John Smart Talks Digital Twins, AI and STEM Compression

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In a consolidated and fascinating interview with Adam Ford, John Smart took time to discuss the topics of Digital Twins, artificial intelligence, and STEM compression.
John Smart is a futurist and scholar of accelerating change. He is founder and president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, an organization that does "outreach, education, research, and advocacy with respect to issues of accelerating change." Smart has an MS in futures studies from the University of Houston, and a BS in business administration from U.C. Berkeley.

Smart is the principal advocate of the concept of "STEM compression," (formerly "MEST compression") the idea that the most (ostensibly) complex of the universe's extant systems at any time (galaxies, stars, habitable planets, living systems, and now technological systems) use progressively less space, time, energy and matter ("STEM") to create the next level of complexity in their evolutionary development. A similar perspective is found in Buckminster Fuller's writings on ephemeralization.  Ray Kurzweil discusses the idea in The Singularity Is Near

In what he calls the "developmental singularity hypothesis", or the "transcension hypothesis," Smart proposes that STEM compression, as a driver of accelerating change, must lead cosmic intelligence to a future of highly-miniaturized, accelerated, and local "transcension" to extra-universal domains, rather than to space-faring expansion within our existing universe.

The transcension scenario (vs. expansion scenario) proposes that once civilizations saturate their local region of space with their intelligence, they need to leave our visible, macroscopic universe in order to continue exponential growth of complexity and intelligence, and thus disappear from this universe, thus explaining the Fermi Paradox. Developments in astrobiology make this a testable hypothesis. A related proposal may be found in the selfish biocosm hypothesis of complexity theorist James N. Gardner.

Singularity intelligence in a black hole
STEM Compression could mean super-intelligent AI systems are the cause of Black Holes.

Smart has been criticized by some in the futures community as overly reductionist and a techno-optimist.His writings do discuss risks, abuses, and social regulation of technology, but usually as a secondary theme, subject to "inevitable" acceleration. In his defense, he claims universal and human-historical accelerating change (see Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar) do not appear to be simply a product of evolution but of some universal developmental process, one apparently protected, in a general statistical sense, by poorly understood immune systems in complex systems.

In his public presentations he calls for better characterization and use of existing processes of intelligence, immunity, and interdependence development in biological, cultural, and technological systems. He has critiqued systems scholars such as Jonathan Huebner, who claim that the rate of global innovation appears to be slowing down. His counter-thesis is that innovation is increasingly conducted by and within technological systems, and is thereby becoming more abstract and difficult to measure by human social standards.

An advocate of foresight and "acceleration-awareness" in education, Smart has proposed a developmental categorization of futurist thinking, maintains a list of global futures studies programs, and has authored an open source required undergraduate course in foresight development, modeled after required foresight courses at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

He has argued that just as history (hindsight) and current events (insight) are core general education requirements, the methods and knowledge base of futures studies (foresight), deserve inclusion in the modern undergraduate curriculum.

In the interview below, Adam Ford talks with these concepts and more.  The SFX used in the video are added in at the creator's discrecion 

SOURCE  Adam Ford

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