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Publications - John Smart (futurist)

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Accelerating Times:
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When You're Serious about the Future

Analysis, informed speculation, and agendas for action in understanding and guiding accelerating change
Universal, Global, Societal, Organizational, and Personal systems of change
Science, Tech, Environmental, Economic, Political, and Social dialogs
A multidisciplinary, Big Picture overview of global technological acceleration, universal evolutionary development, and the range of forces and choices ahead.
Considering the implications, choices, and challenges of continued asymptotic growth in local computation, which if unchecked implies a coming technological singularity

Editor: John Smart. To subscribe (Free)

Accelerating Times (ATimes) is a multidisciplinary, systems science exploration of the Big Picture of universal evolutionary development, technological acceleration, and technology foresight. Let us know what you think. Newsletter is presently on hiatus as I'm focusing on my book. (Archive).


Audio

Acceleration, Convergence, and Human Destiny - Part 1 (90 mins) and Part 2 (90 mins) (or right click and "save link as" for Part 1 mp3 and Part 2 mp3), John Smart, 2009. This was the last episode of a ten-part The World Transformed series on Fast Forward Radio, produced by futurists Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon of The Speculist. We discuss accelerating change, convergence, unrealistic 'flying car' futures, the conversational interface, biologically inspired computing, the evo devo universe hypothesis, inner space, the transcension hypothesis, the Fermi Paradox, and black holes, among other things. Lots to consider here for big picture thinkers. Let us know your thoughts.

Six Developments in Accelerating Change, WBAI Radio, Arnell Dowret interviewing John Smart, 2009 (29 mins)
A fast moving interview with some thoughts on Global Transparency, the Humbot, the Conversational Interface, the Metaverse, the Cybertwin, and the Valuecosm. Just a few of many big developmental changes that seem to lie directly ahead of us.

How to Be a Tech Futurist, 2005 (67 mins)
"John Smart's talk is a perfect introduction to what he calls the infopomorphic paradigm - a way of understanding ourselves and the universe in terms of information theory. He examines the increasing efficiency and density of physical-computational systems to show that we can continue to expect what Carver Mead has called our “unreasonably efficient” advances in the microcosm, such as the recent production advance in carbon nanoribbons. Smart proposes that the very structure of our universe appears organized to drive accelerating discovery and computation in the microcosm at a rate many orders of magnitude faster than in any other domain. This microcosmic acceleration is enabling developments in intelligent agents and interfaces, immune systems, transparency, accountabilty, and an emerging computational dimension to our social space. Smart expects this will dramatically improve the quality of human life, even as it brings new potential for misuse and abuse in its early years. He discusses the importance of balancing both accelerating innovation and sustainable development in the history of human civilization and makes the case for a lot more research into apparent developmental trends. Why? They make us more accurate forecasters and agents of change, as well as being verifiable propositions about our future. If you have any plans to formalize your study of the future of technology then Smart's talk is essential. Not only does he provide an overview of the courses currently available within the US but he also highlights the benefits of acquiring a qualification in this area." A recording of my talk at Accelerating Change 2005. Free download courtesy of Doug Kaye at IT Conversations.

Simulation, Agents, & Accelerating Change: Personality Capture & the Linguistic User Interface, 2004 (70 mins)
Big picture discussion of human society as an evolutionary developmental system, and multidisciplinary trajectories in social and technological change. This somewhat rambling and sometimes-too-abbreviated presentation (sorry, but I was quite tired) concludes with a brief intro to digital twins, personality capture, and the conversational (linguistic) user interface, perhaps the next major paradigm shift in information and communications technologies (ICT). While we can see evidence for this emergence even today, I think the major phase change will occur circa 2020-2040. The actual time to transition and its quality seems to be entirely our collective choice. A recording of my talk at Accelerating Change 2004. Free download courtesy of Doug Kaye at IT Conversations.

Understanding the Singularity: Exploring Meta-Trends in Accelerating Change, 2002 (68 mins)

A wide-ranging, speculative romp through a number of issues that may be relevant to accelerating change here on Earth. From an introductory talk at WorldFuture 2002 (Philadelphia, PA). It is a pretty rough piece. To try to provide clarity I recorded a few additional bits of audio in postproduction. That makes it even harder to listen to, as there are now two vocal styles (sorry). Nevertheless, Understanding the Singularity does provide a brief, Big Picture overview of important issues, predictions, and scenarios in accelerating technological change. I expect to update it eventually. In the meantime, some may find it useful. Each track may be individually downloaded as MP3's from the links below.

 

Track Titles:

T1. Intro to Accelerating Change (12:17)
T2. Linguistic (Conversational) User Interface (10:00)
T3. Chaisson's Phi (8:46)
T4. Immunity and STEM (formerly, MEST) Compression (9:30)
T5. Evolution vs. Development (7:06)
T6. Smolin's Black Hole Attractor (11:19)
T7. Uploading, Conclusions (9:56)

 

 

 

Illustration by Brannon Wright Design.


Video

Evo Devo Universe? Part 1 (55 mins). Evo Devo Universe? Part 2 (52 mins), Bay Area Future Salon, 2009
Videos from a presentation, with interactive Q&A, on three interesting and potentially very useful ways of thinking about predictability and unpredictability in the universe, and the possible meaning and implications of accelerating change for human culture: The Informational Physical Universe (IPU) hypothesis, the Evo Devo Universe (EDU) hypothesis, and the Developmental Singularity (DS) hypothesis. It begins with an intro to some of the fascinating developmental futures we seem to be facing as a species in coming decades, then introduces the first two of these three hypotheses. The third and most speculative topic, the DS hypothesis, was not discussed due to time limitations, but is covered in the presentation slides.

Foresight Development in a World of Accelerating Change, Mendoza Coll. of Business, U. of Notre Dame, 2009 (1 hr, 27 mins) (Video, Slides, Summary)
A talk for MBAs and undergraduate business majors. Strategies for maximizing American innovation, learning, and sustainability in a world of accelerating technological change. Touches on the rising importance of good corporate regulation, as corporations have become the dominant economic entities since the mid-20th century. Introduces the idea that technical productivity (TP) is far more important to measure and increase annually than such weak proxies for true wealth as dollar flows and GDP (gross domestic product). Scientific and technological capacity, not money, are our species primary wealth and survival assets. While important, and important to regulate well, our entire monetary economy is a secondary value market, and should be understood as such. How we grow our national and global TP is the primary and most important game we play as a species, whether we consciously recognize it or not.

Speaking to the Web, SIAI Video Interview (and Print Transcript), 2007 (18 min)
Informal interview. “What I think is going to happen somewhere around 2019 is every kid in the world is going to have a cell phone, because they are going to be dirt cheap by then. Every kid in the world is going to learn as fast as their curiosity drives them, just talking to Google.” “We already know we have maybe five billion years more and then the earth is going to get heated up by an expanding red giant sun. Intelligence has got to leave earth. Most futurists currently think it is going into outer space. I think that’s 180 degrees wrong. I think we are going into inner space.”

Universal Accelerating Change and Evo Devo, Good Ancestors Workshop, Uplift Academy, 2007 (40 min)
A brief introduction to the interesting topics of universal accelerating change, universal evolution (possible, reversible, choice-based change), and universal development (probable, irreversible, constraint-based change), and some of our individual, organizational, and social behavioral and policy opportunities when we recognize both the beneficial developmental processes and unpredictable evolutionary choices in front of us.

Systems Theories of Accelerating Change (and Print Transcript), John Smart, Singularity Summit 2006 (20 min)
Presentation with slides. "In 2006, Smart presented the talk “Systems Theories of Accelerating Change” at the Singularity Summit at Stanford. There he looked at accelerating change from universal, biological, human cultural, and technological perspectives, and introduced a few well known and unorthodox ideas in acceleration mechanics."

The Ultimate Matrix Collection, 2004.
This DVD set ($60 at Amazon) contains two freewheeling 60-minute documentaries discussing philosophy (Return to Source: Philosophy and the Matrix) and science and technology futures (The Hard Problem: The Science Behind the Fiction). I briefly discuss accelerating change and dematerialization on the second documentary.


Books

Humanity 3000 Seminar 4 Proceedings, John Smart, 2003 (PDF, 350 pages)
Recently-released transcript of the fourth Humanity 3000 event at the Foundation for the Future, Bellevue, WA. Every few years the foundation invites multidisciplinarians to discuss and debate big picture issues for the long term future of humanity in three time frames (25 years, a challenging 250 years, and a truly humbling 1,000 years). Seminar 4 involved Dan Barker, Don Beck, Charlie Brass, Angela Close, Carl Coon, Peter Corning, Paul Davies, Russell Genet, John Hartung, Ronald Moore, Adriana Ocampo, Gary Schwartz, Seung-Schik Yoo, and myself, facilitated by Sesh Velamoor, Walter Kistler, Bob Citron, and other members and observers at the Foundation. I made a case for the importance and challenges of adapting to accelerating technological change.


Slide Presentations

See ASF's slide presentations archive.


Articles

See ASF's articles archive.


Interviews

Interview with John Smart, June 2005. (AACC, Institute for the Future, 3 pages. Question by Stephen Steele).
A brief outline of accelerating change, and a few implications for 21st century humans.

Interview with John Smart, April 2004. (USN&WR, Next News, 2 pages. Questions by Jim Pethokoukis).
A brief chat about some of the big changes coming our way, and others not coming our way.

Interview with John Smart, Nov, 2003. (See also: Speculist.com, 40 pages. Questions by Phil Bowermaster).
Speculative futurism on national priorities, systems theory, MEST compression, inner space, the limits of biotechnology, and issues in technological development. Even discusses when you'll get your flying car. Don't hold your breath!.

Interview with John Smart, Aug, 2001. (Nanomagazine.com, 10 pages. Questions by Sander Olsen).
Quite speculative futurism on various topics still-neglected but centrally important to the coming transition: autonomous technology, immune systems, nanotechnology and the developmental singularity hypothesis.


Future Short Stories

Future Heroes 2035: My Friends and I, John Smart.
High school students in the CUI era. Illustrated future scenario for teens. This was quite popular with the focus groups. Published in Futuristics: Looking Ahead, Vol. 1 of Tackling Tomorrow Today, Art Shostak, Ed., 2004.

Future Heroes 2035: The Big Picture, John Smart.
Post-singularity futurism: inner space, accelerating change and the big picture. This is a bit harder for some teens to grok, but has some potentially valuable longer term ideas. Published in Moving Along: Far Ahead, Vol. 4 of Tackling Tomorrow Today, Art Shostak, Ed., 2004.


Developmental Futures Scenarios

Underground Automated Highway Systems for High-Density Cities: A 2030-2060 Scenario
Thoughts on what I expect will be the next major urban transportation revolution, after surface-level AHS.


More Speculative Topics

The Developmental Singularity Hypothesis
An outline and early bibliography of works and themes relevant to the question of what autonomous intelligence must do after it emerges locally in coming decades. From my perspective, it appears to be moving relentlessly toward inner space, not outer space, in a process constrained by the developmental physics of the universe. Please let me know if you know other scholars who have reached similar conclusions.

Answering the Fermi Paradox: Exploring Mechanisms of Universal Transcension, June 2002. Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET), John Smart.
I first formulated a variant of the developmental singularity hypothesis in 1972, after reading Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. The central thesis is simple enough for any high school student to understand, which makes me think it just might have a chance of being correct. I've been refining it for 30 years, and finding an increasing number of systems theorists who have reached similar tentative conclusions. We at ASF look forward to scientific critique of this and other intriguing hypotheses for the future of cosmic intelligence in coming years.

Spiritual Computation: The 'Religious Galaxy'
Some thoughts on the spiritual dimensions of worldwide philosophical and religious dialog, and a suggestion that integral deism and agnostic relativism are centrally located in the phase space of spiritual belief.


Critiques or improvements? Send them to mail{at}accelerating.org. Thank you.