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Schedule for BIL 2008, March 1-2


Schedule for Sunday


2:49 - Schedule seems a little out of whack. Currently listening to Kai Chang's excellent talk.



  • 11:00 3 years in a Foreign Rathole: Challenges of Appropriate Development in Africa
  • 11:15 Coworking to Coliving: A digital Utopia?
  • 11:30 The genocide of the curious mind- Martin Codrington
  • 11:45 The genocide of the curious mind- Martin Codrington
  • 12:00 Stem Cells- Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask- Daniel Kraft
  • 12:15 Always the Next Human
  • 12:30 Just Go They Said - Karpinski
  • 12:45 Molecular Manufacturing: Fantastic Fabrication, or Fantastic Fabrication? - Chris Phoenix
  • 1:00 Innovation Killed the Radio Star- Ryan Plesko
  • 1:15 Innovation Killed the Radio Star - Ryan Plesko
  • 1:30 Outsourcing Survivability - Justin Orkney & Simone Syed
  • 1:45 Dare to be Wise! - Reclaiming Philosophy from the Anatomists of Thought - A pagidas
  • 2:00 Advancing the Ted Prize
  • 2:15 Advancing the Ted Prize
  • 2:30 -DarkNets: Facist Getaways or Intentional Community - Reichart -
  • 2:30 The Baron Blabbers for 15 minutes. (Who is the Baron and what happened to DarkNets?)
  • 2:45 Unified Theory of everything - AG List
  • 3:00 Natural Language Search - B. Pell
  • 3:00 Vibration Navigation (in the lobby)



  • 12:30 Health: the one thing you should take this year: Katheryn M
  • 12:30 Freeze tag


  • 1:00 Semantic Analysis of Sentiment - Boris Galitsky
  • 1:45 Dare to be wise- reclaiming Philosophy from the Anatomists of Thought - A Pagidas



  • 1:15 Bodies, Bodies, Soul, and Society



  • 11:00 Procedural Lifestyle Hacking - Rand Fitzpatrick and Alex Kawas
  • 11:15 Free Isn't Communist - Chris Phoenix
  • 11:30 Copying Minds + Patternism - Brad Templeton
  • 12:00 Film Techevo
  • 12:15 Wymyn, Redskins, and the New World Order - Keck
  • 12:30 Health, the one thing you should take this year- Katheryn M
  • 12:45 Friends Guide to Social Media - Erica O’Grady
  • 1:00 Friends Guide to Social Media - Erica O’Grady
  • 1:15 A - Maximizing Positive Impact for Business Decisions - Revi
  • 1:30 B - Modeling Sustainable Community - Revi
  • 1:45 C - Integrating Play and Work: The Living Room - Revi
  • 2:00 Hacking the Human Fantastic
  • 2:15 (or 2:30, not sure) Universal Solvent Machines


Schedule for Saturday



  • 11:00 Networked Economics - Shannon Clark
  • 11:15 The Cause of the Cambrian Explosion - Chris Phoenix
  • 11:30 Open Source Physical Security - Chris Peterson
  • 11:45 Social Bonding - Jonathan Sheffi and Lexi Bright
  • 12:00 Lunch
  • 1:00 Virtual Worlds are Good for the Soul - Lisa Galarneau
  • 1:15 Robot Cars and End of Transit - Brad Templeton
  • 1:30 The BIL Social Graph Experiment
  • 1:45 The BIL Social Graph Experiment
  • 2:00 What if Information is Free
  • 2:15 Semantic Analysis of Sentiments
  • 2:30 Millicomputing: The Future in your Pocket
  • 2:45 Transforming the heart of Business Love & Work
  • 3:00 Snack
  • 3:30 Dyslexia: From Vicious Cycle To Opportunity - Chris Phoenix
  • 3:45 KV Fitz - Gifted Education
  • 4:00 Aubred de - Grey (currently setting up to start @ 4:26pm)
  • 4:15 Business Lessons from Social Insects - Fitz
  • 4:30 The Smart Utility - Gabriel Kent
  • 4:45 Film Tech evolution
  • 5:00: Beware time traveling A.I.s From the Future!
  • 5:15: The future of airships
  • 5:30: The Computer is the new Sewing Machine: benefits and perils of a global information marketplace - Praveen Paritosh
  • 6:00: Dinner and Drinks
  • 8:00 Late nite talks




  • 1:15 IT Rights - Social Contract
  • 1:30 Robot car Parts II
  • 2:30 Life Extension Personal Strategies - Chris Petersen
  • 2:45 Open Source Physical Security Please: Your Ideas
  • 3:30 Open Source Journalism with Dylan Tweney - Wired.com
  • 4:00 Chris Phoenix
  • 4:15 Aubrey de Grey - Continued





email me at elliott (aat) ngventures (ddot) com with changes or additions or just update the wiki yourself!


How Presentations Work at BIL


Lots of ideas will be provided for you and everybody else, but do bring some of your own to share.


The presentation schedule is flexible. If you know what you want to talk about beforehand you can ensure some speaking time and get people interested.


Go ahead and post your topic and a picture, make it interesting. Want to speak?


Schedule Dissemination


Before and during the event the schedule will be posted here on the wiki. As the event draws near people will be able to schedule a specific time.


During the event text messages will be sent out to participants. We'll probably be using BroadTexter, once we test it out we'll post details here.






Tentative, depending on travel:


Anonymous Vs Scientology: When the super serious meets the super smart asses - Sean Bonner


Some presentations have been cancelled due to travel issues




Advancement of the TED Prize

Bill Erickson


Every year, three individuals are awarded $100,000 and granted a wish to change the world. The TED attendees, through their generosity and influence, help make the wishes a reality. BIL would like to support this great cause by helping, in any way possible, advance the wishes of the TED Prize winners. On Saturday the wishes will be announced, and on Sunday we will dedicate a session (or three) to brainstorming and pulling together our social networks to help make it happen.


Before BIL, do the following:

  • Read the profiles of the three TED Prize winners: Neil Turok, Dave Eggers, and Karen Armstrong
  • Browse through past TED Prize winners and their wishes (click their name in the left navigation, then scroll to bottom and click "Read about - and help grant...") Example: E.O. Wilson's wish
  • Go to the TED Prize wiki page and add a brief summary of what you might be able to contribute: time, resources, connections...


Here's a talk by 2007 TED Prize winner, E.O. Wilson

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Note:Live Webcast of TED winners this year



BIL: Brainstorming Next Steps


Tyler Emerson

Singularity Institute Executive Director

Singularity Summit Curator


I'll help run brainstorming sessions on where we might take BIL and the community we're building.


Contact: tyleremerson@gmail.com




How to Be a Successful Heretic

Aubrey de Grey


(Photo courtesy of Kevin Perrot)


In my 12 minutes I will give a light-hearted - but unerringly accurate - string of nuggets of advice, drawn mostly from my own experience of recent years, on how to shepherd a diabolically dangerous idea from conception to world domination (yes, the last part will be drawn from others' experience!) as quickly as possible in the teeth of determined and powerful vested interests. My comments will apply not only to science but to heresies in general.


Here's Aubrey's 2005 TED

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An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything

A Garrett Lisi



In his much talked about paper An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything physicist Garrett Lisi proposed a novel model for all fundamental interactions ever observed. At BIL Garrett will be fielding questions and discussing everything and anything.


Watch New Scientist's video and explanation of Garrett's work.


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Hacking the Human Fantastic

Todd Huffman



The boundaries between the human and his environment have been thinning for thousands of years, and this session will trace the co-evolution of the human mind and the technology it has created. From the cuniform and cartouch to the iLife, the impact and significance of artifacts on the human experience are often not recognized for what they are, implements of dehumanization. The subtle cyborgation of the modern consumer will be discussed in with respect to our designs, desires, and destiny.


Todd Huffman is a freelance developer and scientist working in [http://www.neuroreport.com/pt/re/neuroreport/abstract.00001756-200304150-00015.htm;jsessionid=Hh2dSG2nn2msrTG7BMdh1CngL24yQS9hFc0L4BTsWyNYxQJqklWJ!101667287!181195629!8091!-1|neuroscience], cryonics, body modification, and photography. His most recent project is developing a cell phone UI for organizing mobile photographs, code-named pTaggy.




Short Film Fest

Aileen Mapes



Choreographer and filmmaker Aileen Mapes will be curating a short film festival comprising of original submissions as well as her personal favourites. Pieces will be accompanied by lively discussion, insight, and opinion. If you would like to have a film considered for the fest, please e mail Aileen directly at aileenmapes@gmail.com




Photography for the Common Man?

Jason Youn



Radical drops in the cost of consumer electronics have brought the artistic tools of photography to the masses. Professional photographer Jason Youn will be discussing the philosophy of the photographer as an observer and participant, as well as the impact of photography theory on techniques which help the amateur further blur the lines between vacation photos and fine art.





Coworking to Coliving - Digital Utopia?

Cody Marx Bailey & Bill Erickson



Humanity has always searched for paradise, and the dream of utopia has seeded many unconventional life-structures over the millennium. In this presentation participants in the ‘Creative Space’ project discuss the successes, challenges and future of another attempt to create a utopian community, one with a Web Two Point Oh spin. Come prepared to contribute your thoughts and ideas on intentional communities, entrepreneurialism, and social technologies.




Darknets - fascist gated associations, or intentional community?

Baron RK Von Wolfsheild, CSA, CTO. Qtask, Inc.




A darknet is a private virtual network where people connect only to others they trust. The web is being built in our own image; we bring to it our fears, and our hopes. Some communities are designed to promote social interaction, others are designed to protect and to segregate. Even if the internet were made available to every person, would any services be available? Where do features and ethics collide?


Von Wolfsheild was an early pioneer in multi-player entertainment, developing the first computer arcade games that allowed for players to chat and play simultaneously over the modem. Currently he is developing a premier massive project management social network (a Darknet). He has designed over 120 consumer products for companies such as Activision, Bally, Disney, Dreamworks, Eidos, Konami, Mattel, Microsoft, and Time Warner (to name a few) more...




Always the Next Human

Quinn Norton




Society, technology, and bodies are all breaking each other. In the coming decades, we are likely to be pushing out the boundaries of our definition of human. Body modification, pharmaceuticals, the justice system, medical research, class systems, psychology and surgery are swept up in the same wave- how we see our selves, and how we act upon our bodies. The next humans will need new ethics, new markets, new laws, and very different criteria for choosing research goals and legal solutions. It can get very scary, but don't worry too much- turns out we've done all this before, though not this fast. We've done ok so far. Let's figure out how to do it better this time.




Motivation Psychology. Learning Optimism.

Kai Chang



Conventional psychology spends a great deal of time studying, analyzing and evaluating people at the bottom 10% (in terms of psychological health) of the population - the crazy and dysfunctional. And to its credit, there is much good that it does in the process.


But what can we learn by studing the top 10 precent - those who carry an unusually resilient and healthy psyche and deal with setbacks with aplomb and grace? Are they skills that can be acquired and learned by 'natural depressives?' A brief talk touching on some of Martin Seligman's work on positive psychology and practical applications for the rest of us.


Kai Chang is a screenwriter, blogger, photography enthusiast and consultant on nonprofits and charitable trusts. He is an ENTP on the MBTI scale, and his mutant power is his uncanny ability to correctly identify a new stranger's MBTI type after one minute of one-on-one conversation.


Those who interact him socially/casually are often surprised to hear that he is a natural depressive/pessimist.



The BIL Social Graph Experiment

Nikhil Nilakantan



All through human history most information has been spread through formal and informal social networks. With enough interest on the topic, news spreads person to person, with the cycle continuing until most if not all of the social group is informed. The information may also spread to other social groups through connectors who may be members of more than one group.


With the rise of the internet and cellular technologies as social networking media, we now have access to a large number of synchronous and asynchronous tools by which to spread the word about anything that interests us.


The BIL Social Graph Experiment will collect and map how news of the BIL conference flowed through various formal and informal social networks leading up to the conference. For this experiment, we are requesting visitors to the BIL conference website, Wiki and Facebook group to fill out a short survey providing information on how they heard about the conference. By collecting and analyzing this data we plan to build the social graph of the BIL conference. The presentation will discuss how 6 technological and cultural forces are impacting the way we communicate, and also publish the results of the BIL Social Graph Experiment.


Nikhil Nilakantan is President & CEO of Social Span Media LLC, a social media strategy and marketing consultancy. He is a technologist, marketer, social media expert and avid cyclist. His blog on social media marketing can be found at strategicast.com. At BIL, Nikhil plans to catch up with old friends, make new friends and test Kai’s mutant power to see if he can guess his MBTI type.




Social Bonding

Jonathan Sheffi and Lexi Bright


Is this about business, friends, romance? All of it! We'll talk about how to cultivate curiosity about other people, create social connections between people, and add value to other people's lives. In doing so, each person's life is enriched and you help cultivate a network of generosity and goodwill. Adding value to other people's lives while expecting nothing in return feels good and inherently adds value to your life. We'll also talk about why "keeping score" doesn't work. These skills are useful in all areas of life that involve people!


About us:


Jonathan Sheffi is a lifelong student dedicated to improving patient lives through miracles of biotechnology. He currently serves as a Senior Biopharmaceutical Representative with Amgen in the Enbrel Dermatology sales force in Portland, Oregon. He attended MIT both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. As an undergrad, he double-majored in mathematics and in computer science, and minored in biology. Jonathan’s graduate research at MIT focused on computational biology, also known as bioinformatics.


Jonathan has worked or consulted for many firms in the life science industry, including Amgen, Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, Kaiser Permanente, Pacificare, Bio-Rad, and the Sarah Cannon Research Institute. He has also interned for Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, and OPNET Technologies. He is 26 years old and lives in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. In his spare time, he solves puzzles competitively. When he’s not helping patients or solving a brainteaser, he enjoys yoga, meditation, writing for his blog and rooting for the Red Sox. He is also a graduate of National Bartenders School.



proflexi.jpgLexi Bright helps people toward positive change. She believes that self-improvement comes from growth from the core. She is currently seeking a Marriage and Family Therapy internship in


Francisco, having recently completed her MA in Psychology at a private university in Los Angeles. Her graduate research focused on subjective well-being and how people can improve their sense of satisfaction with life. As a trainee, she maintained clients at a low-fee counseling center, and helped juvenile offenders work toward rehabilitation. She currently volunteers as facilitator for an abuse survivor group.


Additionally, Lexi has been an event planner and coordinator, working events ranging from small private events to a large fundraiser for the Accelerating Studies Foundation(2003). When Lexi is not making the world a better place one person at a time, you may find her hiking, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, attending an Improv or jewelry making class, writing for her blog, and contributing to positive change in herself and others.





Growing Up Gifted: The State of the Art of Raising Brilliant Minds

KV Fitzpatrick



What makes a child "gifted"? How do we accommodate a ten-year-old who is ready to learn calculus? What happens to a child who is labeled a "genius"? Who do gifted kids grow up to be?


In the past three decades, Highly Gifted Education has matured as a subset of Special Education. There are now many options for exceptional kids, from GATE and magnet programs to early college entrance. But how do we decide to whom these resources are apportioned?


Most importantly, is it ever too late to be precocious?


KV Fitzpatrick is an alumna of the Early Entrance Program at Cal State LA, the Individualized Honors Program at Walter Reed Jr. High School, and The Mutaytor Performance Group. She is currently a graduate student of Neuroengineering at the University of Southern California, and a firm believer in the principle of making one's own luck.


Stem Cells: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Daniel Kraft, MD




Stem cell technology and the debate surrounding it has generated a great deal of excitement and controversy in recent years. The field is surrounded by misconceptions, hype and yet very significant potential. In this short talk at BIL we'll discuss: defining what are stem cells really and where do they come from... the differences between embryonic stem cells and 'adult stem cells' (i.e. derived from our own bone marrow, fat, umbilical cord blood, placentas, and even our kids teeth) and emerging technologies (such as reprogramming our own skin cells) to utilize these cells in powerful and novel ways. We'll cover current clinical uses of stem cells, ongoing clinical trials in regenerative medicine (i.e. using marrow derived cells to treat cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and diseases of the nervous system such as stroke & Parkinson's), upcoming trials utilizing embryonic stem cells, and some of the likely near term and future applications as well as challenges remaining in order for this field to reach its full potential. There is a longer version of this talk given recently at Google HQ as as 'Google TechTalk' which you can also watch online.





Daniel Kraft is a Stanford & Harvard trained physician-scientist with extensive research and clinical experience. Now on faculty at Stanford, as well as at UCSF on the Bone Marrow Transplant service, his work has focused on developing novel techologies and medical devices utilizing stem cells for the treatment of cancer and for use in a widening array of regenerative therapies.







The Genocide of the Curious Mind

Martin Codrington






The Renaissance Man is an anachronism in our modern society, due to the huge driving force toward specialization. No longer is a writer a writer, a chemist a chemist, or a philosopher a philosopher. They are each specialized in a subdivision of their field, often with little interest in other realms of knowledge (within their field, let alone even daring to venture outside of it). This specialization hinders progress, as each group of specialist develops a highly distinct, individualistic mode of communication (a new, lonely language) that excludes non-specialist and hence fortifies the barrier of communication (with two-inch thick rebar) between humans.


Attempting to conform to the modern inclination often leaves the Polymath filled with a strong sense of emptiness and mental inanition. They experience an internal conflict between their nature and the shame of their varied interest and their complex intellect (imposed by society). With our current arsenal of sticks and stones, can our inquisitive nature win this war against society with their weapons of mass destruction? How can we break these mental shackles imposed by assembly-line educational? How can we be free to explore the innermost regions of our mind and of our limitless consciousness? How can we end this horrible, inhumane, senseless genocide of the curious mind? We will explore the answers to these questions at BIL. See you in Monterey!


Martin Codrington is a graduate student in Nuclear Chemistry at Texas A&M University College Station TX.



Telephone Pictionary and the Future of Computational Semantics Whaddy think this is, XKCD? rion-praha.jpg

Rion Snow



The aim of this talk is to spread the joy of mixed media semantic translation (audience participation required!) and to discuss some insights into the nature of meaning as inspired by the parlor game "Telephone Pictionary" (Wikipedia entry, online server).


Rion Snow is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at Stanford University, working with Professors Andrew Ng and Dan Jurafsky. Rion works in the intersection of machine learning and natural language processing, with a focus in computational semantics. He leads the Stanford Wordnet Project, which aims at learning large-scale semantic networks automatically from natural text. His work on automatically inferring semantic taxonomies received the Best Paper Award at the 2006 conference of the Association of Computational Linguistics.








Why Virtual Worlds Are Good for the Soul




Lisa Galarneau


The presentation of results from a four year doctoral research project examining social learning associated with virtual worlds (including massively multiplayer online games), the development of 21st century skills, and how these environments reflect the power of spontaneous collaboration to positively affect people's lives and better prepare them for both their individual and our collective future.




The Smart Utility

Gabriel Kent



"Like most exurb data-commuters, Pollack rented the standard optical links: Bell, Boeing, Nippon Electric. Those, together with the local West Coast data companies, gave him more than enough paths to proceed with little chance of detection to any acceptable processor on Earth. In minutes, he had traced through three changes of carrier and found a place to do his intermediate computing. The comsats rented processor time almost as cheaply as ground stations, and an automatic payment transaction (through several dummy accounts set up over the last several years) gave him sole control of a large data space within milliseconds of his request. The whole process was almost at a subconscious level --- the proper functioning of numerous routines he and others had devised over the last four years." [True Names]


Imagine plugging your toaster into a wall socket and instead of pulling electricity from your local power company, you were presented with an opportunity to browse the latest prices worldwide and choose the cheapest with the least latency. Obviously given the physical limitations such an opportunity with electricity is not possible; however, there is a new utility that has the potential to not only offer such intelligent use but will grow to become what we consider the essence of intelligence itself: Computation.


Where electricity and information are the feedstock, computation is the new Smart Utility and will grow to out pace all other utilities before it in terms of adoption and importance.


In this talk attendees will be introduced to utility computing (a.k.a Cloud Computing), its current uses and future implications as well as how to connect and utilize the grids available today.


"If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility... The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry." [John McCarthy, MIT Centennial in 1961]


Gabriel Kent is a technologist with an inborn technolust and loves making music. He has worked in a variety of tech. related fields (intelligent media presentation, systems automation, consumer electronics, video games, internet marketing, MPEG-4 systems to name a few) for companies such as Intel, Panasonic, AOL (TimeWarner), Macrovision and Warner Brothers (to name a few more ;). He recently gave a talk on the importance of Open Source Education (titled "World Education or Bust") @ Forum 2007 in Monterrey, Mexico. Gabriel currently works for an internet marketing firm he co-founded in 2004 and is pushing to help form the first Media Lab @ ITESM.


Gabriel would like to dedicate this talk to his friend Vladimir Miloushev; a true visionary of utility computing and founder of 3Tera. ''~Rest in Peace Vlad~





Don't Cry for me, Google: Semantic Analysis of Travel Reviews to Understand Feelings


Boris Galitsky


Conventional search engines deliver documents which include significant occurrences of keywords in user queries. Additionally, Google is good at selecting those documents which has satisfied users in previous similar searches. While this works well enough for general searches, "vertical" searches for specific kinds of products can do much better.



To recommend a product, it is very convincing to refer to the experience of those who used it before, and to provide argumentation for this product based on feeling of these users. To do that, a search engine must not only "understand" the features of products such as "a hotel close to outdooring activities", but also feeling of people about these products like "not impressed with a view but nice for guys' getaway".



Obviously, Google search engine cannot provide recommendation by finding documents which include keywords "hotel+close+outdooring">+activities+not+impressed...". Neither can many other Travel sites, which possesses necessary data for vertical search but uses keyword match for search. To handle recommendation queries, a search engine must know that hotels are characterized with locations, sometimes good locations are those which are close to activities, in particular, outdoor activities. Furthermore, search engine must know that 'views' are important considerations while staying in hotels, expression "not impressed" refers to a negative feeling, which is nevertheless combined with positive reference to the category such as "guys getaway". It is also necessary to understand sarcastic expressions like "I would not let my dog stay here"='not clean' versus "They would not let my dog stay here"='dogs are not allowed'. Notice how similar these sentences are, and how different are the meanings.



To enable such feeling-based recommendation, we built a knowledge base and reasoning engine which operates with entities of the travel domain. We also constructed a formal model of human sentiments and feelings to be extracted from text and to serve as a basis for providing recommendations.




Lucid Living™: Consciously Harvest the Power of Dreams to Boost Success & Life Mastery



with Craig Sim Webb


Discover how to tap and integrate powerful wisdom of the dreaming mind so that it can become the inner compass, supportive life tool, and unparalleled source of creative inspiration and insight that it is meant to be. Learn the science and history along with practical applications and proven techniques for inducing, recognizing and applying dreams, lucid dreams, and hunches to enhance success, fun and fulfillment in this waking world adventure that we call life. Understand how recurring themes in both our dreams and in our waking lives not only offer us direct feedback about where we are in relation to our most fulfilled life blueprint, but also continually guide us towards it, both in our professional and personal lives. Find out about powerful consciousness techniques and tools to renovate your psychophysiological operating system on all levels in order to make profound physical, emotional and mental breakthroughs. Be prepared to have your mind stretched, your heart opened, and your funny bone tickled.





Reflections on Resilience: Summary of a recent http://www.upliftacademy.org/wiki/index.php?title=GAP2008">Uplift Academy Workshop on Resilience.


Tom Munnecke


Last week, I invited an historian, a poet, a science fiction writer, an anthropologist, a social worker, a network theorist, an eclectic author, a mathematician, a psychiatrist, a Biotech CEO, to a 2-day workshop on the general notion of resilience. I'll be presenting some of the ideas that were generated by David Brin, Dorion Sagan, Frederick Turner, David Ellerman, Heather Wood Ion, Lenore Ealy, and others. This is just a quiet invitation to meet others interested in this topic, not a big lecture.




The Evolving Social Contract of IP Rights - Pat Reilly



I'll be giving a talk about designing intellectual property rights that (a.) maximize the benefit of knowledge and creativity to society and humanity, (b.) benefit the creative worker, (c.) enable the creative worker to maintain more than mere economic rights, yet (d.) support attraction to the investment community to high tech (and high risk) ventures by creating fair and reasonable intellectual property rights.






The Computer is the new Sewing Machine: benefits and perils of a global information marketplace



Praveen Paritosh



There is increased participation by the developing world in the global manufacturing marketplace: the sewing machine in Bangladesh can be a means to support an entire family. Given a marketplace for jobs a la Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project can become a modern-day sewing machine. This will spur a global information marketplace, where simple jobs (e.g., is this image porn? are these two addresses the same?) will pay anywhere from 3 to 20 dollars a day. Unlike outsourcing, which usually requires college education, competence at these tasks might be a month or even less of training.


At its best, it is a powerful bootstrap for over a billion people. At its worst, it is enslavement. How should we proceed?






Dare to be wise! - Reclaiming Philosophy from the Anatomists of Thought.




Alexander Pagidas


We finish high-school and know more about mathematics than we do of ourselves. Yet knowing ourselves is more important than algebra. Current education is not meant to create free, creative and mature individuals, but to create workers for the requirements of the market. The majority of universities try to give you an education that will supply you with a career – not a good life. Careers, as the etymology of the word betrays (which means: road for carts), are meant for carts not for human beings. I am not denying exceptions. But a few exceptions only prove the dominance of the rule.


In my educational path, after switching from Marketing to Sociology and eventually to the discipline that claims to study the good life, Philosophy, I encountered the same thing. I finished my BA and MA in philosophy and still had a gnawing feeling that I hadn’t learned what I needed to know about myself and the world I’m living. I stopped enjoying philosophy. It had become an activity that had no relation to myself or everyday life. It dawned on me that Philosophy as done in most universities is philosophy divorced from life.



The current situation is as Thoreau expressed it in his book Walden: “Nowadays we only have professors of philosophy and not philosophers. Because once it was admirable to live, while now it is admirable to profess.” The reason why I didn’t go for a PhD is because the vast majority of Universities prepare you for becoming a professor of philosophy, not a philosopher. The former teaches philosophy, the latter lives it. The former argues about who said what, the latter searches for the truth beyond authorities and bibliographies. Of course, those pairs are not mutually exclusive, but most academic philosophers do the one without doing the other.



Philosophy is vast. It is the mother of all sciences and more. Because it expresses a way of being rather than merely some method. It is a way of open-mindedness, willingness to experiment and discover; to find not just what is good, but why it is so; the effort to transform ideals to practice; to understand who we are and what we can become; it is nothing less than the active engagement with the most important issues of our lives. It is not just the analysis of concepts, as some contemporary philosophers would have you believe, but ultimately the quest for a better life. That is why philosophy will always be relevant. Because only a few want to merely analyse concepts while everyone wants to live a better life.


In this talk I'll tell the story of how philosophy unwittingly condemned itself to irrelevance by divorcing itself from life; what are the broader cultural consequences of that divorce and what do we gain by seducing her back to life.



Networked Economics - modeling economics as a network by Shannon Clark


What happens when we model all of economics (i.e. all economic activity - at any scale) as a network? One result is that we are faced with a non-equalibrium, complex systems view of Economics. This raises new sets of questions - and offers suggestive conclusions about many of the building blocks of economic theory - for example how we define and think about "value" and in turn the theory of "the firm" (or indeed any of the many complex structures that we create and engage with and within in economic terms). This talk will explain why everything - from a bar of gold to a diamond to your time has no value without being embedded into a network context. I have been working on and thinking about this theory for the past few years, currently working on pulling together these observations into a book proposal (and then into a book).


I started MeshForum, a conference on the study of Networks, with the goal of bringing together network experts across many disciplines - from academics in Physics, Social Science, Communications, Business, Transportation and more to business leaders, government experts, and artists. In 2005 and 2006 I convened a three day conference on these topics, in 2007 I organized a series of one day MeshWalks. My goal in starting MeshForum was to learn from these deeply interdisciplinary thinkers about Networks in order to apply those observations and techniques to the study of Networked Economics.


My starting point is the statement that all economic activity can be represented as the creation and destruction of links between entities over time. By "entity" I mean any economic actor - individuals, family units, corporations, unions, co-ops, governments, churches etc. To keep things very simple I also consider "a link" to be uni-directional - i.e. from A to B does not imply a link from B to A. A given link can (and usually does) also have an element of embeded data in it - usually a denomination (or you could consider many links to be based in some specific unit and then a count of the number of identical links to be the denomination). Links are created at some point in time and eventually destroyed (in many cases a new, very similar link may be created at the time of destruction). And indeed in many types of economic activity there are links back in the other direction (though quite frequently the structure is more complex).


Since links are bring created and destoyed over time the result of this type of modeling that there is, in essense, a "flow" across the system.


But, and this is one of the first key observations, this type of modeling of economics implies:


a. Economics is not, inherently, about equalibrium - the networks inherently will continue to change over time and break equalibrium (if for no other reason than because entities are created and destroyed all the time)


b. Economics is not about zero-sum. Since there is the constant movement forward in time at any point in time value is being created by fixing the future in the present. Links in a network can be created without requiring other links to be destroyed.



Flexibility, Openness and Consensus: Keys to your Destiny


Mark Fitzsimmons







I am a Beekeeper and an Aerospace Engineer. I am naturally interested in social insects and have noticed analogies between large human organizations and ant and bee colonies. Some years back I was reading Holldobler and Wilson's pulitzer prize winning book "The Ants" and was startled by some profound information in the chapter "Social Homeostasis and Flexibility." It has changed the way I approach cooperative and business relationships.


Though many people have the big picture experience of enjoying cooperative ventures, they often appear to happen spontaneously; the reasons why cooperation works in one instance but not in others may be unclear to the participant. There is very little to guide one who seeks to re-create the experience elsewhere, and there are many contervaling forces in society, business and politics which discourage and hinder successful cooperation. My short talk will illuminate some basic principles of success through cooperation which can help you improve your chances of achieving goals you set for yourself.


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