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Alex Steffen, 30 Jan 04

This October's Pop!Tech conference's focus is the "sea-change," "the dramatic transformative changes that are being (or are about to be) wrought in our lives, our societies, our planet, and our understanding of the universe." The list of topics being considered (in the extended entry below) includes many close to our own hearts.

The emerging biotech era – with its promise of life extension, the transformation of healthcare, GM foods, and biotech’s many ethical conundrums
The exploration of new environments – from the deep oceans to the future of space travel and tourism.
The promise of nanotechnology – from the transformation of computing to the reinvention of manufacturing.
The aesthetics of the 21st century – in art, architecture, and design, a peek into the arts of tomorrow.
Next-tech – what you’ll be driving, wearing, eating, etc. in the near future.
Ambient intelligence – the embedding of wireless technologies everywhere – and in everything.
Leadership in an era of sea-change – we are confronted on all sides by tremendous changes; how do we cope and lead our organizations?
Hydrogen: Hope or Hype? – and, if it is a hope, what will the hydrogen economy look like? When will it get here?
The future of war and conflict – as seen through the lens of technology, culture and geopolitics.
Demographic shifts and longevity – what will it mean to have people living longer? What will America, and the world, look like 25 years from now?
Sustainability and industry – how technology can transform our impact on the planet.
The warming of the planet – is it happening? Are we responsible? What should we do?
The future of intellectual property – from copyrights to patents, how we’ll divvy up and protect the ideas of tomorrow – is it an open source or dmca future?
Social networks – the science, sociology and culture of living in an connected world.
Globalization – in an era of the Internet, the WTO, Al-Quada, and SARS, (all of them boundary-less entities) what’s ahead for globalization?
The brain – from pharmaceutical happiness, to the new neuroscience, what will it mean to understand our own heads?
Futurefun – what’s ahead for entertainment? Gaming?
Identity, security and privacy – After 9/11, are we headed to a world of big brothers, little sisters, or nosy aunts?
Social Challenges for the next 10 years – from AIDS in Africa, to global warming, to addressing the digital divide, an exploration of the critical issues for the next decade.
The next bubble – will there be one? What does it look like?
Spirituality in the new millennium — What happens when the human mind is able to routinely and at will transcend the physical and enter the metaphysical.
In my opinion, these sea changes themes cluster into three different groupings, or meta-themes for the conference:
New Technologies:

The emerging biotech era
The promise of nanotechnology
Ambient intelligence - ubiquitous computing
The brain – the mind – the soul
Technologies of exploration (space, sea, cell, etc.)
Global Issues:

Hydrogen: hope or hype?
The future of war and conflict
Demographic shifts and longevity
Sustainability and industry
The warming of the planet
Social challenges for the next decade and beyond

The aesthetics of the 21st century
Leadership in an era of sea-change
The future of knowledge and intellectual property
Social networks
Futurefun - entertainment
Identity, security and privacy
The next bubble Spirituality in the new millennium

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