Global Grand Challenges:
Strategic Vision, Self-Knowledge, Tools and Network
Singularity University
June 2012  Mountain View, CA
John Smart, President,
Acceleration Studies Foundation
[email protected]
Slides: accelerating.org/slides
Strategic Vision
What Grand Challenges Motivate You?
Strategic Vision:
What’s Your Theory of Change? Of Progress?
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Good foresight relies on theories and hypotheses of change.
Good theories of change include values, and an idea of progress.
I co-founded a community of scholars study complex systems from a
combination of evolutionary variation, adaptive selection, and
developmental optimization approaches. More at:
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New York
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EvoDevoUniverse.com
Bury, 1920
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Evolution, Computation, and Development:
Three Drivers and Two Patterns Found in All Complex Systems
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
Utility
Computation/
Adaptation/Selection
Partial predictability/optimization
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
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“Trees”
“Funnels”
Diversifying, Local
Unifying, Universal
Chance
Necessity
Evolution
Unpredictable/
Not optimized
Development
Predictable/
Optimized
Science and Human Values, Bronowski, 1965, Trialogue
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Gould, 2002, p. 1052
The Plausibility of Life, Kirschner & Gerhart, 2005, p. 219
Evo Devo Universe?, Smart, 2008, p. 18
What Technology Wants, Kelly, 2010, p. 123
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Freedom, Intelligence, and Security:
Three Values of Social Progress
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
Three Intelligence Singularities:
The Universe, Life, and Minds
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Is the Universe a type of computer?
It sure looks like one.
Are organisms a type of computer?
They compute at the gene and cell level.
Is the human mind a type of Computer?
Yep.
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Palo Alto
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Are You Your Connectome?
Brainpreservation.org
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Cryonics (since 1967)
Plastination (1930+)
Formalin (1880+)
$90,000 per person
$20,000 per person?
$3,000 per person?
Brain Preservation Technology Prize - $120K
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
• Do any of these three techniques perfectly preserve the connectome?
• Can we radically lower the cost of saving memories and identities?
• If so, will this service have positive global social effects?
Developmental Funnels (Universal Attractors)
Are Scarce, and the Hardest to See and Prove
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
In Chemistry:
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Carbon (“organic”) chemistry (vs. silicon, boron, etc.) for life
Amino acids, purines, pyrimidines, pre-lipids as cell precursors
RNA as enzyme and code for protein architectures
In Biology:
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Universal pattern modules in multicellularity
Antifreeze molecules in northern and southern polar fish
Eyes, body plans, limbs, joints, wings, fins, emotions
Bilateral symmetry, binocular vision, tetrapod form
Placental vs. marsupial mice, moles, rabbits, wolves, tigers, etc.
Prehensile limbs, opposable thumbs, anthropoids
In Society:
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Mimicry memetics (languages) behavioral → gestural → oral → written
Moral codes, property, capitalism, rights, democracy, conflict control
In Technology:
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New York
Palo Alto
Neolithic tools (rock, club, spear). Later: lever, rope, wheel, pulley
Metallurgy, chemistry, electronics, internal combustion engines,
Math, science, computers, internet, cell phones… Next?
Convergent Evolution, 2011; Better Angels of Our Nature, 2011; What Technology Wants, 2010
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Innovation, Learning, and Protecting:
Three Basic Leadership Challenges
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
In this model, we can assess any person, org, or system as either:
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1. A Learning (“Adaptive”) System (hiding evo and devo processes)
2. A Protecting & Innovating (“Sustainable Innovation”) System (hiding #1)
3. An Innovating, Learning and Protecting System (keeping all three explicit)
Evo Devo Universe?, Smart, 2008, p. 10
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Ten Areas of Technological Change
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
Newest “Steerer” of Accelerating Change:
1. Information Technologies
Newest “Engine” of Accelerating Change:
2. Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies
Human Intelligence Technologies:
3. Resource Technologies
4. Engineering Technologies
5. Health Technologies
6. Social Technologies
7. Cognitive Technologies
8. Economic Technologies
9. Political Technologies
10. Security Technologies
Ten Areas of Technological Change (and 30 Books For Further Reading), Smart, 2012
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Acknowledging the Strongest Levers:
Infotech and Nanotech
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Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
"Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum,
and place to stand and I will move the world."
- Archimedes of Syracuse, 287-212 BCE
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Palo Alto
© 2012 Accelerating.org
The “Race to Inner Space:”
The New Steerer and Engine of Accelerating Change
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Infotech/Simulation - Virtual Inner Space – “Steerer”
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“As Intelligence Rises, Thinking Becomes More Adaptive Than Acting”
Adult humans no longer act in novel ways, they think in novel ways.
Simulations allow “ephemeralization” (far less mass/energy per action)
Rise of scientific simulations. NSF. IPCC. NASA Solar System Simulator
Telepresence outcompetes traveling for perception
Telerobotics/haptics outcompetes traveling for action
Google maps, sensors, geoweb, parallelized GPUs: visual cortex for the web.
Machine sim data doubles every 2 years. Human sims grow far slower.
Nanoscience/Nanotech - Physical Inner Space – “Engine”
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“There’s Plenty of Performance at the Bottom.”
Fission 1,000X more E/mass than chem. Fusion 1,000X more E than fission
Fuel cells store 100,000X more E/mass than chemical batteries
Synthetic catalysts increase reaction speeds and yields 10^3 to 10^6
Programmable synapses 10^6 faster, 10^3 less E/comp. than neurons
Photonic crystal lasers 10^6 more E efficient than other microlasers
Single step efficiency jumps in macro (human) space are always far less.
Info: Intelligence, Fischler, 1987; Simulation, Ross, 2006; Simulation-Based Engineering Science, NSF, 2006.
Nano: Engines of Creation, Drexler, 1987; Nanotechnology, Ratner, 2002; The Race to Inner Space, Smart,
2012.
© 2011 Accelerating.org
The Transcension Hypothesis:
Our Developmental Destiny?
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Earthrise (Dec 1968)
Earth as a tiny point of
emergent intelligence
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Is our future even tinier?
The Transcension Hypothesis: Do Advanced Civilizations Leave Our Universe?,
John Smart, Acta Astronautica, 11 Dec 2011.
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Grand Challenge - Information Technologies
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
 What Grand Challenges would be most improved by an order of magnitude or more
individual, organizational, or system intelligence or interdependence in:
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Computing (Super, Enterprise, Personal, Mobile, Web)
Communication and Networks
Big Data, Maps, Algorithms and Simulations
Conversational Interface
Agents and Cybertwins
Apple’s Siri on
iPhone 4, 2011
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
Google Now on Nexus 7 Google Now on Glass,
& Android 4.1, 2012
Dev: Jan 2013
The Conversational Interface: Our Next Great Leap Forward, John Smart, 2003-10.
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Global English:
An Education Grand Challenge
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
(also Poverty, Security, Health, Energy, Food, Water, Environment)
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Global English via Teacherless Education
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Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
$400
1.8 Billion English speakers today. In 10 Years?
How many of the “Next Two Billion” will learn the leading global language?
How soon till a free Global English is more effective than Rosetta Stone?
Conversational Interface. Visual Learning. Aug. Reality. Contextual Learning.
Camera. Spaced Repetition Learning. Adaptive Testing. Crowd/Peer Education.
How soon till top-rated Eng. speakers are on LinkedIn & in global job networks?
How soon till we have one billion new Eng. speakers in the global workforce?
Top call center country in the world today?
Partners: English Speaking Business Community. English Learners.
One Tablet-Laptop Per Child
Google Now on Glass
‘Wrist PC’ concept
(Asus Transformer Prime 2012)
(Dev: Jan 2013)
(Metaverse Roadmap, 2007)
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Self-Knowledge
Who Are You? Who Can You Become?
From Self-Diagnosis to People Management
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
- Great Self-Diagnosis (Kirton, SF, Adizes, etc) helps Social Effectiveness
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
- Great Self-Knowledge & Self-Management helps People Management
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Palo Alto
© 2012 Accelerating.org
Your Tools
Buying and Sharpening Your Knives
Innovation, Strategy, and Foresight:
Three Organizational Toolsets
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
Emerging Technologies MS – Curriculum Framework, Univ of Advancing Technology, Smart, 2011.
Collect and Rank Your Best Grand Challenge Ideas
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
“50 Solutions
that Can
Change the
World”
2004
2014?
Tools to get there:
1. Innovation Ranking and
Innovation Mgmt Platforms
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New York
Palo Alto
2. Benefit-Cost Analysis
Benefitcostanalysis.org
For Controversial Problems:
Take a “Schools of Thought (SoT)” Approach
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
What are top SoT’s (World Views) on causes of the problem?
Who are their best proponents?
What are their solutions?
What data would help reduce the number of SoTs,
or clarify the conditions when each is right?
Ending Hunger, 1985
Excellent example of SoT approach.
The Hunger Project (thp.org)
Your Network
Digital, Global, Personal
Foresight and Innovation (F&I) Education
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
There are now ~23 universities where you can get a grad degree in
F&I, and ~six good certificate programs. Best by far is SU!
FERNweb.org
Los Angeles
New York
Palo Alto
FERN networks foresight
grad students and helps
them find good jobs.
GlobalForesight.org
GlobalForesight is a
wiki of foresight orgs,
resources and people.
What Are Your Networks Doing For You?
Acceleration
Studies
Foundation
A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
Be an aggressive user of the best of your networks.
Often they aren’t the ones most people think are the best.
Val: $11B
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New York
Palo Alto
Val: $190B
Val: $66B
2012 Nosedive:
8M  2.5M Users
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Global Grand Challenges