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 technolgy 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.
John Smart is a developmental systems theorist who studies accelerating change, computational autonomy, and a topic known in futurist circles as the technological singularity. He is president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, a nonprofit community for research, education, consulting, and selected advocacy of communities and technologies of accelerating change.
John has a B.S. in Business from the Haas School at U.C. Berkeley and seven years of coursework in biological, medical, cognitive, computer and physical science at UCLA, Berkeley, and UCSD. He is the author of Planning A Life In Medicine, 2005, for premedical students. He's currently completing an M.S. in Future Studies at U. Houston and writing his second book, on the topic of accelerating change
This free podcast is from our Accelerating Change series.