TOCS Event-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

TOCS Event-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

TOCS Event


Ken Karakotsios



Cellular Automata (CASim on the MAC II, Trancit on iPhone & iPad)

Creator, SimLife & MarketSim

Founder, DecisionPower


July 23, 1:30 pm



CMUSV, Rm 118 [directions]

[login as guest]

Title: Occupy the Future

As noted in Aaron Marcus' talk in 2011 (The Green Machine), "a global challenge for the 21st century is to find a sustainable way of life." There are several threads co-occurring that create a compelling opportunity to address this challenge:

  • We are reaching the threshold of climate change where we can see ice caps melting and how everyday lives are being affected by increasingly severe weather.
  • Big data, open to the public, combined with vibrant progress in visualization technology and ubiquitous mobile computing allow more of us to understand the world today, and explore the portfolio of possible futures.
  • Social tools -- for communication, collaborative creation and funding - might empower individuals to balance out traditional special interest.

The iPad app Footprint USA takes a stab at the visualization/modeling opportunity, with an eye on catalyzing the social self-organization needed to steer the future in a viable direction.  In this talk I will share the motivation behind creating this app, what I have learned so far, and a vision for where this work can lead.

Speaker Bio:

Graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering with Honors from Purdue University, Karakotsios came to Silicon Valley inspired by tales of entrepreneurial adventure. He started in semiconductor physics and gradually moved to chip design, CPU design, CAD tools, and mass-market software.  

A passion for simulation and emergent phenomena has been a constant thread throughout his career. Early exploration in Cellular Automata (CASim on the Mac II, Trancit on iPhone & iPad) fostered an interest in artificial life, evolution, and ecosystems which led to the design and coding of the award-winning game SimLife. Karakotsios founded DecisionPower to explore broader applications of simulation, especially agent-based modeling. This led to the creation of MarketSim which is used by P&G, Unilever, Coca Cola, and others; to test and optimize consumer product strategy in-silico before taking action in the real world.

In a move back to physical devices, he developed the first prototype of what has become a major initiative at's Lab126. In this role he has led the investigation of a variety of novel interaction technologies resulting in over 50 patents granted or pending. In addition to his day job, he has spent the last several years creating Footprint USA; a holistic, data-driven app to help all of us foster a sustainable future.