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Strategic Insights in Accelerating Technological Change

31 May, 2005
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AC2005 Speaker Lineup
will feature 40+ world-class speakers and 350+ distinguished attendees discussing the increasing intelligence of machines (artificial intelligence or AI), the evolving effectiveness of technology-aided humans (intelligence amplification or IA), and how these two powerful trends are shaping our future.

So far, our world-renowned speakers include: mathematician and science fiction author Vernor Vinge, inventor and author Ray Kurzweil, author and editor-at-large of CNET Networks Esther Dyson, biophysicist and complexity science author Harold Morowitz, iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale, president of DEVONtechnologies (creators of DevonThink), Eric Boehnisch-Volkmann, co-creator of Mozilla Firefox, Blake Ross, AI leaders David Fogel and Robert Hecht-Nielsen, Berkeley CITRIS director Ruzena Bajcsy, nutritional scientist and author of the ground-breaking China Study T. Colin Campbell, venture capitalist and polymath Steve Jurvetson, and special host Moira Gunn of TechNation. See the complete list of speakers confirmed to date.

Spaces are filling quickly, so sign up now with your Accelerating Times discount code (AC2005-ATIMES, entered in all capital letters) and get $50 off! This special $350 post-discount conference rate will be available to ATimes readers until June 30th.

ASF is Hiring!
As our executive director Iveta Brigis starts her UC Irvine MBA program this fall, ASF will be hiring a new ED to start with us this August. We are looking for someone
organized, growth oriented, a team leader with good people skills, and passionate about building a network of individuals committed to positive transformative change. Pay commensurate with nonprofit or business experience, with a $24,000 base and an equivalent amount (or more) of performance bonus. Relocation to Los Angeles, at least for the first year would be preferred. Know anyone who would be a great fit for our service mission? Interested yourself?
Please inquire with ivetabrigis(at)accelerating(dot)org.

New AC2004 Audio
Visionary Doug Engelbart's keynote talk "Large Scale Collective IQ" and Peter Thiel's excellent presentation "Virtual Money" are now available as a podcast (streaming or download) courtesy of Doug Kaye at our media partner, IT Conversations. You can regularly check the free AC2004 audio archive at IT Conversations, or register for email notification of new postings.

PUSH Conference
PUSH 2005: The Geography of Change, June 12-14, Minneapolis MN. This well-regarded independent futures conference nicely complements Accelerating Change. PUSH is devoted to "
identifying issues of consequence, exploring them with some of the greatest minds we can find, and helping to shape the questions that matter most. No bullet points. No 'how-to's. Just an elite level of conversation you won't find anywhere else." The PUSH audience is "350 leading strategists, innovators and futurists from business, academia and the arts; people who not only want to be a part of what comes next, but who will be the architects of the business, economic, political and artistic landscape 20 years from now and beyond." Cecily Sommers, founder of PUSH, will be an emcee at Accelerating Change 2005. We hope you can join their conversation this June.

"In a time of change, it is learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves well equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." — Eric Hoffer

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than those you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Give yourself away to the sea of life." Mark Twain

Resources and Tools

Google Web Accelerator (Beta Release, Presently Suspended)
[Commentary by John Smart] The ever-innovative Google Labs has just released a great tool for accelerating web surfing for broadband users. Like Mozilla Firefox, and AvantGo for PDA users, Google is trying to jumpstart a new paradigm of browsing and downloading that involves the anticipation of user habits. It prefetches websites you typically use, and as you click your way through the web it tallies how much time you have saved as a result of the prefetching, continually tuning up its process. Some heavy computer users using the beta are finding they save about an hour a week of waiting for the computer to respond. Presumably, background prefetching doesn't slow your regular computer use, or the "time saved" wouldn't be accurate.

Unfortunately, version 1.0 causes problems with some web apps and some interactive websites such as forums (you should manually turn it off for the forums you use) so they've taken the download off their website, for now. You can follow the situation at Google Labs - Web Accelerator forum, where you might be able to snag a copy from a current user. Good luck in acceleration space! With luck we'll all join you there soon enough.

VR3 Auto MP3 Player: Podcasting on a Beer Budget

[JS] Would you like to listen to those great Accelerating Change 2004 audiocasts in your car? How about all the other excellent talks you can download at our media partner, IT Conversations? If you are waiting for an iPod with a faster and friendlier user interface (like me) or just don't want to spend the $300, now you can get MP3 audio in your car for just $30 with the VR3. With a good capacity keychain flash drive (500MB costs just $45), you can load up lots of great audio for your car (500 MB = 8 hours of audio files, or 16 half-hour programs). Already own a key drive? You are more than halfway there. Plug you keychain drive into your computer's USB port, copy over the downloaded files you want to listen to, and plug the drive into your VR3, which sits in your car's cigarette lighter port. The VR3 plays through your car's FM Tuner and is grounded, so the audio quality is as good as your car stereo.

With luck, we'll see tomorrow's iPod and Cellevision converge with our next gen mobile phones just a few years hence. In the meantime, this is an excellent entry-level option for listening to the IT future. Thanks to Scott Lemon.

The Acceleration Story in Five Spaces

ATimes covers world news and insight in five "spaces," giving one to three briefs in each space. The story of accelerating change, the most fascinating story of our time, appears to be one of movement from outer, to human, to inner, to cyber, and ultimately, to hyper space, the world beyond the present. Each of these deserves understanding for a multidisciplinary perspective on the future:

Outer Space (the world around us: science, the natural and built environment, universal systems theory)
Human Space (the human world: our bodies, behavior, minds, human systems theory)
Inner Space (the world below: energy, small tech, computer "bodies", inner systems theory)
Cyber Space (the virtual world: computer "behavior", computer "minds", cyber systems theory)
Hyper Space (the world beyond: new paradigms, phase transitions, hyperphysics, hyper systems theory)

If you have important stories to share with our 3,100 acceleration-aware readers, we'd love to hear from you

Outer Space
science (biology, chemistry, geology, physics, research), the natural and built environment, universal systems theory (developmental physics, hierarchical substrates)

Underground Automated Highway Systems (UAHS): A Framework Forecast for Post-2030 Urban Transportation, John Smart, 2005 (10 page PDF)
[JS] This framework document (a forecasting tool) outlines what I think is the most likely long-term future of urban transportation. It projects continued improvement and expected convergence of several enabling technologies, including tunnel boring systems, automated highway systems, and zero emission vehicle systems, and their superior efficiencies, safety, and public desirability over competing high capacity transportation options, such as aerial systems.

I propose the urban environment of our planet's wealthier megacities will easily support at least an order of magnitude of greater transportation and population densities by the mid 21st century, using UAHS. While we may see more population growth in secondary cities, tomorrow's greatest cities will be very interesting places to live, with amazing new social, economic, and technological opportunities.

Human Space
bodies (biology, health, neuroscience), behavior (business, education, foresight, governance, innovation, pre-digital technology, society), minds (psychology, spirituality), human systems theory (ecological psychology, memetics)

2020 Visions: Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies
, September 17, 2002 (85 page PDF)
[Commentary by Iveta Brigis] In 2002, the Departments of Commerce (Technology sub-department) and Education joined together to publish this compendium of scenarios for education in the year 2020. A number of experts, including Microsoft head honcho Bill Gates, worldwide bestselling game designer and AC2004 speaker Will Wright, futurist Chris Dede, and UC Berkeley CITRIS director Ruzena Bajcsy (AC2005 speaker) contributed their visions of how technology will shape and redefine education as we know it today.

The publication of such a report asserts what many of us already believe and frequently talk about: that both US and global education are not effectively teaching society how to thrive in a world of accelerating technological change. Many educators, technologists, policymakers, parents, and especially children would agree that technology has the ability to provide new tools that could revolutionize how and what is taught in schools all around the world.

In this report, Dr. Rod Paige, US Secretary of Education, puts it bluntly: “Indeed, education is the only business still debating the usefulness of technology. Schools remain unchanged for the most part despite numerous reforms and increased investments in computers and networks. The way we organize schools and provide instruction is ssentially the same as it was when our Founding Fathers went to school. Put another way, we still educate our students based on an agricultural timetable, in an industrial setting, yet tell students they live in a digital age.”

The first step to fixing something is identifying the problem, and then we must come up with plausible solutions. This publication is a great resource for anyone who is interested in understanding and shaping the future of global educational technologies. I applaud the Departments of Commerce and Education for putting together such an honest, foresighted, and relevant document.

On a side note, Standard & Poor's has developed a new free public service, School Matters, that compares the performance of US public schools in your area. It mainly looks at performance on standardized tests, so it has limited usefulness, but it's a step toward greater educational accountability.

Inner Space
energy, small tech (nanoengineering, miniaturization), computer "bodies" (automation, computer hardware, nanotech, robotics), inner systems theory (acceleration, efficiency, miniaturization, reductionism)

Toshiba's 'Nanobattery' Recharges in Only One Minute,, March 29, 2005
Practical Nanotechnology: Toshiba's Li-Ion Battery Advance,
, , 2005
[JS] Wow! Here is an exciting and practical battery advance that will make hybrid and electric autos and all our consumer electronics a lot more usable very soon. On March 29th the very R&D- and future-oriented Toshiba Corporation announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology. By using a new nano-material that better stabilizes lithium ions in liquid electrolyte while providing much more surface area for their flow, Toshiba engineers have figured out how to recharge Li-Ion batteries sixty times faster than their present rates!

This is the kind of jaw-dropping efficiency improvement we have come to expect from the nanocosm. Toshiba's new battery is 80% recharged only sixty seconds after plugging in, and 100% recharged in less than 10 minutes. By improving ion flow they have also greatly improved cycle performance: the battery loses only 1% of its capacity after 1,000 cycles, vs. 30% or more for typical Li-Ion batteries (many of us buy new batteries for our portable devices after only 500-800 real-world cycles). It also performs much better in extreme temperature ranges (it works at 80% of its capacity at minus 40 degrees, and 95% at a sweltering 113 degrees). Toshiba plans to commercialize this in 2006, starting in the automotive and industrial sectors.

As Motley Fool "Rule Breaker" advisors Carl Wherrett and John Yelovich note, the new Toshiba breakthrough makes the similar rapid-recharge and cycle extension claims of upstart energy IPOs like Altair Nanotechnologies (Nadaq: ALTI) look significantly less monetizable. See their excellent articles (spam-generating registration required, so use your spam-collecting email address) highlighting the endless reorgs and stock-pumping shenanigans of Altair. Why can't they learn from Toshiba and act more like real innovators, with less talk and more action?

Toshiba also makes some amazing laptops, including the ultra-small Libretto, the creative Portege tablet PC, and the multi-media Qosmio. Check out their award-winning product reviews at CNet or PC Magazine if you are in the market for one. Thanks to ASF Advisor Steve Waite.

Cyber Space
computer "behavior" (co-evolution, automation, symbiosis), computer "minds" (computer software, simulation), cyber systems theory (holism, information, intelligence, interdependence, immunity)

3D Printing
DIY Rocket Launcher (from a Video Game), May 24, MAKE: Blog, posted by Phillip Torrone (original article)
[Commentary by Jerry Paffendorf]
The MAKE: Blog recently introduced its community of artful hackers to the idea of 3D printing objects from video games and virtual worlds. Picked up from Chris Anderson’s Long Tail blog via reBang where the original author, csven, writes:

The image above is a screen capture from Pro/ENGINEER CAD, perhaps the most widely used product development 3D application for design and manufacturing. That object is a piece of a virtual game object “captured” from id’s Quake 3 videogame (the barrel of a Rocket Launcher). It was not created in my CAD application. It was not ripped from the game files. I “hijacked” the data streaming to my monitor using a freely available tool. And now, if I desired, I could manipulate the data and create a real product.

Elsewhere, bloggers considered the emerging copyright issues of, say, scanning and reverse engineering the 3D construction of a car—something that “will make the RIAA copyright situation look like a little spat.”

On the topic of 3D printing, MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld recently spoke about his Fab Lab 3D prototyping initiative and his new book, Fab, at the Bay Area Future Salon. We hope to have the audio online soon, but in the meantime you can check out Neil’s talk from this year’s O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference compliments of IT Conversations.

GPS Mapping
Take That, Google: Bill Gates Struts Microsoft’s New Search Stuff, NY Times (free registration required), May 24, 2005, by John Markoff
Microsoft has joined Google in the race to build a GPS-driven platform for geographical annotation and local search (see AC2004 speaker Jon Udell’s great Google Maps screencast). We seem to be just now entering an escalating competition between the two companies to visually virtualize the planet and construct a geo-spatial Web around it (yea, that’s a neat development :-). See also my post on the Second Life Future Salon blog for a few more thoughts and resources including news of the upcoming O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference and the reBang blog’s speculation that Microsoft is building a virtual 3D world.

Hyper Space
new paradigms (including evolutionary development), phase transitions, hyperphysics (black holes, multiverse, string theory, supersymmetry), hyper systems theory (computational limits, emergence, phase transitions, technological singularity hypothesis, developmental singularity hypothesis)

Instructive Immunotherapy: The Most Promising Biotech on the Block?
[JS] Longtime ATimes readers know my perspective that biotech, in general, will give significantly less accelerating returns than infotech and nanotech going forward, due to the inherent limitations and bottom-up developed complexities of biological systems. I've explained this perspective in a few arcane articles, and will try to better clarify this position in the future.

Nevertheless, immunology stands out as an area with great potential to help humanity in coming years. The obvious great benefits are cures for cancer and infectious diseases, and better management of our comparatively rare autoimmune disease. Less obvious is that when we understand how to empower our immune sytems, we will eliminate what many futurists see as the last major threat to accelerating techno-economic globalization: the possibility of a worldwide pandemic. Whether human-engineered or naturally emergent, I suspect that no simple pathogen can resist the incredible redundant complexity of a healthy immune system, once we've primed it for the recognition and destruction of the offending virus or bacteria. By understanding how to help our immune systems work at their natural best, I believe we'll sharply limit the nature of this risk in coming decades. (Other risks, such as religious fundamentalism or even nuclear terrorism, arguably aren't in the same class as biological pandemic).

Dr. David Baltimore, professor of biology and president of Caltech, and Dr. Lili Yang, a postdoc in Dr. Baltimore's lab, have recently managed to train an immune system to entirely eliminate large solid tumors in mice. That is a very difficult and valuable trick. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. In 1950, our global average life expectancy was about 40 years old. By 2000, that figure had risen to 62. As our planetary life expectancies have increased worldwide, cancer has become a major killer in emerging nations as well.

As Dr. Yang says: "We have combined three leading edge technologies, [hematopoetic] stem cell therapy, gene therapy and immunotherapy, to program a mouse to develop large numbers of cells that can kill a tumor. We call the method 'instructive immunity'. It takes advantage of the longevity and self-renewal of blood stem cells. It is appropriate to human clinical application. The method can provide immunity against tumors and microbes and represents a potent new direction for T cell immunotherapy. It will also be useful for experimental studies of the immune system.”

We invited her to speak on her research at the Los Angeles Future Salon last month, and she was fantastic. Here is a blurb on her talk, and a PDF on her March 22 PNAS paper describing their work. One of their next experiments will be an attempt to eliminate human tumors transplanted into immunodeficient mice, so they are moving fast to explore the potential for human clinical application a few years hence. Instructive immunotherapy is a powerful improvement over the old strategy of adoptive immunotherapy, and is the most promising approach to cancer treatment I've seen in many years. This whole field may eventually open up a brand new paradigm for medical treatment, and I hope it gets the early funding and attention it deserves. At present this lab is the only one attempting this fantastic work. If you'd like to congratulate Dr. Yang, or send her lab a small donation, you can reach her at liyang{at}caltech{dot}edu.

We all deserve a little fun every day. Send your entries for the next ATimes!

The Up Series
[IB] This brilliant documentary series is a must see! Starting in 1963, director Michael Apted visited 15 British children of diverse backgrounds every seven years, ending in 1998 when they were all 42 years old. Apted's time-lapse movies bring us a fascinating and never-before-seen "God’s eye view" on the many faces of human development in the late 20th century. It’s very engaging to guess which child will be “successful” and how they will change over the years, to see how the fervent goals of seven-year-olds are either fulfilled or cast away, how their relationships develop, how their lives are affected by technology, and how they come to raise their own children. We bought the DVD set on eBay for $55 (it’s $80 new on Amazon) and watched the entire 6-film series in one week of evenings. Read Roger Ebert's review ("one of my top ten films of all time") or watch them with no prior knowledge, whatever works for you.

Call for Submissions
ASF is seeking submissions for our Accelerating Times (AT) web-based publication. AT is a "free and priceless" monthly to bimonthly newsletter covering scientific, technological, business, and social dialogs in accelerating change. Anyone may submit scan hits, article links, original papers, questions, reader feedback, and artwork to mail(at) Accepted work will appear, fully credited, in future issues.


AC2005 Speaker Lineup

ASF Hiring Executive Director

New AC2004 Audio

PUSH Conference


Resources and Tools

Telling the Acceleration Story... in Five Spaces


Underground Automated Highway Systems

2020 Visions for Education

Battery Technology Breakthrough!

3D Printing & Rocket Launchers

Gates v. Google, GPS Mapping

Instructive Immunotherapy Fights Cancer



Lead Sponsor

Platinum Sponsor

Gold Sponsors


Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference
June 1-3
Marina Del Rey, CA

Vernor Vinge Speaks at San Diego Future Salon

June 3
San Diego, CA

Las Vegas Future Salon
June 10
Las Vegas, NV

PUSH 2005:
The Geography of Change

June 12-14
Minneapolis, MN

Astrobiology in the Arctic:
JPL Lecture Series

June 16 & 17
Pasadena, CA

Future of Psychology:
Los Angeles Future Salon
June 17
Los Angeles, CA

Supernova 2005
June 20 - 22
San Francisco, CA

Wired NextFest
June 24 - 26
Chicago, IL

20th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence

July 9-13
Pittsburgh, PA

Thanks for telling your acceleration-aware friends.