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Spring 2003 Gathering

Foresight Vision Weekend

Annual Senior Associates Gathering
"Molecular Myth, Manufacturing, Money and Mania—
Will the real nanotechnology please self assemble!"

Preliminary Program
(subject to change)

May 2-4, 2003
Hotel Crowne Plaza Cabaña Palo Alto
Silicon Valley, California


The meeting is off the record; no media writeups please.

In response to member 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, or whatever you want to do during talks you'd like to skip out on.

What to bring (optional): laptop demos, favorite techie toys and books, business plan, resumé, videos, book draft, swimsuit. Not needed: suits and ties.

May 2, Friday optional event
9 AM to 5 PM "Fundamentals of Nanotechnology" Tutorial
Eric Drexler, Ralph Merkle, Scott Mize and Ed Niehaus bring you up to speed on the basics, background of the field, and business opportunities.
May 2, Friday evening
7-9 PM Reception & Registration
Eat, drink and be merry as you find out what's happened with your fellow Senior Associates since last time. (Did the company IPO or tank? Is the book finished? How was Antarctica?)
8-9 PM Vision Weekend Orientation & Introductions
Foresight is truly a community, so if this is your first Senior Associates meeting you'll want to find out who's who and what it's all about. Meet key thinkers and doers, and hear what they've been up to. Optional: tell us who you are and what you'd like to get from this meeting—a job, partner, co-author, new ideas, startup funding? Telling us now helps us try to make it happen for you by Sunday at 5 PM.
9:30-10 PM Live demo of LUCIA
Libraria's Unique Chemically Intelligent Archive will be presented live to the Foresight Community for the first time. Senior Associate Dr. Barry Bunin, Libraria's President and CSO, will demo the coolest technology anyone has seen for designing molecules and predicting the affinity of small molecules to proteins. A number of Senior Associates have invested or worked with Libraria on this new technology.
May 3, Saturday morning
8 AM Continental breakfast: load up on caffeine to make up for the late night on Friday
8:15 AM Breakfast Reception for those who joined as Senior Associates in the past year
9 AM K. Eric DrexlerAs author of both Nanosystems and Engines of Creation, Foresight Chairman Eric Drexler has the big picture on smalltech. He'll give us his trajectory for the nanotechnology revolution and what rewards and pitfalls to expect along the way.
9:30 AM Group discussion
9:45 AM Lawrence LessigStanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig — "the freedom fighter of the digital world" — is on the front lines in figuring out what's coming and how to maintain the society we want in the face of advancing technology combined with problematic law. How can we help?
10:15 AM Group discussion
10:30 AM Caffeine break
11 AM Steve T. JurvetsonSteve Jurvetson, fondly known as "Mr. Nanotech VC", gives us his practical yet visionary perspective on today's nanotech breakthroughs, especially which nanotech startups to watch in the months ahead.
11:30 AM Group discussion
11:45 AM Peter SchwartzPeter Schwartz, cofounder and chairman of Global Business Network, is an internationally renowned futurist/business strategist and may well be the most alert of that profession—he spotted nanotech in the mid-80's. An expert in scenario planning, Peter believes that nanotechnology is the inevitable technological expression of a new scientific revolution in which physics, chemistry and biology converge at the nanometer scale, moving nanotech to the central position of mainstream scientific and technological development.
12:30 PM Group discussion
12:45 PM Lunch (included)
May 3, Saturday afternoon
2:00 PM Ralph C. MerkleRalph Merkle, computational nanotechnologist extraordinare and Foresight's VP Technology Assessment, gives us his "Top 10" picks for nanotech advances, raises his eyebrows at examples of tech-hype, and sketches the R&D path needed to reach real molecular manufacturing.
2:30 PM Group discussion
2:45 PM Brad TempletonBrad Templeton, chairman of Electronic Frontier Foundation, explains how current scary trends in both intellectual property and privacy are setting the stage for very serious problems as nanotech approaches and then arrives in full. What's happening right now will affect what we are allowed to do—and even to know—in the coming age of advanced technologies.
3:15 PM Group discussion
3:30 PM Caffeine break
4:00 PM Panel: Security, Privacy & Openness in the Nanotech Era
Eric Drexler, Neil Jacobstein, Steve Jurvetson, Chris Phoenix, Brad Templeton. Moderator: Christine Peterson
A world with tiny weapons will require us to watch out for their abuse—and watch carefully, 24/7. Ever-cheaper surveillance technology is making this possible—at the cost of less privacy—bringing us back to the earlier model of human life when your whole village knew your every move. Can we tolerate this, and if not, what's the alternative?
4:45 PM Group discussion
5:00 PM Aubrey de GreyAubrey de Grey, researcher on aging at the University of Cambridge, may be the best source of the answer to this question: what therapies can we develop soon to repair the molecular degeneration of aging? He'll tell us how pre-nanotech bioengineering can comprehensively reverse human aging. Let's listen and then implement.
5:30 PM Group discussion
May 3, Saturday evening
6:30 PM Self-assembling no-host dinner groups disperse to enjoy local cuisine. But come back on time for:
8:30-10:30 PM Special Interest Group meetings (SIGs)
May 4, Sunday morning
8 AM Continental breakfast: load up on caffeine to make up for being up late again last night
9 AM Ed FeigenbaumEd Feigenbaum is one of the early pioneers of Artificial Intelligence research. He has devoted most of his scientific career to the expert systems and knowledge engineering approaches for creating AI software whose behavior is at the level of human expertise (or beyond)—work for which he won the ACM Turing Award. He will explain why the AI scientific effort is so difficult, and he will propose modifications to the famous Turing Test for computational intelligence.
9:30 AM Group discussion
9:45 AM Eliezer YudkowskyEliezer Yudkowsky, Research Fellow at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, looks at the future of software—self-modifying, self-understanding, self-improving. He foresees a major risk from nanotech's expected sudden jump in computing power, and will sketch an approach to avoiding it.
10:15 AM Group discussion
10:30 AM Caffeine break
11 AM Brainstorming/Critiquing/Planning Breakouts meet
1:00 PM Lunch (included). Take a break and let your neurotransmitters recover—or if your breakout group can't stop talking, get to lunch early, grab a full table and continue during the meal.
May 4, Sunday afternoon
2:15 PM Brad ShermanCongressman Brad Sherman of the US House Science Committee—a Democrat from California—may be the first lawmaker to take molecular manufacturing, AI, and human genetic engineering seriously. He'll tell us of his reaction and recommendations on these powerful technologies.
2:30 PM Group discussion
2:45 PM Neil JacobsteinNeil Jacobstein, chairman of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, has been working with Stanford's Robert Horn to develop an 'argumentation map' for molecular nanotech. If you've felt frustrated in convincing a listener that molecular manufacturing lies ahead, here's the tool you've been waiting for.
3:15 PM Group discussion
3:30 PM Caffeine break
4 PM Christine PetersonChristine Peterson, Foresight president, takes on the mammoth task of summarizing progress from the Brainstorming/Critiquing/Planning Breakouts. Since in this group the audience tends to equal or exceed the speakers, most "Aha's" for the weekend should be expected here.
4:30 PM Full-Group Brainstorming for Action—Eric Drexler and Christine Peterson lead the wrap-up:
What do you want to do in these fields over the next year, and how can Foresight be of use? Can we set some personal and organizational targets and set next steps to get there? What's the one most important action we must take to succeed at our central goal, and how can we make it happen? There won't be agreement, but there will be insight and maybe brilliance extracted as we pull it all together.
5:00 PM Official end of the meeting, but it goes on informally over wine—or, more likely, Coke—at the bar/pool. Locals and those staying overnight arrange dinner outings. New startup teams sneak off to whisper amongst themselves. URLs and email addresses are exchanged. Our Foresight community switches back to cyberspace—until next time.

Special thanks

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Spring 2003 Gathering

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