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Q: Minority Report Think Tank ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Minority Report Think Tank
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Movies and Film
Asked by: rwmccauley-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 20 Apr 2003 12:43 PDT
Expires: 20 May 2003 12:43 PDT
Question ID: 193016
Please list the people who participated in the think tank that Steven
Spielberg used to inform the social and technical background for
Minority Report. Among them is Douglas Coupland (Gen-X) and John
Underkoffler (of MIT's Media Lab). Also appreciated are links to
articles or accounts of the planning process, as well as biogrphies of
the participants. Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 20 Apr 2003 18:34 PDT
Hi rwmccauley

After some time looking into this, I think it may not be possible to
find out everybody involved in the think tank.

Would you accept an answer with the names which are publicly available
on the internet, including the chairman? I have found ten individuals
plus Coupland and Underkoffler.

It would of course be possible to include quotes from, and links to,
biographies and background information.


Clarification of Question by rwmccauley-ga on 20 Apr 2003 21:25 PDT
That's better than I did. Please fire away!
Subject: Re: Minority Report Think Tank
Answered By: leli-ga on 21 Apr 2003 01:17 PDT
Hello again - thanks for getting back to us

Twenty-three people sat round the table at the three day think tank in
Santa Monica. I would guess that a list of twenty-three names has
never been released to the media or surely it would have found its way
on to the net! Among the places where Spielberg found his experts were
MIT, "Wired" magazine and Global Business Network (GBN) whose chair,
Peter Schwarz also chaired the think tank.

So here are twelve names of futurists plus three people on the
design/production team who were at the Santa Monica meeting:

PETER SCHWARZ, head of the think tank, 
co-founder and chair of (GBN)

You can see Schwarz in this footage from a discussion of "Minority
Report" in London. Although they call it a think tank, it is NOT the
original think tank.
However, Peter Schwarz is there and mentions four names from the
original meeting of experts: Mitchell, Calthorpe, Gershenfeld and

Footage from the London  Minority Report 'think tank'

Global Business Network site

(Brand, Calthorpe and Garreau - see below - also have links to GBN.)

STEWART BRAND, Long Now Foundation president and consultant for GBN

Long Now website

Brand's website

NAT GOLDHABER, Cybergold founder and president

As founder and CEO of Cybergold, one of DEFTA Partners portfolio
companies, Nat Goldhaber continues his career as an innovator of
commercial aspects of the Net. Previously he served as head of Centram
Systems West, which developed TOPS, the first IBM/Macintosh local area
network, and as CEO of Kaleida, the multimedia joint venture between
IBM and Apple.

SHAUN JONES, biomedical researcher  

The first director of DARPA's Unconventional Countermeasures Program,
Shaun Jones, had his own clear vision of the future.

JARON LANIER, "virtual reality maven"

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and
Currently, Lanier serves as the Lead Scientist of the National
Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities
studying advanced applications for Internet 2. The Initiative
demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000 after a
three year development period. His current tele-immersion-related
research interests include real time, remote, terascale processing,
autostereo methods, haptics, and software simulation component
integration and reusability.

JOEL GARREAU, Washington Post writer

Joel is a student of global culture, values, and change whose current
interests range from human networks and the transmission of ideas to
the hypothesis that the '90s—like the '50s—set the stage for a social
revolution to come. Joel is the author of the best-selling books Edge
City: Life on the New Frontier and The Nine Nations of North America,
the editor in charge of cultural revolution reporting at The
Washington Post, and a principal of The Edge City Group, which is
dedicated to the creation of more liveable and profitable urban areas
worldwide. At the School of Public Policy at George Mason University,
where he is a senior fellow, he is leading two groups, one studying
the future of universities and the other examining which global
gateway city regions will be the winners and losers in the year 2020.
He has been a talking head on over a thousand television and radio


Prof. Neil Gershenfeld directs MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms. His
unique research group investigates the relationship between the
content of information and its physical representation, from molecular
quantum computers to virtuosic musical instruments. Technology from
his laboratory has been seen and used in settings including the Museum
of Modern Art and rural Indian villages, the White House/Smithsonian
Millennium celebration and automobile safety systems, Las Vegas shows
and Sami reindeer herds. He is the author of numerous technical
publications, patents, and the best-selling books "When Things Start
To Think," "The Nature of Mathematical Modeling," and "The Physics of
Information Technology," and has been featured in media such as The
New York Times, The Economist, CNN, and the PBS.

BILL MITCHELL, MIT school of architecture

Mitchell teaches courses and conducts research in design theory and
computer applications in architecture and urban design and holds a
joint appointment with the Program in Media Arts and Sciences.

PETER CALTHORPE, urban designer

Peter Calthorpe has been named one of twenty five "innovators on the
cutting edge" by Newsweek Magazine for his work redefining the models
of urban and suburban growth in America.

His architecture practice

The City of Tomorrow:
A Conversation with Peter Calthorpe

HARALD BELKER, conceptual designer 

interview with Belker and Underkoffler

JOHN UNDERKOFFLER, ex-MIT, science and technology advisor

John Steven Underkoffler was born in Pennsylvania under a large tree.
He spent half his life reading Goethe under that tree, and the other
half under a different tree, building dams. He shimmers sometimes in
the moonlight and when he goes home late at night, he illuminates his
roommates, and the rooms around them. He is also very eloquent and


It is unclear whether the following names are included in the
'official' count of 23 experts, but these three men from the artistic
side were also at the meeting:

SCOTT FRANK, screenwriter

Interview with Scott Frank

JANUSZ KAMINSKI, cinematographer

Article about Kaminski

McDowell bio

Here are short quotes from the various websites which I used to
assemble these names. Along the way, you'll find information about the
experts' discussions.

For Minority Report, he convened a think tank (including Long Now
Foundation president Stewart Brand, author Doug Coupland, Cybergold
founder Nat Goldhaber, biomedical researcher Shaun Jones, and virtual
reality maven Jaron Lanier) 

"He had this great idea of getting all of these futurists, sitting
down with them, and figuring it out," "Minority Report" star Tom
Cruise said. "He didn't want to make it 200 years in the future. He
wanted to make it 52 years in the future."
Spielberg created a think tank of high tech professionals to dream up
things such as a holographic database manipulated by the movements of
Cruise's character.
"He does this sort of elaborate dance on the screen to get the
information. That's very solidly based on what is state of the art in
the thinking of a lot of computer makers right now," Joel Garreau,
Washington Post writer and member of Spielberg's think tank, said
about Cruise's scene with the holographic database.

Are 'Minority Report' Gadgets Realistic?,24195,3389421,00.html

"McDowell used input from a three-day think tank Spielberg convened in
1999 to gather insights from 23 top futurists.
The goal was to create a realistic view of a plausible future," says
Peter Schwartz, the head of the Minority Report think tank, and
chairman of Emeryville-based consultancy Global Business Network.
Projecting out from today's marketing and media technologies - Web
cookies, GPS devices, Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, TiVo personal
video recorders, and barcode scanners - the filmmakers give shape to
an advertising-saturated society where billboards call out to you on a
first-name basis. Newspapers deliver news instantly over a broadband
wireless network. Holographic hosts greet you at retail stores where
biometric retina scans deduct the cost of goods from your bank
account. And cereal boxes broadcast animated commercials.
"We set off in a direction of a wirelessly-networked,
ubiquitously-connected urban environment," says McDowell. "We looked
at trends in mass-market culture in place today, and took them to
their limit - creating a world where omnipresent, one-to-one
advertising recognizes you, and sells directly to you as an

The future according to spielberg: minority report and the world of
ubiquitous computing

To ensure accuracy in this film, the director brought together his own
personal think tank, the best in the world of medicine and technology
and the environment to see what life would be like in the future.
"What I found was that the future, if we can have a future, is going
to be a wonderful time to be alive. Our kids are going to live between
130, 150 years old. That will bring up some real dilemmas, too, later
on. That's a whole other subject. But medicine is going to make
tremendous strides. And, you know, the environment is a critical
danger. That's pretty scary. There were upsides and downsides to this
think tank. The upside was that I got a lot of window dressing for
"Minority Report." The downside was, there were things that scared me,
Spielberg says.

What Challenges Spielberg?

Spielberg convened a three-day think tank with 23 scholars and
futurists to help create his mid-21st century world. Pervasive
individualised advertising was one thing the scholars unanimously
agreed that the near future would bring, Spielberg said.
``There'll be spot-selling in the future where they will be able to
read your eyes, know who you are, know what you like, know what you
won't like, and they'll be able to shuffle what you want to buy and
remind you that this is right around the corner if you choose to buy
it today,'' Spielberg said.

Cruise and Spielberg file their Minority Report

To create a convincing portrait of the future, Spielberg created a
Minority Report "think tank," which included frequent collaborator and
cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and scholars from MIT, to brainstorm a
vision of the future.


Designer Alex McDowell participated in the Think Tank of experts
brought in by Spielberg to brainstorm how Washington would look in
half a century.

There are business analysts who predict product trends, and
consultants for long-term organizational planning. The third group are
the ones we know best, creative types — "the dreamers," Hiemstra calls
All three schools collaborated for Spielberg and Tom Cruise's

Futurists are  - well, the future

Spielberg worked with a think tank of scientists, urban planers,
architects and futurist writers, including Generation X author Douglas
Coupland, to consider every aspect of human life half a century from
now, down to how humans will brush their teeth.
Coupland contributed such ideas as the "Sick Stick" (a police weapon
that causes involuntary vomiting), spray-on meat (for snacks), and
genetically boosted cats (who grow as big as dogs).

So he gathered together scientists from MIT like John Underkoffler,
Generation X author Douglas Coupland, and urban planners, architects
and inventors. The Think tank met for three days at a hotel in Santa
Monica, California.

The think tank included people from many different sectors, including
technology, environment, crime fighting, medicine, health, social
services, transportation, computer technology, writing, and other

View Studio Creates Photo-Real Models for Minority Report Using
REALVIZ ImageModeler

Early on, the film's crew got together a think tank of "futurists" -
specialists in computing, transport and the environment, plus staff
from Wired magazine and Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X. In a
two-day brainstorming session in 1999, the group gathered ideas on how
the US might look and function in 2054.
 John Underkoffler, one of the "futurists" and a technology consultant
on the film, acknowledges the difficulties. Iris-scanning for
advertising is possibly further off than 3-D billboards, he says.
"There are myriad problems ... for example, if the person is blinking
at the time."
But he says some of his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology - where production designer McDowell first met Underkoffler
during research for the film - have been testing the idea of
electronic, self-reprinting paper, as used by the futuristic newspaper
in the film.
"We were suggesting [in the film] that any surface would be capable of
display, and almost anything is fair game for advertising," says
Underkoffler. But he is worried by the civil liberty implications of
personal information becoming public property.

A majority report, all in the eyes

You may want to know that the DVD released in January includes some
information on the think tank.

I hope this is helpful. It was certainly interesting to research - and
a fun challenge to find out just *where* the names were hiding.
Please do not hesitate to ask if anything in this answer needs

Regards - Leli

search terms used in combination:

"think tank"
"minority report"
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