Accelerating Change 2004 :: Physical Space, Virtual Space, and Interface
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Where Will Accelerating Change Take Us in 21C?

Humanity is engaged in a grand, accelerating adventure. Leading thinkers are now asking fundamentally important questions relevant to our historical record of accelerating social and technological change. Many answers and models are conflicting, controversial and poorly testable, at present. Yet their implications are profound, and their insights so valuable they can be used in virtually every decision of our daily lives.

ASF is dedicated to building a community for ongoing discussion of these fundamental and future-important questions. If present trends continue, we will witness more scientific, technological, and even social learning and change in our own lifetimes than that seen since the birth of science.

Several physicists of the very small structures in our universe (Steven Weinberg, Leon Lederman) and of the very large (Stephen Hawking, Martin Harwit) have proposed that we may soon capture much of the essence of these two domains in our accelerating and increasingly powerful scientific instrumentation and simulations.

If true, that may leave only the middle zone of the very complex as our final frontier (Ian Stewart, Paul Davies). This suggests to some that artificial intelligences, if they emerge in the 21st century, will be engaged in "hard problems" such as the physical basis and larger meaning of the origin of life, the emergence of language, thought, emotion, consciousness, and spirituality, and the future trajectory of local intelligence.

Understanding is of course only part of the journey. How do we help our sociotechnological systems to strengthen our common interests, to create a continually better, cleaner, safer, and yet more creative world for all the minds that inhabit it? Such goals as improving ethics, compassion, interdependence, resilience, security, risk management, and immunity from potential catastrophes may be a function of physical intelligence, properties that are statistically highly likely to emerge in our coming networks, as long as we use caution and common sense.

We are still early in asking the big questions about the accelerating future, and in wisely guiding acceleration in our modern lives. But the more we give ourselves permission to carefully consider these issues, the better equipped we will be to create the daily personal and collective futures, consistent with unavoidable accelerating trends, that we truly desire.

Key Questions
What is accelerating change?
Why is accelerating change important?
What are the historical drivers of accelerating change?
What is the "technological singularity"?
Where will accelerating change take us in the 21st century?
What are our major benefits and risks with regard to accelerating change?

Analysis • Forecasting • Action

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