Just an update on our Safeplug invention. So far this year, we have signed multiple OEM “rebranding” deals that will see the installation of Safeplug “Smart Energy” technology in a number of consumer, commercial, and industrial applications. These applications include electric vehicle charging stations, pay-per-use / point-of-sale receptacle stations, and residential + commercial construction and retrofit. In 2009, Safeplug won the prestigious CES Innovation Award and was invited to unveil the technology at TED2009. Since then, Safeplug technologies have been listed in Scientific American’s “Top 10 Tech Toys” and Fast Company’s “10 Radical World Changing Ideas” – with more coming soon. New Radical Julia Moulden writes in the Huffington Post, “Imagine a world where every plug could talk to the Internet. Where your appliances, plugged into their outlets, suddenly became intelligent and could talk, so that you could monitor and optimize their activities and control them remotely. It’s not science fiction anymore… TALKINGplug, a new device powered by Zerofootprint [Safeplug technololgy] is now available. Already described by Fast Company as “better than the smart meter” and included on Scientific American’s Top 10 gadgets of 2009, TALKINGplug is revolutionary and will change the way we measure and manage our energy.” From the Safeplug website, The SafePlug 1202 Smart Energy outlet has a unique design.  It contains standard Demand Response features such as a Zigbee SE radio and Zigbee SE Metering cluster and Demand Response cluster functions.  However, it also includes a Fire and Shock Hazard monitor and a RightPlug address tag monitor.  The fire and shock hazard monitor continuously detects the top ignition causes including overloaded appliances, bad wire junctions in walls, series arcing, and open neutral conditions. The RightPlug tag ( reader enables the SafePlug 1202 SE outlet to ensure a successful Demand Response event by confirming the start and end of the DR event and participation by the  

Information Ecology

William Gibson (who gave us the term “cyberspace”),  interviewed in TIME Magazine “My guess has always been that the thing our great-grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we made the distinction between here and the Internet… Here [is being] colonized by what used to be the other place.” New and emerging technologies are allowing historically repressed creatives to rise and collaborate. While these voices have always been present, pre-virtual “information ecology” kept them marginalized and suppressed. But yesterday’s social platforms are now appearing as structural relics, allowing (for the first time in human history) the latent creative population to flourish. Many said Rousseau’s dream of a true city-state “peoples’ republic” became less plausible as populations grew. They could not have conceived of a global connective network that, when allowed to remain free of state or corporate control, opened new doors of unprecedented global empathy and equality. “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”  – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1754 Our “social contract” is being rewritten by the new voices of a virtual world. As Gibson notes, what used to be the “other place” is being transformed into “here and now.” What was once “them” is now us. This seismic shift in social identity will take longer to impact strongly embedded patterns, such as religion. But fundamental global change is moving forward and inevitable. The TED phenomenon is a prime example of this global flattening. TED’s curator Chris Anderson gave a talk this year at TED Global adding yet another voice to this growing awareness that we are not meant to be separated into ideological ghettos, but forged together in a grand creative enterprise. It’s a good talk and I encourage you to watch it. Imagine a global communications pool in which all persons can share their thoughts, dreams, faith, best ideas, etc.. in the spirit of Rousseau, the protocol intelligently prioritizes experiences and brings the collective mind into view of all participants. But it’s more than a “view” from a distance. Fundamental inequalities, suffering, and marginalization is brought forward as if experienced in our own household, in our own family. The plight of others becomes our plight. Global horror and injustice becomes our nightmare, as well. But with this, the boundless creativity, resources, and potential of the new collective also becomes our own, so that one day we may say with complete authenticity (quoting Michael Roe) “what’s been done to you feels like it’s been done to me.” And most importantly, we will live and prioritize our lives in accordance with these newly experienced global realities. ich all persons share their thoughts, dreams, faith, desires, etc.. the communication protocol amasses the collective ideals and dreams and experiences together and brings the collective mind into view of all participants. What we get is a bell curve distribution. The same average ideology we have today in today’s dead tree iconography, but on the grandest human scale. But here’s the good news. Most people won’t participate at this collective level. Many people will be mostly watching TV, or engaged in some other passive activity. The passives vs. the actives. The creatives vs. the ____________. Refined leadership will always be a part of community. But that leadership will move from a small, professional, clergy, CEO-style, stage-centric hierarchy model to a vastly larger, distributed, creative mind – a true collective mind of the amassed creative population working in common resonance, with a common Spiritual center, yet not bound by inherited institutional  

Wonder Never Gets Old

My friend Seth Raphael shares some wisdom today on the TED Blog. A graphic (below) caught my attention, something he calls “The Chain of Wonder.” I like the concept of “expectation violation.” So often we get into life routines that don’t violate anything – same old, same old. I’m convinced that a life worth living is a life that is constantly violating the status quo – not for violation’s sake, but to breakthrough into new levels of experience, awe, wonder, and revelation.  And in breaking through, we can legitimately call others to new places of awe, wonder, and breakthrough. But when expectations are violated, some people are not excited or positively motivated. They instead become fearful and suspicious. I think this describes much of religion – a fear response – a flight response – a call to circle the wagons. And fear coupled with Raphael’s next stage of obsession en masse perhaps describes religion’s darkest legacies. Conversely, when an expectation violation is embraced with awe and wonder, I think it can make for a much healthier life, both individually and in one’s contribution to the larger global family. Call it spirituality or whatever, how we react to uncertainty defines much of who we are, and how we perceive others. Seth has a great handle on this and I encourage you to learn more about his work. As he says, “wonder never gets old.” Seth’s Website (click on the rabbit!)  


The TED Community is going mainstream. At TED2008, I remember talking with the director of a California public TV station about the possibility of airing TEDTalks. Now it’s a reality. The Open TV Project brings TED conference talks to television stations worldwide, at no cost. TED’s Media Producer June Cohen says, “…in particular, TV is a very effective way to reach the developing world, where low internet penetration and slow connections make online video impractical. But most important, the Open TV Project continues TED’s guiding philosophy of radical openness.” On a related note, just this week TED celebrated 250,000,000 video views. In honor of this remarkable achievement, allow me to present the most popular TEDTalk of all time. Jill’s talk has now been translated by the TED Community into 37 languages. The first time I put this video on my blog, two years ago, it generated over 300 comments. Apparently, my post went viral on Stumble  

The Internet of Living Things

Some people I know have started a unique university just down the street from where we lived and worked in the 1980’s in Mountain View, California. Instead of a multi-year curriculum, the Singularity University condenses today’s most important leading edge technologies and futures research into a 10-week intensive that accepts no more than 80 students. The classes are taught (from 7AM to 11PM) by some of the world’s leading thinkers and do-ers in their respective disciplines. Futures Studies & Forecasting Policy, Law & Ethics Finance & Entrepreneurship Networks & Computing Systems Biotechnology & Bioinformatics Nanotechnology Medicine, Neuroscience & Human Enhancement AI & Robotics Energy & Ecological Systems Space & Physical Sciences A few weeks ago at TED, the Singularity University threw a party where I met up with some of my friends, and met others involved with the new venture. The most memorable (and lengthy!) conversation I had that evening was with Singularity’s professor of synthetic biology, Andrew Hessel. I was impressed with both his formidable knowledge of genetics and bio-engineering, and his ability to see the merging of new bio-technologies from a futurist’s perspective. Andrew is clearly one of the planet’s leading thinkers on our bio-genetic future. So I was pleased to stumble upon Andrew’s recent lecture at MOMO Amsterdam just a few weeks ago. The lecture is called The Internet of Living Things and in 45 minutes presents a bird’s eye view of today’s most important developments in bio-genetic engineering and futures research. I encourage you to watch  

The Perception of Worth / The Consumption of Memory

Mentioned in my last post, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s 2010 TED Talk was among my favorites. In the context of behavioral economics, Kahneman takes us immediately to the heart of what it means to be human – to question and probe the very nature of self and memory and experience, ultimately revealing ‘economics’ in the larger picture of relationship, value/worth, and our questionable notions of perceived reality. Is the consumption of memory the consumption of reality? Considering spirituality, do we place more value in experiencing or remembering, and how do we define the differences? Are well-being and happiness synonymous? Are there really two selves at work here? You will find yourself challenged and asking questions you’ve probably never considered after viewing this must-watch TED Talk. ADDED: After you view the video, don’t miss this surprisingly thoughtful article from Norman Lear in today’s Washington Post religion section: “the ‘What’s it all about?’ question is the best conversation going. Just plain folks, unfortunately, can’t get into it, because the rabbis, the priests, the ministers, mullahs and the reverends — the professionals — have a corner on the subject… And so, the sectarian rivalry and sanctimonious bickering about moral superiority and spiritual infallibility that occurs among the professionals often assumes a greater importance than the religious experience  

Favorite TED Talks 2010

Great to see Bill Gates taking global energy seriously. In fact, he publicly stated from the TED stage last week what I’ve been saying since 2003:  energy is this century’s greatest structural issue. Fellow TED’ster Richard Branson went public this week with a similar clarion call. Worldchanging founder Alex Steffan, whom I spoke with at length, calls this “the most important climate speech of the year.” Sir Ken Robinson defined once again the highest art of public speaking. TED curator, Chris Anderson, noted after Ken’s talk that he may be the only person who can break all the TEDTalk rules – and we love him for it. Robinson focused on why education needs to change from an industrial model to an agricultural model. I think the same can be said of religion. Echoes of Wendell Berry. Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot took us through a stunning visualization of design simplicity, in the form of fractals. I had a chance to spend some time with Benoit at TED, discussing emergence theory in light of fractal geometry and the Mandelbrot set. The music at TED this year was stunning: David Byrne (who also gave a TEDTalk), Thomas Dolby, and Natalie Merchant melted us with a brand new suite of songs based on romantic poets from the last 100 years. Cheryl Crow showed up, but probably shouldn’t have. Not much there musically. Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon and family, and other musicians were soaking up the TED experience, but not there to perform. Oh, and ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro captivated everyone. I’ve never heard a uke played with such subtlety – a true master of the instrument. I understand he gave impromptu concerts back in the lobby of the TED hotel. Anyone who takes the stage at TED is unpaid, including the invited musicians. Drawing from the field of Behavioral Economics, Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman presented what amounted to an intellectual foundation for our activist social-media site Dan asks, “when we return from a vacation, do the memories we bring back have intrinsic value?” Compathos (still in beta) seeks to realign the concept of “vacation” as a proactive event in which we aid or assist our destination with skills we possess (medical, engineering, skilled labor, crafts, etc..) and in doing so, we become deeply changed – bringing back to our own communities a new perspective, a new heart, and transformed motivations – far more than a traditional vacation memory. Sam Harris gave a surprisingly engaging talk. Rather than rehashing his views on atheism, Harris focused on finding an objective framework for morality and ethics. I’m reminded of Arthur C. Clarke, who said “one of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.” Kevin Bales presented a detailed, moving account of global slavery. It’s Kevin’s academic work that gave us the estimate of 27 million slaves worldwide. His work in slavery has effectively paved the way for most of today’s anti-slave efforts. I was honored to have lunch with Kevin after TED ended on Saturday – what a truly amazing man. Game designer Jane McGonigal sees video gaming as a core solution to many of today’s social problems. Don’t laugh – her TEDTalk is a must-watch. Brilliant. Cell biologist Mark Roth is onto something big. He’s discovered a way to put biological systems into suspended animation. Using his techniques, people who would otherwise die from serious trauma on the battlefield, in car accidents, etc.. can be placed into suspension (heart and breathing stopped – effectively dead) for hours without tissue damage while they are transported to a trauma center. Jaw dropping. Entertainer Sarah Silverman reminded me of those shallow and bawdy Las Vegas night club comedians from my parent’s era (Redd Foxx, etc..). With kids sharing the live TED experience both in Long Beach and virtual associates worldwide, this was not a wise choice. Live and learn. But many of the best talks were those that happened between sessions, in the halls, in the social spaces, at the lunches, and dinners, and parties, and spontaneous gatherings that define the TED experience. To elaborate on all the amazing, emotive, high-energy, a-ha! conversations I had this year might sound like name-dropping, so I’ll spare you the details. I go to TED to get energized, inspired, challenged, and awestruck by and with amazing people doing amazing things. I spend a week of my life here to renew a sense of childlike wonder and remind myself that I’m not crazy – that there are others who dare to dream big. ADDED:  Eighteen-year TED veteran Jack Meyers captures the scope and nuance of a TED Conference in his Huffington Post essay ADDED: Scoble’s excellent summary of attending TED ADDED: Overview of Bill Gates’ energy talk, at  

Wired to Contribute

Israeli orchestral conductor Itay Talgam tells the story of Italy’s La Scala opera, a 700-person creative community who felt smothered by artistic director Ricardo Muti’s strong top-down leadership style. In a letter to Muti, the community complained “you are not letting us develop as musicians. You are using us as instruments, not as partners. We need a leader who leads without controlling us.” Creatives are wired to contribute. Creatives aspire to have their voices play a constructive role in community formation and direction, including (especially) religious community. Great orchestra conductors become conduits for this individual creativity to flourish. An intentional virtual network is like a well-led orchestra with every player listening carefully to the ensemble while contributing their individual part. Religious / clergy-based leadership (or, for that matter, any vertical leadership model) can often behave like an overbearing conductor, not partnering with the orchestra but managing and controlling the musical conversation. Talgam concludes, “The worst damage I can inflict on my orchestra is to give them a clear instruction, for it prevents the sectional ensembles from listening to each other.” The Internet is not simply an incremental enhancement to inherited forms of community. It is — like La Scala’s creative community — a confrontation, a protest, a demand, an awakening. Global networking facilitates an entirely new form of engaged people. When a radical new technology appears, things that were previously impossible start occurring (Jenkins, Kelly, Shirky, etc.). If enough of those impossible things happen with increasing frequency — as is happening today with the meteoric rise of human connectivity — the change becomes a revolution. The global-virtual community is listening to each other “moving their focus away from the podium, the institution, the isolated expert — towards a harmonious collective of the  

Playing to a Legacy

Renny Gleeson shares, …[those who] survive and prosper recognize that rejecting the technosphere or attempting to dam it will simply reroute its flow to more viable channels – and their only chance to lead is having those channels pumping through their doors. Innovation and capital will go where opportunity exists. I was at the Seattle “Museum of Flight”, and a particular plaque caught my attention in the ‘space’ display wing. In the ‘history of rocketry’ section, a note mentioned that two thirds of Nazi Germany’s physicists and half its physical chemists fled the Nazi’s ethnic and political policies – fueling Western leaps that resulted in the Atom bomb and (eventually, once the Peenemunde scientists were added to the mix) space travel. They played to a legacy, and sacrificed their future. Government restriction will drive innovation – at home, to circumvent such restriction, and abroad through migration of human capital and resources. Survival is based on the answer to a simple question: do you drive innovation, or do you drive it