A World’s Fair of Ideas

May 4, 2010

At this year’s World Future Society conference, top minds and thought-leaders will collaborate and debate the major issues of the twenty-first century. Topics include:

Technology Futures and Their Massive Potential Societal Impacts, with Dennis Bushnell

At WorldFuture 2010, Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, will discuss the stark reality of climate change and the high-tech solutions that the mainstream media have yet to discover. He’ll also touch on the technology breakthroughs, from quantum computing to nanotechnology to genetically engineered biofuels, that will remake human civilization in the twenty-first century.

As Bushnell recently told THE FUTURIST magazine, “If, by the year 2020, we’ve passed a critical climate tipping point and guaranteed future generations a much more difficult future, it won’t be because of a lack of available solutions today.”

Oceans and Our Global Future, with Susan Avery

Global sustainability is unrealizable without a strategy that includes the oceans. Susan Avery, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, reminds us that the ocean and the atmosphere are shared, and we must have global cooperation to address such issues as ocean acidification, collapsing fisheries, and adaptation to and mitigation of global climate change. Avery will discuss the dangers facing the oceans today and how we can safeguard them for the future.


Keep It Simple Stupid: Energy/Environment Strategies, with Tsvi Bisk

When it comes to the intersection of economic growth and environmentalism, Israeli energy futurist Tsvi Bisk considers himself a realist. He wants to help businesspeople differentiate between what he calls “ideological wishful thinking” and doable policy aims. At WorldFuture 2010, he’ll discuss alternative energy technologies that are economically viable today, and he’ll lay bare the national security and business imperatives of energy self-sufficiency.


Artificial Intelligence

Building the Human Mind, with Ray Kurzweil

 The computer is going to make its way into our bodies and brains says inventor Ray Kurzweil. At WorldFuture 2010, Kurzweil, winner of the National Technology Medal and author of the bestselling The Singularity Is Near, will discuss the research in his new book, How the Mind Works and How to Build One.

Around 2030, says Kurzweil, humankind will create a computer capable of creativity and contemplation, an artificial intelligence indistinguishable from what we today call human intelligence.

Thalamocortical Algorithms in Space! The Building of Conscious Machines and the Lessons Thereof, with Stephen Thaler

A highly proficient synthetic consciousness exists today, and it has been quietly thinking, creating, and churning out products for more than 30 years, according to inventor Stephen Thaler. His program, The Creativity Machine, has invented new-and-improved everything from toothbrushes to warheads, and has even released an album of original music compositions; it may represent the closest that inventors have come to achieving artificial intelligence and machine consciousness, says Thaler. At WorldFuture 2010, he’ll discuss the sociological, philosophical, and spiritual implications of this enormous breakthrough.

Navigating the Future: Moral Machines, Techno Sapiens, and the Singularity, with Wendell Wallach

 “The possibility of a human disaster arising from the use of robots capable of lethal force is obvious,” wrote Yale bioethicist and AI expert Wendell Wallach in his 2009 book Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong. “Humans can hope that the designers of such systems becoming increasingly embedded in nearly every facet of society, from finance to communications to public safety, the real potential harm is most likely to emerge from an unanticipated combination of events.” At WorldFuture 2010, Wallach will lay out how we, as a society, will navigate the promise and perils emerging from today’s artificial intelligence research.


Media and the Internet

Internet Evolution: Where Hyperconnectivity and Ambient Intimacy Take Us, with Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Barry Wellman

 Imagine the implications of the future that most technology experts foresee: Wireless devices are embedded in everything—including us; cameras record activity in all public spaces; databases catalogue our online moves; invisible, ambient networked computing makes us available to more people in more ways; software exhibits humanlike thinking; and a direct brain-to-computer interface is possible. These are just some of the future scenarios predicted by experts, as documented by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, directed by Lee Rainie. At WorldFuture 2010, Rainie, Wellman, and Anderson will discuss the most recent, widely-covered Future of the Internet Survey, which asked Internet experts from across the globe for their take on how the Web will evolve in the decade(s) ahead.

The Virtualization of America (and the World), with Michael Rogers

 The Internet will change tremendously in the next 10 years. A more important question is, how will it change us? Children born this decade will have to learn what “offline” means, because being online will be the normal condition of life. It is an era of social reorganization equaled only by the rise of cities 6,000 years ago. But unlike urbanization, this enormous transition will take place in a matter of decades rather than centuries. At WorldFuture 2010, “practical futurist” Michael Rogers will describe what will be gained in this historic transition, what will be lost, and what the challenges are ahead?



How the United States Can Remain a Competitive Force in the 21st Centurywith Michael G. Zey.
 Are we entering a new historical epoch–a post-American world in which the United States will no longer be the world’s dominant economic, political, and military leader? According to futurist Michael Zey, the U.S. not only can remain competitive, but also could maintain its position as a global economic force. At WorldFuture 2010, Zey will discuss how the nation can “reindustrialize” to grow its energy base, embrace the human-enhancement revolution, revitalize its space program, and expand liberty and opportunity to further economic growth.


Appropriate Economics for the 21st Century? with Michael Marien

The time has come to redefine “economic growth,” for a new era, says Future Survey founder Michael Marien. We should replace our current measure of GNP, which omits “fundamental components” of wealth, such as the value of nature and human capital, with an economics appropriate for twenty-first century conditions. At WorldFuture 2010, he’ll discuss the “alternative economics” that will help us prosper in the twenty-first century.

These speakers, plus dozens more, will be on hand for Worldfuture 2010. We hope to see you there.


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