Howard Pearlmutter
Howard Pearlmutter is an innovation consultant, systems expert & creative designer -- and an award-winning public speaker, digital animator, & software developer. Active at the forefront of sustainable & ecological design for 3 decades, Pearlmutter is an expert in bringing appropriate information tools -- especially web applications, dynamic simulation, computer graphics, CAD, GIS, evolvable languages, complexity management, and collaboration networks --- into service of the whole-systems, environmental, and ecological domains.
His work spans a wide spectrum -- he's provided consulting, technology, and training to some of the world's leading media, financial, environmental, and educational organizations, including Disney, Kodak, Xerox, Apple, Atari, Intel, MIT, Financial Times, Goldman Sachs, CapitalOne, Cable & Wireless, Earth Island Institute, Friends of the Earth, USGS, EPA, and NASA -- while also teaching people how to liberate themselves from unsustainable work and chart their own sustainable futures, and coaching independent professionals and small business owners how to survive and thrive in the changing economic environment -- and inspiring all to "do well" by "doing good". He's organized over 40 community gatherings since 1980 to encourage and reward creativity, co-creativity, & eco-creativity.
Howard first appeared on New York regional TV as a Princeton, NJ young computer enthusiast in 1968. By 1980 his perspectives regarding solar energy had aired on nationwide TV; he had won two dozen public speaking awards; and was a frequent speaker on population, energy, & environmental subjects. His first international speaking tour was in 1981, entitled "Learning Tools: Learning about Tools, Tools for Learning, Tools that can Learn." Having logged 59 months overseas during 1997-2006, he has brought his whole-systems, full-lifecycle perspective to audiences in Australia, Singapore, Israel, UK and US, via executive briefings, hands-on workshops, multimedia events, and educational seminars addressing themes such as information management, systems architecture, open standards / open source, and organization strategy. As a professional keynote speaker, he specializes in 6 topic areas: ecology, technology, creativity, health, futuristics, and entrepreneurship.
A 1974 El Paso Times article "Few Educational Programs Geared to 'Gifted' Students" foreshadowed Howard's career and aspirations: " adult wearing a kids body... He is also one of those students who may develop our nation's next generation of computers... If we provided these individuals like Howard all the help we could muster, it would speed up the process of change in society... Some who hear Howard's ideas might go farther: That Howard and his kind might save the world." He founded his first company in 1977 in El Paso; by 1978 he was a researcher for NASA, working on a geospatial CFD (computational fluid dynamics) supercomputer architecture (to be 20x faster than the Cray, the world's fastest) and design for atmospheric simulation & visualization. Within a decade he was owner of a software company in Northern California that had produced dozens of custom applications, including #1 best selling educational software titles, and an energy conservation videogame for Disney EPCOT ("Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow"), and was also chairman of a pioneering CAD & GIS company, providing tools to digitize maps & blueprints for environment and infrastructure markets.
In his formative years, Pearlmutter was deeply influenced by having the privilege of personal interaction with the 20th century's top two interdisciplinary "systems" pioneers: R. Buckminster Fuller and Jay W. Forrester. In 1995, when David Brower, the 20th century's #1 environmentalist (Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Earth Island Institute; 3-time Nobel Peace nominee) convened a conference so that leaders of environmental organizations could hear Pearlmutter speak on the topic of "Organizing for an Ecologically Healthy Economy", Brower said: "No one has a clearer vision for the future of the environmental movement than Howard Pearlmutter"
Based on his interdisciplinary research into both the informational and physical dynamics of complex ecosystems, in the 1970's and 80's Pearlmutter foresaw & acted upon a number of the issues that now confront those responsible for planning & architecting the built environment. Today, architects have growing interest in intelligent infrastructure, green building, smart growth, sustainable development -- and for good reason. After a century of sub/urban design centered around the ubiquitous automobile, and the cheap oil necessary to fuel it, there is today a growing recognition that the new century can, should, and indeed will, look quite different. But so far few perceive the century-scale shift from "energy-intensive" to "information-intensive" that is already in-process, and fewer still perceive the profound implications of, or are aware of the substantial ecological-health opportunities inherent in, the shift from a transportation-centric to a communication-centric built environment. Pearlmutter has been in the forefront of the movement catalyzing the development of the necessary pre-requisites for such energy-efficient, ecologically-sound, information-rich transformations.
During 1991-93, USA Today & Wall Street Journal covered his healthy intentional community lifesyle/workstyle ("providing an underground railroad to liberate the slaves of silicon valley"...."putting them to work on projects needed and wanted in the ecosystem"... "they can live anywhere in the world they want"...or come work with him "at the hot springs, which offers vegetarian meals, hiking trails, and 30 kinds of massage"...) The proof-of-concept was more than successful; he was able to reduce his total automobile use to less than twice per month, yet without sacrificing broad global participation, which included attending the 1992 Earth Summit as guest of the Brazilian government; Sante Fe Institute's 1992 ALife Conference, where a portion of his evolutionary/ecological simulation/animation work was hailed as the world's first "real time visual genetic algorithm"; FIC's 1993 first-ever worldwide gathering of community leaders, where his "How to create an ecologically-sound, information-rich, economy for your Intentional Community" presentation drew acclaim from founders of the world's most successful intentional communities and cohousing projects.
He was brought to Maui (93-94) to head up the ecological simulation & animation R&D lab at a next-generation digital media studio aiming to create an "environmental television channel". Upon seeing some of his team's work, the top network executive for Hawaii's phone company said, "A lot of people talk about the Information Superhighway. But nobody has demonstrated it as resoundingly as you guys have!" Yet Pearlmutter was already a step ahead of the TV/broadcast model and the "superhighway" metaphor, and by the mid-90's he had midwifed over 2 dozen of the very first environmental web sites into existence.
During his hotsprings/Maui phase, he also produced animations (without using any animation packages, but writing the modeling and rendering software himself) of Buckminster Fuller's architectural applications of synergetic geometry -- the Octet Truss & Geodesic Dome -- on the Silicon Graphics Onyx and Reality Engine, a short segment of which can be seen in the award-winning documentary film "Ecological Design: Inventing the Future."