John Smart (futurist)

John Smart (futurist)

John Smart (born September 10, 1960) is a futurist and scholar of accelerating change. He is founder and president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, an organization that does “outreach, education, research, and advocacy with respect to issues of accelerating change.” [ [ About Page, "," retrieved 2 March 2007] ] . Smart has an MS in futures studies from the University of Houston, and a BS in business administration from U.C. Berkeley.


Smart is the principal advocate of the concept of “MEST compression,” the idea that the most (ostensibly) complex of the universe’s extant systems (galaxies, stars, habitable planets, living systems, and now technological systems) use progressively less matter, energy, space, and time (“MEST”) to create the next level of complexity in their evolutionary development. [ [ The Value of MEST and MESTI Concepts in Understanding Universal Change, "," retrieved 3 Mar 2007] ] . A similar perspective is found in Buckminster Fuller’s writings on etherealization.

In what he calls the "developmental singularity hypothesis" [ [ Intro to the Developmental Singularity Hypothesis (DSH), "," retrieved 2 Mar 2007] ] , Smart proposes that MEST compression, as a driver of accelerating change, must lead cosmic intelligence to a future of highly-miniaturized, accelerated, and local “transcension” to extra-universal domains, rather than to space-faring expansion within our existing universe. He has also claimed that developments in astrobiology make this a testable hypothesis [ [ Smart, J., Answering the Fermi Paradox: Exploring the Mechanisms of Universal Transcension, "J. of Evol. And Technology," June 2002] ] . A related proposal may be found in the selfish biocosm hypothesis of complexity theorist James N. Gardner.

Smart has been criticized by some in the futures community as overly reductionist [ [ Carrico, D., Smart’s “Laws on Technology,” "Amor Mundi," 16 May 2006] ] and a techno-optimist [ [ Eckersley, R.. (2006) Techno-Utopia and Human Values, "" retrieved 2 Mar 2007] ] . His writings do discuss risks, abuses, and social regulation of technology, but usually as a secondary theme, subject to “inevitable” acceleration. In his defense, he claims universal and human-historical accelerating change (see Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar) do not appear to be simply a product of evolution but of some universal developmental process, one apparently protected, in a general statistical sense, by poorly understood immune systems in complex systems. In his public presentations [ [ Smart, J. Slide Presentations Archive, "," retrieved 2 Mar 2007] ] he calls for better characterization and use of existing processes of intelligence, immunity, and interdependence development in biological, cultural, and technological systems. He has critiqued systems scholars such as Jonathan Huebner, who claim that the rate of global innovation appears to be slowing down. His counterthesis is that innovation is increasingly conducted by technological systems, and is thereby becoming more abstract and difficult to measure by human social standards [ [ Smart, J. (2005) Measuring Innovation in an Accelerating World, "Technological Forecasting & Social Change," V72N8] ] .

An advocate of foresight and “acceleration-awareness” in education, Smart has proposed a developmental categorization of futurist thinking [ [ Smart, J. Futurist (definition): (Twelve) Types of Futures Thinking, "," retrieved 2 Mar 2007] ] , maintains a list of global futures studies programs [ [ Futures Studies (ASF list): Global Graduate Programs and Resources] ] , and has authored an open source required undergraduate course in foresight development [ [ Evo Devo Futures Studies I: Introduction to Foresight Development, "," retrieved 2 Mar 2007] ] , modeled after required foresight courses at Tamkang University in Taiwan. He has argued that just as history (hindsight) and current events (insight) are core general education requirements, the methods and knowledge base of futures studies (foresight), deserve inclusion in the modern undergraduate curriculum.


ee also

*Futures studies
*Strategic foresight
*Accelerating change
*Evolutionary development
*Fermi paradox


External links

* [ Acceleration Watch ] (formerly Singularity Watch) - Personal web site, includes extensive, print and web-published writings on accelerating change, evolutionary development, the technological singularity, and futures studies.
* [ Biography page at]
* [ Stanford Singularity Summit (includes A/V of presentations by Smart and several relevant contemporaries)]

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