Blog

Page 2409

Dec 7, 2010

Top 10 lessons for becoming a successful entrepreneur — Naveen Jain

Posted by in categories: business, education, ethics

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:

Continue reading “Top 10 lessons for becoming a successful entrepreneur — Naveen Jain” »

Dec 7, 2010

Rethinking Education to Build Better Learners — Naveen Jain

Posted by in categories: education, neuroscience

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.

Continue reading “Rethinking Education to Build Better Learners — Naveen Jain” »

Nov 26, 2010

“Rogue states” as a source of global risk

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics

Some countries are a threat as possible sources of global risk. First of all we are talking about countries which have developed, but poorly controlled military programs, as well as the specific motivation that drives them to create a Doomsday weapon. Usually it is a country that is under threat of attack and total conquest, and in which the control system rests on a kind of irrational ideology.

The most striking example of such a global risk are the efforts of North Korea’s to weaponize Avian Influenza (North Korea trying to weaponize bird flu http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50093), which may lead to the creation of the virus capable of destroying most of Earth’s population.

There is not really important, what is primary: an irrational ideology, increased secrecy, the excess of military research and the real threat of external aggression. Usually, all these causes go hand in hand.

The result is the appearance of conditions for creating the most exotic defenses. In addition, an excess of military scientists and equipment allows individual scientists to be, for example, bioterrorists. The high level of secrecy leads to the fact that the state as a whole does not know what they are doing in some labs.

Continue reading “"Rogue states" as a source of global risk” »

Nov 24, 2010

Singularity Economics

Posted by in category: economics

“Jobs for every American is doomed to failure because of modern automation and production. We ought to recognize it and create an income-maintenance system so every single American has the dignity and the wherewithal for shelter, basic food, and medical care. I’m talking about welfare for all. Without it, you’re going to have warfare for all.”

This quote from Jerry Brown in 1995 echoes earlier fears that automation would cause mass unemployment and displacement. These fears have not materialized, due to surging economic growth, the ability of the workforce to adjust, and the fact that the extent of automation is largely limited to physical, repetitive tasks. This is beginning to change.

In recent years, before the current recession, automation in already well established areas has continued to make productivity improvements. “Robotics and other computer automation have reduced the number of workers on a line. Between 2002 and 2005, the number of auto production workers decreased 8.5 percent while shipments increased 5 percent. Assembly plants now require as little as 15 to 25 labor hours per vehicle.” The result of these productivity gains has been a higher quality, less expensive product.

As machines become smarter, less repetitive “white collar” jobs will become subject to automation. Change will come so rapidly, the workforce will not be able to adjust, with real opportunities for alternative work decreasing. The earlier fears of mass unemployment will become realized. This mass displacement could lay the foundation for civil unrest and a general backlash against technology. The full extent of this change is unlikely to happen for another generation, with strong growth in China and other emerging economies. Regardless of exact timing or mechanism, the fact is that this transition to full automation has already begun, and micro economics dictate that it will continue. The choice between an inefficient, expensive, human labor force and an efficient, cheap, automated labor force is clear at the micro level, which will drive the pace of change.

Continue reading “Singularity Economics” »

Nov 21, 2010

TSA and the Coming Great Filter

Posted by in categories: existential risks, policy

Many people think that the issues Lifeboat Foundation is discussing will not be relevant for many decades to come. But recently a major US Governmental Agency, the TSA, decided to make life hell for 310 million Americans (and anyone who dares visit the USA) as it reacts to the coming Great Filter.

What is the Great Filter? Basically it is whatever has caused our universe to be dead with no advanced civilizations in it. (An advanced civilization is defined as a civilization advanced enough to be self-sustaining outside its home planet.)

The most likely explanation for this Great Filter is that civilizations eventually develop technologies so powerful that they provide individuals with the means to destroy all life on the planet. Technology has now become powerful enough that the TSA even sees 3-year-old girls as threats who may take down a plane so they take away her teddy bear and grope her.

Continue reading “TSA and the Coming Great Filter” »

Nov 19, 2010

Stoic Philosophy and Human Immortality

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, futurism, neuroscience

The Stoic philosophical school shares several ideas with modern attempts at prolonging human lifespan. The Stoics believed in a non-dualistic, deterministic paradigm, where logic and reason formed part of their everyday life. The aim was to attain virtue, taken to mean human excellence.

I have recently described a model specifically referring to indefinite lifespans, where human biological immortality is a necessary and inevitable consequence of natural evolution (for details see www.elpistheory.info and for a comprehensive summary see http://cid-3d83391d98a0f83a.office.live.com/browse.aspx/Immo…=155370157).

This model is based on a deterministic, non-dualistic approach, described by the laws of Chaos theory (dynamical systems) and suggests that, in order to accelerate the natural transition from human evolution by natural selection to a post-Darwinian domain (where indefinite lifespans are the norm) , it is necessary to lead a life of constant intellectual stimulation, innovation and avoidance of routine (see http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/rej.2005.8.96?journalCode=rej and http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/rej.2009.0996) i.e. to seek human virtue (excellence, brilliance, and wisdom, as opposed to mediocrity and routine). The search for intellectual excellence increases neural inputs which effect epigenetic changes that can up-regulate age repair mechanisms.

Thus it is possible to conciliate the Stoic ideas with the processes that lead to both technological and developmental Singularities, using approaches that are deeply embedded in human nature and transcend time.

Nov 11, 2010

What’s Your Dream for the Future of California?

Posted by in categories: education, events, existential risks, futurism, habitats, human trajectories, open access, policy, sustainability


California Dreams Video 1 from IFTF on Vimeo.

INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE ANNOUNCES CALIFORNIA DREAMS:
A CALL FOR ENTRIES ON IMAGINING LIFE IN CALIFORNIA IN 2020

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.

Continue reading “What's Your Dream for the Future of California?” »

Nov 9, 2010

The Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, ethics, existential risks, futurism, robotics/AI

Call for Essays:

The Singularity Hypothesis
A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment

Edited volume, to appear in The Frontiers Collection, Springer

Does an intelligence explosion pose a genuine existential risk, or did Alan Turing, Steven Hawking, and Alvin Toffler delude themselves with visions ‘straight from Cloud Cuckooland’? Should the notions of superintelligent machines, brain emulations and transhumans be ridiculed, or is it that skeptics are the ones who suffer from short sightedness and ‘carbon chauvinism’? These questions have remained open because much of what we hear about the singularity originates from popular depictions, fiction, artistic impressions, and apocalyptic propaganda.

Seeking to promote this debate, this edited, peer-reviewed volume shall be concerned with scientific and philosophical analysis of the conjectures related to a technological singularity. We solicit scholarly essays offering a scientific and philosophical analysis of this hypothesis, assess its empirical content, examine relevant evidence, or explore its implications. Commentary offering a critical assessment of selected essays may also be solicited.

Continue reading “The Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment” »

Nov 6, 2010

Hating Technology is Hating Yourself

Posted by in categories: human trajectories, robotics/AI

Kevin Kelly concluded a chapter in his new book What Technology Wants with the declaration that if you hate technology, you basically hate yourself.

The rationale is twofold:

1. As many have observed before, technology–and Kelly’s superset “technium”–is in many ways the natural successor to biological evolution. In other words, human change is primarily through various symbiotic and feedback-looped systems that comprise human culture.

Continue reading “Hating Technology is Hating Yourself” »

Oct 25, 2010

Open Letter to Ray Kurzweil

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, economics, engineering, futurism, human trajectories, information science, open source, robotics/AI

Dear Ray;

I’ve written a book about the future of software. While writing it, I came to the conclusion that your dates are way off. I talk mostly about free software and Linux, but it has implications for things like how we can have driverless cars and other amazing things faster. I believe that we could have had all the benefits of the singularity years ago if we had done things like started Wikipedia in 1991 instead of 2001. There is no technology in 2001 that we didn’t have in 1991, it was simply a matter of starting an effort that allowed people to work together.

Proprietary software and a lack of cooperation among our software scientists has been terrible for the computer industry and the world, and its greater use has implications for every aspect of science. Free software is better for the free market than proprietary software, and there are many opportunities for programmers to make money using and writing free software. I often use the analogy that law libraries are filled with millions of freely available documents, and no one claims this has decreased the motivation to become a lawyer. In fact, lawyers would say that it would be impossible to do their job without all of these resources.

My book is a full description of the issues but I’ve also written some posts on this blog, and this is probably the one most relevant for you to read: https://lifeboat.com/blog/2010/06/h-conference-and-faster-singularity

Continue reading “Open Letter to Ray Kurzweil” »