The Social Will to Accelerate

April 09 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 15 Hot

Exponential technology and information are poised to transform the world, but can the human species muster the social will to let that happen?

To date we’ve created amazingly fuel-efficient cars, robust water purifiers, revolutionary stem cell -based therapies, and better, cheaper light bulbs, all of which have met with great social and political resistance, greatly slowing the pace of their spread. This has caused many to scratch their heads in confusion, others to curse up at the sky, and some to chuckle at the naivete of their fellow meme-monkeys.

Take for example Dean Kamen, the Edison of our time who invented compact kidney dialysis, the Segway human transporter and most recently a water purifier that could save upwards of 5 million lives in under-developed nations if widely deployed. Kamen’s innovations have repeatedly encountered social barriers, causing him to proclaim that creating new technology is the easy part.

“I’m disappointed with every project I ever do. Because you work on something for years that you think should take hours. You finally get it done and you think, ‘Now the world’s going to be a better place,’ expressed Kamen in a recent Newsweek article, “Then you find out that as fast as technology moves, people move at the same slow, cautious pace they always did. If anything, people have gotten more cautious, more afraid of change, more skeptical, more cynical.”

Sloth-like technology diffusion is nothing new. The late great Everett Rogers taught us that all technologies except for Interactive Communication Technologies (ICTs) spread at an amazingly slow rate due to cultural barriers. Seasoned futurists all point out a consistent bias in favor of overly ambitious predictions and sternly warn their fellow prognosticators to avoid similar mistakes. And now Kamen has joined the ranks of those with enough experience to back up the notion. (cont.)

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Jamais Cascio Video - Global Issues and Solutions

March 10 2008 / by FutureFly / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9

Great video of Jamais Cascio via the Ryan is Hungry vlog.

Cascio talks about the interlinked nature of issues stemming from global warming, global poverty and nanotechnology and points out that the solutions to potential problems are, fortunately, also interlinked.

Accelerating Deception and Memetic Evolution

June 11 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

Jamais Cascio at Open the Future is on to something big with a new concept he calls the Participatory Decepticon, the yang to the yin that is the Participatory Panopticon. The general idea is that we’re beginning to see instances of modified/corrupted video content that can greatly benefit the deceiver via a spike of monetizable attention.

“Such a deception wouldn’t stand for very long, but would almost certainly last long enough set off a wave of furious blog posts and mainstream media attention,” argues Cascio, citing political videos as an example.

Having been burned by fake news like the iphone face-to-face talk photos and having seen many a critical thinker hoodwinked by April Fool’s blog posts I certainly agree that this Decepticon is in its nascency. The corruption, camoflaging, variation seems to indicate a new type of evolutionary internet-based memetic/temetic/content mechanism at work. The fact that deliberate content “mutation” has economic upside, as seen in the increase of April Fool’s spoofs, indicates that more brains will take advantage of the opportunity, especially as the value of human attention continues to rise. Thus, certain deceptive content packets will replicate and proliferate much more quickly thanks to the fluid content economy enable by the internet .

One might call this “accelerating deception”, which seems like a logical counterpart to the exponential information growth.

If we view memes and temes as more or less alive, as Susan Blackmore (one of the most important minds in information theory right now) argues and I tend to concur, then what’s happening is these little virtual organisms (in concert with humans, for now) are developing new survival and reproduction strategies.

At the same time, humans are benefiting from the increasingly rapid release of content variations. – Yes, there is a silver lining. (cont.)

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What's a Singularity? What's the Singularity Summit?

September 23 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: The Web   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

When seriously exploring the futures ahead of us it’s impossible not to encounter discussion of the “Singularity”. A concept with multiple profound meanings, the Singularity meme is an important tool for framing our understanding of how tomorrow will unfold.

Tyler Emerson, Executive Director of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence does a great job summarizing these various interpretations, all of which will be presented and debated at this year’s action-packed Singularity Summit (Oct 25th):

As Tyler points out, the Singularity has been picking up great traction in both scientific media and leading intellectual circles. Case in point is the involvement of forward-thinking juggernauts like Peter Thiel, Vernor Vinge, Peter Diamandis, Esther Dyson, Marvin Minsky, Justin Rattner and the infamous Ray Kurzweil, all of whom will be presenting at the Summit this October – an event that will be thoroughly covered by MemeBox and Future Blogger (proud media sponsors of the event).

For more information on the summit, go to

As an add-on to the summit, attendees will also have the option to attend an Emerging Tech Workshop (Oct 24th) organized by SciVestor, featuring panels on Robotics, the Semantic Web and Natotechnology, plus a closing keynote by seasoned foresight pro and Future Blogger favorite Jamais Cascio.

I will be there with my FlipCam reporting on the event for Future Blogger and hope to see you there as well. I promise you, the memetic rush will be akin to drinking water from a fire hose. It’s a great way to get a valuable crash course in accelerating change, artificial intelligence and a variety of disruptive forces poised to transform the world around us.

Disclaimer: MemeBox is a proud media sponsor of the Singularity Summit 2008. That being said, you really should attend.