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Perhaps the most important lesson, which I have learned from Mises, was a lesson located outside economics itself. What Mises taught us in his writings, in his lectures, in his seminars, and in perhaps everything he said, was that economics—yes, and I mean sound economics, Austrian economics—is primordially, crucially important. Economics is not an intellectual game. Economics is deadly serious. The very future of mankind —of civilization—depends, in Mises’ view, upon widespread understanding of, and respect for, the principles of economics.

This is a lesson, which is located almost entirely outside economics proper. But all Mises’ work depended ultimately upon this tenet. Almost invariably, a scientist is motivated by values not strictly part of the science itself. The lust for fame, for material rewards—even the pure love of truth—these goals may possibly be fulfilled by scientific success, but are themselves not identified by science as worthwhile goals. What drove Mises, what accounted for his passionate dedication, his ability to calmly ignore the sneers of, and the isolation imposed by academic contemporaries, was his conviction that the survival of mankind depends on the development and dissemination of Austrian economics…

Austrian economics is not simply a matter of intellectual problem solving, like a challenging crossword puzzle, but literally a matter of the life or death of the human race.

–Israel M. Kirzner, Society for the Development of Austrian Economics Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech, 2006

Dear Lifeboat Foundation family & friends,

This 243-page thesis and this 16-page executive summary deliver a tenable, game-theoretical solution to this complex global dilemma:

Our narrative tables evolutionarily stable strategy for the problem of sustainable economic development on earth and other earth-like planets. In order to accomplish the task at hand with so few words, we hit the ground running with an exploration of Bertrand Russell’s conjecture that economic power is a derivative function of military power. Next we contextualize the formidable obstacle presented of teleological thinking. Third, we introduce Truly Non-cooperative Games – axioms and complimentary negotiation models developed to analyze a myriad of politico-economic problems, including the problem of sustainable economic development. Here we present The Principle of Relative Insularity, a unified theory of value which unites economics, astrophysics, and biology. Finally, we offer a synthetic narrative in which we explore several crucial logical implications that follow from our findings.

Those interested in background details and/or a deeper exploration of the logical implications that follow from this theoretical development may wish to pursue a few pages of an comprehensive, creative, and thoroughly exhaustive letter of introduction to this abridged synthesis: The Principles of Economics & Evolution: A Survival Guide for the Inhabitants of Small Islands, Including the Inhabitants of the Small Island of Earth.

Those interested in considering how this game-theoretical solution informs “evolutionarily stable” investment strategy may also wish to take in a brief overview of my PhD research: On the Problem of Modern Portfolio Theory: In Search of a Timeless & Universal Investment Perspective.

Please feel free to post all thoughts, comments, criticisms, and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!


Matt Funk, FLS, BSc, MA, MFA, PhD Candidate, University of Malta, Department of Banking & Finance

PS: The author would like to thank the Lifeboat Foundation, Linnean Society of London, Property and Environment Research Center, Society for Range Management, Professors Kurial, Nagarajan, Baldacchino, Fielding, Falzon (University of Malta), Lockwood (University of Wyoming), MacKinnon (Memorial University), Sloan (Lancaster University), McKenna (Notre Dame), Schlicht (Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München) and his dedicated team at MPRA, author & astronomer Jeff Kanipe, Dr Willard S. Boyle, Dr John Harris, fellow students, family, and friends for their priceless guidance, support, and encouragement. He also sends out a very special thanks to Professors Frey (Universität Zürich), Selten (Universität Bonn), and Nash (Princeton University) for their originality, independence, and inspiration.

Originally posted at Fast Company.

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Snoqualmie Valley School District Foundation fundraising luncheon. My role was to help them envision the future of education. Some of the comments I made yesterday will be relevant to the scenarios we build on this blog. As an avid anti-futurist, I said I didn’t know what education would look like, but that I was tracking how many of its attributes might play out.

That said, there are some things I feel very strongly about, regardless of the future. These are considered robust implications in a scenario planning exercise. I will discuss a few of those, and then discuss some of the uncertainties.

Learning How to Learn With technology evolving at an exponential rate, and with it the rise of new industries; and with ever more of the planet’s human population bumping into each other in cyberspace, if not directly connecting to one another through social media, the ability to learn new things will be important. Successful people will learn this regardless of their formal education experience, but there will be tremendous missed opportunity if we don’t use the 19-years of education afforded most students (yes, less in developing countries, but increasing) to teach students how to learn, and through that, how to accept and embrace change.

Horizon Scanning and Scenario Planning It may seem a bit self-serving to say that scenario planning is a robust implication for education, but if we accept that the future is uncertain and that we need to embrace change, then teaching people how to use techniques for navigating that change by anticipating possible outcomes is an important skill and mindset. If we continue to teach history as a series of dates and timelines rather than contingencies–if we only teach writing as linear narratives that start with outlining–and if we confiscate cell phones rather than helping learners understand the risks and leverage the opportunities–then we teach a future of constraint rather than a future of possibility. One of my comments yesterday followed a geocaching GPS presentation. The GPS systems were procured through a local grant. I said that in the future, we wouldn’t need the grant because we would ask the students to just use their phones rather than confiscate them.

Transliteracy People will need to know how to effectively communicate in various media. Today it is e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. With apps like FourSquare andColor, location is becoming a component of communication. How does location change the way we write and communicate? Who knows what channels will become popular tomorrow. What we do know is that people should learn how to effectively and safely transverse these channels, and ideally, add value–and garner value–when they participate./p>

Culture Awareness and Sensitivity With so much work becoming non-local, people will need to understand how to communicate and work with those from other parts of the world. Start this early. The new Avenues school experiment attempts to transforms schools from local entities into global institutions. Some futures suggest that globalization could fracture under the influence of strong nationalism or based on natural disasters, like a global epidemic or massive solar storm. This implication for education, however, is not irrelevant even in that future, as a disruption in globalization would not result in the immediate repatriation of foreign national or immigrants from their current places of residence. In other words, there is little downside to investing in cultural awareness and sensitivity, and plenty of utility in it, no matter which future unfolds.

Dropping the Industrial Age Framework This is perhaps the most controversial of the robust implications, and one that appears here and on the list of uncertainties (asMeasurement Approach below). We think of schools as factories and tests scores as key performance indicators. Current approaches to testing do not serve learning. Some educators take large chunks of their year to “teach to the test.” Some school districts, when faced with enormous post-Great Recession budget pressures, choose to invest mainly in programs that drive better standardized tests results. The rewards structure of public and private funding reinforces this industrial age mentality. This appears justified when studies, such as the one conducted by Kuncel and Nezlett (Standardized Tests Predict Graduate Student’s Success,) suggest that standardized admissions test are valid predictors of “valid predictors of many aspects of student success across academic and applied fields.” If we take a factory view of education, then we should be able to see that the elimination of variability and the use of standard approaches to problem solving would result in better performance because the people entering the institution were pre-selected to conform to the institution’s learning approach. You can’t make rubber balls in a ball bearing factory any more than you can make radical inventors in an institution dedicated to cookie cutter MBAs. In the Kuncel and Nezlett study they recognize that many of the soft skills, including networking, professionalism, leadership and administrative performance were not captured–or good graduate student may not make a great leader.

If we strip away the industrial age patina and replace it with a knowledge economy approach, we might find a more holistic framework for measuring the performance of institutions, educators and learners. The problem is, that nations (see OECD Education Rankings) continue to be so focused on industrial age reinforcement (like rewarding improvements in standard test results) that they have not pursued the creation of an economic framework that understands performance against a knowledge economy, perhaps even sustainable knowledge economy, backdrop.

Thus the robust implication is that we must break free of the industrial age framework in order to see other possible ways to measure the success of learning. This may lead not only to new education measurement frameworks, but to new perspectives on innovation as well.


Jobs and Skills Many people talking about the future toss out a phrase like “70% of tomorrow’s jobs haven’t been invented yet.” Interesting observation, but not very helpful. I personally conduct research that looks at scientific discoveries and business issues that hint at future commercial implications and then imagine the kinds of jobs those potentially burgeoning industries might require. Consider the following: computation artist, authenticity engineer, neuromapping specialist, geriatric medial retrainer or quarantine enforcer. Many of these jobs are combinations of computer science and something else. A computational artist would need to know how to create works with lasting aesthetic value while writing code. The neuromapping specialist would create models of human synapses, eventually leading to brain implants that mimic parts of the brain in ways that artificial hearts mimic muscles. An authenticity engineer would be a social media-social scientist, ensuring that one-to-one marketing appears authentic even when the “one” on the receiving side of the equation is really a profile of “one” and not a real individual. Uncertainty in skills is an important driver to the “learning how to learn” implication above: if we don’t know what the future looks like, the best thing we can do is learn how to learn.

Curiosity Will we end up with a world where people are so thirsty for knowledge, and knowledge so accessible, that education becomes a way to guide children through self-directed learning as they relish and wallow in the immensity of knowledge? Will educators help learners become well-rounded explorers, using the Internet, telecommunications and travel as the means to enhance their far reaching curiosity? Will this exploration led to the discovery of personal passions that help people frame, and perhaps momentary focus their attention, to solve a particular problem, and having solved that, move on to something else that interests them?

Or will people find so much information on their own passion or fetish that curiously about that single topic consumes them? Will they be so focused that they lose peripheral vision, so specialized what they find interesting that learners becomes functionally illiterate outside of their specializations, be it tennis or manga?

Measurement Approach Will standardized tests for language and mathematics prevail as the way to determine success? Will the influx of models and analytics from the software industry create an even greater hold on standardization as sophisticated analytical outputs slice and dice even the most mundane actions of learners and educators? Or will sustainability influence learning, generating a “slow learning” movement that counteracts the overly structured technological approach with a more humanistic, pluralistic and unbound view of learning? Will a future evolve where learners, seeking fulfillment and happiness, determine their own measures of success by how well they can apply what they learned to their business and intellectual pursuits?

STEM Will the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics create a world filled with complacent conformers focused on success that was promised as one leg in an internationally competitive policy platform–or will the industrial and political powers witness a rebellion against rewarded career choices by refusing to accept that careers in art, literature, international affairs and others are second-class futures. Or, will inspired leaders find ways to inspire youth so that science and technology once again captures the imaginations of learners in the same way that the success of sports stars inspires young men and women to pursue careers in sports. Will science clubs return to challenge attendance at soccer games? Will the arts incorporate science and technology is a way that doesn’t demean, but rather celebrates the synergy? Will educators find ways to provide students with science and math competencies in ways that integrate with their motivations, rather than focusing on changing their motivation?

Class warfare Will the United States experience class warfare as economic disparities and access to technology create a deep divide, or will new economic models evolve that redistribute wealth more evenly, either through productivity increases that drive down price so disparities appear less meaningful, or political action that restructures tax and incentive systems? Will new industries over the coming decade emerge and “raise all boats,” perhaps displacing some apparently entrenched wealthy with new moguls, demonstrating the recycling nature of the global economy, fostering more hope, and providing more perspective, among the previously disenfranchised.


Uncertainties may unfold in any of the ways suggested above. The paragraphs above should not be considered exhaustive, but they should be considered proof that each topic is uncertain because it can end up in so many different places depending on the social, economic, technological and political context that ultimately governs our future. These exercises are meant to unshackle the assumptions readers make about these topics, help people plan for any future rather than the future they think will happen, or the future they are told will happen.

These are just a few of the uncertainties facing education. You can find a set of scenarios that incorporate these uncertainties, and others here. For this ongoing Fast Company exercise, the future of state of education will be one uncertainty among many. Later posts will explore other uncertainties, and eventually, how those uncertainties may interact with each other.


Follow @FastCoLeaders for all of our leadership news, expert bloggers, and book excerpts.

Common wisdom is that great companies are built by business leaders who out-vision and out-innovate their competitors. However, the truth is that groundbreaking businesses tend to come from entrepreneurs who were smart enough to out-execute everyone else in their space – which means getting products out there and growing a loyal customer base, instead of engineering a product until it’s supposedly perfect.

Microsoft is a great example of company that has succeeded by execution. They’ve rarely been first to market with any of their products, but they’ve successfully brought them to market, figured out how to improve them, and introduce them again and again. This is the approach that puts you in the Fortune 500.

Why do entrepreneurs believe so fervently in the myth that they need to be first to market with a never-before-seen innovation? Because that’s what they’re told in business school. The problem with this piece of wisdom is that it encourages business leaders to wait until the mythical breakthrough business idea is fully formed.

This myth is fed by the public perception of groundbreaking companies as having come out of nowhere to rock the world. But companies like Facebook rarely, if ever, spring into being with no antecedents: MySpace and Friendster were in the market first, but Facebook did social networking better than anyone else had done before. Google wasn’t the first search engine ever; AltaVista probably deserves that title. But Google advanced the search experience to the point that we all believe they were the breakthrough innovator.

The point I’m making here is that you don’t need to have the breakthrough vision to launch your company – you need to have breakthrough execution. Launch your company even if your concept is similar to someone else’s idea, and figure how you will change the business model.

When you stall your entry into the market, you run the risk of getting outrun by competition – who’ll have gathered valuable on-the-ground information and solved problems before you’ve even planned your launch party. At a certain point, the ecosystem around your market will have become so strong that consumers will not be willing to accept a new entry. For example, anyone who launches a Facebook-style social network right now will have to hope that people are willing to totally rebuild their friend networks from the ground up.

On the other hand, if you can tweak this idea for a new market – for instance, a social network that specifically serves the healthcare community – you can launch without an entirely new concept. Or you can go to a locale where you’re not first in the market, but where there is greater potential to become a player.

In other words, you can be first to market in Seattle with widget XYZ, where there’s only a moderate interest and market potential for your product. Or you can be tenth to market in Tulsa where there’s a far greater need for widget XYZ, giving you plenty of room to gain customer share. Here’s how to position yourself for entrepreneurial success without playing the waiting game.

Follow your heart – but use your head. As an entrepreneur, you should always develop businesses that you are passionate about, since that enthusiasm will keep you pushing ahead when times are tough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t think rationally about how to apply what a competitor is doing to a different market segment or locale.

Listen to the market, and tweak as needed. The reason for launching sooner rather than later is to gather feedback from initial customers, so that you can redesign or retool as needed. Without this early feedback, you can only guess as to what customers are willing to pay for.

Don’t wallow in brainstorming. Time spent fiddling with a business plan or filling up whiteboards with ideas is time that you could spend actually launching your business and seeing if the idea floats. If it’s real, you get solid feedback, instead of the imaginary “what if” scenarios you dream up in a conference room.

Launch early enough that you’re partially embarrassed by your first product release. Entrepreneurs are likely to be somewhat off-base about their first launch and what features customers really want, but they won’t make a product better until people are actually using it. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says that his co-founders wanted to delay launch until they introduced the professional social network’s “contact finder” feature, but it turns out it wasn’t necessary — eight years later, LinkedIn still hasn’t added that feature.

Be your own worst nightmare. Once you do have that toehold in the market, ask yourself how you would outflank your company if you were a competitor. Constantly out-innovate yourself, and determine how to make your product offerings obsolete with each iteration.

Follow Naveen Jain on Twitter:

I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my adult life. Recently, on a long business flight, I began thinking about what it takes to become successful as an entrepreneur — and how I would even define the meaning “success” itself. The two ideas became more intertwined in my thinking: success as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial success. I’ve given a lot of talks over the years on the subject of entrepreneurship. The first thing I find I have to do is to dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I’ve found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.

But what else does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur — and how should an entrepreneur define success?

Bored with the long flight, sinking deeper into my own thoughts, I wrote down my own answers.

Here’s what I came up with, a “Top Ten List” if you will:

10. You must be passionate about what you are trying to achieve. That means you’re willing to sacrifice a large part of your waking hours to the idea you’ve come up with. Passion will ignite the same intensity in the others who join you as you build a team to succeed in this endeavor. And with passion, both your team and your customers are more likely to truly believe in what you are trying to do.

9. Great entrepreneurs focus intensely on an opportunity where others see nothing. This focus and intensity helps to eliminate wasted effort and distractions. Most companies die from indigestion rather than starvation i.e. companies suffer from doing too many things at the same time rather than doing too few things very well. Stay focused on the mission.

8. Success only comes from hard work. We all know that there is no such thing as overnight success. Behind every overnight success lies years of hard work and sweat. People with luck will tell you there’s no easy way to achieve success — and that luck comes to those who work hard. Successful entrepreneurs always give 100% of their efforts to everything they do. If you know you are giving your best effort, you’ll never have any reason for regrets. Focus on things you can control; stay focused on your efforts and let the results be what they will be.

7. The road to success is going to be long, so remember to enjoy the journey. Everyone will teach you to focus on goals, but successful people focus on the journey and celebrate the milestones along the way. Is it worth spending a large part of your life trying to reach the destination if you didn’t enjoy the journey along the way? Won’t the team you attract to join you on your mission also enjoy the journey more as well? Wouldn’t it be better for all of you to have the time of your life during the journey, even if the destination is never reached?

6. Trust your gut instinct more than any spreadsheet. There are too many variables in the real world that you simply can’t put into a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets spit out results from your inexact assumptions and give you a false sense of security. In most cases, your heart and gut are still your best guide. The human brain works as a binary computer and can only analyze the exact information-based zeros and ones (or black and white). Our heart is more like a chemical computer that uses fuzzy logic to analyze information that can’t be easily defined in zeros and ones. We’ve all had experiences in business where our heart told us something was wrong while our brain was still trying to use logic to figure it all out. Sometimes a faint voice based on instinct resonates far more strongly than overpowering logic.

5. Be flexible but persistent — every entrepreneur has to be agile in order to perform. You have to continually learn and adapt as new information becomes available. At the same time you have to remain persistent to the cause and mission of your enterprise. That’s where that faint voice becomes so important, especially when it is giving you early warning signals that things are going off-track. Successful entrepreneurs find the balance between listening to that voice and staying persistent in driving for success — because sometimes success is waiting right across from the transitional bump that’s disguised as failure.

4. Rely on your team — It’s a simple fact: no individual can be good at everything. Everyone needs people around them who have complimentary sets of skills. Entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch of people and it’s very hard for them to believe that they are not good at certain things. It takes a lot of soul searching to find your own core skills and strengths. After that, find the smartest people you can who compliment your strengths. It’s easy to get attracted to people who are like you; the trick is to find people who are not like you but who are good at what they do — and what you can’t do.

3. Execution, execution, execution — unless you are the smartest person on earth (and who is) it’s likely that many others have thought about doing the same thing you’re trying to do. Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling. All of us have seen entrepreneurs who waste too much time writing business plans and preparing PowerPoints. I believe that a business plan is too long if it’s more than one page. Besides, things never turn out exactly the way you envisioned them. No matter how much time you spend perfecting the plan, you still have to adapt according to the ground realities. You’re going to learn a lot more useful information from taking action rather than hypothesizing. Remember — stay flexible and adapt as new information becomes available.

2. I can’t imagine anyone ever achieving long-term success without having honesty and integrity. These two qualities need to be at the core of everything we do. Everybody has a conscience — but too many people stop listening to it. There is always that faint voice that warns you when you are not being completely honest or even slightly off track from the path of integrity. Be sure to listen to that voice.

1. Success is a long journey and much more rewarding if you give back. By the time you get to success, lots of people will have helped you along the way. You’ll learn, as I have, that you rarely get a chance to help the people who helped you because in most cases, you don’t even know who they were. The only way to pay back the debts we owe is to help people we can help — and hope they will go on to help more people. When we are successful, we draw so much from the community and society that we live in we should think in terms of how we can help others in return. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being kind to people. Other times, offering a sympathetic ear or a kind word is all that’s needed. It’s our responsibility to do “good” with the resources we have available.

Measuring Success — Hopefully, you have internalized the secrets of becoming a successful entrepreneur. The next question you are likely to ask yourself is: How do we measure success? Success, of course, is very personal; there is no universal way of measuring success. What do successful people like Bill Gates and Mother Teresa have in common? On the surface it’s hard to find anything they share — and yet both are successful. I personally believe the real metric of success isn’t the size of your bank account. It’s the number of lives where you might be able to make a positive difference. This is the measure of success we need to apply while we are on our journey to success.

Naveen Jain is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer. He is a founder and CEO of Intelius, a Seattle-based company that empowers consumers with information to make intelligent decisions about personal safety and security. Prior to Intelius, Naveen Jain founded InfoSpace and took it public in 1998 on NASDAQ. Naveen Jain has been awarded many honors for his entrepreneurial successes and leadership skills including “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Albert Einstein Technology Medal” for pioneers in technology, “Top 20 Entrepreneurs” by Red Herring, “Six People Who Will Change the Internet” by Information Week, among other honors.

My generation was the last one to learn to use a slide rule in school. Today that skill is totally obsolete. So is the ability to identify the Soviet Socialist Republics on a map, the ability to write an operation in FORTAN, or how to drive a car with a standard transmission.

We live in a world of instant access to information and where technology is making exponential advances in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetics, robotics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence. In this world, we should not be focused on improving the classrooms but should be devoting resources to improving the brains that the students bring to that classroom.

To prepare students for this high-velocity, high-technology world the most valuable skill we can teach them is to be better learners so they can leap from one technological wave to the next. That means education should not be about modifying the core curricula of our schools but should be about building better learners by enhancing each student’s neural capacities and motivation for life-long learning.

Less than two decades ago this concept would have been inconceivable. We used to think that brain anatomy (and hence learning capacity) was fixed at birth. But recent breakthroughs in the neuroscience of learning have demonstrated that this view is fundamentally wrong.

In the past few decades, neuroscience research has demonstrated that, contrary to popular belief, the brain is not static. Rather, it is highly modifiable (“plastic”) throughout life, and this remarkable “neuroplasticity” is primarily experience-dependent. Neuroplasticity research shows that the brain changes its very structure with each different activity it performs, perfecting its circuits so it is better suited to the task at hand. Neurological capacities and competencies are both measurable and significantly consequential to educational outcomes.

This means that the neural capacities that form the building blocks for learning — attention & focus, memory, prediction & modeling, processing speed, spatial skills, and executive functioning — can be improved throughout life through training. Just as physical exercise is a well-known and well-accepted means to improve health for anyone, regardless of age or background, so too can the brain be put “into shape” for optimal learning.

If any of these neural capacities are enhanced, you would see significant improvements in a person’s ability to understand and master new situations.

While these basic neural capacities are well known by scientists and clinicians today, they are rarely used to develop students into better learners by schools, teachers or parents. There is too little awareness and too few tools available for enhancing a student’s capacity and ability to learn. The failure to focus on optimizing each student’s neural capacities for learning is resulting in widespread failure of the educational systems, particularly for the underprivileged.

Gone are the days when you could equip students with slide rules and a core of knowledge and skills and expect them to achieve greatness. Our children already inhabit a world where new game platforms and killer apps appear and are surpassed in dizzying profusion and speed. They are already adapting to the dynamics of the 21st century. But we can help them adapt more methodically and systematically by focusing our attention on improving their capacity to learn throughout their lives.

This far-reaching and potentially revolutionary conclusion is based on recent research breakthroughs and thus may be contrary to the past beliefs of many teachers, administrators, parents and students, who have historically emphasized classroom size and curriculum as the key to improved learning.

Just as new knowledge and understanding is revolutionizing the way we communicate, trade, or practice medicine so too must it transform the way we learn. For students, that revolution is already well under way but it’s happening outside of their schools. We owe it to them to equip them with all the capabilities they’ll need to thrive in the limitless world beyond the classroom.

I believe that while it’s important to leave better country for our children, it’s more important that we leave better children for our country.

Naveen Jain is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and technology pioneer. He is a founder and CEO of Intelius, a Seattle-based company that empowers consumers with information to make intelligent decisions about personal safety and security. Prior to Intelius, Naveen Jain founded InfoSpace and took it public in 1998 on NASDAQ. Naveen Jain has been awarded many honors for his entrepreneurial successes and leadership skills including “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Albert Einstein Technology Medal” for pioneers in technology, “Top 20 Entrepreneurs” by Red Herring, “Six People Who Will Change the Internet” by Information Week, among other honors.

California Dreams Video 1 from IFTF on Vimeo.


Put yourself in the future and show us what a day in your life looks like. Will California keep growing, start conserving, reinvent itself, or collapse? How are you living in this new world? Anyone can enter,anyone can vote; anyone can change the future of California!

California has always been a frontier—a place of change and innovation, reinventing itself time and again. The question is, can California do it again? Today the state is facing some of its toughest challenges. Launching today, IFTF’s California Dreams is a competition with an urgent challenge to recruit citizen visions of the future of California—ideas for what it will be like to live in the state in the next decade—to start creating a new California dream.

California Dreams calls upon the public look 3–10 years into the future and tell a story about a single day in their own life. Videos, graphical entries, and stories will be accepted until January 15, 2011. Up to five winners will be flown to Palo Alto, California in March to present their ideas and be connected to other innovative thinkers to help bring these ideas to life. The grand prize winner will receive the $3,000 IFTF Roy Amara Prize for Participatory Foresight.

“We want to engage Californians in shaping their lives and communities” said Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of IFTF. “The California Dreams contest will outline the kinds of questions and dilemmas we need to be analyzing, and provoke people to ask deep questions.”

Entries may come from anyone anywhere and can include, but are not limited to, the following: Urban farming, online games replacing school, a fast food tax, smaller, sustainable housing, rise in immigrant entrepreneurs, mass migration out of state. Participants are challenged to use IFTF’s California Dreaming map as inspiration, and picture themselves in the next decade, whether it be a future of growth, constraint, transformation, or collapse.

The grand prize, called the Roy Amara Prize, is named for IFTF’s long-time president Roy Amara (1925−2000) and is part of a larger program of social impact projects at IFTF honoring his legacy, known as The Roy Amara Fund for Participatory Foresight, the Fund uses participatory tools to translate foresight research into concrete actions that address future social challenges.


Gina Bianchini, Entrepreneur in Residence, Andreessen Horowitz

Alexandra Carmichael, Research Affiliate, Institute for the Future, Co-Founder, CureTogether, Director, Quantified Self

Bill Cooper, The Urban Water Research Center, UC Irvine

Poppy Davis, Executive Director, EcoFarm

Jesse Dylan, Founder of FreeForm, Founder of Lybba

Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future

David Hayes-Bautista, Professor of Medicine and Health Services,UCLA School of Public Health

Jessica Jackley, CEO, ProFounder

Xeni Jardin, Partner, Boing Boing, Executive Producer, Boing Boing Video

Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research and Development, Institute for the Future

Rachel Pike, Clean Tech Analyst, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Howard Rheingold, Visiting Professor, Stanford / Berkeley, and theInstitute of Creative Technologies

Tiffany Shlain, Founder, The Webby Awards
Co-founder International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences

Larry Smarr
Founding Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Professor, UC San Diego


WHAT: An online competition for visions of the future of California in the next 10 years, along one of four future paths: growth, constraint, transformation, or collapse. Anyone can enter, anyone can vote, anyone can change the future of California.

WHEN: Launch – October 26, 2010
Deadline for entries — January 15, 2011
Winners announced — February 23, 2011
Winners Celebration — 6 – 9 pm March 11, 2011 — open to the public


For more information on the California Dreaming map or to download the pdf, click here.

With our growing resources, the Lifeboat Foundation has teamed with the Singularity Hub as Media Sponsors for the 2010 Humanity+ Summit. If you have suggestions on future events that we should sponsor, please contact [email protected].

The summer 2010 “Humanity+ @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist” conference is being held, after the inaugural conference in Los Angeles in December 2009, on the East Coast, at Harvard University’s prestigious Science Hall on June 12–13. Futurist, inventor, and author of the NYT bestselling book “The Singularity Is Near”, Ray Kurzweil is going to be keynote speaker of the conference.

Also speaking at the H+ Summit @ Harvard is Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity dedicated to combating the aging process. His talk, “Hype and anti-hype in academic biogerontology research: a call to action”, will analyze the interplay of over-pessimistic and over-optimistic positions with regards of research and development of cures, and propose solutions to alleviate the negative effects of both.

The theme is “The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist”, as illustrated in his talk by Alex Lightman, Executive Director of Humanity+:

“Knowledge may be expanding exponentially, but the current rate of civilizational learning and institutional upgrading is still far too slow in the century of peak oil, peak uranium, and ‘peak everything’. Humanity needs to gather vastly more data as part of ever larger and more widespread scientific experiments, and make science and technology flourish in streets, fields, and homes as well as in university and corporate laboratories.”

Humanity+ Summit @ Harvard is an unmissable event for everyone who is interested in the evolution of the rapidly changing human condition, and the impact of accelerating technological change on the daily lives of individuals, and on our society as a whole. Tickets start at only $150, with an additional 50% discount for students registering with the coupon STUDENTDISCOUNT (valid student ID required at the time of admission).

With over 40 speakers, and 50 sessions in two jam packed days, the attendees, and the speakers will have many opportunities to interact, and discuss, complementing the conference with the necessary networking component.

Other speakers already listed on the H+ Summit program page include:

  • David Orban, Chairman of Humanity+: “Intelligence Augmentation, Decision Power, And The Emerging Data Sphere”
  • Heather Knight, CTO of Humanity+: “Why Robots Need to Spend More Time in the Limelight”
  • Andrew Hessel, Co-Chair at Singularity University: “Altered Carbon: The Emerging Biological Diamond Age”
  • M. A. Greenstein, Art Center College of Design: “Sparking our Neural Humanity with Neurotech!”
  • Michael Smolens, CEO of dotSUB: “Removing language as a barrier to cross cultural communication”

New speakers will be announced in rapid succession, rounding out a schedule that is guaranteed to inform, intrigue, stimulate and provoke, in moving ahead our planetary understanding of the evolution of the human condition!

H+ Summit @ Harvard — The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist
June 12–13, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

You can register at

A few months ago, my friend Benjamin Jakobus and I created an online “risk intelligence” test at It consists of fifty statements about science, history, geography, and so on, and your task is to say how likely you think it is that each of these statements is true. We calculate your risk intelligence quotient (RQ) on the basis of your estimates. So far, over 30,000 people have taken our test, and we’re currently writing up the results for some peer-reviewed journals.

Now we want to take things a step further, and see whether our measure correlates with the ability to make accurate estimates of future events. To this end we’ve created a “prediction game” at The basic idea is the same; we provide you with a bunch of statements, and your task is to say how likely you think it is that each one is true. The difference is that these statements refer not to known facts, but to future events. Unlike the first test, nobody knows whether these statements are true or false yet. For most of them, we won’t know until the end of the year 2010.

For example, how likely do you think it is that this year will be the hottest on record? If you think this is very unlikely you might select the 10% category. If you think it is quite likely, but not very likely, you might put the chances at 60% or 70%. Selecting the 50% category would mean that you had no idea how likely it is.

This is ongoing research, so please feel free to comment, criticise or make suggestions.

MediaX at Stanford University is a collaboration between the university’s top technology researchers and companies innovating in today’s leading industries.

Starting next week, MediaX is putting on an exciting series of courses in The Summer Institute at Wallenberg Hall, on Stanford’s campus.

Course titles that are still open are listed below, and you can register and see the full list here. See you there!


July 20: Social Connectedness in Ambient Intelligent Environments, Clifford Nass and Boris deRuyter

July 23: Semantic Integration, Carl Hewitt

August 3–4: Social Media Collaboratory, Howard Rheingold

August 5–6: New Metrics for New Media: Analytics for Social Media and Virtual Worlds, Martha Russell and Marc Smith

August 7: Media and Management Bridges Between Heart and Head for Impact, Neerja Raman

August 10–11: Data Visualization: Theory and Practice, Jeff Heer, David Kasik and John Gerth

August 12: Technology Transfer for Silicon Valley Outposts, Jean Marc Frangos, Chuck House

August 12–14: Collaborative Visualization for Collective, Connective and Distributed Intelligence, Jeff Heer, Bonnie deVarco, Katy Borner