTube, 17 mins).

Thank you for visiting. We hope to meet you, flourishing, in an even faster, more technological, more human, more complex and more adaptive future. That seems to be the way of the universe, whether we recognize it today or not.

 

The Foresight Guide seeks to be the world’s best overview of the vital and evolving field of professional foresight, and a set of key stories and speculations on the 21st Century, as general futures thinking. It covers models, methods, case studies, stories, ideas, and resources for improving personal, team, organizational, societal, global, and universal futures. It is written from an acceleration-aware, evo-devo, and evidence-based perspective.

A permanent and free online edition of the Guide was posted, in a page-commentable form, at ForesightGuide.com in 2016. The print version of the Guide spans two volumes (Foresight and Futures). Book 1, Introduction to Foresight, Nov 2021, is now available on Amazon. Book 2, Big Picture Futures: 21st Century Visions and Nightmares, will be published in 2024.

 
 

Resources:

Please subscribe to our Substack newsletter (2023+):

Good Foresight
Thriving in an Exponential World. Newsletter of Foresight University, the Evo-Devo Institute, and the Good Foresight Network.

9,200 subscribers (Nov 2023)

ASF Slides, Audio, and Video Articles and Books

Past Newsletter:

Accelerating Times
Brief items to help you grow personal, personal, organizational, and global foresight in our amazing, ever-accelerating world.
Select Back Issues.

Past Future Salons:

 

Future Salon
NETWORK

Look Further. Think Deeper.
Act Smarter.

Boldly creating a world that works for all. Monthly meetings in ten cities. Set up a salon in your city!

 
OTHER PROJECTS
   

EDU is an international interdisciplinary community of scholars exploring evolutionary and developmental processes in the universe and its complex adaptive subsystems. Interested in advancing the science and systems theory of accelerating change? Interested in exploring and differentiating between predictable and unpredictable processes in autopoetic systems, including the universe as a system? Join us.

The Science of Performance Curves, an EDI Reseach Project and Conference we are seeking funding to launch. Would you like to sponsor this project and event?

- What explains the differential rates of acceleration in our technology performance curves (computing, storage, bandwidth, energy production, etc.) as measured in Performance Curve Databases? Can we develop better theories for their growth and future? In which domains will they continue to grow the fastest, in which will they saturate, and why? The greatest gains occur in technologies where the rates of miniaturization and virtualization (densification and dematerialization) are the fastest. Why is this curious fact so little-known? What are its business, policy, and social implications?

Next Steps

1. ASF can help your organization with talks, reports, seminars, and workshops. See our Services page.

2. Looking for a good wiki directory of global foresight resources? Visit Global Foresight, our wiki directory of Networks, Events, Programs, People, Orgs, and Resources for global foresight culture. Join our group, Global Foresight @ LinkedIn (5,500+ members).

3. Desire a credential in foresight work? See Foresight Graduate Programs - Global List, our list of top Primary and Secondary graduate programs in professional foresight. Consider these if you want interdisciplinary training in thinking about issues of global progress and accelerating change.

4. Are you a foresight student, practitioner, educator, researcher, speaker, employer, or advocate? Join our friends, the Association of Professional Futurists, a nonprofit global membership community of students, researchers, educators, and employers working to expand and professionalize foresight practice.

5. Like to meet other foresighted folks in your local community? Start a Future Salon, on your own or with a co-moderator. Invite interesting local thinkers to give free talks on future-oriented topics once a month (or less), and go to dinner afterward for more conversation. Grow your network of change- and innovation-oriented friends!


PREVIOUS ASF CONFERENCES

Evolution, Development, and Complexity 2017: A satellite event at the Conference on Complex Systems, 2017.

Foresight Careers 2013: Strategies for finding and keeping great foresight jobs.

Evo Devo Universe 2008: Predictable and unpredictable aspects of universal change.

Metaverse Roadmap Summit 2006: Mapping Pathways to the 3D Web

Accelerating Change 2005: Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Amplification

Accelerating Change 2004: Physical Space, Virtual Space, and Interface

Accelerating Change 2003: Exploring the Future of Accelerating Change

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Articles - Articles and Books by ASF President John Smart and Friends.

Presentations - Audio, Video, and Slide presentations by ASF President John Smart.

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