2001 Los Angeles Future Salons

January February March April May June July August September October November December

January, 2001
Inaugural Planning Meeting

February 9, 2001
Four Books for February at Borders Bookstore

Hello Thinkers,

Here are the four books we've selected to read for our Feb 9th meeting. Feel free to read/skim any of them beforehand (remember to buy from the Borders.com website!). If you aren't reading a book, please bring an article, web printout, or other interesting info to share.

Book 1: (Science and Systems)
"Figments of Reality: The Evolution of the Curious Mind," Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, 1997

Wow. This book is excellent, even better written than their last, "Collapse of Chaos," which was one of the few books that really put Chaos Theory in its place (Chaos describes only the evolutionary aspect of complex systems, *not* the developmental aspect). "Figments" is about how mind evolves out of social systems, not solely out of the neurobiology of brain. I challenge you to look at it more deeply if you'd like to get a handle on where "mind" originates. If IS and JC are right, our most complex AI's may not be truly self-aware (and perhaps also, truly emotional, ethical, etc.) until they've created a community of intercommunicating, independent, and differentiated computational systems.

For Amazon reviews:
To order from Borders:

Steve Potter, Cal Tech Neuroscience Research Associate, will be moderating. Here's Steve's Home Page:

Steve will also be moderating "Figments" at his "GroupMind" Reading Group (I recommend you also sign up for GroupMind now at eGroups, it takes only a few seconds. Here's the link: http://www.egroups.com/group/groupmind

GroupMind gives you great mental stimulation on the first Friday of every month (so next meeting is Feb 2nd, 7-9pm) at Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado in Pasadena.

Book 2: (Profiles of the Future)
"Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence", Ray Kurzweil, 1999

This book is probably the most useful starting point for dealing with the major issues of our Extraordinary Future. Fascinating reading.
Overview and exerpts can be found at Ray's site:
or even better, at Amazon: (Check out the 91 customer reviews!)

To order at Borders:
Convenient audiotape version also available at Borders:

Michael Eastwood of JPL will be moderating.

Book 3: (Tools for Living)
"The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Brian-Mind Research," Pierce Howard, 2000

This book is an amazing tool everyone should know about. It is full of practical insights from cognitive science, presented in a very accessible manner. Covers all the most interesting new stuff, such as Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, as well as sleep, motivation, attention, and many practical tips. (Did you know citrus is as stimulating to the nervous system as coffee? I think some mornings you might need both... :)
Amazon Reviews:
To order at Borders:

Farsam Shadab will be moderating. Explore Farsam's world at:

Book 4: (Financial and Business)
"The eBay Phenomenon: Business Secrets of the Worlds Hottest Internet Company," David Bunnell, 2001

This is a short (184 page) and very easy reading book on one of the most interesting phenomena on the web, at present. The stickiest website, and also one of the most profitable, since its inception. Do you understand why? Read the book yourself, or wait until next month to hear the full story. That said, this book is *not* the in-depth analysis you might hope for. Bunnell didn't do any interviews of eBay staff, and not too many of its customers, so its written from an outsider's perspective. Here's a Salon review of the books strengths and shortcomings, as well as John Gierland's take on the eBay phenomeonon:

There *is* an excellent book on the venture capitalists at Benchmark, ("eBoys," by Stross and Karp, 2000) who got involved with eBay early on (and whom eBay didn't really even need, due to the amazingly self- replicating nature of their history -- they never even touched the $5M that Benchmark provided). eBoys is highly recommended if you want to know about VC goings on. But to understand the eBay Phenomenon, Bunnell's book is currently the only game in town.

You also can only get it at Barnes and Noble at the moment:

John Smart will be moderating this book.

Feel free to post any other relevant book information, links, or ideas relevant to our four topics at this site, but let's try to keep the quality of each post high.

March 9, 2001
Natasha Vita-More of Extropy

It's time for another month of fun and insight as the LA Futurists salon and reading group again considers science and systems, profiles, tools, and the financial/business aspects of our world of accelerating change, tommorrow, 3/9, 7-9pm (Borders Santa Monica, 1st floor literature alcove).

This month, we'll have Natasha Vita-More as our special guest.

Her reading (8:00 to approximately 8:30) will be filmed for a futurist documentary. (PS: You all get to be extras in a movie! :) She is a widely known
transhumanist author and founder of the transhumanist art movement. She is also the partner of Max More, and a longtime advisor of the transhumanist futures pioneer, the Extropy Institute (http://www.Extropy.org). For more information about her insightful book on transhumanist culture, _Create/Recreate: The 3rd Millennial Culture_, please see http://www.extropic-art.com/createrecreate.htm
For more information about "Primo 3M+ 2001", her latest creative project on the future of the human form, visit http://www.natasha.cc/primo.htm I hope you'll join me in welcoming Natasha. She is a beacon of things to come, and a warm and wonderful individual.

Each month we try to surprise each other with at least one amazing new development in local scientific, technological, or cultural complexity. I encourage you to bring any of your own each month, and to post them here at LA Futurists, but don't feel obligated. I'll continue posting my own pick-of-the-month. For the record, here was January's pick, for our February meeting:

Scientists Bring Light to Full Stop, Hold It, Then Send it On Its Way, James Glanz, NY Times

Are Desktop Black Holes on the Horizon?, Robert Britt, MSNBC/Space.com

These events are strong "signs of the singularity" in my book, as they indicate the universe is conducive to manipulation of matter and energy at even the most collapsed scales of its known structure. For example, these breakthroughs suggest that we are moving toward an era of networked quantum computing, storing information on photons in the same way that we currently store it on microscopic magnetic particles.

Well, I've been just as surprised by several events that developed in February, and I'll present my favorite on Friday, 3/9 (Borders Santa Monica, 7-9pm, 1st Floor Literature Alcove), as usual. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

April 13, 2001
Four Presenters, Four Books

We'll be presenting four books at our April 13th meeting at Borders, Santa Monica Promenade, 7-9pm, Third Floor Stage.

If you purchase any, please mostly patronize Borders.com (and occasionally, Amazon.com). I challenge you also to bring a new friend, article, web printout, book candidate, or other info to share with the group next month.

Book 1: (Science and Systems of Accelerating Change)
"Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse: The Quest for the Quantum Computer," Julian Brown, 2000.

A fascinating introduction to the recent successes in manipulating matter below the subatomic level for the purposes of computation. Brown's work is accessible and quick reading. He even mentions the singularity (accelerating change), so this work gets bonus points for insights into where this kind of technology may be leading us.

Peter Voss will be moderating this book. Explore Peter's Optimal
Living philosophy at: http://www.optimal.org/peter/peter.htm

Book 2: (Profiles of the Future)
"The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?", David Brin, 1998.

A tour de force on privacy, freedom, information ownership, intellectual property, accountability, and globalization. It deeply addresses the increased monitoring of every aspect of our society, and the tradeoffs we make between privacy/freedom and various public benefits (security, efficiency, etc.) Amazing futurism from an
acclaimed science fiction writer and humanitarian author.

Louise Gold will be moderating. Explore Louise's Optimal Living philosophy at: http://www.optimal.org/louise/louise.htm

Book 3: (Tools for Modern Living)
"Descarte's Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain," Antonio Damasio, 1994.

Damasio's research tell us that emotion is perhaps even more important to effective cognition and rationality than logic. His models make a great case that any electronic intelligence, when it wakes up, will have to be as fundamentally "emotional" as "logical." Considering the integrative role that emotion plays in a collectively computing mind, as a system to break the deadlock between opposing and incomplete logical mindsets, it seems that "emotional"/ collective decisionmaking capabilities will have to be central elements of electronic intelligences as well. Fascinating.

Steve Potter, Cal Tech Neuroscience Research Associate, will be moderating. His Home Page:
Steve also runs the GroupMind reading group on the first Friday of every month, 7-9pm, at Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado in Pasadena. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/groupmind

Book 4: (Financial and Business Futures)
"Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World," George Gilder, 2000.

Gilder is one of the grand interpreters of the modern computer era. His 1989 classic, Microcosm, was one of the first to coherently explain why the computer industry, due to Moore's and other exponential Laws of Technology, would be such a unique and tremendous creator of economic wealth. In this sequel, his approach remains focused on apparently universal computational trends. We are in the process of creating wealth, but also something much more valuable, in
an evolutionary sense. Gilder describes what we are creating.

John Smart will be moderating this book.

See you soon! Feel free to post to this list, but let's keep frequency low and quality high.

May 11, 2001
Four Fab Books and a New Location (Barnes & Noble)

Hello Thinkers,

It's time for our monthly gathering of fun and insight as the LA
Futurists salon and reading group again considers science and
systems, profiles of the future, tools for modern living, and the
financial/business aspects of our fascinating world of accelerating
change, this Friday, 5/11, 7-9pm at our SNAZZY NEW LOCATION:

Barnes&Noble, Santa Monica Promenade
(3rd&Wilshire), 2nd Floor, Events Room (backup: 3rd Floor Chair
Circle). Our four scheduled moderators are:

Peter Voss: Minds, Machines, and the Multiverse;
Peter Dimitrioli: Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the
John Smart: Evolution Isn't What it Used to Be: The Augmented Animal
and the Whole Wired World;
Lily Xie: Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach their Kids about
Money that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not.

Please bring your insights, questions, and scintillating conversation!

June 8, 2001
Four Fab Books and Fun

Hello Thinkers,

It's time again for our monthly gathering of fun and insight as the
LA Futurists salon and reading group again discusses/shares science
and systems, profiles of the future, tools for modern living, and the
financial/business aspects of our fascinating world of accelerating
change, this Friday, 6/8, 7-9pm at our NEW LOCATION, Barnes&Noble,
Santa Monica Promenade(3rd&Wilshire). Again this month we'll be on
the 3rd Floor (Chair Circle), with seats for the first 25-30 of us
who show up. Our four scheduled moderators and books are:

Peter Voss: Engine of Reason, Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical
Journey into the Brain (Paul Churchland);
Louise Gold: Reason Enough to Hope: America and the World of the 21st
Century (Morrison & Tsipis);
Farsam Shadab: Owner's Manual for the Brain (Pierce Howard);
John Smart: Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize our
World (George Gilder)

We'll also be launching our new AUDIOBOOK LOANER CLUB, for those of
us who are too busy to read much in the intervening month, but
nevertheless want to stay on top of the latest science, technology,
and business futures books. Great for the car or the gym!

Please bring your insights, questions, and scintillating conversation!

July 13, 2001
Four Great Books

Hello Thinkers,

Here's an early heads up for the books we'll discuss on Friday, 7/13,
7-9pm at our COZY NEW LOCATION, Barnes&Noble,
Santa Monica Promenade(3rd&Wilshire). This month we'll be on
the 2nd Floor (Events Room) instead of our backup location (3rd
Floor, Chair Circle), with lots of seats available. Our July lineup:

Brian Rowley reviews:
"Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging" by Tom
Steve Potter reviews:
"After The Internet: Alien Intelligence" by James Martin
Farsam Shadab reviews:
"Owners Manual for the Brain" by Pierce Howard
John Smart reviews:
"Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature" by Eric Chaisson

A fascinating menagerie! We'll also run our AUDIOBOOK LOANER CLUB,
for those of us who are too busy to read at present, but still want
to be exposed to latest science, technology, and business futures

August 10, 2001
Four Books, Greg Wendt on Socially Responsible Investing

Hello Thinkers,

It's time again for our monthly gathering of surprise and insight as
the LA Futurists salon and reading group discusses science and
systems, profiles of the future, tools for modern living, and
financial/business aspects of our fascinating world of accelerating
change, this Friday (tomorrow), August 10th, 7-9pm at Barnes&Noble,
Santa Monica Promenade(3rd&Wilshire).

B&N has promised us the 2nd Floor (Events Room), with seats for up to
50 (arranged in a circle, of course!). Our backup location remains
the 3rd Floor, Chair Circle.

We have a SPECIAL GUEST this month, presenting on a business theme:
Financial Planner Greg Wendt, of Prudential, talking about his
passion: "Socially Responsible Investing." Come learn how to use this
powerful collective force for change!

Our moderators and the books they'll review are:

Greg Wendt:
"Investing with your values" by Hal and Jack Brill
and "Socially Responsible Investing" by Amy Domini
Tad Daley:
"A History of Knowledge" by Charles Van Doren
Johann Gevers:
"A Brief History of Everything" by Ken Wilber

Greg will present for roughly an hour, as he's got a lot of material
to cover. Tad and Johann are each dealing with some *very* Big
Picture books: don't miss this one!

Bring any new Science, Technology, Business, and Cultural Surprises
to share, and we'll continue our Audio Book Club, for those of us too
busy to read in these fast-paced times.

Come share your insights, inquiries, and scintillating conversation!

September 14, 2001
Three Books and Dan Mapes on the Extraordinary Future

Hello Futurists,

It's time again for our monthly meeting this Friday, 9/14, 7-9pm at
Barnes&Noble, Santa Monica Promenade(3rd&Wilshire). We meet either on
the 2nd Floor (Events Room) or the 3rd Floor (our Chair Circle), if
Events Room is otherwise engaged (look there first).

1. This month we have a SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER, futurist and digital
media CTO Dan Mapes, talking about the Extraordinary Future. Explore
Dan's fascinating background and accomplishments ("Lawnmower
Man", "Oz", etc.) at http://www.DanMapes.com

2. The tragic events of September 11th, 2001, like the emergence of
the transistor, nuclear weapons, or the internet, appear to signal
yet another irreversible transition for modern human society. The
more complex our technologies become, the smaller our world, and the
more easily weapons of mass destruction (WMD) become available to the
few (perhaps < half of 1% of us, by DSM-IV categories?) who would use
them for extreme destabilizing effect. Yet the major lesson of
accelerating change to date has been that immune systems always win,
ensuring ever faster local computational change in the historical
universe (catastrophes in fact themselves appear catalytic in some
important sense). It may now be that the time has finally come for
the world's cultural and technological immune/intelligence systems to
1) uniquely identify and 2) continually and publicly monitor that
always-statistically-small collection of individuals willing to
engage in extreme violence. Let us hope, as in other successful
emergences of complex immunity (ie, the human body), that the
freedoms, creativity, and uniqueness of the majority of individual
human beings are further clarified, protected, and enhanced in this
transition. Come tell your futurist friends and colleagues your take
on the new, more complex world we have just entered. How will we
preserve the American dream, and further develop our freedoms and

3. Recent emergences in physics have caused our cosmologists and
particle physicists to take entirely new perspectives on black holes
and the relativistic universe. Here's a background tutorial:
Michio Kaku (one of our authors this month) talks here about the
conceptual incompleteness of Einstein's relativity theory, and the
central importance of black holes to unlocking the "mystery of the
multiverse." Last month, several physicists have come to publicly
speculate that we are on the verge of minor black hole production
right here on Earth, potentially allowing us to test our multiverse
theories with a range of new experiments:
As Anders Sandberg has commented, if it seems like we're living the
plot of a Science Fiction novel, perhaps that's a sign the
singularity is fast approaching….

4. Our Books This Month:
New group member and AI expert Jay Dubin reviews:
Michio Kaku's "Hyperspace". (A peek at a very important future topic).

Philosopher Farsam Shadab reviews:
Pierce Howard's "Owners Manual for the Human Brain: Everyday
Applications from Mind-Brain Research" (also very meaty)

John Smart reviews:
Pierre Baldi's "The Shattered Self: The End of Natural Evolution"

We'll also run our Audiobook Loaner Club, and may have an
intellectual DVD and video or two to share.

We look forward to any favorite books, articles, tidbits that you
bring to share with us!

October 12, 2001
Three Great Books

Hello Future Thinkers,

We've got some snazzy color business cards coming in November,
so you can hand out invitations to LA Futurists to all your future-
savvy friends.

Here is the lineup we'll discuss this Friday, Oct
12th, 7pm at Barnes&Noble, Santa Monica Promenade.
Location: 2nd Floor Events Room or 3rd Floor, Chair Circle.

Creative Collaboration, by Vera John-Steiner, 2000.
Presented by Todd Huffman (CSULB Neuroscience major!)
Ever wonder why most of our productivity occurs in *very* small
groups of two or three people? Or who studies the functional and
dysfunctional types of collaborations? Fascinating, and very relevant
to the remainder of our productive years. [See also Collaborative
Creativity, by Jack Ricchiuto, 1996, another excellent work.]

The Three Big Bangs: Comet Crashes, Exploding Stars, and the Creation
of the Universe, by Dauber and Muller, 1996
Presented by John Smart
Enlightening background on three major universal events that led to
life on Earth. This kind of history helps us understand that
even "catastrophe" always seems to have its own deep catalytic
function. [John will also do The Shattered Self, by Pierre Baldi to
cover for Johann's absence.]

Owner's Manual for the Human Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-
Brain Research, Howard Pierce, 2000
Presented by Farsam Shadab (back from Cal Inst for Integral Studies!)
This volume is packed with some fantastic tools and tips for mental
life. You can use them immediately, from sleep to attention to
learning to loving, to sensuality to mood management. Awesome.

Please purchase your copies of these books at our local Santa Monica
Barnes & Noble, to support our store. Please also buy an occasional
book from Amazon, to support their excellent reviews. Thanks.

In addition to your scintillating conversation, don't forget to bring
any interesting printouts, articles, books, etc. you might have to
share on our larger world of science, technology, business, and
humanism. Books relevant to the challenge of reducing world violence,
and increasing global balance would be particularly timely, but bring
whatever sparks your passion. In the middle of our personal and
social trajedies, life is going on, at an accelerating rate. We need
our communities to be strong now more than ever.

November 9, 2001
Three New Books and Speakers

Hello Thinkers,

It's time again for another meeting of the minds and souls as we
ponder the monumental, accelerating events occurring around us. The
savvy and witty Paul Grasshoff will be moderating this month
(tommorrow, 11/9, 7-9pm), and we have three fantastic new speakers.

We've jumped again from 70 to 83 members. Our new LA Futurists
reading group invitation cards/biz cards are done, and Paul will be
bringing handfuls to share with all your future-oriented friends. And
thank you Jan for that easel last time! Paul and I want to start
a "whiteboard tradition," and get some digital pictures of our
presenters in action, expounding on these important books…

Here is our lineup for Friday, Nov 9th, 7pm at Barnes&Noble, Santa
Monica Promenade. Location: 2nd Floor, Events Room (backup: 3rd
Floor, Chair Circle).

Millennials Rising, William Strauss and Neil Howe, 2000.
Presented by Pete Markiewicz.
Ever wondered exactly how today's generation is different? How they
are shaped by the new collaborative technology, and by the pendulum
swings away from previous extremes, such as "Gen X" culture? Pete has
done extensive research on social and generational factors affecting
cultural roles and preferences, and Millenials Rising is one of his
favorite new books on these topics. See his "Future of Entertainment"
seminar series, which builds on this same topic, at:

Collaborative Creativity, Jack Ricchiuto, 1996.
Presented by Jeannie Novak
Jeannie will continue Todd's excellent introduction to this topic
last month, with Creative Collaboration. More investigation into the
essence of small-group productivity. A series of 72 brief vignettes
on such topics as cooperation, creativity, teamwork (and its limits).
Such complex issues, yet so central to whatever we'll be inspired to
create, and motivate each other to accomplish, for the rest of our
productive lives. Find out more about her artistic side at

Design for Community, Powazek.
Presented by Andrew Breese
Andrew will be giving us some fascinating insights into the recent
emergence of good virtual communities with his overview of this
excellent "how to" book. A companion site is at
http://www.designforcommunity.com. How to attract and
moderate "conversations," the Blog phenomenon, ways to handle
commerce, personal attacks, anonymity, etc. So many interesting
issues. He's said he'll be throwing in some tidbits from "Ideavirus"
as well (I assume this is Unleashing the Ideavirus, Godin and
Gladwell's new book). Explore Andrew's heady Blog at

Please purchase these books at our local Barnes & Noble, to support
our store. Please also buy the occasional book from Amazon, to
support their excellent reviews. Thanks.

In addition to your sparkling conversation, don't forget to bring
any printouts, articles, books, etc. you might have to
share (and wish to present) on our larger world of science,
technology, business, and humanism. Surprise us!

11/18 Special Event: Don't Miss This Year's Leonid Meteor Showers!!
Mark your calendar: November 18th, 1-3am in the L.A. Night Sky.
This year's may be the most impressive "meteor storm" since 1966.
How do they occur every year? This quicktime animation gives the Big
"Jaw-dropping" is the perfect adjective…

December 14, 2001
Three Great Books

Hi Futurists,

Just a reminder about tomorrow's salon. Natasha Vita-More will be our
special guest, with an update on the world of transhumanist art and
culture. Expect some Extropians in the crowd!

Try to show up a bit in advance and "Explore the Store" for
interesting new books/mags to share, so that we can start *promptly*
at 7pm, with booty in hand. Also, bring your surprising news items.
I'll have mine!

A reminder of our fascinating book and speaker lineup for tomorrow,
Friday, Dec 14th, 7-9:30pm, at Barnes&Noble, Santa Monica Promenade
follows. I'll be substituting for Andrew Breese, who needs to
reschedule. See you there!

The End of History & the Last Man, Fukuyama, 1993. (7:30pm sharp)
Presented by Curt Steindler (Our Resident Lawyer and Polymath!)

Endless Universe, Couper & Henbest, 1999. (8:00pm)
Presented by John Smart (Resident Bricolageur)

Special Guest:
High Techne: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the
Posthuman, Rutsky, 1999 (8:30pm)
Presented by Natasha Vita More (Extropian-Transhumanist Founder)

Please purchase your copies of these books at our local Santa Monica
Barnes & Noble, to support our store. Please also buy an occasional
book from Amazon, to support their excellent reviews.

Afterward, those hanging out are going to decide whether we want to
do dinner, or instead see a 10pm showing of Cameron Crowe's new
film, "Vanilla Sky." This is the US remake of Alejandro Amenabar's
excellent "Abre Los Ojos" (Open Your Eyes), 1997, an engaging tale
about virtual reality, cryonics, and the future. Unfortunately, the
reviews for the American remake are not that good. So we'll put it to
a vote after the meeting and figure out what kind of entertainment
we'll be pursuing.

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