8.19.2005 – Calit2 director Larry Smarr last week was one of three honorees at the 6th Annual Telluride Tech Festival. The festival is a 2-1/2-day celebration of the past, present, and future of technology featuring presentations by the honorees and lots of discussion.
The festival is centered in Telluride, CO, a mountain environment that, with a 10,000-foot elevation, is an ideal location for discussion and reflection. The area’s intellectual legacy dates back to 1891 when Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse, and Telluride’s own L.L. Nunn built the world’s first commercial grade AC power plant, initiating a century long buildout of the electrical power grid.
Smarr’s talk (see http://www.calit2.net/presentations/lsmarr/2005/Telluride_Aug_05_final_small_files/frame.html) describes the beginnings of the buildout of an information “power grid” built on dedicated optical channels, currently carrying 10 gigabit/sec worldwide. Smarr used a number of quotes from Thomas Friedman’s new book The World Is Flat to indicate how quickly existing fiber-optic cables have re-organized the world in an era Friedman calls Globalization 3.0. Smarr’s OptIPuter project is prototyping much more powerful optically based services that will be available later this decade, presumably accelerating the globalization phenomenon.
Other honorees this year were David Gerrold and Bruce Murray. Gerrold is perhaps best known for his first television script, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” which became one of the most famous episodes of the original Star Trek series. With that script, he became the youngest ever member of the Writers Guild of America in 1967, writing episodes for more than a dozen television series. In 1995, he won the Hugo and Nebula awards for The Martian Child, an autobiographical tale of his son’s adoption.
Murray is a former director of the NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he oversaw the Viking landings on Mars and the Voyager mission through Jupiter and Saturn encounters. He and the late Carl Sagan and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society, a 100,000-member international organization dedicated to exploring the solar system and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. He has published more than 130 scientific papers and authored or co-authored six books.
Past honorees include Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web; Charles Townes, Nobel laureate in chemistry; Ray Kurzweil, inventor extraordinaire; and Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and Free Software Foundation.