Program 1999 Fall Foresight Weekend

(subject to many changes at any time)

Openness in the Realms of "Stuff" and Bits:
Confronting the Complexity Challenge in Meatspace, Infospace, Peoplespace

Hotel Sofitel, Redwood City, California
September 17-19, 1999

In response to popular demand, we try to reserve at least half of the weekend for informal discussion and Q&A, including a continuous parallel track in the schmooze room for demos, other toys, dealmaking, and/or whatever you want to do during talks you'd like to skip out on.

What to bring (optional): laptop demos, video demos, favorite techie toys, swimsuit. Not needed: suits and ties, Powerpoint.

Friday, September 17, 1999
8 - 11 PM  

We kick off with a dual track reception:
traditional schmoozing/partying/demoing for those who prefer freelance interaction, in parallel with an optional "Who's Who" meeting for new members and interested others, emceed by Eric Drexler and Ralph Merkle. This used to be reserved for the newbies, but forget that idea: the old-timers sneak in anyway.

Saturday, September 18, 1999
8 - 9 AM   Continental breakfast, waking up, staring off into space as the brain cells attempt to get their action potentials up to speed.
9 - 9:30 AM  

Eric Drexler, Foresight / IMM   CONFIRMED

It's ENGINES OF CREATION 2000 time -- Eric will give us the big picture on where we are and where we're headed now vs. where we want to go, and what needs doing to get there. Preview: things are going amazingly well, so far, but the tricky parts are still ahead.

9:30 - 10 AM  

Ralph Merkle, Foresight / IMM   CONFIRMED

Our favorite computational nanotechnologist sorts the hype from the real work in nanotechnology. Who's doing what, where, how fast, and can we work there? Or, at least, invest? The answers to these questions are encouraging, but don't go by what you read in the newspaper.

10 - 10:30 AM   More caffeine; it helps the IQ, at least temporarily.
10:30 - 11 AM  

Doug Lenat, Cycorp   CONFIRMED

We've been keeping an eye on Doug since his automated discovery program, EURISKO, showed up in Engines of Creation. But for the past 15 years he's been pursuing an even more challenging goal: building an 'expert system', CYC, whose knowledge base spans the millions of things the average person knows, including what we usually call 'common sense'. Not only is his effort one of the few things that AI grand old men Minsky, Feigenbaum, and McCarthy can agree on, it's near enough to completion by now to be commercially profitable.

11 - 11:30 AM  

Brian Behlendorf, SourceXchange,   CONFIRMED

Brian founded the Apache Project: an open source, voluntary spontaneous-order software-creation process that has blown the commercial competition out of the water -- including the company up north. Come hear how he did it, and how he's revolutionizing the market for software development with yet another spontaneous process: an online free market.

11:30 - Noon  

John Kao, The Idea Factory   CONFIRMED

To address the challenges ahead, we'll need to be creative, so let's hear from the expert. From feature films to medical tech startups to writing and teaching to CEOing The Idea Factory -- John's doing it all. How could one person do the above, teach at Harvard Business School, and be production executive on the film "sex lies and videotape"? We have no idea but hope to find out. (John: what nutritional supplements are you taking? Inquiring minds want to know!)

Noon - 1:30 PM   Lunch: rest your brain while chowing down on the Sofitel's excellent cuisine. We deserve it, and the neurotransmitters appreciate it too, especially for the next talk.
1:30 - 2 PM  

Brewster Kahle, Alexa/Internet Archives   CONFIRMED

An Internet pioneer from the days of his pre-web project WAIS, Brewster had the guts to start Internet Archives -- a repository of all public web pages, held in trust for public use whether they are still on the web or not. While others fussed about legal details; Brewster saw we needed a library and made one. Now he's sold Alexa to Amazon and has time to come tell us his adventures in pushing the limits of what is allowed to be done.

2 - 2:30 PM  

Bruce Perens,   CONFIRMED

Bruce, author of the Open Source definition, brings up another controversy -- how many of us have noticed that the patent system is totally messed up and causing horrible problems for companies, individuals, and society as a whole? Others might be tempted to give up -- it's the big corporations who benefit the most, and they have deep pockets -- but Bruce is a gutsy guy, so let's take a shot at seeing what can be done to fix this.

2:30 - 3 PM  

Tom W. Bell, Chapman Univ. School of Law   CONFIRMED

Okay, the last talk questions the current patent system, and we can sympathize with that. But "Escape from Copyright"?! Many of us have to make our livings based on copyrighted work...or think we do. Let's see whether the colorful and erudite law prof. Tom can possibly have a point here. He's been right before...

3 - 3:30 PM   Yet more caffeine; lots more stuff happening today, including the truly unusual next talk:
3:30 - 4 PM  

Mark S. Miller,   CONFIRMED

By now we've noticed a pattern starting to emerge here, and Mark will bring it all into focus in "Computer Software as the Future of Law". Like it or not, software is permeating our lives and governments. Yet, as anyone knows who uses it, software doesn't work, at least not reliably enough to trust our legal lives to it. How can these facts possibly be reconciled into something we live with?

4 - 4:30 PM  

Christine Peterson, Foresight   CONFIRMED

There's another pattern emerging here -- openness as an approach for dealing with the complexities of the physical world, information space, and organizations. In software, let's choose open source; in government, open processes; in organizations, open books and open management. Why not use the tools evolved in open source for other major projects we care about: writing important books, collaborative budgeting, making democratic decisions? We explore the strengths and limits of this tool.

4:30 - 5 PM  

"Time for Toys" including demos of encrypted money flying invisibly through the air (i.e. Paypal), and for expressing our opinions quantitatively on the Idea Futures Market. If it's great weather, we'll take the toys outside on the terrace. If not, it's upstairs in Salon 4. But keep an eye out for the petite brunette who says it's time to get on the bus -- that's Marcia, "she who must be obeyed".

5 - 6 PM   Somewhere in here we stop talking long enough to climb into what the travel industry calls a "motorcoach" and be transported to our Sushi Extravaganza at Pierluigi Zappacosta's house in nearby Atherton.
6 - 9 PM   We dine poolside and, if we're brave, actually go into the water, maybe even in less than an hour after we eat. If we're not brave, no problem: not only is the pool optional, so is the raw fish, as there will be plenty of cooked food to eat.
10 PM to Whenever  

Open Mike session in Salon 4, led once again by the inimitable Ms. Sunah Cherwin.

Everybody gets a short time to present whatever they want to the group. Time limits firmly enforced by the notoriously unforgiving Sunah.

Whenever   Wander through corridors searching for hotel room, find it, collapse. Eventually get back up, brush teeth, sleep.
Sunday, September 19, 1999
7:45 - 8:15 AM   Continental breakfast, waking up, attempting to get eyes to uncross and focus properly.
8:15 - 8:45 AM  

Anita Goel, Harvard/MIT   CONFIRMED

If anyone can wake us up, it's Anita and her vision of founding a dynamic institute that integrates physics, biomedicine, and nanotechnology. With her background in molecular motors, optical tweezers, and leadership -- combined with sheer willpower -- she will succeed. Come brainstorm with us and witness the birth of what is destined to be a major force in nanotech.

8:45 - 9:30 AM  

Bruce Ames, UC Berkeley   CONFIRMED

"Ames test" sound familiar? Bruce is the one who came up with the way we test carcinogens. He's a gutsy guy, often pointing out some controversial point such as that just because vegetables have pesticides on them doesn't mean we shouldn't eat them. Today he'll give us some good news: "Preventing cancer and delaying aging with micronutrients: the coming DNA microarray revolution". (An anti-aging revolution through technology...we like it already.)

9:30 - 10 AM  

Gregory Stock, UCLA School of Medicine   CONFIRMED

Operating as a radical in a notoriously conservative environment, Greg somehow manages to get cutting-edge things to happen, such as his UCLA symposium on Human Germline Engineering, a formerly taboo topic now discussed openly -- and just in time, since the technology is almost here. Let's get Greg to tell us of his adventures in bringing this field into the 21st century, and where he sees medicine going. Life extension, anti-aging, cloned organs, augmented human bodies?

10 - 10:30 AM   More caffeine; it was a late night yesterday
10:30 - 11 AM  

Neil Jacobstein, Teknowledge and IMM   CONFIRMED

It's time to get practical about tactics for increasing the safety of nanotechnology development without slowing it down. If we don't come up with good guidelines, someone else is likely to come up with something, and we can be pretty sure we won't like whatever that is. Foresight and IMM conducted the Monterey Workshop in February to consider this issue, resulting in the Draft Foresight Guidelines. Neil ran another mini-workshop on the Guidelines at the Foresight Group Genius workshop in May. He would like to get your thoughts on the Guidelines, and our current plans for refining and disseminating them.

11 - Noon   Lagoon Adventure
Select your topic group for a brisk 2 mile stroll around the lagoon addressing the challenge of your choice. Or, if your topic group rebels at physical movement, do your brainstorming at tables on the terrace.
Noon - 1:30 PM   Lunch; we spontaneously surf over to the food again, which we engulf like a macrophage. Somehow, this always seems to happen, every few hours. It's as though we're animals or something...embarrassing. Fortunately, we've learned how to turn this biological event into a social one.
1:30 - 2 PM  

Bob Hambrecht, WR Hambrecht+Co.  CONFIRMED

Bob's company is doing OpenIPO: a great new market in which individual investors get to bid on initial public offerings on the same footing as the big guys. Finally, it's a level playing field -- not "who you know" and your level of influence, as it has been since companies were invented. Why should we care? Well, using this process, companies IPOing can save hundreds of millions of dollars. Got any ideas for what to do with that much money? How about develop nanotechnology? (It's not so unlikely -- the founder of is a Foresight Senior Associate, and so are a lot of other entrepreneurs.) Society benefits when key processes open up -- so thanks, Bob.

2 - 3 PM  

Ka-Ping Yee, Eric Drexler, Doug Engelbart  CONFIRMED

Yes, the web is very nice and has made a big difference. But for those who saw the web coming, today's system looks pretty marginal. We've barely begun to see the economic, social, and political benefits to improved Social Software. Ping will demo Crit and Udanax, Eric will fulminate, and Doug will inspire us to heights of vision and ambition, culiminating in an urge to do something to make this move faster. Then, we'll figure out what...probably an open source process, either non-profit or for-profit.

3 - 3:30 PM  

Eric Schmidt, Novell   CONFIRMED

As head of Novell, Eric gives lots of talks, but this one's special because it's off the record. We'll encourage him to give us the inside story on how he sees the future. For once, he can forget about the stock analysts -- bane of public company CEOs -- take off the tie, let his hair down and tell it the way it is.

3:30 - 4 PM   Topic groups from the Lagoon Adventure present their findings, or controversies, and the rest of us get to kibbitz.
4 - 4:30 PM   Eric Drexler does the wrap-up and sends us on our way until the next Schmoozathon, online or F2F (face to face).
4:30 - 5 PM   Hurried exchange of business cards via dead tree methods or beaming Palm Pilots. Out-of-towners head for the airport while locals sip wine (or more likely Coke) near the pool. Entrepreneurs turn their cell phones back on; time to rejoin the immediate environment.