Accelerating Change 2004-2005
Alex Lightman wraps up the 2005 Accelerating Change Conference with a challenge to the audience. Simply put, he wants everyone to act locally to create a global impact. Taking a cue from Francis Fukuyama's assertion that one of society's most valuable resources is the number of people you know and can trust, Lightman believes that we inhabit a permissive universe that responds positively when people make definite decisions to act.
Accelerating change and the power of openness are the themes tying together this breathtaking exchange of provocative and entertaining ideas from two creative minds. Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Blake Ross of Mozilla Firefox fame share the perspectives of a venture capitalist and a pioneering internet developer to explore innovation and the future at the intersection of evolution, computation, artificial intelligence, network effects and open source.
The Metaverse: the social, media-rich, 3-dimensional Web. In this panel at Accelerating Change 2005, entitled "Building the Metaverse", two examples of the emerging Metaverse are demonstrated. Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, shows off Second Life and David Alan Smith, creator of "The Colony", demonstrates the Croquet project. What emerges are two similarly powerful interactive systems that are allowing people to interact and be creative together in ways never before possible. As computation spreads ever deeper into our lives, we will all increasingly live in the Metaverse. When you can build the ideal world, what do you build?
The US Patent System no longer functions in the way that it was intended. Obvious and trival patents have been granted, even in some cases where there is an existing product and the idea is not new. Beth Noveck has more modern ideas that leverage powerful existing technologies like collaborative filtering to reinvent this overwhelmed system. Using a peer-to-peer system of experts in a given field, the US Patent Office could elminate many of the road-blocks holding up the current system and also grant fewer specious or duplicate patents.
In this Intelligence Amplification Panel, Ruzena Bajcsy, Dr. Shun-Jie Ji, Janardhan Chodagam, and Robin Raskin discuss how accelerating technology can be applied to education. Can we incorporate 3D object mapping to share rare artifacts, while encouraging the young to think about the long-term future? Can using meditation to study our own thought processes lead to artificial intelligence amplification? Maybe we're moving too fast, and the introduction of our increasingly powerful tools to the inexperienced youth is detrimental to their long-term development.
The China Project offers a rare opportunity to study disease in a precise manner because of the unique conditions that exist in rural China. For example, about 90% of the people in rural China live their entire lives in the vicinity of their birth. They also consume diets composed primarily of locally produced foods. These factors make rural China a living laboratory for the study of the complex relationship between nutrition and other lifestyle factors and degenerative diseases.
Dr. Daniel Amen has been using brain imaging in clinical practice for the past fourteen years. His clinics now have the world's largest database of brain scans related to behavior. The work has given him many insights on better ways to improve patient care and prevent illnesses that are so expensive to our society. In this entertaining keynote from Accelerating Change 2005, Dr. Amen shares the lessons he has learned from imaging, the roadblocks to further progress, and ways to use this technology to benefit society in general.
How does the neocortex work so well? Can we build models of it to create a new class of computer applications? Dileep George has capitalized on new theory about the neocortex and created enough formalism around it to build working technology and a company to commercialize these concepts.
Changes in technology and in how information is shared both further and faster are transforming how organizations operate. Thomas Malone, of the MIT Sloan School of Management, shows how the changes in organizational structure mirror changes in how human society has organized and operated. His presentation illustrates that these changes can be primarily tied by a single factor, the cost of communication, and he presents present-day examples to show what the organization of the future may look like.
John Smart's energetic presentation is an exhaustive look at both the current state of futurist studies and the way technology is changing how we react to the planet we inhabit. This is a talk to be listened to with pencil in hand, ready to make notes as Smart bombards us with facts and theories in a bravura performance that is by turns stimulating, thought-provoking, and awe-inspiring.