“The best way to the predict the future is to create it” — Peter F. Drucker
Nova Spivack – Summary Bio
Nova is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Arch Mission Foundation, which is building a solar-system scale archive of all human knowledge, that will last up to 14 billion years. The Arch Mission successfully launched the first permanent library in space, and the longest-lasting library in human history, on February 6, 2018, as the secret payload of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy test launch. This first “Arch” (pronounced “Ark”) will orbit the Sun for at least many tens of millions of years – making it also one of the longest lasting objects humanity has ever created.
Nova Spivack is Founder & CEO of Magical, a science and technology venture studio based in Los Angeles. He works as a “venture producer” — combining his experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor and technologist, to fund and incubate breakthrough companies.
In his 25 year career in technology, he has helped to build dozens of ventures, and authored nearly 100 patents, collectively generating billions of dollars in market value, including multiple IPOs, and acquisitions by Apple, Facebook, Samsung, Disney, and others.
Nova is ranked among the Top 20 Futurists worldwide and as a Top LA Power Player in Technology. He has advised governments, presidential campaigns, Fortune 10 global corporations, leading consumer brands, venture funds, incubators, and tech startups.
One of the early space tourists and space entrepreneurs, he has had a long interest in helping to facilitate the growth of a spacefaring civilization.
Nova earned an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, from Oberlin College. During college he also participated in summer research at the MIT Computer Science Department.
He received a graduate-level professional degree in Space Life Sciences from The International Space University in 1992.
Nova is the eldest grandson of the management guru, Peter Drucker. His mother Kathleen (Drucker) Spivack is Pulitzer Prize nominated American poet; his late father, Mayer Spivack, was a MIT & Harvard University faculty member, inventor and artist. His brother, Marin Spivack is a 20th generation Chen-Family Tai Chi Lineage holder and teacher. Nova is married to television producer and writer, Kimberly Rubin Spivack, and has a young daughter, Sky Tara Spivack.
Facilitating a Spacefaring Civilization
Nova has had a lifelong interest in space and the stars, perhaps in part due to the name his parents gave him, which means “new” in Latin, and also has an astronomical meaning.
At a young age he attended an early Space Shuttle launch with his grandmother and nephews, as a gift from NASA, to his Grandfather, who at that time advised NASA.
Nova conceived of, and is the co-founder and Chairman of the Arch Mission Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation working to build million year data archives in space to backup human civilization.
Nova earned a professional graduate-level certificate degree from The International Space University in Space Life Sciences, under the late Gerry Soffen, who pioneered the Viking Lander search for life on Mars at NASA.
While with ISU he also interned to help design the Space Humanities Program under Overview Effect thought-leader, Frank White and ISU co-founder Todd Hawley, and he worked on The Space Solar Power Program international design project.
In his sophomore year of college, Nova interned as a production assistant at Paramount Studios, working on the popular television show, Star Trek, The Next Generation.
Ventures and Nonprofits
In 1994, with Jack D. Hidary and Murray Hidary, Nova co-founded one of the first Internet companies, EarthWeb, which led to a record-breaking NASDAQ IPO in 1998, and a second IPO of spinout, DICE, in 2007.
EarthWeb began by doing the first online benefit concert for charity, working with dozens of international charities and relief agencies during the Rwanda hunger crisis. The company evolved to become one of the first commercial Web development agencies in the world, and then launched a set of online career, training and certification portals, for IT Professionals under the brands Developer.com and Dice.com.
After EarthWeb he worked with Stanford Research International (SRI), to co-found their technology incubator, nVention (now, SRI Ventures). While working with SRI, he also worked on the DARPA CALO program which was related to the development of SIRI, the intelligent iPhone assistant (sold to Apple).
With Nicholas Slavin and Anton Toutov, he co-founded Fuzionaire, a breakthrough new chemistry platform developed by Anton Toutov under Nobel Laureate, Prof. Bob Grubbs, at Caltech, and Fuzionaire Diagnostics, a new spin-out venture of Fuzionaire that is developing a platform for a disruptive generation of radiomarkers for PET-scan medical imaging, with the help of PET-scan co-inventor, Michael Phelps and a team of researchers at UCLA.
He Co-Founded one of the first consumer applications of the Semantic Web, Radar Networks (funded by Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen, and eventually acquired by Evri), which developed an ontology-driven Web portal for communities of interest called TWINE. He then co-founded Live Matrix with Sanjay Reddy(acquired by OVGuide, which was then acquired by FilmOn), which indexed virtually all live and scheduled events online to form an “interactive program guide” for the Web.
Nova also serves on the board of directors of Gil Elbaz’s Common Crawl Foundation, a 5+ billion page, free and open search index of the Web. Nova has also advised several venture funds and family offices; most recently, EES Ventures and Rewired.ai.
Memetics and Social Analytics
Nova is an expert on the subject of memetics and social analytics for trend detection. At the invitation of Secretary Madeleine Albright, he presented a multi-year series of invited talks on applying memetics to Diplomacy, at the Aspen Institute, for senior US Department of State leadership. These strategies were successfully applied by the US government to help combat the spread of violent extremism around the world.
Nova co-founded Bottlenose, an artificial intelligence and big data streaming analytics company, funded by KPMG, that was named a Gartner Cool Vendor for In-Memory Computing in 2016.
At Bottlenose, with co-founder Dominiek ter Heide and team, he developed and patented, Nerve Center, an AI and machine learning engine for memetics.
Nerve Center analyzed real-time linguistic and statistical activity across virtually all worldwide social media, news media, live TV and radio broadcasts to detect the emergence and development of patterns in society. This work was inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series and his theory of psychohistory.
Nerve Center was used for detecting and measuring emerging social, political, economic, health and cultural trends by 50+ global brands, governments, advertising agencies, and at major world events such as the Olympics.
After college, he also worked as a trend detection analyst for the pioneering AI-powered news filtering company, Individual. While working there he was responsible filtering several thousand news articles a day, from hundreds of media sources, into ~30 major topics, using a battery of intelligent agents — this generated daily strategic news briefings for the leadership of dozens of Fortune 100 companies.
Supercomputing and Digital Physics
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, while a senior in high-school and then during several years of college, Nova worked as a software engineer and in technical marketing at two legendary artificial intelligence and supercomputing ventures including Ray Kurzweil‘s, Xerox Kurzweil and Danny Hillis’, Thinking Machines.
At Kurzweil, he built software for interfacing with neural networks originally for a reading machine for the blind, that then were applied to optical character recognition for scanning documents.
At Thinking Machines, he worked on projects related to the Connection Machine supercomputer. Thinking Machines, and Danny Hillis himself, attracted many of the greatest scientific and computing minds of the time for talks and events related to the applications of supercomputing, including physicist Richard Feynman, science and math prodigy (and natural philosopher), Stephen Wolfram, future founder of the Wayback Machine and the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle, and director of research and future Java and cloud computing leader, Lew Tucker — all of whom profoundly shaped Nova’s thinking as he started out, and for the rest of his career in technology.
During his time at Thinking Machines, Nova was first paired up with a Polish quantum physicist who didn’t speak English, and assigned to jointly write a training manual for performing quantum physics computations, in Fortran, on the Connection Machine supercomputer. However at the time, Nova had only 1 year of Calculus under his belt (not nearly enough for the task!), didn’t speak any Polish, and didn’t know any Fortran. Neither Nova nor the Polish physicist could understand a word the other person said, and it is unclear if anything that took place during their three month project made any sense to either party. The result of their collaboration was a documentation manual for parallel processing by quantum physicists, the quality of which will forever be indeterminate.
After completely failing to explain advanced calculus in Polish to physics using supercomputers in a programming language he didn’t know, Nova turned to a much less tangled Web: early hypertext programming in the lineage of Ted Nelson’s concept of Xanadu. With Ottavia Bassetti, Nova built an Intranet hypertext knowledge network for the Thinking Machines research community around the world, in Hypercard. This system turned out to be a precursor to what would later be developed into the World Wide Web, by Tim Berners-Lee.
During his free time, Nova also spent hours on nights and weekends hanging around or sneaking into the various labs inside the MIT Media Lab that were working on synthetic holography and virtual reality interfaces, as well as the community around Marvin Minsky, the intelligent agent and human interface community around Pattie Maes, and the interdisciplinary research community connected to artificial life pioneer, Chris Langton at the Santa Fe Institute.
During this time, Nova became intensely interested in cellular automata, agent based software, and chaos and complexity theory. In particular, after reading the book, Three Scientists and Their Gods, he became fascinated by, MIT Computer Science and AI Lab founder, Ed Fredkin, a pioneering thinker in the field of digital physics. Fredkin famously posited that the universe might literally just be software. This idea shaped much of Nova’s thinking and research throughout college.
Obsessed with cellular automata as a potential candidate for a grand unified theory of physics and intelligence, Nova pestered the professors at Fredkin’s lab, Thommaso Toffoli and Norman Margolus, until they finally (and quite kindly) invited him to participate as a summer intern on their research. During that time Nova was able to spend hundreds of hours running cellular automata experiments on a specialized supercomputer that they had developed for digital physics, described in their book, Cellular automata machines.
From Thinking Machines, and forward, Nova developed a friendship with the prodigy and natural philosopher, Stephen Wolfram. Wolfram developed Mathematica, and authored A New Kind of Science, a book which later became a seminal work on the subject of digital physics and computational science. Later, Nova attended the launch of Wolfram Alpha, and Wolfram became an advisor Nova’s Arch Mission Foundation, a project that Wolfram has helped to shape in many ways.
Philosophy of Mind & Buddhism
A unifying theme in Nova’s work has been a search for a grand unifying theory of everything — which in order to be grand unifying theory of everything, must unify both the objective and subjective aspects of our experience. If there is a grand unifying theory, it cannot leave out any irreducible aspect of reality — and this means that as well as physics, it must account for the phenomena of consciousness and self-awareness, as well as for emotions, intelligence, the unconscious, the dream state, and all the layers and potential experiences of the human mind. It’s not a grand unifying theory if major parts of the human experience are not within it. As this became more clear, Nova began looking beyond Western science for a broader framework — one that could help him to understand, and ultimately reconcile, the subjective side of experience.
As one aspect of this search, during 1992 and 1993, Nova spent nearly a year of personal Buddhist study and meditation retreat, in remote monasteries and retreat locations, in Japan, Thailand, Nepal and India, before returning to the USA. During this period he lived day to day, out a backpack, and nearly lost his life several times. During this period and decades to follow, Nova seriously and methodically studied the major religions and their theories of consciousness and cosmology. After decades of study and practice, Nova was eventually authorized to teach and write about non-denominational Buddhist philosophy and meditation, although presently his main focus is on ventures as well as charitable projects.
Nova has authored hundreds of articles and co-authored several books on Internet strategy and technology, and led the EarthWeb Press publishing imprint with Macmillan Computer Publishing.
Nova has been featured, cited, and has contributed guest articles in numerous media outlets such as: AdWeek, Atlantic Monthly, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0, The BBC, CBS Evening News, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, CNBC, CNET, CNN, Der Spiegel, the Discovery Channel, Download Squad, the Economist, Entrepreneur, the Financial Times, Gartner, GigaOm, the Guardian, Guidewire, Industry Standard, Infoworld, Information Week, Interactive Age, International Herald Tribune, the L.A. Times, Mashable, the MIT Technology Review, the New Scientist, Newsweek, the New York Times, NPR, the Observer UK, PC Magazine, PC World, ReadWriteWeb, Red Herring, Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, SiliconAngle, TechCrunch, the Times Online, Venturebeat, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, WIRED and ZDNet
Nova has keynoted, given talks, moderated, and served as a judge at numerous conferences and industry events, including (partial list, in alphabetical order): AI Showbiz, The Aspen Institute, BlogTalk, Defrag, DEMO, DigitalNow, the Financial Times Digital Media Conference, Future in Review, GigaOm’s Bunker sessions, The Highlands Forum, the International Semantic Web Conference, the Island Forum, the Kleiner Perkins CIO Strategy Exchange, MIT’s Emtech, NextWeb, SDForum, the Semantic Technology Conference, the Singularity Summit, Search Engine Strategies, SIBOS, Stanford/MIT’s VLAB, Supernova, SXSW, TTI Vanguard, The US Dept. of State, The Web 2.0 Summit, The White House and numerous government agencies, NGOs, and industry councils.
Nova has also given guest lectures and keynotes for the MBA programs at Harvard University, Stanford University and Berkeley, as well as to several business schools in Europe.
Nova has authored nearly 100 granted, pending and provisional patents in areas including augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, search, advertising, social media, mobile apps, the semantic web, virtual reality, interactive TV, and personalization.
In particular Nova invented what are now among the fundamental patents for augmented reality, in the early 2000’s, while developing an early AR mobile game concept.
In the mid 1990’s Nova co-authored a series of patents for early Web-TV convergence for a product called HyperTV, owned by ACTV. The patents covered simulcasting URLs and metadata on the television vertical blanking interval (VBI) in order to display relevant Web pages next to live television content on suitably instrumented TV’s and PCs. The patents were later sold to Disney.
Nova also has developed and sold many patented inventions in the areas of artificial intelligence, virtual intelligent assistants, search, and the Semantic Web.
Partial List of Patents:
- Machine-based content analysis and user perception tracking of microcontent messages
- System and method for revealing correlations between data streams 1
- System and method for revealing correlations between data streams 2
- Natural language processing optimized for micro content 1
- Natural language processing optimized for micro content 2
- Discovering and ranking trending links about topics 1
- Discovering and ranking trending links about topics 2
- Semantic web portal and platform
- Methods and systems for semantically managing offers and requests over a network
- System and method for providing distributed intelligent assistance
- Generating user-customized search results and building a semantics-enhanced search engine
- Search and search optimization using a pattern of a location identifier
- Semantically representing a target entity using a semantic object
- Automatic mapping of a location identifier pattern of an object to a semantic type using object metadata
- System and method for control of a simulated object that is associated with a physical location in the real world environment
- System and method of simulated objects and applications thereof
- Methods and systems for creating a semantic object
- Semantic web portal and platform
- Methods and systems for semantically managing offers and requests over a network
- System and method of a knowledge management and networking environment 1
- System and method of a knowledge management and networking environment 2
- Harvesting data from page
- Semantic web portal and platform
- Enhanced video programming system and method for incorporating and displaying retrieved integrated Internet information segments
- Method and system for managing and tracking semantic objects
- Methods and systems for managing entities in a computing device using semantic objects
- Methods and systems for managing offers and requests in a network
- Enhanced video programming system and method for incorporating and displaying retrieved integrated Internet information segments 1
- Enhanced video programming system and method for incorporating and displaying retrieved integrated internet information segments 2
- Enhanced video programming system and method for incorporating and displaying retrieved integrated internet information segments 3
- Enhanced video programming system and method for incorporating and displaying retrieved integrated internet information segments 4