Brief Introduction of the Accelerating Times
on January-December 2002 Newsletter; 67 pages)
When You're Serious about the Future, Advancing
Science, Technology, Business, and Humanist Agendas,
and Reporting Universal, Global, National,
Cultural, and Individual Perspectives in Accelerating
IAC's Mission and Vision Statements:
Scientific, Technological, Business, and Humanist Agendas,
and Reporting Universal,
Global, National, Cultural, and Individual Perspectives
in Accelerating Change."
Vision: An Educated,
Foresighted Lay and Professional Public that Makes Informed
Choices Today About Our Ever-Accelerating Future.
It has been one year since our last Accelerating
Cultivating a longer term perspective seems best suited
to an annual update. After all, today's best estimates
place the technological singularity at least twenty years away, and more likely sixty, in my own opinion. Nevertheless, our
SingularityWatch community has grown
to over 1,200 subscribers in over two
dozen countries, and our website now receives over 50,000 hits and 450
visitors a month. Thanks to all of you who have joined
the community. Several subscribers are now asking for
community features, and as we add those in 2003, we will
likely move to more frequent newsletters.
Five items of general interest:
||1. Our nonprofit Institute for Accelerating Change (IAC)
has been formed.
There are presently four of us (John Smart, Regina
Pancake, Troy Gardner, and Randy Davidson) on the
executive committee, ten more on the general board,
fifteen on an associates board, and a much larger
group of advisors on separate Science, Technology,
Business, and Humanist advisory boards. If you'd like
to participate this year, just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with your background and interests and we'd love to
find a place for you on the team.
chose our name after long deliberation in 2002,
to attempt to reflect the broadest constituency
of those interested in understanding and better
management of accelerating change within four main
discourses (Science, Technology, Business, and
Humanist dialogs, each given roughly equal attention),
and from five main perspectives (Universal, Global,
National/Tribal, Cultural/Family, and Individual) for our growing community. We'll be
discussing a range of models and issues in accelerating
change, including the speculative, and still quite
unproven, technological and developmental singularity paradigms.
We are building a new website at Accelerating.org, to debut before June 2003, where you'll be able to take part in
some useful collaborative features. We have great hopes
for the future of our organization, as more and more of
us begin to research, analyze, speculate about, and develop
action plans around the singularity meme in coming years.
The outline of Accelerating Times has been revamped to fit more closely
with our mission, as you'll see below. More will be available
at the coming Accelerating.org website.
2. "Understanding the Singularity,"
our First Audio CD, is Now Available
Accelerating Productions, our new production house for audio, video,
and textual media exploring our accelerating future, has
created its first product, a 72 minute audio CD, "Understanding
the Singularity: Exploring Meta-Trends in Accelerating
Change." It is an adaptation of my very well received
June 2002 talk at the World Future Society in Philadelphia.
(For more info: john@SingularityWatch.com)
3. Our First Annual Conference in July,
IAC and the Foundation for Research in
will be putting on our first Accelerating
Change Conference (ACC), Thursday-Friday, July
17-18, 2003, Tressider Union, Stanford University, Palo
This conference will be held the two days
prior to the 2003 annual conference of the World
Future Society, so that you may easily attend both conferences if that is of interest.
We will have between 28 and 43 speakers (final numbers
and speaker platform still pending) representing a broad
range of scientific, technological, business, and humanist
agendas. All speakers have published incisive works
on accelerating change. It should be quite informative, even transformative.
Speaker details will be posted at the
site above, beginning in February. We hope to see many
of you at this important community event!
4. Future Studies in Academia
I attended the U. of Houston Future
Studies M.S. program. Future Studies explores long-term change using mostly qualitative tools,
such as Scenario Planning, and a few quantitative ones, such as
While there are trend-extrapolation academic programs
that train professionals to think on 3-year,
and occasionally even 10-year horizons, such as Strategic Planning in Business, or Science and Technology
Studies (e.g., RAND graduate school), Future
Studies is unique in that it also looks at a time horizon
of 10 to 30 years into the future,
where scenarios must necessarily include discontinuities
or "wild cards" of various types.
students (e.g., those that anticipate the continuation
of our history of double exponential growth in computation,
not as a belief system but as a conditional and best current
model of the future), time horizons much beyond twenty
years must centrally include the effect of increasingly
autonomous technology and eventually, emergent AI (the
technological singularity) on the human environment.
this developmental progression is missing from most current
futurist scenarios, which are, as Kurzweil would say,
using intuitive linear rather than historically exponential
models in their assessment of computation.
are four major types of future studies in the field:
Future Studies ("Possible" Futures)
- Examples: Science fiction, speculative literature, utopian
2. Consensus Future Studies ("World's Preferred" Futures)
- Examples: UN projects, community visioning,
Future Studies ("Institutionally Preferred"
- Examples: Any self-interested organization's long range, strategic
goals and plan.
Future Studies ("Probable" or "Inevitable"
Examples: Any specific, falsifiable predictions about future conditions.
Predictive Future Studies, the smallest and least developed of
the above four, involves those attempts that have been
made to generate falsifiable quantitative and qualitative
predictions about a special subset of evolutionarily
or developmentally inevitable
future events. Heading the list of such events, for still
poorly understood reasons, are accelerating trends in
computational power and autonomy.
the M.S. in Future Studies this Summer, and subsequently
plan to begin a Ph.D. program in Science and Technology
Studies (STS). If you are considering gaining a
formal education in this domain, check our SingularityWatch site for a comparison between the fields of Future Studies and Science and Technology Studies for
singularity researchers. We also list fifteen top U.S.
and International programs for PhD work in Singularity
5. New Accelerating Times Outline.
We've developed a new outline, to fit more closely with the
IAC mission. We now focus
on seven main sections, subdivided into thirty-one categories█a
Baskin-Robbins approach to Future Studies. J We begin with Community Interest and Selected Information Feeds, then move to what we
consider to be the five
main futures perspectives of the pre-singularity era.
I. Universal Dialog (Science and Technology)
(Note: Sci-tech developments are primarily universal, not local issues, within the developmental
II. Global Dialog (World Governance, Globalization, and Environment),
III. National Dialog (Politics and Economy),
IV. Cultural Dialog (Social Psychology and Culture),
V. Individual Dialog (Vitality, Creativity,
(Note: We tentatively classify spirituality as primarily an individual (and secondarily a cultural) dialog,
though it periodically converges on universality and reunification with science.)
Aside: You may suspect, as several of us do,
that sexually dimorphic humanoid life forms (e.g., us) are a convergent developmental
attractor for complex multicellular-based life,
and that complex multicellular life is itself as
inevitable as complex organic chemistry in the universe.
You may further suspect that evolutionary development
would mandate some necessary, power law multiplicity,
not only of universes (in the multiverse) and planets
(in the universe), but also of tribes, reproductive
families, and individuals on any planet.
These are still quite thinly supported speculations
in astrobiology at this point. Nevertheless, if
proven true, it is interesting to contemplate that
these five perspectives (Universe, Planet,
Tribe/Nation, Family/Culture, and Individual would
each be unique hierarchical computational levels
in all life-supporting environments within
the universe. Such a state of affairs would make
the pentad classification system we
have chosen above particularly useful for a multidisciplinary
dialog on accelerating change.