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The Prevail Project

Joel Garreau has one of the most sensitive radars for big changes of anyone that I know. I first met him back at GBN, and I quickly came to realize that I should pay very close attention to whatever he's thinking about or working on -- and what he's working on now is definitely worth the time to check out.

The "Prevail Project" (named for one of the scenarios in his book Radical Evolution) at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is an attempt to draw together people thinking about -- and building -- a livable human future, one that uses (but is not dominated by) transformative technologies.

Joel's statement in the press release sums up his perspective:

"Prevailproject.org will be a place for everybody from my mother to technologists inventing the future to grapple with some of the most pressing questions of our time: How are the genetics, robotics, information and nano revolutions changing human nature, and how can we shape our own futures, toward our own ends, rather than being the pawns of these explosively powerful technologies?” said Joel Garreau, the Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture and Values at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and director of The Prevail Project: Wise Governance for Challenging Futures.

“The Prevail Project is a collaborative effort, worldwide, to see if we can help accelerate this social response to match or exceed the pace of technological change,” Garreau said. “The fate of human nature hangs in the balance.”

I'll set aside my resistance to the traditional "social response to technological change" model to celebrate the placement of this project in the Law School, and not as part of the school of engineering or some technical discipline. It's far too common to see these issues dominated by technologists (and technology-fetishists) with little understanding of law and culture; it's vital to get a more sophisticated understanding of society into the conversation.

As the Prevail Project kicks off its public unveiling, it has invited a set of writers to offer up their thoughts on what it means to "prevail" in a transformative future. Bruce Sterling's essay went up yesterday; mine went up today.

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