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

The questions below, color-coded for Physical Space, Virtual Space, and Interface themes in accelerating change, will be placed one on each round table (seating up to eight attendees) for our Saturday evening dinner. Each question will be repeated two or three times at different tables
After dinner, a speaker from each table can volunteer to give a brief summary of the group's ideas in the main ballroom, representing the table alongside speaker(s) from other tables with opposing views in a freewheeling and frenetic debate known as "Futuristically Incorrrect"

Note: These questions are rough guidelines for discussion. The most interesting part of the discussion may not be the answers you choose, but the ideas and opinions you share with your table in the process, and that your table reporter shares with the audience. Attributions of opinions to particular individuals at a table is encouraged but entirely optional.

If your table finds your question unclear or unappealing, feel free to pick any from the list below, or invent your own. You might begin with the question you are given, but feel free to go wherever conversation and group interest takes you.

Contact us with edits or additional questions to propose.

Challenge Questions: Physical Space Theme

P1. Globalization, Automation, and Economy. Is the current "third wave" of globalization helping or hurting us? Should we be making it easier for foreign workers to come here, and for smaller companies to invest and employ abroad? Are there any dangers from either increasing globalization or automation? More generally, what investment opportunities, sectors, and strategies are most likely to keep us on a curve of accelerating economic productivity for the next five to ten years? How do we sort hype from good investments in a world of information overload? Are there any dangers from either increasing globalization or automation?

P2. Transparency, Networks and Homeland Security. With ubiquitous computing sensing, and networks, are we heading toward a transparent society? Is this generally a good or a bad thing? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Are the privacy and civil rights issues overwhelming or manageable? More generally, how can we break down the "last mile problem" in bandwidth access, and how critical is this vs. other technical issues to improving national productivity and security in the coming decade?

P3. Development and International Security. How do we best help develop countries like Afghanistan and Iraq? How rapidly can we (or should we) try to bring competitive markets, democracies, and liberal traditions to cultures with no history in these areas? To what extent do we need to prioritize third world development vs. first world development in coming decades? How do we promote the "triple bottom line" (society, economy, environment) of industrial ecology in our global economy? Which current or horizon technologies, law, and policies will be most effective in emerging nations development in the next ten years?

P4. Energy and Resources. Is there an "energy problem"? Are carbon sequestration technologies and fossil fuel efficiencies going to keep our hydrocarbon regime healthy for another fifty years? Is the Hydrogen economy premature or critically needed? Do we need more investment in alternative and sustainable energy sources or is our present course of development proceeding just fine?

Challenge Questions: Physical Space Theme

V1. Persistent Worlds and Virtual Markets. How important are persistent worlds, virtual markets, and the new graphical environments emerging in cyberspace? How rapidly and significantly will they impact existing business and social models? Is a "Metaverse" emerging, a network of virtual spaces that may become the fastest, most creative, most information-rich and most globally connected "place" to spend our productive time? Will dwelling in physical space seem like "slow space" in comparison? After massively multiplayer games, what will be the early "killer apps" in virtual space?

V2. Personality Capture, Productivity, and Privacy. How extensively do we want our computer interfaces to record ("capture") our experiences, preferences, and even personal characteristics? Will high quality interfaces increasingly manage, persuade, and 'control' us? Will they make us more productive or more neurotic? What are the privacy, personal rights, and individual identity issues and threats?

V3. Digital Democracy, Digital Identity, and Avatars. What are the issues of technology, policy, and standards keeping us from a world of useful digital identities and virtual avatars? How important is it that we create spoof-resistant identities sooner rather than later? What level of digital democracy should we strive for, and is there such a thing as "digital mobocracy" (tyranny of the majority)? What new legal standards do we need for transactions with your avatar?

V4. Media, Blogs, and Citizen Education. As more of us enter virtual and blog space, will we put the "Me" (personalization and individual critical voice) back in media? Or will intelligent interfaces do this, and will they come courtesy of large software companies or open source? Does the new electronic journalism portend a better future for citizen education or a more fractured information space? Does a network of bloggers get us closer to the truth or make it harder to know what's really going on? How do we get to a more critical, civic-minded public?

Challenge Questions: Physical Space Theme

I1. Education, Self-Empowerment, and Technology. Are electronic media and other technologies of convenience responsible for the well-studied forty year decline in math, science, verbal, and analytical skills in our nation's high school and college students? If we continue with "business as usual" are things likely to get worse or better over the next few decades, as we create new educational and living tools and technologies that can do more and more "thinking" for us? If worse, what are the solutions we need?

I2. Health Care and Wellness. Can we fix health care coverage and quality gaps in the U.S. now or do we need to wait for smarter medical informatics systems and more economic strength? Will global access to cheap superspecialist physicians (in India and elsewhere) through tomorrow's telemedicine systems finally give us the ability to get the quality instant help we need? How do we keep the lid on double digit premium increases as medical therapies become increasingly helpful?

I3. Intellectual Property and the Creative Commons. To what extent can open source and new copyright agreements reinvigorate the human experience? What kinds of information, services, and systems work better as "experiences to share" than as "things to charge for" or own? Do we need more ownership of user-created content on the web to stimulate virtual creativity, or less? How do we account for the growing value of intangibles in our exponential economy?

I4. Big Projects in IA and AI. Do we need any "moon shots" (major new national technological development projects) at this stage, or are we better off letting the market run its course? Are there any projects in intelligence amplification ("IA") for humans, or artificial intelligence ("AI") for our machines that particularly need better funding? Anything that is significantly overfunded? Any big dangers we aren't addressing? Are we neglecting personal and social issues (IA) at the expense of technology (AI) or are these two moving along reasonably well together?


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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