Advisory Board

Sam Ghandchi

Sam Ghandchi is the publisher and editor of the Washington-based Iranscope futurist portal and news site and a futurist author.
 
Sam is originally from Iran (born 1951) and finished Alborz High School of Tehran in May 1969. He went to university in the U.S. in the Fall of 1969 and returned to Iran after graduation. During his student years, he was a member of the Confederation of Iranian Students in the U.S. After going back to Iran in 1974, he was interrogated and harassed by Shah’s secret police, Savak. He was sympathetic to the left and he was also critical of the leftist programs, even in the years before 1979. As a free thinker and theoretician, he always had a focus on science and future, and he was opposed to the Soviet Union and Hezbe Toodeh, from the start of his political activity in 1970.
 
After the 1979 revolution, as a cofounder and member of the editorial board of Nedaye Azadi, he co-published this daily afternoon paper in Tehran, till the paper and all other free papers of the time, were shut down by the Islamic Republic in 1981. Nedaye Azadi was a democratic paper similar to Peyghame Emrooz, Ayandegan, and other similar papers of those three years of semi-democracy in Iran of 1979–1982. The back issues of Nedaye Azadi may still be available in the archives of Library of Congress.
 
The 1979 Revolution of Iran and programs of different forces during that revolution, showed Sam that the old ways of development do not work anymore. Thus even in an undeveloped country like Iran, one needs to look for new solutions to the old and new problems. And, he started to look beyond the old economic and social plans of both the left and the right. This is when he started calling myself a futurist in his articles, in 1981 and beyond, without even knowing there was such an outlook called “futurism”.
 
Later in 1983, he returned to the U.S., and through the same search, he found Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, Peter Drucker, Ray Kurzweil, Buckminster Fuller, and the World Future Society (WFS). Daniel Bell has had a lasting impact on his thought. Sam can say he agrees with 99% of Daniel Bell’s writings.
 
In Fall of 1985, Sam published an article called Intelligent Tools: The Cornerstone of a New Civilization in AI Magazine, the scientific journal of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), where he expressed his own understanding of future and futurism. He received a letter from Daniel Bell, which helped him better understand the issues related to new technologies, inference, and intelligence. Sam always has learned a lot from Daniel Bell.
 
In 1986, he wrote a paper entitled Progressiveness in the Present Epoch, first as a small booklet, and later as a series of articles. He published from 1986 to 1987 in the Iran Times weekly journal of Washington DC, where he expressed his understanding of what being progressive means in our times, and this paper included his article Modern Futurism, which was very well received in later years. Also in his paper on progressiveness, he first proposed his main thesis about the Iranian Revolution and wrote about the relationship of state economy and dictatorship in socialism which he has been discussing since 1981, and years later on January 2002, he touched on these topics in his interview with the site of Ayandehnegar, and finally in his book Futurist Iran, he discussed in detail his thesis about the Iranian Revolution.
 
Sam also wrote about a viable economic theory for the knowledge economy and discussed Social Justice and Computer Revolution in 1987 and later on expanded on it and especially in his paper entitled Alternative Income expounded on his view in the discourse of social justice. He also wrote a book about the history of Kurdistan and Federalism and from 1982 to 1984 published papers on Pluralism and a detailed critique of Marxism and Monism.
 
From 1985 to 1989, Sam opened the first futuristic book store, called Nova Bookstore, in Sunnyvale of California in the United States. Of course the World Future Society book store existed before Nova but that was a mail order catalog. When he opened Nova Bookstore, Jeff Cornish, son of Edward Cornish the founder of World Future Society who handled distribution of The Futurist and other WFS publications at the time, told Sam that this project can be financially very difficult and Sam said that he understood but was very much interested in doing it and he continued it for four years.
 
His goal was to clear his own ideas and to find people of the same interest. Once that was achieved, he closed the store, because as a business, it barely made a living for him. Professionally he works in the field of computer internetworking, bridges, routers, etc and in his resume he has written that before Nova Bookstore, from 1982 to 1985, he was busy cofounding Dehkhoda Library and the Iranian Cultural Foundation in Berkeley of California and as noted, before that co-published Nedaye Azadi in Tehran.
 
The founding and managing Nova Bookstore in those four years of mid 80s helped Sam to deepen his understanding of futurism, and impacted his environment, and he was able to get to know different futurists of the world who would stop by his bookstore. Even the late Willis Harman was one of the panelists at the Nova Lecture Series that Sam had in those years at Nova bookstore and also from the first day that WFS had placed an announcement about the opening of Nova Bookstore, one of the founders of IFTF came to Nova Bookstore and would visit often in subsequent years.
 
In 1990, after closing Nova, he wrote his paper A Futurist Vision which was also signed by Jack Li who was a cofounder of the Beyond War organization based in Palo Alto and cooperated with Sam at Nova Bookstore, Newsletter, and Lectures. And in those years, Sam also worked on a few new works in the area of rationalism which included papers on Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Russell that he expanded on in later years in his discussion of secularism.
 
Three years after closing Nova Bookstore, in 1992, he started cooperating with Mr. Hossein Mola who lived in Sweden to start the Ayandehnegar (meaning futurist in Persian) magazine. Before this time, Mr. Mola and his associates had created a radio program in Sweden by the name of Radio Azadi. The magazine was first going to be in print and Sam sent the texts of his articles Intelligent Tools and Philosophy of Science in 20th Century, the latter being only a handwritten lecture he had given at Berkeley in those years. Sam suggested to use a computer and later to publish the magazine on the Internet, and was hoping some of his friends in Sweden and Switzerland who were technical experts, to help Mr. Mola which did not happen, and Mr. Mola himself found his way through the technical maze and that year got his computer.
 
In August 1993, Sam told Mr. Mola about the lecture Break Down of Time, Space, and Society which Daniel Bell had presented for Sweden’s post office, and had been published by Sweden’s Institute of Future Studies, and Mr. Mola found it and sent it to Sam and later he himself arranged for its translation and publication in Persian. We should note that the aforementioned paper of Daniel Bell has not been published anywhere else and Daniel Bell himself had suggested it to Sam in 1993, when he noted in a letter that he had not written about futurism for a long time and at that time, this was his last work on the topic, and said to find it in the Swedish journal Framtider which Sam asked Mr. Mola to find in Sweden that he did.
 
From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Mola set up the computer for the magazine that Sam and him wanted to publish and finally in March of 1996 he sent Sam his first email and two years later the first issue of Ayandehnegar Magazine was published on the Internet by Mr. Mola. In January of 1998 they announced the founding of the Iranian Futurist Foundation and the efforts for it continued till the end of 1999, but after that date Mr. Mola continued the Ayandehnegar magazine, although from time to time some of Sam’s articles were also published in it.
 
Sam was active on the Internet in the early 1990s and posted his first article about Iran on soc.culture.iranian Usenet newsgroup in October 1993. The next year on the same public Usenet newsgroup, he published a series of theoretical discussions with Dr. Hossein Baghezadeh, and in March 1994 they founded the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) which was an Internet-based human rights group, an activity that started with Sam’s article about stoning of women and during the years, Dr. Bagherzadeh, the Chair of the group, and other associates, contributed a lot to the cause of human rights in Iran. Sam also helped to set up the group’s first Internet site and archive with a colleague and also supported IHRWG by continuing the discussions of human rights on the Usenet especially when Dr. Bagherzadeh was threatened by Khamene’i at the time of the closure of Neshat newspaper in Iran. And finally most of the members of IHRWG continued their activities in Manshoor81.
 
After being active on the Internet, Sam saw the need for a futurist portal and Internet-based news distribution system related to the future and first posted the related information on Usenet and email lists and finally in August 1999, he founded the Iranscope portal. In his article “Why I Created Iranscope?”, he has explained in detail about his reasons for starting the Iranscope portal. During those years, beside writing articles on the Usenet, he also published a mailing list called “doostAn” (meaning friends), which later developed into two yahoo lists called “Iranscope” and “future” and those two lists finally evolved to iranscope blog in Persian, IranscopeSciTech in English, and ayandehnegar blog which are still active to this day and are accessible by RSS.
 
Recently an article was published about the formation of the activity of Iranians on the Internet and in that article, there was a mention of Sam’s work in the early 1990s, the title of the article is A Brief Excursion of the History of Iranians on the Internet (Persian). The author was present on the Usenet with Sam and also before the Internet, during the years of 1985–1989, he had dropped by Sam’s Nova Bookstore in Sunnyvale.
 
In 2001, Sam finished his proposal for the Platform of a Futurist Party. He started this work in 1986 and wrote the first manuscript in 2000 and for years discussed about the need for such a political party in various articles.
 
Today when Sam looks at his latest writing on futurism entitled Singularity and Us, he sees what a long way it has been and all this with thanks to all those who accompanied him all these years and were friends and colleagues. Today it is a pleasure for Sam to see that so many people with various ways of thought see the importance of futuristic thinking and this thought is more and more welcome particularly among the Iranians.
 
Please read his online book entitled FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism where Sam has explained in detail his views of the world today and gives his thanks to the World Future Society for publishing a book review of his work which is now included in the introduction of the book.
 
Watch Sam Ghandchi (Persian). View his Facebook page and his Google+ profile. Follow his Twitter feed.