Change 2004: New Speaker Additions
Engelbart, Helen Greiner, Will Wright, Dan Gillmor, Dana Blankenhorn,
Brock Pierce, Clark Aldrich, Keith Halper, Gee Rittenhouse...
these noteworthy change leaders has recently decided to speak for
us at Stanford this November. Will you be there as well?
Visit the AC2004 conference
website for more details. We will bring
you 36 world-class speakers over two and a half days, six keynotes,
three debates, a Virtual Worlds demo, and a DVD conference record.
Signup by Sept. 30th to get the $350 Early Bird
rate, and $150 for the first forty Student registrants. Note
that AC2004 is priced well below other top-quality strategic technology,
business, and humanist futures conferences such as AlwaysOn ($1,795*),
Business 4Site ($1,095*), MIT Emerging Tech ($995*), O'Reilly Emerging
Tech ($1,145*), Pop!Tech ($1,695*), Telecosm ($1,495*), and World
Technology Summit ($2,950*). ASF is committed to remaining the
low-cost, high value leader in this very important community space.
Bruce Sterling's column, "The
Evolution Will Not Be Mechanized," p. 102 in the current
issue of Wired magazine for a nice promo of Accelerating
Change 2004. Bruce makes the excellent point that accelerating technological
capacity alone won't lead us to a world of "spiritual machines."
We're going to need to guide that capacity in increasingly wiser
ways as technological challenges and opportunities exponentiate.
That won't necessarily be easy. He has made the point elsewhere
that we already exist in a world climate with various "obesities"
of capacity. Two examples are accelerating physical obesity in many
nations today (even Mexico has startling obesity rates among its
youth), and a glut of technological obesity ("technobesity")
in the first world: more tools and choices than we can properly
absorb or apply. Dealing with this rising technobesity will be a
persistent social challenge until we can design more intelligent
interfaces and knowledge management tools.
a few good books to keep you busy? Take a look at our Futurist's
Bookshelf, a new addition to the AC2004 conference pages that
lists ASF's Top 50 recommended books for thinking broadly and critically
about global trends in accelerating change. Have others to recommend?
Send us your feedback at mail(at)accelerating.org. Thanks!
prep for AC2004, Tech Tidbits features at least three items
weekly, arranged in our three conference themes. Find any breaking
news we should know about? Tell us at mail(at)accelerating.org
Planet Detected 50 Light Years Away, Clive Cookson, Financial
Times, 25 August 2004 (1 page)
by John Smart] Here's a stunning new advance, the discovery
of our first rocky-core planet in another solar system. The HARPS
(High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) spectrograph,
newly installed at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, is
so powerful that we are now detecting rocky-core planets (geological
compositions like Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury) around nearby
suns, not simply massive gas giants like Jupiter. Detectable planets
still have to be very big to cause the sun's light to "wobble",
which means the small rocky planets in Earth-like orbits are still
too small to detect. Yet these may be the only planets capable of
sustaining complex life. As astrobiologist David Darling
notes in Life
Everywhere, 2002, the narrow "stellar habitable zone"
of 0.95 to 1.3 astronomical units away from the sun (Earth's orbit
is 1.0 AU by definition), may be the only place in Sol-type solar
systems capable of supporting liquid water and long term plate tectonics
(for CO2 recycling). Planets like Mars and Venus, which don't support
long term plate tectonics, apparently become either greenhouse gas
hells (Venus) or arid deserts (Mars) just a few hundreds of millions
of years into their life cycles, stopping short any possibility
for long term life. Earth's orbit appears to be a very special place.
visualization is a Moore's law driven technology. The CCD detectors,
search, and signal processing algorithms all get better every year,
on a steep exponential growth curve. Cookson reports "it will
probably be a decade before astronomers can reliably detect Earth-sized
planets at the right distance from their parent star to support
the chemical processes that could give rise to life." This
is very interesting if true, and a much faster projected advance
in planet hunting technology than I'd heard before.
major current debate in astrobiology is just how inevitable is the
emergence of Earth-like conditions around Sol-type suns. If we were
to discover "life signatures" (methane and oxygen lines,
and other indicia) coming from a number of Earth-like planets in
our galactic neighborhood, this would be a major advance and empirical
confirmation that life isn't a random accident, but a developmental
likelihood throughout the universe. Let me go on record predicting
that, in fact, will happen, and that in turn would greatly increase
scientific interest in "developmental" models of universal
complexity, including those that appear tuned to support accelerating
change, as Carl Sagan famously observed in his
metaphor of the "Cosmic
Calendar." Improving our planet hunting technologies seems
to me to be a very valuable priority for our space programs in coming
years. Thanks to Alvis Brigis for the scan hit.
Sleuth: Digital imaging is set to enhance crime investigation. But
how will courts judge the technology?, Lydia Dotto, Toronto
Star, 23 August 2004 (5 pages)
by John Smart] The better they get, these kinds
of 2D-pictures-to-3D-model tools are going to be used in a host
of applications, such as real estate, tourism, architecture, city
design, and a range of educational, work, and social virtual worlds
based on real places. One of the most exciting things about the
virtual crime scene is the ability to bring in scores of forensic
subspecialists to visit the typical crime scene. Such expertise
is simply unaffordable in many of today's investigations. For the
future, imagine the mapping of older crime scenes to re-visit unsolved
investigations as well...
storage space accelerates, the next level of application might be
the creation of continuously updating 3D models of publicly "transparent"
physical spaces. Imagine a "Transparent Space" logo and
electronic notification protocol emerging, signaling the cyber-public
nature of the space to anyone who enters it. New privacy laws will
be needed if (when?) this occurs. Thanks
to Iveta Brigis for the article.
Amazon's Search Portal, Goes Live: Reverberations Felt in Valley,
John Battelle's Searchblog, 14 April, 2004
by Jerry Paffendorf]. For those who haven't yet
seen this, Amazon made a leadership move in the search space back
in April, unveiling a beta version of their new free internet search
portal, A9. A9, a new Amazon subsidiary started in October 2003
(based in Palo Alto for strategic partnership with Google), uses
a licenced Google search engine as its base, and adds a number of
These include the ability to search inside print-books from Amazon’s
library, a search and site visitation history, a diary function
for taking notes, the ability to rate a site and view others’
ratings through Amazon.com (building on Amazon's expertise in collaborative
filtering AI), instant access to information such as “People
Who Visit This Site Also Visit…” and stats like the
number of hits a site receives (through Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon)
in addition to other novelties designed to integrate A9’s
search (err...Google's search?) with Amazon’s massive inventory.
Much of the
uncertainty over A9's potential draw is centered around whether
it offers enough added functionality to cause users to switch over
from Google. Personally I can say that for the time-being I have
both the Google and A9 toolbars at the top of my screen and I use
them both for different things (for example I like A9’s site
info button for quickly seeing which sites are connected by traffic
to which). Since the A9 search is powered by Google, it will be
interesting to see how popular it becomes with Google users. Judging
by the types of things I’m seeing said online about A9, even
though it’s got some useful features, it might take a while
to change people’s search habits—especially since we’re
all so in love with that yummy old vanilla Google.
Look out for
Gmail-style privacy concerns as users wonder exactly what Amazon
will be doing with all that personalized search information. Other
catches include having to log in through your Amazon account if
you want access to all the tools, and (at least for now) always
searching in safe mode. Read the Amazon.com
user reviews of A9. Ready to scale up your search?
free A9 Toolbar. If you want to use a A9 with the search histories
removed, they also offer http://generic.a9.com.
That's a nice option, but Generic A9 will likely be a pretty unpopular
choice in our increasingly transparent society.
1.2 Review, About.com, Heinz Tschabitscher
you use MS Outlook for your email, as most of us do, and don't yet
have a hard disk indexer, try the Lookout
plug-in. Lookout is a free hard disk indexer, similar to X1.
The company was just acquired by Microsoft, so expect to see this
excellent tool in future versions of outlook. Outlook's email search
today is painfully slow, but Lookout indexes all your emails in
the background, so the search table is pre-generated. What took
minutes to find before now takes seconds. Unlike the $99
X1, email attachment indexing doesn't work very well in Lookout
(they turn it off by default). And there si no tool to help you
build complex search strings yet (you'll have to brave them yourself).
But otherwise, this thing rocks. Enjoy! Thanks to Peter
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