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Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking

English, Education, 1 season, 259 episodes, 6 days, 14 hours, 38 minutes
Explore hundreds of lectures by scientists, historians, artists, entrepreneurs, and more through The Long Now Foundation's award-winning lecture series, curated and hosted by Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand (creator of the Whole Earth Catalog). Recorded live in San Francisco each month since 02003, past speakers include Brian Eno, Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Earle, Daniel Kahneman, Jennifer Pahlka, Steven Johnson, and many more. Watch video of these talks and learn more about our projects at The Long Now Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility.
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Alicia Escott, Heidi Quante: The Bureau of Linguistical Reality Performance Lecture

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is a participatory artwork facilitated by artist Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante which collaborates with the public to create new words for feelings and experiences for which no words yet exist. Recognizing the climate crisis is causing new feelings and experiences that have yet to be named, the project was created with a deep focus on these and other Anthropocenic phenomena. The Bureau views the words created in this process as also serving as points of connectivity: advancing understanding, dialogue, and conversations about the greater concepts these words seek to codify. This talk was an intimate sharing of The Bureau's findings from their decade long social art practice as well as a Word Making Field Session where Escott and Quante collaborated with participants to collectively coin a term together. Participants were encouraged to consider in advance their personal unnamed experience(s) of our changing world as well as their unique feelings for which they wish there was a word and to bring the diversity of their linguistic backgrounds to this conversation as the Bureau creates neologisms in all languages.
5/1/202450 minutes, 30 seconds
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Jonathan Cordero: Indigenous Sovereign Futures

Alternative visions for social change rooted in the frameworks of capitalism and colonialism only reproduce contemporary structures of power. How can indigenous perspectives and knowledge inform the structural transformation necessary to improve the health of the natural world and of human communities? Dr. Cordero will discuss how indigenous epistemologies challenge the ideas and practices related to capitalism and colonialism and how the enhancement of indigeneity and sovereignty are critical to the maintenance of indigenous epistemologies. Insights drawn from the discourses on decolonization, settler colonialism, and epistemicide will be revealed throughout the presentation. Last, Dr. Cordero will share how indigenous perspectives and knowledge inspire work of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone.
4/19/202455 minutes, 33 seconds
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Denise Hearn: Embodied Economies: How our Economic Stories Shape the World

This Talk is sold out, but you can join us for the livestream on 1/23 Economic policy can seem abstract and distant, but it manifests the physical world – affecting us all. Our economic stories shape our systems, and they in turn shape us. What myths continue to constrain us, and how might new stories emerge to scaffold the future? This talk will explore concepts we often take as gospel: profits, competition, economic value, efficiency, and others -- and asks how we might reshape them to better serve planetary flourishing –today, and well into the future.
3/7/202456 minutes, 4 seconds
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Jared Farmer: Chronodiversity: Thinking about Time with Trees

Big trees, old trees, and especially big old trees have always been objects of reverence. From Athena’s sacred olive on the Acropolis to the unmistakable ginkgo leaf prevalent in Japanese art and fashion during the Edo period, our profound admiration for slow plants spans time and place as well as cultures and religions. At the same time, the utilization and indeed the desecration of ancient trees is a common feature of history. In the modern period, the American West, more than any other region, witnessed contradictory efforts to destroy and protect ancient conifers. Historian Jared Farmer reflects on our long-term relationships with long-lived trees, and considers the future of oldness on a rapidly changing planet.
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Abby Smith Rumsey: Hijacked Histories, Polarized Futures

As authoritarianism continues to rise around the world, the stories we tell ourselves about our collective history become a battleground for competing visions of the future. Drawing extensively from Russian history in the 20th century, Rumsey offers a framework to discuss our current social and political tensions and how our increasing polarization could shape our future.
11/22/202355 minutes, 37 seconds
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Henry Farrell: The Complex Aftermath of Globalization

Over the last two years, the US government has started thinking about the future of the world in a very different way. Across speeches and policy papers, a vision of world politics has emerged which breaks sharply both with the old logic of the Cold War and the newer politics of globalization. The globalization bet has turned sour, but it has created a far more closely connected world than ever existed before. Problems such as climate change, economic inequality, food security, supply chain vulnerabilities, democratic weakness and mass migration emerge from the interdependent choices of people and governments in a global system without any global rulers. In a complex interdependent world, is the only way forward to accept these complexities, and try to work with them? That is the challenge that the US now faces – moving from the simple imagined futures of the past to a more entangled and realistic vision of our planet's future.
11/16/202359 minutes, 3 seconds
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Coco Krumme: The False Promise of Optimization

Coco Krumme traces the fascinating history of optimization from its roots in America's founding principles, to its dominance as the driving principle of our modern world. Optimized models underlie everything and are deeply embedded in the technologies and assumptions that have come to comprise not only our material reality, but what we make of it. How did a mathematical concept take on such outsized cultural shape? Krumme's work in scientific computation made her aware of optimization's overreach, where she observed that streamlined systems are less resilient and more at risk of failure. They limit our options and narrow our perspectives. Optimal Illusions exposes the sizable bargains we have made in the name of optimization and asks us to consider what comes next.
10/19/202331 minutes, 42 seconds
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Bette Adriaanse, Chelsea T. Hicks: Radical Sharing

Our bodies, our houses, our land, our space - we humans don’t always like to share. Author Bette Adriaanse talks with Chelsea T. Hicks, and virtual guests Brian Eno and Aqui Thami, about property and sharing, and how to make a lasting positive change in the way we share the world with each other. Alternating between thinkers and doers, whose actions help foster long term equality, this evening explores the choices that can be made to share time and resources with others in radical ways.
10/10/202356 minutes, 32 seconds
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: The Climate Parables: Reporting from the Future

2 nights of live science storytelling, art & music the evenings of May 12th & May 13th at St. Joseph's Arts Society; there is one show each night, doors are at 7:00pm and the show starts at 8:00pm. The Long Now Foundation has teamed up with Anthropocene Magazine (a publication of Future Earth) and Back Pocket Media to take the magazine’s new fiction series “The Climate Parables,” from the page to the stage. Starting with the idea that survival in the Anthropocene depends on upgrading not just our technology, but also our collective imagination, 3 acclaimed storytellers will perform work from creative science fiction writers Kim Stanley Robinson, Marc Alpert and Eliot Peper. Think of it as climate reporting from the future. Tales of how we succeeded in harnessing new technology and science to work with nature, rather than against it. It’s all wrapped up in an evening of performed journalism that blends science and technology, fiction and non-fiction, video, art, and music. What could possibly go right? Anthropocene Magazine's Climate Parables is made possible with funding support of the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. Supporting Sponsors: The Carbon Collective: Charm Industrial, Living Carbon, Vesta, Lithos Carbon and other innovators in the space are teaming up to support the Climate Parables and share their visions of a world with less carbon. They will have a dedicated space at the event to showcase their solutions.
6/28/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ryan Phelan: Bringing Biotech to Wildlife Conservation

How can we turn the tide on species loss and help biodiversity and bioabundance flourish for millennia to come? Ryan Phelan is Executive Director of Revive & Restore; the leading wildlife conservation organization promoting the incorporation of biotechnologies into standard conservation practice. Phelan will share the new Genetic Rescue Toolkit for conservation – a suite of biotechnology tools and conservation applications that offer hope and a path to recovery for threatened species. In this talk, Phelan will present examples of the toolkit in action, including corals that better withstand rising ocean temperatures, trees that withstand a fungal blight, and the genetic rescue of the black-footed ferret, once thought to be extinct. Revive & Restore brings biotechnologies to conservation in responsible ways; from engaging local communities where ecological restorations are underway, to connecting stakeholders in disciplines like biotech, bioethics, conservation organizations and government agencies. Together, they are forging new paths to bioabundance in our changing world. Ryan Phelan will be joined by forecaster and Long Now Board Member Paul Saffo for the Q&A; to discuss long-term outcomes and the Intended Consequences framing used by Revive & Restore.
6/20/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 20 seconds
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Becky Chambers, Annalee Newitz: Resisting Dystopia

Join us for a thought-provoking conversation between two Hugo award-winning science fiction authors, Becky Chambers and Annalee Newitz. Known for challenging classic science fiction tropes such as war, violence, and colonialism, both authors create vivid and immersive worlds that are filled with non-human persons, peace, and a subtle sense of hope. The authors will discuss what it means to take these alternative themes seriously, delve into their writing & world building process, and explore how science fiction can help us imagine new futures that can make sense of our current civilizational struggles.
6/15/202355 minutes, 58 seconds
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Jenny Odell: Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock

"What first appears to be a wish for more time may turn out to be just one part of a simple, yet vast, desire for autonomy, meaning, and purpose." -Jenny Odell Join us for an evening on long-term thinking with a talk & reading from Jenny Odell and conversation with Long Now's Executive Director Alexander Rose. Artist and writer Jenny Odell brings her acutely insightful observations to the dominant framework of time, based on industrial and colonial worldviews, that is embedded within our societies. Addressing the inability to reconcile the artificially constructed time pressures of modern culture with planetary-scale crisis, she offers a series of histories, concepts, and places as "provocations that can defamiliarize an old language of time, while pointing in the direction of something else." Odell's newest book is Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock (March 02023) and her first book is the widely-read How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (02019). Her visual work is exhibited internationally, and she's been artist in residence at Recology SF (the dump), the San Francisco Planning Department, the Internet Archive, and the Montalvo Arts Center. Previously, Odell taught digital art at Stanford University.
4/14/20231 hour, 1 minute, 37 seconds
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Ismail Ali: Psychedelics: History at the Crossroads

Psychedelics and other mind-altering substances have been used for thousands of years across the world in religious, spiritual, celebratory, and healing contexts. Despite a half century of a "War on Drugs" in the United States, there has been a recent resurgence in public interest in ending drug prohibition and re-evaluating the roles these substances can play in modern society. What can our several-thousand year history with these substances teach us about how they can be used in a modern society? What legal & cultural frameworks can be used to increase access to these substances, and what are the potential downsides of these frameworks? Ismail Ali works daily developing and implementing the legal and policy strategies that will define the next several decades of psychedelic access, and joins Long Now in an evening of exploring the deep history of psychedelics and what role they can play in our future. Ismail Lourido Ali, JD (he/him or they/them) is the Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and has been personally utilizing psychedelics and other substances in celebratory & spiritual contexts for over fifteen years. Ismail works with, is formally affiliated with, or has served in leadership or board roles for numerous organizations in the drug policy reform ecosystem, including Alchemy Community Therapy Center (formerly Sage Institute), Psychedelic Bar Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Chacruna Institute, and the Ayahuasca Defense Fund.
3/21/202358 minutes, 2 seconds
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Ryan North: How to Invent Everything

How would someone fare if they were dropped into a randomly chosen period in history? Would they have any relevant knowledge to share, or ability to invent crucial technologies given the period's constraints? Ryan North uses these hypothetical questions to explore the technological and implicit knowledge underpinning modern civilization, offering a practical guide of how one could rebuild civilization from the ground up.
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Adam Rogers: Full Spectrum: The Science of Color and Modern Human Perception

Tracing an arc from the earliest humans to our digitized, synthesized present and future - Adam Rogers shows the expansive human quest for the understanding, creation and use of color. We meet our ancestors mashing charcoal in caves, Silk Road merchants competing for the best ceramics, and textile artists cracking the centuries-old mystery of how colors mix, before shooting to the modern era for high-stakes corporate espionage and the digital revolution that’s rewriting the rules of color forever. This journey has required millennia of remarkable innovation and a fascinating exchange of ideas between science and craft that’s allowed for the most luminous manifestations of our built and adorned world. Adam Rogers is the author of Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern and Proof: The Science of Booze. He is a deputy editor at Wired, and was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and a writer covering science and technology for Newsweek.
2/24/202357 minutes, 34 seconds
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Parag Khanna: Why Mobility is Destiny

The map of humanity isn’t settled -- not now, not ever. In the 60,000 years since people began spreading across the continents, a recurring feature of human civilization has been mobility—the ever-constant search for resources, stability and opportunity. Driven by global events from conflicts, famine, repression and changing climates - to opportunities for trade, social advancement and freedom of thought - humans have relocated around the globe for millennia. But what happens when billions of people are on the move? As climate change tips toward full-blown crisis, economies collapse, governments destabilize, and technology disrupts, we’re entering a new age of mass migrations. Futurist Parag Khanna uncovers the deep trends that are shaping the most likely scenarios for our future and asks what map of human geography will emerge.
2/18/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 54 seconds
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Eric Debrah Otchere: Sonic Spaces: A Psychology of Music and Work

Eric Debrah Otchere's research revolves around the power of music in the context of work; covering an ambitious range from ethnographic research on Ghanaian indigenous fishing culture to personalized musical preferences via modern technology. Throughout history, the power of music to enhance productivity and focus at work has been explored, leveraged and exploited - by individuals and societies. Combining empirical data from his extensive fieldwork with a critical review of literature and theories from different areas of study, Otchere is connecting previously siloed research into a comprehensive body of knowledge on the intricate relationship between music and work. This Long Now Talk is presented in partnership with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. CASBS brings together deep thinkers from diverse disciplines and communities to advance understanding of the full range of human beliefs, behaviors, interactions, and institutions. A leading incubator of human-centered knowledge, CASBS facilitates collaborations across academia, policy, industry, civil society, and government to collectively design a better future.
2/10/202350 minutes, 58 seconds
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Wade Davis: Activist Anthropology

What is the role and purpose of Anthropology today? Wade Davis looks back at the pioneering work of Franz Boas in the early 20th century that upended long-held Western assumptions on race & gender, along with definitions of "social progress". Boas and his students used comparative ethnography to advance “cultural relativism”-- the idea that every culture is as “correct” as every other culture. Boas showed that our differences can be completely explained by social conditioning, not inherent genetic makeup, upending a deep history of scientific racism. This fundamental change in understanding laid the intellectual foundations for the political movements for racial, gender, and cultural equality in the 20th century. But over the last few decades, the field of Anthropology has turned inward, and seems increasingly unable to address global challenges like linguistic loss, cultural erasure, environmental destruction, and economic injustice. Davis offers ideas on how the field could change direction and reclaim global activism as part of its core once again.
1/27/202355 minutes, 36 seconds
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Johanna Hoffman: Speculative Futures: Design Approaches to Foster Resilience and Co-create the Cities We Need

Urbanist, researcher and writer Johanna Hoffman joins us to talk about speculative futures -- a powerful set of tools that can reorient urban development help us dream and build more resilient, equitable cities. Navigating modern change depends on imagining futures we’ve never seen. Urban planning and design should be well positioned to spearhead that work, but calculated rationale often results in urban spaces crafted to mitigate threats rather than navigate the unexpected, leaving cities increasingly vulnerable to the uncertainties of 21st century change. Long used in art, film, fiction, architecture, and industrial design, speculative futures offers powerful ways to counter this trend by moving us beyond what currently exists into the realms of what could be. Far from an indulgent creative exercise, speculative futures is a means of creating the resilient cities we urgently need.
1/20/202356 minutes, 49 seconds
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Kate Darling: The New Breed: What Our Animal History Reveals For Our Robotic Future

Robot ethicist Kate Darling offers a nuanced and smart take on our relationships to robots and the increasing presence they will have in our lives. From a social, legal, and ethical perspective, she shows that our current ways of thinking don’t leave room for the robot technology that is soon to become part of our everyday routines. Robots are likely to supplement, rather than replace, our own skills and relationships. Darling also considers our history of incorporating animals into our work, transportation, military, and even families, and shows how we already have a solid basis for how to contend with, and navigate our future with robots. Dr. Kate Darling works at the intersection of law, ethics and robotics; as a researcher at MIT Media Lab, author and intellectual property policy advisor. Her work with Dr. Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and other institutions explores the difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Darling's work is widely published and covered in the media; and her new book is The New Breed: What Our History With Animals Reveals About Our Future With Robots.
1/13/202354 minutes, 29 seconds
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Suzanne Simard: Mother Trees and the Social Forest

Forest Ecologist Suzanne Simard reveals that trees are part of a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground mycorrhizal networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities, and share and exchange resources and support. Simard's extraordinary research and tenacious efforts to raise awareness on the interconnectedness of forest systems, both above and below ground, has revolutionized our understanding of forest ecology. This increasing knowledge is driving a call for more sustainable practices in forestry and land management, ones that develop strategies based on the forest as a whole entity, not on trees as isolated individuals.
1/5/202359 minutes, 43 seconds
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Alicia Eggert: This Moment Used To Be The Future

Interdisciplinary artist Alicia Eggert and Long Now's Executive Director Alexander Rose will be in conversation for this special evening discussion of time, art and long-term thinking. Eggert's sign work uses sculpture to bring time to the foreground, embodying its passage through carefully chosen quotes. These words, rendered in neon and steel, cycle rhythmically through subtle text changes designed to encourage a heightened awareness of time and place in the viewer. In the sculpture “This Present Moment,” she uses an epigram of Stewart Brand’s from his book The Clock of The Long Now, which she first encountered while doing research in 02008. For more in-depth reading, see Long Now Managing Editor Ahmed Kabil's 02021 interview with Alicia Eggert and Long Now Fellow Jonathon Keats' article on Eggert's work in Forbes. Alicia Eggert's work gives material form to language and time, powerful but invisible forces that shape our perception of reality. Her creative practice is motivated by an existential pursuit to understand the linear and finite nature of human life within a seemingly infinite universe. Her inspiration is drawn from physics and philosophy, and her sculptures often co-opt the styles and structures of commercial signage to communicate messages that inspire reflection and wonder. Eggert's artworks have been installed on building rooftops in Russia, on bridges in Amsterdam, and on uninhabited islands in Maine, beckoning us to ponder our place in the world and the role we play in it. Eggert is an Associate Professor of Studio Art and the Sculpture Program Coordinator at the University of North Texas; her work has been exhibited internationally, and is in the collection of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
12/15/202246 minutes, 28 seconds
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Stewart Brand, Jonathan Haidt, Kevin Kelly: Democracy in the Next Cycle of History

Jonathan Haidt sees that we have entered a social-psychological phase change that was initiated in 02009 when social media platforms introduced several fateful innovations that changed the course of our society and disintegrated our consensus on reality. In this conversation with Long Now co-founders Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly, Haidt presses on questions of technological optimism, morality vs ethics, teen mental health, possible platform tweaks that could reduce the damage and just how long this next cycle of history could last. Prompted by Haidt's piece on Why The Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid, this discussion offers a behind the scenes look at the thinking going into Haidt's next book; release slated for the fall of 02023.
10/6/20221 hour, 1 minute
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Michael Tubbs: Upsetting the Setup: Creating a California for All

How do we address society's most pressing issues and create opportunity for those who need it most? Can we create a blueprint for a just and inclusive economy that includes a safety net that centers dignity, quality jobs that empower workers, housing as a human right, wealth creating opportunities for all, and much more? Michael Tubbs is developing that blueprint by creating and implementing policies that address these inequalities, and projects like the Universal Basic Income pilot in the city of Stockton. Our Q&A; Host will be Michael McAfee, president of PolicyLink, a national institute that advances racial and economic equity. Michael Tubbs is the Founder of End Poverty in California (EPIC); the Founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income; and the Special Advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility. In 02016, he was elected Mayor of Stockton at 26, the city’s first African-American Mayor, and the youngest Mayor of any major city in American history. Tubbs piloted the first mayor-led guaranteed income pilot in the country and raised over $20 million dollars to create the Stockton Scholars, a universal scholarship and mentorship program for Stockton students. Tubbs is author of The Deeper The Roots: A Memoir of Hope and Home; a call for leadership and policy that is more empathetic and responsive to people who are struggling with poverty and other issues.
8/16/202259 minutes, 39 seconds
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Dorie Clark: The Long Game: How to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share these talks on YouTube and Long Now Personal goals need a long-term strategy too. Dorie Clark offers concrete practices to sharpen strategic thinking and incorporate a long-term perspective within a personal time scale. By reorienting ourselves to focus on the big picture, and using the power of small but persistent changes over time, Clark shows how long-term thinking can be applied to reshape our own futures. Clark's new book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World will be for sale at the in-person talk. Dorie Clark is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and consults and speaks for clients such as Google, Yale University, and the World Bank. Clark teaches executive education for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School, and offers continuing professional education through her newsletter, courses, writing and appearances. Clark is author of The Long Game, Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out; all books which delve deep into her business acumen around helping individuals and companies realize their best ideas, take control of their futures and make an impact on the world.
5/18/202256 minutes, 28 seconds
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Kim Stanley Robinson: Climate Futures: Beyond 02022

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Long Now continues our dialogue with the acclaimed writer Kim Stanley Robinson around COP26 and his most recent book The Ministry for the Future. Clean energy advocate & author Ramez Naam will join Robinson on stage after the talk for a further discussion. Tackling topics from carbon quantitative easing, to political action, to planetary-level engineering, Robinson describes our current situation as "all-hands-on-deck" where every possible mitigation strategy should be tried. You can find our other talks with Kim Stanley Robinson on our YouTube channel. Kim Stanley Robinson is an American novelist, widely recognized as one of the foremost living writers of science fiction and increasingly, climate fiction. His work has been described as humanist or literary science fiction and his use of scientific accuracy and non-fiction descriptions places him in the hard sci-fi genre. Robinson has published more than 20 novels including his much honored "Mars trilogy", New York 2140 (02017), and The Ministry for the Future (02020). Robinson studied under Ursula K Le Guin and earned a Ph.D. in literature from UCSD with a dissertation on the works of Philip K. Dick.
4/27/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 8 seconds
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John Markoff: Floating Upstream: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share these talks on YouTube and Long Now Join us for an illuminating evening with journalist John Markoff in conversation with Long Now's Co-founder Stewart Brand and Executive Director Alexander Rose around Markoff's new biography of Brand. Journalist John Markoff writes about technology, society and the key figures who shaped Silicon Valley and the personal computer revolution. Along the way, his stories and reporting intersected with Stewart Brand's paths numerous times and in surprising ways. And now Markoff has distilled Brand's formative rise from the Merry Pranksters and the Whole Earth Catalog, to the marriage of environmental consciousness and hacker capitalism into his newest book, Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand. The book will be available to purchase at the in-person talk, and sales will benefit BookShop West Portal. John Markoff writes for the New York Times, has covered Silicon Valley since 01977, wrote the first account of the World Wide Web in 01993, and broke the story of Google’s self driving car in 02010. He is the author of What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry and Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots, amongst others. His new biography of Stewart Brand is Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand, which will be released on March 22, 02022.
4/27/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 7 seconds
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Prerna Singh: State, Society and Vaccines

As a society, how do we address the "wicked hard problem" of vaccine acceptance? How can public health institutions reach those who are hesitant when even robust fact-based campaigns don't seem to work? Infectious diseases are one of the long-standing challenges for humanity; historical plagues and flare ups of disease have transformed societies, redrawn boundaries across the globe and instigated mass migrations. Successive civilizations have grappled with attempts to control contagion and tried to protect their populations. With the advent of vaccines in the late 1700's it seemed humanity had finally found the way out of this potentially existential threat. But despite humans' deeply embedded fear of infectious disease, issues of vaccine acceptance arose from the start. Through decades of public health campaigns in multiple countries, a persistent thread can be seen of reluctance to adopt vaccines, despite extensive educational campaigns or even coercive tactics to get populations fully vaccinated. Prerna Singh asks how do we go beyond the usual behavior modeling to find out what actually works for these critical public health campaigns? Can we uncover the keys to human motivation to get people to act for their own protection and for the greater good? This Long Now Talk is presented in partnership with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. CASBS brings together deep thinkers from diverse disciplines and communities to advance understanding of the full range of human beliefs, behaviors, interactions, and institutions. A leading incubator of human-centered knowledge, CASBS facilitates collaborations across academia, policy, industry, civil society, and government to collectively design a better future.
3/25/202253 minutes, 1 second
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Sean Carroll: The Passage of Time and the Meaning of Life

What is time? What is humankind’s role in the universe? What is the meaning of life? For much of human history, these questions have been the province of religion and philosophy. What answers can science provide? In this talk, Sean Carroll will share what physicists know, and don’t yet know, about the nature of time. He’ll argue that while the universe might not have purpose, we can create meaning and purpose through how we approach reality, and how we live our lives. Sean Carroll is a Research Professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology, and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research has focused on fundamental physics and cosmology, especially issues of dark matter, dark energy, spacetime symmetries, and the origin of the universe. Recently, Carroll has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the emergence of spacetime, and the evolution of entropy and complexity. Carroll is the author of Something Deeply Hidden, The Big Picture, The Particle at the End of the Universe amongst other books and hosts the Mindscape podcast.
3/2/202257 minutes, 58 seconds
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Neal Stephenson: Termination Shock

Long Now Talks are in-person or via our livestream; get tickets for the in-person talk in San Francisco or RSVP for the free livestream. Watch & share this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Live. Join us for an evening with Neal Stephenson reading from his newest book Termination Shock (pub. 11/16/21) and a discussion with Long Now's Executive Director and 10,000 Year Clock builder, Alexander Rose. Tickets are bundled with a signed copy of the new book. Long Now Members purchase the book but get their usual complimentary tickets for the in-person event. You can request a short personalization during checkout; but note these requests are subject to time & availability of the author during presigning. Copies of Termination Shock can also be purchased from The Booksmith; curbside pickup or $5 domestic shipping (free for orders $50 or more). Neal Stephenson’s sweeping, prescient new novel transports readers to a near-future world, and brings together a fascinating, unexpected group of characters from different cultures and continents, whose stories collide and transform. Ranging from the Texas heartland to the Dutch royal palace in the Hague, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, the novel grapples with the real-life repercussions of planetary system changes. Epic in scope while heartbreakingly human in perspective, Termination Shock sounds a clarion alarm, considers dire risks, and ponders potential adaptations coming to our near future.
2/17/202244 minutes, 52 seconds
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Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twilley: Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine

Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley track the history and future of quarantine around the globe, chasing the story of emergency isolation through time and space—from the crumbling lazarettos of the Mediterranean, built to contain the Black Death, to an experimental Ebola unit in London, and from the hallways of the CDC to closed-door simulations where pharmaceutical execs and epidemiologists prepare for the outbreak of a novel coronavirus. But the story of quarantine ranges far beyond the history of medical isolation. In their new book, Until Proven Safe, the authors tour a nuclear-waste isolation facility beneath the New Mexican desert, see plants stricken with a disease that threatens the world’s wheat supply, and meet NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, tasked with saving Earth from extraterrestrial infections. They also introduce us to the corporate tech giants hoping to revolutionize quarantine through surveillance and algorithmic prediction. We live in a disorienting historical moment that can feel both unprecedented and inevitable; Manaugh and Twilley help us make sense of our new reality through a thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of freedom, governance, and mutual responsibility.
2/8/202255 minutes, 44 seconds
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David Rooney: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks

How has time been imagined, politicized, and weaponized over the centuries—and how it might bring peace? Horologist David Rooney tells the hidden story of timekeeping and how it continues to shape our modern world. From medieval water clocks to monumental sundials, and from coastal time signals to satellites in earth's orbit, Rooney takes us on a global journey that showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship humans have used to track and measure time. His in-depth research illustrates the very real effects clocks and timekeeping have on everything from navigation, to capitalism, to politics, to our very identity. An expert storyteller, Rooney brings pivotal moments from the past vividly to life and shows us how a history of clocks is a history of civilization. David Rooney, is a historian of technology and expert on clocks and timekeeping practices. As a curator at the Science Museum, London, Rooney was the lead caretaker of Long Now's Prototype 1 of The 10,000 Year Clock which is on display there in the Making of the Modern World exhibit. Rooney is also author of several books including his most recent, About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks.
12/23/202151 minutes, 39 seconds
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Alexander Rose: Continuity: Discovering the Lessons behind the World’s Longest-lived Organizations

One of Long Now’s founding premises is that humanity’s most significant challenges require long-term solutions, including institutions that caretake and guide the knowledge and commitment needed to work over long time scales. However, there are a limited number of organizations that have managed to stay stable over many centuries, and in some cases, over a millennium. Long Now has been informally tracking these organizations for years, and in 02019 formed The Organizational Continuity Project to study long-lived institutions more formally. Alexander Rose, Long Now's Executive Director, discusses how The Organizational Continuity Project hopes to discover the lessons behind these long-lived organizations and build a discipline of shareable knowledge that will help contemporary institutions, companies, and governments develop into robust, long-lasting structures. In turn, we hope these institutions will be better equipped to address civilizational-scale problems with multi-generational thinking.
9/23/202145 minutes, 7 seconds
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Nathaniel Rich, Ryan Phelan, Ben Novak: Second Nature: Green Rabbits, Passenger Pigeons, Cloned Ferrets, and the Birth of a New Ecology

Reporter and writer Nathaniel Rich delves deep into conversation with Revive & Restore's Ryan Phelan and Ben Novak to discuss his newest book Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade,which attempts to come to terms with the massive changes that are underway on our planet, and how humans can better understand our role to caretake, conserve and thoughtfully manage our relationship with nature for the long term. From Losing Earth to the film Dark Waters (adapted from his writing), Nathaniel Rich’s stories have come to define the way we think of contemporary ecological narrative. In Second Nature, he asks what it means to live in an era of terrible responsibility. The question is no longer, How do we return to the world that we’ve lost? It is, What world do we want to create in its place?
8/20/202143 minutes, 8 seconds
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Peter Leyden: The Transformation: A Future History of the World from 02020 to 02050

A compelling case can be made that we are in the early stages of another tech and economic boom in the next 30 years that will help solve our era’s biggest challenges like climate change, and lead to a societal transformation that will be understood as civilizational change by the year 02100. Peter Leyden has built the case for this extremely positive yet plausible scenario of the period from 02020 to 02050 as a sequel to the Wired cover story and book he co-authored with Long Now cofounder Peter Schwartz 25 years ago called The Long Boom: The Future History of the World 1980 to 2020. His latest project, The Transformation, is an optimistic analysis on what lies ahead, based on deep interviews with 25 world-class experts looking at new technologies and long-term trends that are largely positive, and could come together in surprisingly synergistic ways.
2/23/20211 hour, 6 minutes, 49 seconds
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Jason Tester: Queering the Future: How LGBTQ Foresight Can Benefit All

Jason Tester asks us to see the powerful potential of "queering the future" - how looking at the future through a lens of difference and openness can reveal unexpected solutions to wicked problems, and new angles on innovation. Might a queer perspective hold some of the keys to our seemingly intractable issues? Tester brings his research in strategic foresight, speculative design work, and understanding of the activism and resiliency of LGBTQ communities together as he looks toward the future. Can we learn new ways of thinking, and thriving, from the creative approaches and adaptive strategies that have emerged from these historically marginalized groups?
2/3/202152 minutes, 28 seconds
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James Nestor: The Future of Breathing

Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, journalist James Nestor questions the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function, breathing. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary specialists to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe. His inquiry leads to the understanding that breathing is in many ways as important as what we eat, how much we exercise, or whatever genes we’ve inherited.
12/23/20201 hour, 9 minutes, 5 seconds
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Nadia Eghbal: The Making and Maintenance of our Open Source Infrastructure

Nadia Eghbal is particularly interested in infrastructure, governance, and the economics of the internet - and how the dynamics of these subjects play out in software, online communities and generally living life online. Eghbal, who interviewed hundreds of developers while working to improve their experience at GitHub, argues that modern open source offers us a model through which to understand the challenges faced by online creators. Her new book, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software, is about open source developers and what they tell us about the evolution of our online social spaces. Eghbal sees open source code as a form of public infrastructure that requires maintenance, and that offers us a model through which to understand the challenges faced by online creators on all platforms.
12/10/20201 hour, 10 minutes, 5 seconds
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Roman Krznaric: Becoming a Better Ancestor

Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. The need to draw on our capacity to think long-term has never been more urgent, whether in areas such as public health care, to deal with technological risks, or to confront the threats of an ecological crisis. What can we do to overcome the tyranny of the now? The drivers of short-termism threaten to drag us over the edge of civilizational breakdown, while ways to think long-term are drawing us towards a culture of longer time horizons and responsibility for the future of humankind. Creating a cognitive toolkit for challenging our obsession with the here and now offers conceptual scaffolding for answering one of the most important questions of our time: How can we be good ancestors? ---Roman Krznaric Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His newest book on the history and future of long-term thinking is The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking. Other books include Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, which have been published in more than 20 languages. Krznaric founded the traveling Empathy Museum and is especially interested in the challenges of how we extend empathy to future generations. Roman Krznaric is also a Long Now Research Fellow.
11/19/20201 hour, 23 minutes, 40 seconds
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Julia Watson: Design by Radical Indigenism

Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable. There is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices, and beliefs designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems. Watson's work reconnects with this sophisticated global body of knowledge. Julia Watson teaches Urban Design at Harvard and Columbia University and is author of Lo-TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism (02019). Her work focuses on experiential, landscape, and urban design, with an ethos towards global ecological change.
10/6/202059 minutes, 50 seconds
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Genevieve Bell: The 4th Industrial Revolution: Responsible & Secure AI

"I have always felt I have an obligation to build the future I want to see. We know that AI-powered cyber-physical systems (CPS) will scale in society. The challenge we face now is how we do that responsibly and sustainably? If we act proactively, we can avoid some of the negative impacts we have seen during other technological leaps. We need to start creating now for that future 30 years hence, when we are completely embedded in both a digital and physical environment, and are experiencing a climate unrecognisable from the climate of today [...] for a future characterised by economic prosperity, social equality and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability." -----Genevieve Bell Genevieve Bell is an Australian anthropologist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development. Bell established the 3A Institute (at the Australian National University College of Engineering and Computer Science) to focus on exploring how to bring together data science, design thinking and ethnography to drive new approaches in engineering; and to question of what it means to be human in a data-driven economy and world.
8/28/202059 minutes, 54 seconds
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Craig Childs: Tracking the First People into Ice Age North America

Craig Childs chronicles the last millennia of the Ice Age, the violent oscillations and retreat of glaciers, the clues and traces that document the first encounters of early humans, and the animals whose presence governed the humans chances for survival. With the cadence of his narrative moving from scientific observation to poetry, he reveals how much has changed since the time of mammoth hunters, and how little. Across unexplored landscapes yet to be peopled, readers will see the Ice Age, and their own age, in a whole new light. Craig Childs is a writer, wanderer and contributing editor at High Country News, commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and teaches writing at University of Alaska and the Mountainview MFA at Southern New Hampshire University. His books include Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America (02019), Apocalyptic Planet (02013) and House of Rain (02008).
8/17/20201 hour, 2 minutes, 32 seconds
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Peter Calthorpe: Urban Planet: Ecology, Community, and Growth Through the Next Century

Throughout Peter Calthorpe's decade-spanning career in urban design, planning, and architecture, he has developed and practiced the key principles of New Urbanism: that the most successful places are diverse in uses and users, are scaled to the pedestrian and human interaction, and are environmentally sustainable. Calthorpe developed the concept of Transit Oriented Development, a strategy that is now the foundation of many regional policies and city plans around the world. His work internationally has demonstrated that community design with a focus on environmental sustainability and human scale can be adapted throughout the globe. Most recently Calthorpe launched the urban-planning software UrbanFootprint which models the diverse impacts of urban planning scenarios for designers and planners working for cities, businesses, public agencies and nonprofits.
8/6/20201 hour, 11 minutes, 9 seconds
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Lonny J Avi Brooks: When is Wakanda: Imagining Afrofutures

"As a forecaster and Afrofuturist who imagines alternative futures from a Black Diaspora perspective, I think about long-term signals that will shape the next 10 to 100 years." ---Dr. Lonny J Avi Brooks Dr. Brooks develops and promotes a wider Afrocentric perspective that champions Black storytelling and imagination, to push beyond the colonial mindset into an expanded vision of possible futures. Through his work with the Black Speculative Arts Movement, The Afrofuturist Podcast which he started with Ahmed Best, Institute for the Future, Fathomers, Dynamicland and others, Brooks aims to diversify and democratize the building of the future. Lonny J Avi Brooks is an associate professor in communication at California State University, East Bay. As the Co-Principal Investigator for the Long Term and Futures Thinking in Education Project, he has piloted the integration of futures thinking into the communication curriculum. As a leading voice of Afrofuturism 2.0, Brooks contributes prolifically to the field through diverse mediums including journals, conferences, anthologies, exhibits and festivals.
7/27/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 16 seconds
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Brian Fisher: Edible Insects: Where Land Conservation and Protein Meet

At the intersection of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food scarcity lies an unexpected and abundant resource: insects. Brian Fisher has spent three decades documenting biodiversity in Madagascar, a nation off East Africa that's estimated to contain 5% of the world's total plant and animal life. Across the island, harsh economic realities force local people to choose between preserving their unique ecological heritage and clearing the landscape to make way for sustenance farming. To address the twin issues of malnutrition and habitat loss, Fisher with the California Academy of Sciences founded a Malagasy-based organization that manufactures protein-packed cricket powder. The edible insects alleviate pressure on endangered habitat while supplementing local diets, providing a model that can be replicated in other food-stressed areas around the world. Fisher is an unparalleled storyteller with updates from the cutting edge of conservation science—and the future of food. Dr. Brian Fisher is curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences and a world-renowned ant expert. Nicknamed the "Ant Man," Fisher has spent three decades documenting the island of Madagascar's beautiful biodiversity. Along the way, he's discovered over 1,000 new ant species. As he witnessed the biodiversity crisis unfold in Madagascar, Fisher began researching traditional insect-eating practices.
7/15/20201 hour, 36 seconds
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Laurance Doyle: Interspecies Communication and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Dr. Laurance Doyle is an astrophysicist and principal investigator at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) with expertise in diverse subjects including extrasolar planets, signal processing and communications theory. He has worked on image analysis from the Voyager mission and Halley's Comet, developed statistical methodologies to search for extrasolar planets, and is applying those tools to analyze complex patterns and search for meaning in animal communications.
6/23/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 30 seconds
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Rick Doblin: Transformational Psychedelics

Humans have consumed psychedelics for at least the last 10,000 years. The outlawing of psychedelics in most of the world in the 20th century didn’t stop that, but it did put an end to promising research into their psychotherapeutic applications to treat depression, addiction, PTSD, anxiety, and trauma. Today, we’re in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance, with some psychedelics fast on their way to becoming legal medicines. One of the key players behind this movement is Rick Doblin, Ph.D.. In 01986, he founded the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization that has developed the medical and legal framework for the use of psychedelics to treat mental health conditions. MAPS has distributed over $20 million to fund psychedelic research and education, and in 02017 won fast-tracked “Breakthrough Therapy” designation from the FDA for using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With legalization now in sight, what is the future of psychedelic medicine? Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His life’s work is to develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics.
6/11/20201 hour, 15 minutes, 40 seconds
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Eric Ries: Long-Term Stock Exchange

Companies that operate with a long-term mindset tend to outperform their peers over time. But the pressure to achieve short-term quarterly gains often works against longer-term sustainable growth, and can push even the most visionary company into a short-term mindset. In 02019, the Long-Term Stock Exchange was approved as the country’s 14th and newest stock exchange. It offers a new framework for companies to raise capital while keeping their focus on long-term results. By requiring participating companies to accept a set of governance standards and incentive systems that deprioritize the short-term, the Long-Term Stock Exchange hopes to reward investments and business strategies that focus on a longer time horizon. Eric Ries is the founder and CEO of Long-Term Stock Exchange. He created the Lean Startup methodology and is author of The Lean Startup and The Startup Way. Ries founded IMVU and served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School, IDEO, and Pivotal.
3/3/20201 hour, 21 minutes, 9 seconds
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Bina Venkataraman: Long-Term Thinking in a Distracted World

What does practical long-term thinking look like? Bina Venkataraman’s new book, The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, brings this abstract question to life. Through a series of anecdotes and case studies that draw from her background in public policy, climate change strategy, and journalism, Venkataraman explores pragmatic tactics that can help us think more clearly about our long-term future. Bina Venkataraman is the editorial page editor of The Boston Globe. Before joining the Globe, she served as a senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, was the director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and taught in the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.
1/29/20201 hour, 27 minutes, 6 seconds
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Andrew McAfee: More From Less

Andrew McAfee draws on a wide range of evidence to show that the world is already on the right track toward long-term health when it combines 1) technological progress, 2) capitalism, 3) responsive government, and 4) public awareness. That blend demonstrably gets humanity “more from less.” It dematerializes the economy and decouples it from exploiting nature while increasing prosperity for ever more people. McAfee argues that dematerialization is occurring because of the combination of capitalism and tech progress (especially progress with digital technologies). Contested markets provide the motive, and tech progress the opportunity, to save money by swapping bits for atoms throughout the economy. But competition and computers don't automatically deal with pollution or protect threatened ecosystems. Two other forces are necessary--public awareness and responsive government. When all four are present, societies can tread more lightly on the Earth and grow in confidence that both humanity and nature can thrive together into the future. The reality of what works departs from every ideology out there. It also makes clear what needs to be further improved in the places where it’s working, such as the US, and what needs to be introduced in the places where it’s not working yet. Andrew McAfee is a research scientist at MIT‘s Sloan School of Management and cofounder of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. He is the author of More From Less (2019) and co-author (with Erik Brynjolfsson) of Machine, Platform, Crowd (2017) and The Second Machine Age (2014).
12/2/20191 hour, 33 minutes, 46 seconds
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Suhanya Raffel: World Art Through The Asian Perspective

Coming to the fore in this century is Asian perspective on everything. A thrilling place to watch the shift is in art. Extraordinary contemporary art from all over the world, especially Asia, has been collected for the new world-class museum in Hong Kong called M+. The massive museum won’t open for a year or two, but a rich sample of the collection as well as insight on why it was collected for display in Hong Kong, will be offered by Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+. Before her appointment in 2016 to run M+, Suhanya Raffel was Deputy Director and Director of Collections at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, and Acting Director of the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art. This SALT talk was arranged as part of the partnership between The Long Now Foundation and the Asia Society Northern California.
10/21/20191 hour, 23 minutes, 22 seconds
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Monica L. Smith: Cities: The First 6,000 Years

“Cities were the first Internet,” says archaeologist Monica Smith, because they were the first permanent places where strangers met in large numbers for entertainment, commerce, and romance. And the function and form of cities, she notes, have remained remarkably constant over their 6,000 years of history so far. Modern city dwellers would quickly find their way around any city in the past, given our shared architecture of broad avenues, monumental structures, and densely crowded residences. What we learn from examining the long history of cities is what makes them so freeing and empowering for humans and humanity. Density has always been crucial. So has infrastructure, skill specialization, cultural diversity, intense trade with other cities, an economy of acquiring and discarding objects, the delights of fashion and art, religious focus and political focus, intellectual ferment, and technological innovation. The digital internet has not replaced cities, nor is it likely that anything else will, Smith proposes, for the next 6,000 years. Monica L. Smith is an anthropology professor and also a professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainabilityat UCLA. She has done archeological fieldwork in India, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, and England. Her new book is Cities: The First 6,000 Years.
8/23/20191 hour, 20 minutes, 47 seconds
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Marcia Bjornerud: Timefulness

We need a poly-temporal worldview to embrace the overlapping rates of change that our world runs on, especially the huge, powerful changes that are mostly invisible to us. Geologist Marcia Bjornerud teaches that kind of time literacy. With it, we become at home in the deep past and engaged with the deep future. We learn to “think like a planet.” As for climate change... “Dazzled by our own creations,” Bjornerud writes, “we have forgotten that we are wholly embedded in a much older, more powerful world whose constancy we take for granted…. Averse to even the smallest changes, we have now set the stage for environmental deviations that will be larger and less predictable than any we have faced before.” A professor of geology and environmental studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Marcia Bjornerud is author of Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World (2018) and Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth (2005).
8/14/20191 hour, 26 minutes, 14 seconds
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Mariana Mazzucato: Rethinking Value

What happens when we confuse price with value? We end up undervaluing care. We pollute more. And the financial sector is allowed to brag about how productive it is—while often just moving around existing value, created by others. Most importantly we end up with a form of capitalism that rewards value extraction activities over value creation, increasing inequality in the process. Economist Mariana Mazzucato: “I will argue that the way the word ‘value’ is used in modern economics has made it easier for value-extracting activities to masquerade as value-creating activities. And in the process rents (unearned income) gets confused with profits (earned income); inequality rises, and investment in the real economy falls.” Markets have always been shaped, Mazzucato notes. They can be reshaped now to better reflect and foster real value—creating a more sustainable and inclusive economy. A professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she founded and directs the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Mariana Mazzucato is the author of The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy (2018) and of The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths (2013).
7/12/20191 hour, 29 minutes, 37 seconds
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David Byrne: Good News & Sleeping Beauties

David Byrne has become a scholar and promoter of new good ideas that work in the world. He finds them in health, education, culture, economics, climate, science & technology, transportation, and civic engagement. He has great examples and great slides--as you might expect from an acclaimed visual as well as musical artist. His goal is to spread the word that there are a LOT of new things that work surprisingly well, and they can be applied far and wide. He has also delved into history for “sleeping beauties”—brilliant ideas that got overlooked or forgotten but can be revived. He’s interested in how that rediscovery process works and can be made better. Now 67, David Byrne’s prolific artistic career has earned honors including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards. Most famed for his new-wave band “Talking Heads” (1975-1991), Byrne continues to perform on the road and has made numerous films, books, and graphic art works. He frequently collaborates with Long Now board member Brian Eno.
6/21/20191 hour, 30 minutes, 26 seconds
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Ian McEwan: Machines Like Me

In his new novel, Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan uses science fiction and counter-factual history to speculate about the coming of artificial intelligence and its effect on human relations. The opening page introduces a pivotal character, "Sir Alan Turing, war hero and presiding genius of the digital age.” The evening with McEwan will feature conversation with Stewart Brand, based on written questions from the audience, along with some readings. Ian McEwan is the author of Enduring Love (1997), Amsterdam (1998; Booker Prize), Atonement (2001), Saturday (2005), The Children Act (2014), and others. Twelve movies have been made from his novels and short stories, five of them with screenplays by McEwan.
5/17/20191 hour, 36 minutes, 47 seconds
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Jeff Goodell: The Water Will Come

The ocean is not just filling up, it’s swelling up. Half of sea-level rise comes just from the warming of the water. No matter what humans do next, we are now doomed to deal with drastically higher flooding of the world's coasts every year for decades, possibly centuries. Nearly half of humanity lives near coasts. Many of our greatest cities, and their infrastructure, will have to deal with the ever-rising waters. Some coasts in the world are already experiencing what is coming for every coast soon. Jeff Goodell's reports from those places are doubly grim. The harm is already huge, but the response of local people is even more disturbing. With few exceptions, they and their governments refuse to accept that the problem is permanent and will keep getting worse. Those most affected by global warming—rich and poor—remain perversely in denial about it. There’s lots of talk, but humanity is doing almost nothing to adapt to sea level rise. So far. Jeff Goodell is author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (2017), How To Cool the Planet (2010), and Big Coal (2006).
4/8/20191 hour, 24 minutes, 36 seconds
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Chip Conley: The Modern Elder and the Intergenerational Workplace

What can fifty-somethings bring of value to companies that are mostly twenty-somethings, and vice versa? A needed blending of depth with currency. Chip Conley, a long-time hotelier (Joie de Vivre Hospitality) and author (Peak; The Rebel Rules; Emotional Equations), was hired at 52 by the drastically youthful, disruptive startup Airbnb to be its Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy. He found he was simultaneously an intern learning the digital ropes and a seasoned veteran mentoring the company’s leadership. Expanding beyond the traditional Silicon Valley role of “executive whisperer,” Conley led the company’s focus on its countless hosts worldwide. His new book, Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, makes the case for intergenerational savvy in organizations and explores what it takes to become a useful elder these days. A jolt of rejuvenation comes with the job.
3/20/20191 hour, 24 minutes, 10 seconds
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John Brockman: Possible Minds

John Brockman's newly released book Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI is the springboard for this Seminar on Artificial Intelligence. Brockman will interview several of the contributors to the book, Rodney Brooks, Alison Gopnik and Stuart Russell on stage. Following the interviews, Kevin Kelly will host the Q&A and discussion with the group. John Brockman is founder and publisher of the online salon, a website devoted to discussions of cutting-edge science by many of the world's foremost thinkers, the leaders of what he has termed "the third culture." Rodney Brooks is a computer scientist and roboticist, former Director (1997-2007) of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and founder of Rethink Robotics and iRobot Corp. Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. Her areas of expertise are in cognitive and language development, with specialties in the effect of language on thought, the development of a theory of mind, and causal learning. Stuart Russell is a computer scientist focused on artificial intelligence and computational physiology. He is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.Kevin Kelly is a Long Now Board member, founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He is a writer, photographer, conservationist, and editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website.
3/13/20191 hour, 36 minutes, 2 seconds
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Martin Rees: Prospects for Humanity

To think usefully about humanity’s future, you have to bear everything in mind simultaneously. Nobody has managed that better than Martin Rees in his succinct summing-up book: ON THE FUTURE: Prospects for Humanity. As the recent President of the Royal Society (and longtime Royal Astronomer), Rees is current with all the relevant science and technology. At 76, he has seen a lot of theories about the future come and go. He has expert comfort in thinking at cosmic scale and teaching the excitement of that perspective. He has explored the darkest scenarios in a previous book, OUR FINAL HOUR: A Scientist’s Warning (2004), which examined potential extreme threats from nuclear weapons, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, climate change, and terrorism. Civilization’s greatest danger comes from civilization itself, which now operates at planetary scale. Consequently, he says, to head off the hazards and realize humanity’s potentially fabulous prospects, "We need to think globally, we need to think rationally, we need to think long-term.” And we can.
1/22/20191 hour, 24 minutes, 36 seconds
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Stewart Brand: Whole Earth Catalog 50th Anniversary Celebration

50 years ago, Stewart Brand launched the Whole Earth Catalog — one of the cornerstones of the American counterculture. The evening program of The Whole Earth Catalog 50th Anniversary Celebration was held on October 13, 02018, and featured conversations between Whole Earth Catalog contributors and contemporary wave-makers as they discussed the legacy of the Catalog and what the next 50 years might hold. Speakers included Ryan Phelan, Danica Remy, Rusty Schweickart, Kevin Kelly, Simone Giertz, Howard Rheingold, Chip Conley, Stephanie Mills, Stephanie Feldstein, Stewart Brand and Sal Khan. The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Art Institute, WIRED, The Long Now Foundation, Ken and Maddy Dychtwald, Peter and Cathleen Schwartz, Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, Juan and Mary Enriquez, and Gerry Ohrstrom. Learn more about the Whole Earth Catalog 50th Anniversary Celebration. Watch Whole Earth Flashbacks, a documentary that profiles the creators of the Whole Earth Catalog and the community they inspired. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
12/14/20182 hours, 26 seconds
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Niall Ferguson: Networks and Power

“This time is different.” Historians: “Ha.” “The Net is net beneficial.” Historian Niall Ferguson: “Globalization is in crisis. Populism is on the march. Authoritarian states are ascendant. Technology meanwhile marches inexorably ahead, threatening to render most human beings redundant or immortal or both. How do we make sense of all this?” Ferguson analyzes the structure and prospects of “Cyberia” as yet another round in the endless battle between hierarchy and networks that has wrought spasms of innovation and chaos throughout history. He examines those previous rounds (including all that was set in motion by the printing press) in light of the current paradoxes of radical networking enabled by digital technology being the engine of massive hierarchical companies (Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and their equivalents in China) and exploited by populists and authoritarians around the world. He puts the fundamental question this way: “Is our age likely to repeat the experience of the period after 1500, when the printing revolution unleashed wave after wave of revolution? Will the new networks liberate us from the shackles of the administrative state as the revolutionary networks of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries freed our ancestors from the shackles of spiritual and temporal hierarchy? Or will the established hierarchies of our time succeed more quickly than their imperial predecessors in co-opting the networks, and enlist them in their ancient vice of waging war?” Niall Ferguson is currently a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities. His books include The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (2018); Civilization: The West and the Rest (2012); and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2009).
12/13/20181 hour, 30 minutes, 16 seconds
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Mary Lou Jepsen: Toward Practical Telepathy

With her stunning breakthroughs in neural imaging, Mary Lou Jepsen is making the brain readable (and stimulatable) in real time. That will revolutionize brain study and brain medicine, but what about brain communication? Could a direct high-resolution interface to the brain lead to what might be called practical mental telepathy? What are the prospects for brain enhancement? What are the ethics of direct brain reading and intervention? Mary Lou Jepsen founds programs and companies on the hairy edges of physics, invents solutions and takes them to prototype all the way through to high volume mass production. She's done this at Intel, MIT’s Media Lab, One Laptop Per Child, Pixel Qi, Google X, and Facebook (Oculus). She is the founder and CEO of Openwater, which is "devising a new generation of imaging technologies, with high resolution and low costs, enabling medical diagnoses and treatments, and a new era of fluid and affordable brain-to-computer communications."
11/5/20181 hour, 29 minutes, 57 seconds
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Julia Galef: Soldiers and Scouts: Why our minds weren't built for truth, and how we can change that

An expert on rationality, judgement, and strategy, Julia Galef notes that "our capacity for reason evolved to serve two very different purposes that are often at odds with each other. On the one hand, reason helps us figure out what’s true; on the other hand, it also helps us defend ideas that are false-but-strategically-useful. I’ll explore these two different modes of thought — I call them “the scout” and “the soldier” — and what determines which mode we default to. Finally, I’ll argue that modern humans would be better off with more scout mode and less soldier mode, and I’ll share some thoughts on how to make that happen.” Galef is founder of the Update Project and hosts the podcast Rationally Speaking.
9/19/20181 hour, 32 minutes, 45 seconds
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Juan Benet: Long Term Info-structure

"We live in a spectacular time,” says Juan Benet. "We're a century into our computing phase transition. The latest stages have created astonishing powers for individuals, groups, and our species as a whole. We are also faced with accumulating dangers -- the capabilities to end the whole humanity experiment are growing and are ever more accessible. In light of the promethean fire that is computing, we must prevent bad outcomes and lock in good ones to build robust foundations for our knowledge, and a safe future. There is much we can do in the short-term to secure the long-term." "I come from the front lines of computing platform design to share a number of new super-powers at our disposal, some old challenges that are now soluble, and some new open problems. In this next decade, we’ll need to leverage peer-to-peer networks, crypto-economics, blockchains, Open Source, Open Services, decentralization, incentive-structure engineering, and so much more to ensure short-term safety and the long-term flourishing of humanity.” Juan Benet is the inventor of the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)---a new protocol which uses content-addressing to make the web faster, safer, and more open—and the creator of Filecoin, a cryptocurrency-incentivized storage market.
8/15/20181 hour, 29 minutes, 12 seconds
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George P. Shultz: Perspective

Perspective? No one has a longer or better-informed view of world affairs and America's role than George Shultz, now 97. (Henry Kissinger is only 95.) Secretary Shultz was a US Marine Captain in World War II. After becoming an economics professor at MIT and the University of Chicago he served the Nixon administration as Secretary of Labor, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, then Secretary of the Treasury. Back in private life by 1974, he led Bechtel Group as executive vice president and president. He was appointed by President Reagan as Secretary of State in 1982, where he helped finesse Reagan’s relationship with Gorbachev that wound down the Cold War. Still active in public policy after leaving government in 1989, Shultz has been an advocate for legalizing recreational drugs, for ending the Cuban embargo, for a world totally free of nuclear weapons, and for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Secretary Shultz will be interviewed on stage by Peter Schwartz, currently head of strategy for Salesforce and a founding board member of Long Now, formerly the CEO of Global Business Network and author of The Art of the Long View (01991). This SALT talk was arranged in partnership with the Asia Society of Northern California. The Long Now Foundation and Asia Society Northern California are partnering on a series of talks in Long Now's Seminars About Long-term Thinking series. With the Asia Pacific region being vital to long term thinking for the planet, and especially for those on the Pacific coast, we believe that there is a fruitful collaboration to explore for both of our memberships and the wider public. The Asia Society's depth of knowledge about critical issues, key leaders and cultural perspectives coming out of Asia can inform the topics, people and conversations featured in the long-running Seminar series curated and hosted by Long Now's president Stewart Brand. Public access to the recorded talks broadens the reach of this in-depth collaboration.
8/2/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 1 second
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Chris D. Thomas: Are We Initiating The Great Anthropocene Speciation Event?

The bad news (not news to most): Many wild species are under severe duress. The good news (total news to most): “Nature is thriving in an age of extinction.” Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Chris Thomas has examined a little-noticed phenomenon around the world, that as an unintentional byproduct of massive human impact, biodiversity is increasing in pretty much every region of the world. Evolution has sped up. Wild populations are on the move, sometimes in response to climate change, often hitch-hiking on us. Hybridization is rampant, leading at times to whole new species. The Anthropocene, evidently, is a mass speciation event. An ardent conservationist, Thomas makes the case that conservation efforts are far more effective when we acknowledge—and study— what nature is really up to, and work with it. Chris Thomas is a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of York in England and author of Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction (02017).
6/26/20181 hour, 40 minutes, 44 seconds
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Benjamin Grant: Overview: Earth and Civilization in the Macroscope

Civilization is both astonishing and astonishingly various when viewed from slightly above. Not so far above as to be lost in planetary context, but just high enough to see a fascinating thing whole, entire, intensely peculiar and informative. The glory is in the high-resolution details, in the perpetually surprising god’s-eye perspective, and in the shocking patterns that we arrange things in without even knowing it. Revel in a host of such images and the understanding that emerges from them with collector/curator Benjamin Grant, author of the book Overview and host of the Instagram project “Daily Overview.”
5/30/20181 hour, 21 minutes, 59 seconds
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Kishore Mahbubani: Has the West Lost It? Can Asia Save It?

In Kishore Mahbubani’s view, global power is shifting from the West to the Rest—from Europe and North America to Asia and Africa. He argues that changes will be required both in the West and the Rest to manage the shift gracefully for long-term stability. The rest of the world has learned a great deal from the West. Now it is the West’s turn to learn and to dispel some of its myths about the new world order. Singaporean diplomat and scholar Kishore Mahbubani served as his nation’s Ambassador to the United Nations and as President of the UN Security Council. He is a Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore where he was Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from 2004 to 2017. His books include Has the West Lost It?: A Provocation (2018); The ASEAN Miracle (2017); The Great Convergence (2013); and The New Asian Hemisphere (2008). The Long Now Foundation and Asia Society Northern California are partnering on a series of talks in Long Now's Seminars About Long-term Thinking series. With the Asia Pacific region being vital to long term thinking for the planet, and especially for those on the Pacific coast, we believe that there is a fruitful collaboration to explore for both of our memberships and the wider public. The Asia Society's depth of knowledge about critical issues, key leaders and cultural perspectives coming out of Asia can inform the topics, people and conversations featured in the long-running Seminar series curated and hosted by Long Now's president Stewart Brand. Public access to the recorded talks broadens the reach of this in-depth collaboration.
5/1/20181 hour, 31 minutes, 1 second
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Steven Pinker: A New Enlightenment

The Enlightenment worked, says Steven Pinker. By promoting reason, science, humanism, progress, and peace, the programs set in motion by the 18th-Century intellectual movement became so successful we’ve lost track of what that success came from. Some even discount the success itself, preferring to ignore or deny how much better off humanity keeps becoming, decade after decade, in terms of health, food, money, safety, education, justice, and opportunity. The temptation is to focus on the daily news, which is often dire, and let it obscure the long term news, which is shockingly good. This is the 21st Century, not the 18th, with different problems and different tools. What are Enlightenment values and programs for now?
3/20/20181 hour, 32 minutes, 18 seconds
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Michael Frachetti: Open Source Civilization and the Unexpected Origins of the Silk Road

Travel the ancient Silk Road with an archaeologist researching a revolutionary idea. Nomadic pastoralists, far from being irrelevant outliers, may have helped shape civilizations at continental scale. Drawing on his exciting field work, Michael Frachetti shows how alternative ways of conceptualizing the very essence of the word “civilization” helps us to recast our understanding of regional political economies through time and discover the unexpected roots and formation of one of the world’s most extensive and long-standing social and economic networks – the Silk Road that connected Asia to Europe. Archaeologist Michael Frachetti is an Associate Professor with the Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis and author of Pastoralist Landscapes and Social Interaction in Bronze Age Eurasia (02008).
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Charles C. Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet

Civilization’s health hangs on how we manage food, water, energy, and climate. Two conflicting visions dominate how we think about them. Each vision had an original creator and exemplar—the “prophet” William Vogt, author of Road to Survival, and the “wizard” Norman Borlaug, mastermind of The Green Revolution in agriculture. The prophet says to repent and cut back on everything; the wizard says that clever enough innovation can always find a way forward. Examine both visionaries and their visions closely, and a way to proceed emerges that combines alert caution with bold invention. Charles C. Mann is the author of the 2006 book 1491, about the Americas before Columbus, and the 2012 book 1493, about the Americas after Columbus. His previous SALT talk, in April 2012, was about “the Homogenocene."
1/29/20181 hour, 27 minutes, 46 seconds
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Elena Bennett: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene

As humans increasingly dominate Earth’s natural systems over the coming centuries (“the Anthropocene”), how can we ensure that it becomes a “good Anthopocene”—a world in which nature and humanity prosper together? Ecosystem ecologist Elena Bennett believes that discovering the most effective paths to such a future is a bottom-up process, as countless projects all over the world are exploring how nature and humans can best collaborate. She has collected 500 such examples and assembled them into a hopeful narrative pointing toward an Anthropocene Epoch in which all life thrives. Instances of the good Anthropocene are already here. They just need to be examined, distributed, and connected up to a working whole.
12/29/20171 hour, 19 minutes, 2 seconds
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Renee Wegrzyn: Engineering Gene Safety

Genome editing technologies provide the unprecedented ability to modify genetic material in a manner that is targeted, rapid, adaptable, and broadly accessible. Advances in genome editing form the foundation for new transformative applications across all of biology, ranging from highly personalized therapeutics to control of mosquito populations in the wild to reduce vector borne diseases. Extension of these technologies to gene drives and germline editing, which can alter the outcomes of inheritance, brings into focus the potential use of these tools in real clinical or ecological settings. While the potential for societal benefit from these technologies is immense, longer-term ramifications, such as the potential for these tools to impact large populations of organisms and ecosystems over many generations, must also be considered. Therefore, to support the safe and responsible use of gene editors, it is imperative that we innovate and build-in biosafety and biosecurity technologies early for future applications, including strategies to control, counter, and remediate the outcomes of gene editing. Co-development of safety measures ensures the continued rapid pace of technological progress, helps realize the potential of gene editors, and, importantly, enables novel applications to be accessible to the broadest and most impactful possible range of communities for public benefit. Dr. Renee Wegrzyn is a Program Manager at DARPA working to apply the tools of synthetic biology to support biosecurity and outpace infectious disease. Dr. Wegrzyn holds Doctor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Science degrees in Applied Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
11/20/20171 hour, 21 minutes, 15 seconds
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David Grinspoon: Earth in Human Hands

For thinking about the future of life on Earth in planetary terms, no one can match the perspective of an astrobiologist. David Grinspoon notes two major shifts in Earth’s biological regime: 1) 2.1 billion years ago, when cyanobacteria flipped the whole planet from anaerobic to oxygen-based life; 2) now, as humans assume domination of the Earth’s living systems. “We suddenly find ourselves running a planet,” he says, “without knowing how it should be done. We’re at the controls, but we’re not in control.” The cyanobacteria were unaware of their role. We are aware of ours. What should we do about that? Grinspoon is professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado and Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. His books include: Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future (02016); Lonely Planets (02004); and Venus Revealed (01998).
9/20/20171 hour, 31 minutes, 40 seconds
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Nicky Case: Seeing Whole Systems

Nicky Case’s presentations are as ingenious, compelling, and graphically rich as the visualizing tools and games Nicky creates for understanding complex dynamic systems. Case writes: “We need to see the non-linear feedback loops between culture, economics, and technology. Not only that, but we need to see how collective behavior emerges from individual minds and motives. We need new tools, theories, and visualizations to help people talk across disciplines.” Nicky Case is the creator of Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).
8/17/20171 hour, 18 minutes, 32 seconds
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Carolyn Porco: Searching for Life in the Solar System

Where will unambiguous signs of life most likely be found outside Earth? While telescopes squint at impossibly distant (but numerous) exoplanets, increasing numbers of increasingly brilliant robots are probing the wildly exotic potential environments for life nearby in our own Solar System. Which ones are the most promising candidates, and why, and what are the plans to check them out? Is life in the universe a one-off freak, or the norm? If we find just one more instance, we can infer it’s the norm. Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco became most famous as the dynamic leader of the Imaging Team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, which delivered no end of stunning photos of the planet, its gorgeous rings, and its extravagant moons. (Her team discovered seven new ones.)
8/10/20171 hour, 25 minutes, 29 seconds
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James Gleick: Time Travel

The problem of the unknowable future is matched by the problem of the unchangeable past. Both are solved by the dream of time travel. The peculiarities and paradoxes of time travel are explored in imaginative detail in science fiction, even though it doesn’t exist, or maybe especially because it doesn’t exist. Grappling with the idea helps humans engage with a dimension of profound human powerlessness and also invites deeper thinking about what actually can be known about the past and what actually can be done about the future. James Gleick’s meditation on time covers how time is experienced psychologically, how artists such as Borges, Proust, and Wells create with it, how religions conjure eternity, how cosmology probes forking universes, and how so much comes down to the nature of “now.” Science historian Gleick is the author of Chaos (1987), Isaac Newton (2003), The Information (2011), and Time Travel: A History (2016).
6/26/20171 hour, 20 minutes, 32 seconds
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Andy Weir: The Red Planet for Real

Before Andy Weir's self-published novel The Martian became a New York Times bestseller and a blockbuster film, it began as a series of blog posts. Those posts, and the online conversation they sparked, reflect Andy's lifelong love of space and his detailed research into how humans could survive a journey to the fourth planet in our Solar System. In October of 02015, in his talk at The Interval, Andy skipped the fiction and discussed the details of how a real world mission to colonize Mars would work. Hosted by Long Now's Peter Schwartz.
6/9/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 1 second
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Stewart Brand, Paul Saffo: Pace Layers Thinking

Stewart Brand and Paul Saffo will discuss the Pace Layers framework for how a healthy society functions, which Stewart introduced in his book The Clock of Long Now (01999). More than fifteen years after its debut, this concept continues to be influential and inspiring. From January 02015. The Pace Layers idea is illustrated by a simple diagram showing six layers which function simultaneously at different speeds within society. They range from Nature (the slowest) to Fashion (the fastest, shown at the top). As the layers progress, Stewart proposed, their differing speeds help make a society more adaptable. Cultures can be robust and healthy precisely because these layers come into conflict. Each level should be allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by livelier levels above. Though originally conceived as a tool for thinking about society, Pace Layers has had broad influence as experts in other disciplines have applied its framework to their areas including consulting and systems thinking. Jeff Veen of True Ventures (formerly Adobe, Adaptive Path, and Wired) recently said that Pace Layers provides a vocabulary to think about the stacked layers of contemporary design. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, has called the Pace Layers chapter in The Clock of the Long Now “the most profound thing I've ever read.” Today in a networked world where everything seems to be about speed, awareness of the slower layers and perspective on how all layers interact can give insight into what the future may hold.
6/9/201757 minutes, 47 seconds
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Geoffrey B. West: The Universal Laws of Growth and Pace

The scope of Geoffrey West’s talk is covered by the full title of his new book: Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. It is original, spectacular work—showing how logarithmic scaling governs everything from cells to ecosystems. The same rules govern companies and cities, but somewhat differently from biology and from each other. Geoffrey West deploys the rigor of a theoretical physicist long at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the range of a President (2005-2009) of Santa Fe Institute, which advances the study of complex adaptive systems.
5/24/20171 hour, 34 minutes, 6 seconds
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Frank Ostaseski: What the Dying Teach the Living

It’s a lot more than “Seize the day.” We learn from the dying to push away nothing; to lose the habit of postponing things; to show up entirely; to find rest amid whatever; to go ahead and be surprised. You can look death right in the eye, tough as it is, and life lights up. Frank Ostaseki, one of the world’s great end-of-life counselors, has attended over a thousand dyings. He was a cofounder of the renowned Zen Hospice in San Francisco and is the author of a new book, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.
4/11/20171 hour, 32 minutes, 31 seconds
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Bjorn Lomborg: From Feel-Good to High-Yield Good: How to Improve Philanthropy and Aid

Bjorn Lomborg does cost/benefit analysis on global good. There are surprises when you examine what are the highest-yield targets in the domains of health, poverty, education, reduced violence, gender equality, climate change, biodiversity, and good governance. Reducing trade restrictions floats to the top: $1 spent yields $2,000 of good for everyone. Contraception for women is close behind, with a whole array of benefits. For health go after tuberculosis, malaria, and child malnutrition. For climate change, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and invest in energy research. For biodiversity, focus especially on saving coral reefs. Most aid and philanthropy decisions are made based on persuasive sounding narratives, and we relish taking part in those stories, even if the actual results are mixed. But the results of the most pragmatic approach, built on statistics and economic analysis rather than narrative, can be stunning. Bjorn Lomborg is author of Prioritizing the World (02014), Cool It (02007), and The Skeptical Environmentalist (02001). Here is link to the Copenhagen Consensus flyer, The Smartest Targets For The World, which was shared at Dr. Lomborg’s talk.
3/14/20171 hour, 30 minutes, 1 second
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Jennifer Pahlka: Fixing Government: Bottom Up and Outside In

Code for America was founded in 02009 by Jennifer Pahlka “to make government work better for the people and by the people in the 21st century.” The organization started a movement to modernize government for a digital age which has now spread from cities to counties to states, and now, most visibly, to the federal government, where Jennifer served at the White House as US Deputy Chief Technology Officer. There she helped start the United States Digital Service, known as "Obama's stealth startup." Now that thousands of people from "metaphysical Silicon Valley" are working for and with government, what have we learned? Can government actually be fixed to serve citizens better—especially the neediest? Why does change in government happen so slowly? Before founding Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka co-created the Web 2.0 and Gov. 2.0 conferences, building on her prior experience organizing computer game developer conferences. She continues to serve as executive director of Code for America, which is based in San Francisco.
2/2/20171 hour, 24 minutes, 50 seconds
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Steven Johnson: Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World

“You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun,” Johnson argues. He chronicles how, throughout history, world-transforming innovation emerges from the endless quest for novelty in seemingly trivial entertainments--fashion, music, spices, magic, taverns, zoos, games. He celebrates the observation of historian Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens), “Civilization arises and unfolds in and as play.” Steven Johnson is the leading historian of creativity. His books include Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World; How We Got To Now; Where Good Ideas Come From; and Everything Bad Is Good For You.
1/5/20171 hour, 23 minutes, 39 seconds
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Douglas Coupland: The Extreme Present

Douglas Coupland has done so much more than name a generation (“Generation X”—post-Boomer, pre-Millennial, from his novel of that name). He is a prolific writer (22 books, including nonfiction such as his biography of Marshall McLuhan) and a brilliant visual artist with installations at a variety of museums and public sites. His 1995 novel Microserfs nailed the contrast between corporate and startup cultures in software and Web design. Coupland is fascinated by time. For Long Now he plans to deploy ideas and graphics “all dealing on some level with time and how we perceive it, how we used to perceive it, and where our perception of it may be going.” A time series about time.
11/2/20161 hour, 28 minutes, 5 seconds
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David Eagleman: The Brain and The Now

David Eagleman gives the keynote talk on "The Brain and The Now" at the Long Now Member Summit and is joined onstage after his talk by Stewart Brand and Danny Hillis for further discussion and Q&A.; 02016 marks The Long Now Foundation's 20th year and we are holding our first Summit to showcase and connect with our amazing community, on Tuesday October 4, 02016 from noon to 11:30pm, at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.
10/5/20161 hour, 21 minutes, 6 seconds
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Jonathan Rose: The Well Tempered City

Cities and urban regions can make coherent sense, can metabolize efficiently, can use their very complexity to solve problems, and can become so resilient they “bounce forward” when stressed. In this urbanizing century ever more of us live in cities (a majority now; 80% expected by 2100), and cities all over the world are learning from each other how pragmatic governance can work best. Jonathan Rose argues that the emerging best methods focus on deftly managing “cognition, cooperation, culture, calories, connectivity, commerce, control, complexity, and concentration.” Unlike most urban theorists and scholars, Rose is a player. A third-generation Manhattan real estate developer, in 1989 he founded and heads the Jonathan Rose Company, which does world-wide city planning and investment along with its real estate projects--half of the work for nonprofit clients. He is the author of the new book, THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life. The Jonathan F.P. Rose book tour is being sponsored by Citi who is happy to provide a copy of his new book, The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations and Human Behavior Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life, to everyone in attendance. Citi supports the efforts of individuals like Jonathan Rose whose work aligns with their mission to enable progress in communities across the globe.
9/21/20161 hour, 24 minutes, 12 seconds
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Seth Lloyd: Quantum Computer Reality

Quantum computing is widely considered to be: The most potentially transformative technology of this century; Nothing but hope and hype. A reliable reporter who is familiar with all of the rich variety of quantum research going on and the reality of the remarkable progress in the field (along with its still-expanding potential) is quantum pioneer Seth Lloyd, professor of mechanical engineering and physics at MIT. Lloyd describes himself as a mechanic of quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum biology. He is director of MIT’s Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory, which is working on breakthroughs in general-purpose optimization, vastly enhanced communication, and ultra-precise measurement. In his book Programming the Universe (2006) he proposes that the universe is a vast quantum computer that can eventually be completely understood through local-scale quantum computation.
8/10/20161 hour, 44 minutes, 48 seconds
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Kevin Kelly: The Next 30 Digital Years

Since the mid-01980s Kevin Kelly has been creating, and reporting on, the digital future. His focus is the long-term trends and social consequences of technology. Kelly’s new book, THE INEVITABLE: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, is a grand synthesis of his thinking on where technology is heading in the next few decades, and how we can embrace it to maximize its benefits, and minimize its harms. Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine and is a founding board member of The Long Now Foundation.
7/15/20161 hour, 30 minutes, 52 seconds
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Brian Christian: Algorithms to Live By

It is possible to be extremely astute about how we manage difficult decisions. With just a few mental tools we get the benefit of better outcomes along with release from agonizing about the process of deciding. Many mental tools—algorithms—developed with obligatory clarity for computers turn out to have ready application for humans facing such problems as: when to stop hunting for an apartment (or lover); how much novelty to seek; how to get rid of the right stuff; how to allot scarce time; how to consider the future; when to relax constraints; how to give chance a chance; how to recognize when you’re playing the wrong game; and how to make decisions easier for others (“computational kindness”). Brian Christian, the co-author of Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, lives in San Francisco, deploying his degrees in philosophy, computer science, and poetry.
6/21/20161 hour, 30 minutes, 32 seconds
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Walter Mischel: The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control

Can you pass the marshmallow test? You’re a little kid. A marshmallow is placed on the table in front of you. You’re told you can eat it any time, but if you wait a little while, you’ll be given two marshmallows to eat. The kids who have the self-control to pass this most famous of psychological tests turn out to have more rewarding and productive lives. Walter Mischel, who first ran the test in the 1960s, spent the rest of his career exploring how self-control works, summarized in his 2014 book The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. “The ability to delay gratification and resist temptation has been a fundamental challenge since the dawn of civilization,” he writes. “It is the ‘master aptitude’ underlying emotional intelligence, essential for constructing a fulfilling life.” This talk spells out the remarkable things have has been learned about willpower and self-control in the individual. It also considers wider implications. Does it make a difference when an organization or society has more people able to fully engage self-control? Does it make a difference when that kind of behavior is publicly expected and trained for explicitly? Is there a social or political or cultural level of surmounting marshmallow-test temptations? That might be the essence of long-term behavior.
5/3/20161 hour, 26 minutes, 47 seconds
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Priyamvada Natarajan: Solving Dark Matter and Dark Energy

No one thinks longer, or bigger, than astrophysicists. “This is the golden age of cosmology,” says Priya Natarajan, one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, because data keeps pouring in to vet even the most radical theories. And the dominant mysteries are profound. She observes that “The vast majority of stuff in the universe—both dark matter and dark energy, which dominate the content and fate of the universe—is unknown.“ The universe’s greatest exotica are the focus of her research—dark matter, dark energy, and black holes. She is an expert, for example, in the complex behavior and gravitational lensing of galaxy clusters, where arrays of 1,000 galaxies are 95% dark matter. Her theory of the “direct” formation of supermassive black holes may explain the profound mystery of quasars. Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University and at the Dark Cosmology Center, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She is an active proponent for the public understanding and study of science.
4/12/20161 hour, 31 minutes, 43 seconds
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Jane Langdale: Radical Ag: C4 Rice and Beyond

Three billion people—nearly half of us--depend on rice for survival. What if you could adjust rice genetically so 1) it has a 50% greater yield, 2) using half the water, 3) needing far less fertilizer, 4) along with higher resilience to climate change? It would transform world agriculture. All you need to do is switch rice from inefficient C3 photosynthesis to the kind of C4 photosynthesis employed by corn, sugarcane, and sorghum. That switch has been made in plants 60 independent times by evolution, so we have models for how to do it. In 02008 the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, set in motion a consortium of 12 labs worldwide working on developing C4 rice. One of the major leaders of the work is Professor Jane Langdale at Oxford University’s Department of Plant Sciences. Former Long Now speaker Charles C. Mann (who is writing about C4 rice) recommended her highly. If C4 rice proves successful, it could lead to similar radical improvement for other inefficient crops such as wheat. Decades of focussed research could produce centuries in which ever less land provides ever more food, leaving ever more of the planet to nature.
3/15/20161 hour, 27 minutes, 45 seconds
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Stephen Pyne: Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep

Once humans took charge of fire, fire remade humans and commenced remaking the world. “We got small guts and big heads because we could cook food,” says Stephen Pyne, the world’s leading historian of fire. “We went to the top of the food chain because we could cook landscapes. And we have become a geologic force because our fire technology has so evolved that we have begun to cook the planet.“ The understanding of wildfire as an ecological benefit got its biggest boost from Pyne’s 1982 landmark book, Fire in America. Since then he has encompassed the whole of fire history--from analysis of the chemical reaction that “takes apart what photosynthesis puts together” to study of the massive industrialization of combustion in the last two centuries. “The Anthropocene might equally be called the Pyrocene,” he says. A professor and “distinguished sustainability scholar” at Arizona State University, Pyne is author of 15 books on fire, including Fire: Nature and Culture and Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America.
2/10/20161 hour, 24 minutes, 37 seconds
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Eric Cline: 1177 B.C.: When Civilization Collapsed

Consider this, optimists. All the societies in the world can collapse simultaneously. It has happened before. In the 12th century BCE the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean—all of them—suddenly fell apart. Their empires evaporated, their cities emptied out, their technologies disappeared, and famine ruled. Mycenae, Minos, Assyria, Hittites, Canaan, Cyprus—all gone. Even Egypt fell into a steep decline. The Bronze Age was over. The event should live in history as one of the great cautionary tales, but it hasn’t because its causes were considered a mystery. How can we know what to be cautious of? Eric Cline has taken on on the mystery. An archaeologist-historian at George Washington University, he is the author of 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. The failure, he suggests, was systemic. The highly complex, richly interconnected system of the world tipped all at once into chaos.
1/12/20161 hour, 27 minutes, 48 seconds
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Philip Tetlock: Superforecasting

The pundits we all listen to are no better at predictions than a “dart-throwing chimp,” and they are routinely surpassed by normal news-attentive citizens. So Philip Tetlock reported in his 02005 book, Expert Political Judgement—and in a January 02007 SALT talk. It now turns out there are some people who are spectacularly good at forecasting, and their skills can be learned. Tetlock discovered them in the course of building winning teams for a tournament of geopolitical forecasting run by IARPA—Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. His brilliant new book, SUPERFORECASTING: The Art and Science of Prediction, spells out the methodology the superforecasters developed. Like Daniel Kahneman’s THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, the book changes how we think about thinking. Philip Tetlock is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. With his co-researcher (and wife) Barbara Mellors he is running the Good Judgement Project, with its open competition for aspiring forecasters.
11/24/20151 hour, 35 minutes, 1 second
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James Fallows: Civilization's Infrastructure

Infrastructure decisions—and failures to decide—affect everything about a society for centuries. That long shadow, James Fallows points out, is what makes the decisions so difficult, because "We must choose among options whose consequences we can't fully anticipate.” What we do know is that infrastructure projects are hugely disruptive and expensive in the short term, and neglecting to deal with infrastructure is even more disruptive and expensive in the long term. What would a healthy civilization do? These days California is making decisions about high-speed rail, about water supply for agriculture, about driverless cars, about clean energy—all infrastructure issues with long, uncertain shadows. Fallows reminds us that "Everything about today's California life is conditioned by decisions about its freeway network made 60-plus years ago, and by the decision to tear up the Southern California light-rail network in the decades before that.” (That remark came in a 15-part series of blogs about high-speed rail in California that Fallows posted at He approves of the project.) James Fallows is the journalist’s journalist, covering in depth subjects such as China, the Mideast, flying, the military, Presidential speeches (he once wrote them for Jimmy Carter), journalism itself, and his native California. Based at The Atlantic magazine for decades, he blogs brilliantly and has produced distinguished books such as Postcards from Tomorrow Square, Blind into Baghdad, and Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy. This will be the first time he speaks about civilization entire.
10/7/20151 hour, 21 minutes, 24 seconds
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Saul Griffith: Infrastructure and Climate Change

So far we are trying to deal with climate change at the wrong time scale. A really deep problem cannot be solved by shallow innovations, no matter how clever. The scale of climate change requires thinking and acting in multi-decade terms at the level of infrastructure—personal as well as societal. Get it right, and “the result can be like living in a beautifully managed garden.” Saul Griffith is an inventor and meta-inventor, currently founder of Otherlabs in San Francisco (devising such things as soft robotics, soft exoskeletons, cheap solar tracking, and conformable gas tanks.) He is a MacArthur Fellow and frequent TED dazzler. His 02009 SALT talk on Climate Change Recalculated is the most viewed video in our twelve-year series. See our blog for updates on tickets and other media; tickets will go on sale one month before the Seminar.
9/22/20151 hour, 41 minutes, 43 seconds
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Sara Seager: Other Earths. Other Life.

We are one tool away from learning which distant planets already have life on them and which might be welcoming to life. MIT Planetary Scientist Sara Seager is working on the tool. She is chair of the NASA team developing a “Starshade” that would allow a relatively rudimentary space telescope to observe Earth-size planets directly, which would yield atmospheric analysis, which would determine a planet’s life-worthiness. Despite 1,000-plus exoplanet discoveries by the Kepler spacecraft and the hundreds more expected from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite after 2017, neither instrument can make detailed observation of the atmosphere of small rocky planets, because each star’s brilliance overwhelms direct study of the rocky motes that might harbor life. A Starshade cures that. A former MacArthur Fellow, Seager is author of Exoplanet Atmospheres (02010) and an astrophysics professor at MIT. Her maxim: “For exoplanets, anything is possible under the laws of physics and chemistry.” Photo by Justin Knight.
8/11/20151 hour, 21 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ramez Naam: Enhancing Humans, Advancing Humanity

Techno thriller meets realistic optimism. Ramez Naam, a former Microsoft executive with 19 patents to his name, wrote a riveting just-completed science fiction trilogy (Nexus, Crux, and Apex) that plays out current trends in brain enhancement. As Naam reports in a recent blog, “Neural implants could accomplish things no external interface could: Virtual and augmented reality with all 5 senses (or more); augmentation of human memory, attention, and learning speed; even multi-sense telepathy — sharing what we see, hear, touch, and even perhaps what we think and feel with others.“ Naam is also the author of important nonfiction books on humanity’s prospects for this century and beyond: More Than Human: Embracing the promise of biological enhancement and The Infinite Resource: The power of ideas on a finite planet (that one has blurbs from four previous SALT speakers—Steven Pinker, Charles C. Mann, Ray Kurzweil, and Peter Diamandis.) In this talk Naam explores the growing convergence of human enhancements at the molecular, neural, and social levels: “I think the multiple visions of human enhancement will all focus on our increased connectivity with each other – in sci-fi ways like Nexus and in prosaic ways like the spread of computing power in mobile devices to people around the world.
7/23/20151 hour, 26 minutes, 52 seconds
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Neil Gaiman: How Stories Last

Neil's talk will explore the way stories, myths and tales survive over great lengths of time and why creating for the future means making works that will endure within the oral tradition. Preternaturally eloquent, Neil Gaiman has told stories in every medium—graphic novels (The Sandman), novels (The Ocean at the End of the Lane; American Gods), short stories (Trigger Warning), children’s books (The Graveyard Book), television (Dr Who), the occasional song ("I Google You", with Amanda Palmer), and the occasional speech that goes viral ("Make Good Art"). Photograph of Neil Gaiman by Kimberly Butler
6/10/20151 hour, 43 minutes, 6 seconds
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Beth Shapiro: How to Clone a Mammoth

Beth Shapiro is far from a giddy enthusiast about de-extinction. She knows more than nearly anyone about the subject because she is a highly regarded biologist in the middle of the two leading efforts in the new field—to resurrect extinct woolly mammoths and passenger pigeons. She knows exactly how challenging the whole process will be and how imperfect the later stages of success might appear. An evolutionary biologist who created and runs the paleogenomics lab at UC Santa Cruz, Shapiro is a careful skeptic, a great story teller and explainer, and an extremely productive scientist. In this talk she spans the full de-extinction narrative from DNA editing all the way to revived populations in the wild—from lab work with CRISPR Cas 9 and primordial germ cells through to the ethical and practical issues of restoring a long-absent keystone species in its former ecosystem. “The goal of de-extinction,” she points out, “is to restore ecosystems; to reinstate interactions between species that no longer exist because one or more of those species are extinct. We don’t need to create exact replicas of extinct species to achieve this goal.” She concludes, “De-extinction uses awesome, exciting, cutting-edge technology to take a giant step forward. De-extinction is a process that allows us to actively create a future that is really better than today, not just one that is less bad than what we anticipate.” Beth Shapiro is a MacArthur Fellow, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and author of the new book from Princeton University Press, How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction.”
5/12/20151 hour, 26 minutes, 15 seconds
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Michael Shermer: The Long Arc of Moral Progress

Steven Pinker writes: “Shermer has engaged the full mantle of moral progress and considered how far we have come and how much farther that arc can be bent toward truth, justice, and freedom." “Through copious data and compelling examples Shermer shows how the arc of the moral universe, seen from a historical vantage point, bends toward civil rights and civil liberties, the spread of liberal democracy and market economies, and the expansion of women’s rights, gay rights, and even animal rights. Never in history has such a large percentage of the world’s population enjoyed so much freedom, autonomy, and prosperity. The steadily unfolding revolution of gay marriage gives Shermer the opportunity to show how rights revolutions of many different kinds come about.“ [Steven Pinker is the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature. He gave a SALT talk on “The Decline of Violence” in 02012.] Michael Shermer’s new book is The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. His previous books include The Believing Brain and The Science of Good and Evil. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine and has a monthly column in Scientific American.
4/15/20151 hour, 26 minutes, 26 seconds
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Paul Saffo: The Creator Economy

According to futurist (and Long Now board member) Paul Saffo, the "new economy” anticipated in the late 01990s is arriving late and in utterly unexpected ways. Social media, maker culture, the proliferation of sensors, and even the 02008 market crash are merely local phenomena in a much larger shift. What unfolds in the next few years will determine the shape of the global economy for the next half-century and will force a profound rethink of economic theory. Paul Saffo teaches forecasting at Stanford and Singularity University. Journalists rely on him for cruelly telling quotes about everything from the monthly disruptions in Silicon Valley to the yearly turmoils in the global economy.
4/1/20151 hour, 23 minutes, 34 seconds
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David Keith: Patient Geoengineering

The main arguments against geo-engineering (direct climate intervention) to stop global warming are: 1) It would be a massive, irreversible, risky bet; 2) everyone has to agree to it, which they won’t; 3) the unexpected side effects might be horrific; 4) once committed to, it could never be stopped. What if none of those need be true? Harvard climate expert David Keith has a practical proposal for an incremental, low-cost, easily reversible program of research and eventual deployment that builds on local research and is designed from the beginning for eventual shutdown. All it attempts is to reduce the rate of global warming to a manageable pace while the permanent solutions for excess greenhouse gases are worked out. Global rainfall would not be affected. The system is based on transparency and patience—each stage building adaptively only on the proven success of prior stages, deployed only as needed, and then phased out the same way. One of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Environment,“ David Keith is a Professor of Applied Physics in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy in the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also executive chairman of the Calgary-based company, Carbon Engineering, which is developing air capture of carbon dioxide.
2/18/20151 hour, 28 minutes, 39 seconds
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Jesse Ausubel: Nature is Rebounding: Land- and Ocean-sparing through Concentrating Human Activities

In the field of environmental progress the conflict between anecdote and statistics is so flagrant that most public understanding on the subject is upside down. We worry about the wrong things, fail to worry about the right things, and fail to acknowledge and expand the things that are going well. For decades at Rockefeller University Jesse Ausubel has assembled global data and trends showing that humanity may be entering an exceptionally Green century. The most important trend is “land-sparing”—freeing up ever more land for nature thanks to agricultural efficiency and urbanization. Ausubel notes that we are now probably at “peak farmland“ (so long as we don’t pursue the folly of biofuels). Forests are coming back everywhere in the temperate zones and in many tropical areas, helped by replacing wild logging with tree plantations. Human population is leveling rapidly and we are now probably at “peak children.” Our energy sources continue to “decarbonize,” and a long-term “dematerialization” trend is reducing the physical load of civilization’s metabolism. In the ocean, however, market hunting for fish remains highly destructive, even though aquaculture and mariculture are taking off some of the pressure. In this area, as in the others, rigorous science and inventive technology are leading the way to the mutual flourishing of humanity and nature.
1/14/20151 hour, 35 minutes, 16 seconds
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Kevin Kelly: Technium Unbound

What comes after the Internet? What is bigger than the web? What will produce more wealth than all the startups to date? The answer is a planetary super-organism comprised of 4 billion mobile phones, 80 quintillion transistor chips, a million miles of fiber optic cables, and 6 billion human minds all wired together. The whole thing acts like a single organism, with its own behavior and character -- but at a scale we have little experience with. This is more than just a metaphor. Kelly takes the idea of a global super-organism seriously by describing what we know about it so far, how it is growing, where its boundaries are, and what it will mean for us as individuals and collectively. Both the smallest one-person enterprises today, and the largest mega-corporations on Earth, will have to learn to how this Technium operates, and how to exploit it.
11/13/20141 hour, 27 minutes, 50 seconds
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Larry Harvey: Why The Man Keeps Burning

“Scaling up will kill Burning Man.” “That new rule will kill Burning Man.” “The Bureau of Land Management will kill Burning Man.” “Selling tickets that way will kill Burning Man.” “Board infighting will kill Burning Man.” “Upscale turnkey camps will kill Burning Man.” Ha. What if Burning Man is too fragile to be killed? What if celebrating ephemerality is the best guarantee of continuity? What if every year’s brand new suspension of disbelief has deep-down durability? What if conservatively radical principles and evolving rules are more robust over time than anything merely physical? What really keeps the Man burning? If anyone knows, it should be the event’s primary founder, author of The Principles, and ongoing Chief Philosophical Officer, artist Larry Harvey.
10/21/20141 hour, 31 minutes, 24 seconds
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Drew Endy: The iGEM Revolution

iGEM stands for the “International Genetically Engineered Machines” competition. Thousands of student bioengineers from all over the world construct new life forms and race them every year at the Giant Jamboree in Boston. iGEM has been going on for ten years (2,500 competitors this year, over 32 countries, 20,000+ alumni) and gives a peerless window into the global grassroots synthetic-biology revolution, yet the phenomenon has been largely overlooked by the media, industry, and most governments. iGEM began with college undergraduates and recently expanded to include high school teams. In making their genetic creations students get from and give back to a repository of over 10,000 genetic components called BioBricks parts. The organisms (mostly microbes) the students engineer range from frivolous (doing a stadium-style “wave”) to beneficial (detecting and eliminating water pollutants) to ingenious (increasing plant root structure to fix carbon while ensuring that no exotic genes can escape). iGEM teams "are also challenged to actively consider and address the safety, security and environmental implications of their work." Drew Endy, a professor of Bioengineering at Stanford, was one of the creators of iGEM and is co-founder and president of the BioBricks Foundation, an organization whose mission is "to develop biotechnology in an open and ethical manner to benefit all people and the planet." He is a strong proponent of “open source” biotech and public discussion of the techniques, benefits, and potential hazards of synthetic biology.
9/17/20141 hour, 36 minutes, 9 seconds
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Anne Neuberger: Inside the NSA

The NSA’s failures are public headlines. Its successes are secret. These days America’s National Security Agency lives at the intersection of two paranoias—governmental fears of attack and citizen fears about loss of privacy. Both paranoias were exacerbated by a pair of devastating attacks—9/11 and Edward Snowden. The agency now has to evolve rapidly while managing its normal heavy traffic of threats and staying ahead of the ever-accelerating frontier of cyber capabilities. In the emerging era of transparency, and in the thick of transition, what does the NSA look like from inside? Threats are daily, but governance is long term. At the heart of handling that balance is Anne Neuberger, Special Assistant to NSA Director Michael Rogers and Director of the Commercial Solutions Center. (Before this assignment she was Special Advisor to the Secretary of Navy; before that, in 02007, a White House Fellow.) She is exceptionally smart, articulate, and outspoken.
8/7/20141 hour, 29 minutes, 17 seconds
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Adrian Hon: A History of the Future in 100 Objects

Thinking about the future is so hard and so important that any trick to get some traction is a boon. Adrian Hon’s trick is to particularize. What thing would manifest a whole future trend the way museum objects manifest important past trends? Building on the pattern set by the British Museum’s great book, A History of the World in 100 Objects, Hon imagines 100 future objects that would illuminate transformative events in technology, politics, sports, justice, war, science, entertainment, religion, and exploration over the course of this century. The javelin that won victory for the last baseline human to compete successfully in the Paralympic Games for prosthetically enhanced athletes. The “Contrapuntal Hack” of 02031 that massively and consequentially altered computerized records so subtly that the changes were undetected. The empathy drug and targeted virus treatment that set off the Christian Consummation Movement. Adrian Hon is author of the new book, A History of the Future in 100 Objects, and CEO and founder of Six to Start, creators of the hugely successful smartphone fitness game “Zombies, Run!” His background is in neuroscience at Oxford and Cambridge.
7/17/20141 hour, 21 minutes, 25 seconds
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Stefan Kroepelin: Civilization’s Mysterious Desert Cradle: Rediscovering the Deep Sahara

Egypt’s pharaonic civilization rose on the Nile, but it was rooted in the deep Saharan desert and pushed by climate change, says Stefan Kröpelin. Described in Nature magazine as “one of the most devoted Sahara explorers of our time,” Kröpelin has survived every kind of desert hardship to discover the climate and cultural history of northern Africa. He found that the “Green Sahara” arrived with monsoon rains 10,500 years ago, and people quickly moved into the new fertile savannah. There they prospered as cattle pastoralists—their elaborate rock paintings show herds of rhinoceros and scenes of prehistoric life—until 7,300 years ago, when gradually increasing desiccation drove them to the Nile river, which they had previously considered too dangerous for occupation. To manage the Nile, the former pastoralists helped to invent a pharaonic state 5,100 years ago. Its 3,000-year continuity has never been surpassed. Kröpelin, a climate scientist at the University of Cologne, is a dazzling speaker with hair-raising stories, great images, and a compelling tale about climate change and civilization.
6/11/20141 hour, 39 minutes, 26 seconds
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Sylvia Earle, Tierney Thys: Oceanic

Land animals on an ocean planet, we have a lot to learn about how the world works. The microbes of the sea are Earth’s dominant life form. Ocean currents and temperatures drive climate and weather. Come ride a current to view bad news (dead zones, rising sea levels, melting sea ice, acidification, coral bleaching, fish piracy and overfishing) and good news (marine protected areas, functional ecosystems, megafaunal migrations, mid-Atlantic ridge, community involvement, citizen scientists) and continuing mysteries. Land is mercurial. Ocean abides. Two of the most eloquent voices of ocean science are Sylvia Earle and Tierney Thys. Both are National Geographic Explorers, both are stars of the TED stage. They have collaborated on original and adventurous research. For this talk they are collaborating to tell (and show) sea stories of deep waters, the deep past, and the deep future.
5/21/20141 hour, 36 minutes, 3 seconds
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Tony Hsieh: Helping Revitalize a City

Can a successful company and a run-down downtown vitalize each other? Tony Hsieh, CEO of the phenomenally successful Zappos, is betting exactly that in Las Vegas. He moved his company headquarters into the former city hall and is integrating the Zappos campus into the surrounding neighborhood, meanwhile investing millions to provide a dense urban experience for the locals as well as his employees. His “Downtown Project” declares: “We’ve allocated $350 million to aid in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. We’re investing $200 million in real estate, $50 million in small businesses, $50 million in education, and $50 million in tech startups.” The fantasy is well along into impressive reality, according to a January 02014 article in Wired. What is being learned may change how cities and companies think of themselves---and of each other. Hsieh’s theory of urban vitality comes from Edward Glaeser’s book The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier. His theory of company vitality he has spelled out in his own book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.
4/23/20141 hour, 33 minutes, 38 seconds
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Mariana Mazzucato: The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths

Where do the boldest innovations, with the deepest consequences for society, come from? Many business leaders, entrepreneurs, and libertarians claim that the private sector leads the way always, and government at best follows by decades and at worst impedes the process with bureaucratic regulations. Mariana Mazzucato proves otherwise.  Many of the most profound innovations—from the Internet and GPS to nanotech and biotech —had their origin in government programs developed specifically to explore innovations that might eventually attract private sector interest.  Ignoring this entrepreneurial risk taking role of government has fuelled a very different story about governments role in the economy, and also fuelled the dysfunctional dynamic whereby risk is socialised—with tax payers absorbing the greatest risk--- but rewards are not. Mazzucato will argue that socialization of risk, privatization of rewards is not only bad for the future of innovation eco-systems but also a key driver of inequality. What to do about it?  Mazzucato is a professor of the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths.
3/25/20141 hour, 38 minutes, 22 seconds
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Brian Eno, Danny Hillis: The Long Now, now

Brian Eno delivered the first SALT talk exactly ten years ago. He gave The Long Now Foundation its name, contributed in no end of artistic and financial ways, and designed the chimes for the 10,000-year Clock. Danny Hillis instigated and co-founded Long Now and designed its series of Clocks, culminating currently in the 500-foot one being built inside a west Texas mountain. In the course of their collaboration, Eno and Hillis became fast friends. Thousands of years pass a decade at a time. The idea and works of Long Now have been active for two decades (1/500th of 10,000 years). Between the conception and initial delivery of a deep idea, much transpires. If the idea resonates with people, it gains a life of its own. Allies assemble, and shape things. Public engagement shapes things. Funding or its absence shapes things. Refinements of the idea emerge, branch off, and thrive or don’t. Initial questions metastasize into potent new questions. Over time, the promotion of “long-term thinking” begins to acquire a bit of its own long term to conjure with. Eno and Hillis have spent 20 years thinking about long-term thinking and building art for it, with ever increasing fascination. What gets them about it?
1/22/20141 hour, 29 minutes, 17 seconds
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Richard Kurin: American History in 101 Objects

Relics grip us. They anchor stories that matter by giving a visceral sense that they really happened. Look, here is the actual chain used on an American slave. What ended its use? Abraham Lincoln was tall in so many ways, and he stood even taller in his top hat---this hat right here. He wore it. We wear it. The hat and the chain abide at The Smithsonian Institution to help an important story in American history retain its force. This is what museums do. Richard Kurin, the author of a new book, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, is the Institution’s Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture, responsible for most of the Institution’s many museums and for many of its research and outreach programs. In his beautifully illustrated talk, Kurin uses treasures of The Smithsonian---some celebrated, some unknown---to tell America’s story so far. It starts long before there was a nation here.
11/19/20131 hour, 21 minutes, 36 seconds
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Adam Steltzner: Beyond Mars, Earth

“Dare mighty things” concludes the most dramatic space video in years, "Seven Minutes of Terror." Narrated by Adam Steltzner, it spelled out how the “sky crane” his team designed at JPL would have to perform an elaborate, impossible-seeming sequence to lower the huge Mars rover Curiosity to the planet’s surface from a hovering rocket guided totally by artificial intelligence. Humans wouldn’t know if it worked until it was all over. Hence the terror. The actual Mars landing on August 6, 02012, went perfectly, and Steltzner found himself a TV superstar after the live coverage, and the subject of a New Yorker profile. Before the landing, Steltzner told the writer: “Six vehicle configurations. Seventy-six pyrotechnic devices. Five hundred thousand lines of code. ZERO margin of error.....You and I are sitting at the edge of an event horizon, like a black hole.... Sunday night, we’ll slip into it, and at least two universes will be awaiting us on the other side: the one where we succeed and the one where we fail. People are scared shitless now. But if we stick the landing, all of a sudden they’ll be saying, ‘Hey, how about doing the next one the same way?’ ” Fans in the San Francisco area discovered he was local talent, the product of College of Marin, a kid who discovered science late and soared to meet it. Now he wonders, “How does our exploration of Mars inform what might come next for us humans and our Earth?” Dare mighty things. This talk is in partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and we would like to extend a special welcome to the YBCA:YOU members.
10/16/20131 hour, 29 minutes, 52 seconds
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Peter Schwartz: The Starships ARE Coming

There is an appalling distance between here and the countless planets we’re discovering around stars other than our Sun. At first glance we can never span those light years. At second glance however... “The 100-year Starship” is the name of now-culminating project that mustered a handful of scientists and science fiction writers to contemplate how humanity might, over the coming century, realistically develop the ability to escape our Solar System and travel the light years to others. Participants included scientists such as Freeman Dyson and Martin Rees and writers such as Gregory Benford and Neal Stephenson. The professional futurist in the group was Peter Schwartz, who contributed scenarios playing out four futures of starship ambitions. To his surprise, exploring the scenarios suggested that getting effective star travel over the coming century or two is not a long shot. Even by widely divergent paths, it looks like a near certainty. Schwartz’s SALT talk will report on the exciting work by the 19 participants and spell out the logics of his scenarios. The new book from the project, Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon, will be available at the event.
9/18/20131 hour, 16 minutes, 30 seconds
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Daniel Kahneman: Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman is the world’s most influential psychologist because he has, based on empirical research, figured out how we can notice when we are not thinking rationally. That knowledge gives us the choice to think “slow”---ignore brisk intuition and notional risks---when we decide we really need to get something right. His book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, is an international best-seller in part because the reader (or listener of his lecture) is invited to make cognitive experiments while reading (or listening). You catch your mind in the act of opting for illusion. To engage Kahneman’s work is to experience a delightful carnival ride of one “Busted!” after another. Your own brain becomes a co-instructor in how to use it better. Kahneman received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 02002 for his work (with Amos Tversky) in “prospect theory” that founded the new discipline of behavioral economics.
8/14/20131 hour, 17 minutes, 32 seconds
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Craig Childs: Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth

Our planet gets up to no end of apocalyptic-like tricks over time---periods when it is nearly all ice, all melting ice, all desert, all sea water, all molten lava, and civilizations come and go, sometimes for geological or climate reasons. The planet has samples of all of those conditions that can be visited right now, but no one in their right mind goes there. Craig Childs goes there. One of the world’s great intrepid travelers and story-tellers, he finds the places on Earth that are most geologically or climatically dangerous and hangs out, observing closely, giving personal as well as scientific perspective. Through him, we experience “a field guide to the everending Earth.”
7/30/20131 hour, 35 minutes, 33 seconds
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Ed Lu: Anthropocene Astronomy: Thwarting Dangerous Asteroids Begins with Finding Them

Are humans smarter than dinosaurs? We haven’t proved it yet. In the long now, the greatest threat to life on Earth, or (more frequently) to civilization, or (still more frequently) to cities, is asteroid impact. The technology exists to eliminate the threat permanently. It is relatively easy and relatively cheap to do. However to date, government organizations have not made this a priority. That leaves nonprofits and private funding. Considerable efficiency may be gained by going that route. Ed Lu is CEO and Chairman of the B612 Foundation, which, in partnership with Ball Aerospace is building an asteroid-detection system called Sentinel, aiming for launch in 2018. A three time NASA astronaut, Lu is also the co-inventor of the “gravity tractor” -- one of the several techniques that can be used to nudge threatening asteroids out their collision paths with Earth. Asteroid threat is an attention-span problem blended with a delayed-gratification problem---exactly the kind of thing that Long Now was set up to help with. Taking the extreme danger of asteroids seriously requires thinking at century and millennium scale. Dealing with the threat requires programs that span decades, because asteroids can only be deflected if they are found and dealt with many years before their potential impact. The reality is that the predictability of orbital mechanics makes cosmic planetary defense completely workable. Sometimes real science is more amazing than science fiction. On February 15th of this year, civilization got a wake-up call. A 45 meter asteroid, large enough to completely obliterate a major city, missed Earth by only 17,000 miles, and hours later a smaller rock, 17 meters in diameter, exploded in the air over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1500 people. Interest in B612’s asteroid detection mission spiked accordingly.
6/19/20131 hour, 29 minutes, 47 seconds
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Stewart Brand: Reviving Extinct Species

Death is still forever, but extinction may not be---at least for creatures that humans drove extinct in the last 10,000 years. Woolly mammoths might once again nurture their young in northern snows. Passenger pigeon flocks could return to America’s eastern forest. The great auk may resume fishing the coasts of the northern Atlantic. New genomic technology can reassemble the genomes of extinct species whose DNA is still recoverable from museum specimens and some fossils (no dinosaurs), and then, it is hoped, the genes unique to the extinct animal can be brought back to life in the framework of the genome of the closest living relative of the extinct species. For woolly mammoths, it’s the Asian elephant; for passenger pigeons, the band-tailed pigeon; for great auks, the razorbill. Other plausible candidates are the ivory-billed woodpecker, Carolina parakeet, Eskimo curlew, thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), dodo, Xerces blue butterfly, saber-toothed cat, Steller’s sea cow, cave bear, giant ground sloth, etc. The Long Now Foundation has taken “de-extinction” on as a project called “Revive & Restore,” led by Ryan Phelan and Stewart Brand. They organized a series of conferences of the relevant molecular biologists and conservation biologists culminating in TEDxDeExtinction, held at National Geographic in March. They hired a young scientist, Ben Novak, to work full time on reviving the passenger pigeon. He is now at UC Santa Cruz working in the lab of ancient-DNA expert Beth Shapiro. This talk summarizes the progress of current de-extinction projects (Europe’s aurochs, Spain’s bucardo, Australia’s gastric brooding frog, America’s passenger pigeon) and some “ancient ecosystem revival” projects---Pleistocene Park in Siberia, the Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands, and Makauwahi Cave in Kaua’i. De-extinction has been described as a “game changer” for conservation. How might that play out for the best, and how might it go astray? In an era of “anthropocene ecology,” is it now possible to repair some of the deepest damage we have caused in the past?
5/22/20131 hour, 29 minutes, 47 seconds
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Nicholas Negroponte: Beyond Digital

It’s far easier to predict the future when you are helping make and distribute it. Nicholas Negroponte exemplifies this with his notable accomplishments, including co-founding the MIT Media Lab, being the first investor in WIRED magazine, and co-founding the One Laptop Per Child program. His 01995 book Being Digital gave a glimpse into the world we now occupy--complete with wireless, touch screens, ebooks and personalized news. In this talk, “Beyond Digital”, Negroponte will once again give us a glimpse of the possibilities that lie ahead.
4/18/20131 hour, 31 minutes, 32 seconds
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George Dyson: No Time Is There--- The Digital Universe and Why Things Appear To Be Speeding Up

When thinking about the future, it is easy to forget to look behind you. Enter George Dyson, “a historian among futurists”, who does deep research into the history of computing to understand the trends that will bring us into the future. One of his persistent themes is taking the “digital universe” metaphor seriously. When we turned on the first computers, we created a computational universe, a universe that is now growing by 5 trillion bits of storage per second. This universe is not merely expanding--it is exploding, and we need to understand computer time as well as we understand human time.
3/20/20131 hour, 31 minutes, 23 seconds
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Chris Anderson: The Makers Revolution

Chris Anderson’s book THE LONG TAIL chronicled how the Web revolutionized and democratized distribution. His new book MAKERS shows how the same thing is happening to manufacturing, with even wider consequences, and this time the leading revolutionaries are the young of the world. Anderson himself left his job as editor of Wired magazine to join a 22-year-old from Tijuana in running a typical Makers firm, 3D Robotics, which builds do-it-yourself drones. Web-based collaboration tools and small-batch technology such as cheap 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters, and assembly robots, Anderson points out, are transforming manufacturing. Suddenly, large-scale manufacturers are competing not just with each other on multi-year cycles, they are competing with swarms of tiny competitors who can go from invention to innovation to market dominance in a few weeks. Anybody can play; a great many already are; a great many more are coming. “Today,“ Anderson writes, “there are nearly a thousand ‘makerspaces‘— shared production facilities— around the world, and they’re growing at an astounding rate: Shanghai alone is building one hundred of them.“ “Open source,” he adds, “is not just an efficient innovation method— it’s a belief system as powerful as democracy or capitalism for its adherents.“ This talk is in partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and we would like to extend a special welcome to the YBCA:YOU members.
2/20/20131 hour, 30 minutes
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Terry Hunt, Carl Lipo: The Statues Walked -- What Really Happened on Easter Island

Was it ecocide? The collapse of the mini-civilization on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has long been considered one of the great Green morality tales. Once the people there cut down the last tree, story goes, they were doomed. Their famous statues were an arms race that completed the exhaustion of their all-too-finite resources. Moral of the story: Easter Island equals Earth Island: we must not repeat its tragedy with the planet. It’s a satisfying tale, but apparently wrong. The reality is far more interesting. In fact the lesson of Rapa Nui is how to get ecological caretaking right, not wrong. Its people appear to have worked out an astutely delicate relationship to each other and to the austere ecology of their tiny island and its poor soil. They were never violent. The astonishing statues appear to have been an inherent part of how they managed population and ecological balance on their desert island. (Their method of moving the huge statues was clever and surprisingly easy---they walked them upright. See the amazing demonstration video!) The famous collapse came from a familiar external source---European diseases and enslavement, the same as everywhere else in the Americas and the Pacific. All this is in a thoroughly persuasive book by an archaeologist and an anthropologist who did extensive fieldwork and historical study on Easter Island--- THE STATUES THAT WALKED: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island, by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo. The authors present their case live in January’s SALT talk.
1/18/20131 hour, 40 minutes, 38 seconds
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Peter Warshall: Enchanted by the Sun: The CoEvolution of Light, Life, and Color on Earth

For 3.8 billion years, life has lived in a bath of solar radiance. The Sun’s illumination outlines which objects are appealing, bland, or repellant. Its powers of desiccation, blistering, bleaching, and revelation govern a balance between beauty and danger. Its flood of photons shapes light-harvesters (“eyes”), pigments, and surfaces---stretching planetary aesthetics to include "invisible light" (ultraviolet, infrared, and polarized). From euglena to Matisse, all creatures dwell in a variety of luminance locales---dramas of biospheric brightness, color mixes, and rebellions against darkness (such as fireflies and luminescent fish). The most recent rebellion has been human-devised lamps that impact everything from the artistic-military complex (camouflage and mimicry) to the materials, techniques, and display of paintings, electronic imaging, and growing plants. This 55-minute journey travels from unicells to octopi to op-art, with a dose of PR for “planetary color webs” and their influence on awareness, desire, self-direction, memory, contemplation, and curiosity. Armed with a PhD in Biological Anthropology from Harvard, Peter Warshall has shaped watershed theory and practices, conservation biology, relations with Indian tribes in the Southwest, and refugee activities in Africa. For a decade he was the editor of the Whole Earth Review.
11/29/20121 hour, 57 minutes, 47 seconds
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Lazar Kunstmann, Jon Lackman: Preservation without Permission: the Paris Urban eXperiment

There is at least as much underneath Paris as there is above it. The secretive members of the Paris Urban eXperiment, known internally as "The UX", have spent the last 30 years surreptitiously probing into this world - and improving it. A few years ago these underground hackers and artists became infamous when one morning the clock at the Panthéon, that had not worked in years, began chiming. It was just one of at least 15 such restorations done without permission. In a first-time-ever public presentation, the UX spokesman, who goes under the name Lazar Kunstmann, along with author Jon Lackman from Wired, will present some of the theory and work of the Urban eXperiment. Lackman chronicled much of their work in the February print edition of Wired---which is co-sponsoring this event.
11/14/20121 hour, 34 minutes, 19 seconds
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Steven Pinker: The Decline of Violence

Steven Pinker changes the world twice in his new book, THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: Why Violence Has Declined. First, he presents exhaustive evidence that the tragic view of history is wrong and always has been. A close examination of the data shows that in every millennium, century, and decade, humans have been drastically reducing violence, cruelty, and injustice---right down to the present year. A trend that consistent is not luck; it has to be structural. So, second, he boldly founds a discipline that might as well be called “psychohistory.” As a Harvard psychologist and public intellectual (author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate), he sought causes for the phenomenon he’s reporting---why violence has declined. Real ethical progress, he found, came from a sequence of institutions, norms, cultural practices, and mental tricks employed by whole societies to change their collective mind and behavior in a peaceful direction. Humanity’s great project of civilizing itself is far from complete, but Pinker’s survey of how far we’ve come builds confidence that the task will be completed, and he illuminates how to get there.
10/9/20121 hour, 33 minutes, 33 seconds
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Tim O'Reilly: Birth of the Global Mind

“The history of civilization is a story of evolution in our ability to build complex ‘multicellular minds,‘" says Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media (books, conferences, foo camps, Maker Faires, Make magazine.) Speech allowed us to communicate and coordinate. Writing allowed that coordination to span time and space. Twentieth century mass communications allowed shared information and culture to blanket the world. In the 21st century, memes spread mind to mind in nearly real time. But that's not all. In one breakthrough computer application after another, we see a new kind of man-machine symbiosis. The Google autonomous vehicle turns out not to be just a triumph of artificial intelligence algorithms. The car is guided by the cloud memory of roads driven before by human Google Streetview drivers augmented by powerful and precise new sensors. In the same way, crowd-sourced data from sensor-enabled humans is leading to smarter cities, breakthroughs in healthcare, and new economies. The future belongs not to artificial intelligence, but to collective intelligence.
9/6/20121 hour, 36 minutes, 6 seconds
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Elaine Pagels: The Truth About the Book of Revelations

Revelations about the Book of Revelation Probably the most consequential vision of the future ever written is the Bible’s Book of Revelation. If God didn’t write it (through the sainted instrument of someone named John), then who did, and why? Elaine Pagels has a persuasive answer, spectacularly illustrated. The author of The Gnostic Gospels; Beyond Belief; and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, Pagels analyzes other revelations of the time (they were common) and examines how John’s particular version of apocalypse made it into the world’s most popular book. John had his own agenda. It wasn’t Christian.
8/21/20121 hour, 15 minutes, 32 seconds
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Cory Doctorow: The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer

The war against computer freedom will just keep escalating, Doctorow contends. The copyright wars, net neutrality, and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) were early samples of what is to come. Victories in those battles were temporary. Conflict in the decades ahead will feature ever higher stakes, more convoluted issues, and far more powerful technology. The debate is about how civilization decides to conduct itself and in whose interests. “Cory Doctorow is one of the great context-setters of our generation,” says Tim O’Reilly. Co-editor of the acclaimed blog “Boing Boing,” Doctorow writes contemporary science fiction blending contextual insight with journalistic depth. His recent books include For the Win; Makers; and Little Brother. Long Now and the Electronic Frontier Foundation bring Cory Doctorow to San Francisco for a glimpse into the future of computing and the increasing fight for control over our freedom both online and offline.
8/1/20121 hour, 28 minutes, 30 seconds
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Benjamin Barber: If Mayors Ruled the World

Democracy began in cities and works best in cities.  Mayors are the most pragmatic and effective of all political leaders because they have to get things done.   “The paramount aims of city-dwellers,” says Barber, “concern collecting garbage and collecting art rather than collecting votes or collecting foreign allies, the supply of water rather than the supply of arms, promoting cooperation rather than promoting exceptionalism, fostering education and culture rather than fostering national defense and patriotism.“ Most of humanity now lives in cities, and cities worldwide connect with each other more readily than any other political entity.  By expanding on that capability, Barber suggests, “Cities can make themselves global guarantors of social justice and equality against the depredations of fractious states. And they can become, as the polis once was, new incubators of democracy, this time in a global form.“ A much-honored political theorist, Barber is author of Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age and of Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World.
6/6/20121 hour, 28 minutes, 8 seconds
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Susan Freinkel: Eternal Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

Plastic now pervades civilization---how many of the things you see from where you are right now are plastic? It is an ingenious material whose miraculous qualities we take too much for granted, but it also sometimes has nightmarish downstream effects. The giant polymer molecules (polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, etc.) that are so marvelously cheap to mold, extrude, shape, and weave are also extremely durable. Their cheapness makes them the basic material of a throw-away culture (one third of all plastic goes into disposable packaging.) Their durability means that any toxic effects persist indefinitely in the environment. Plastic presents a problem in temporal management of the very long-term and the very short-term. How do we get the benefits of plastic's amazing durability while reducing the harm from its convenient disposability? The matter requires close and respectful coordination between short-term experts (businesses) and long-term experts (governments and nonprofits). Managing plastic well is a microcosm of managing civilization well. Susan Freinkel is the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree.
5/23/20121 hour, 28 minutes, 12 seconds
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Charles C. Mann: Living in the Homogenocene: The First 500 Years

Ever since Columbus, it’s an alien invasive world. Everybody’s germs, insects, vegetables, staple foods, rats, domestic animals, and even wildlife went everywhere, changing everything. That convulsion is still in progress. Charles C. Mann is the author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.
4/24/20121 hour, 39 minutes, 44 seconds
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Edward O. Wilson: The Social Conquest of Earth

Seminar and Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Stewart Brand, with an introduction by Rob Semper, Executive Associate Director of the Exploratorium. Presented by The Long Now Foundation and the Exploratorium Edward O. Wilson has revolutionized science and inspired the public more often than any other living biologist. Now he is blending his pioneer work on ants with a new perspective on human development to propose a radical reframing of how evolution works. First the social insects ruled, from 60 million years ago. Then a species of social mammals took over, from 10 thousand years ago. Both sets of “eusocial” animals mastered the supremely delicate art of encouraging altruism, so that individuals in the groups would act as if they value the goal of the group over their own goals. They would specialize for the group and die for the group. In recent decades the idea of “kin selection” seemed to explain how such an astonishing phenomenon could evolve. Wilson replaces kin selection with “multi-level selection,” which incorporates both individual selection (long well understood) and group selection (long considered taboo). Every human and every human society has to learn how to manage adroitly the perpetual ambiguity and conflict between individual needs and group needs. What I need is never the same as what we need. E. O. Wilson’s current book is The Social Conquest of Earth. His previous works include The Superorganism; The Future of Life; Consilience; Biophilia; Sociobiology; and The Insect Societies.
4/21/20121 hour, 32 minutes, 47 seconds
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Mark Lynas: The Nine Planetary Boundaries: Finessing the Anthropocene

Human activities increasingly dominate 9 crucial planetary systems. Add to the familiar ones---climate, biodiversity, and chemical pollution---atmospheric aerosols, ocean acidification, excess nitrogen in agriculture, too much land in agriculture, freshwater scarcity, and ozone depletion. To have "a safe operating space for humanity" on Earth requires adjusting our behavior to work within those systems. How we collectively step up to that responsibility will determine whether "the Anthropocene" (the current geological era shaped by humans) will be a tragedy or humanity's greatest accomplishment. British environmentalist Mark Lynas is the author of one of the finest climate books, Six Degrees, and of a new work, The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, which spells out a cohesive Green program for this century guided by the 9 boundaries.
3/7/20121 hour, 29 minutes, 34 seconds
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Jim Richardson: Heirlooms: Saving Humanity's 10,000-year Legacy of Food

Agricultural biodiversity is as much in need of defending as the world's wildlife. Countless varieties of plants and animals were bred by the world's peoples for talents specific to every soil, climate, and human culture. Most of them have been lost---their hard-won genetic sophistication extinguished. But many have survived, thanks to professional and amateur devotion, and they are wondrous---living embodiments of humanity's deepest traditions. Photojournalist Jim Richardson has been covering the agricultural beat for National Geographic since 1984. His spectacular photographs, and the stories he tells with them, are renowned.
2/23/20121 hour, 26 minutes, 23 seconds
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Lawrence Lessig: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It

A dazzlingly incisive presenter, Lawrence Lessig specializes in identifying deep systemic problems in public process (such as copyright malfunction and Congressional dysfunction) and then showing how they can be cured. Currently he is bearing down on the corruption of Congress by the practice of private funding for public elections through campaign contributions. He writes: "The dependency of modern campaign finance is the single most important cause of the bankruptcy of Congress. Fixing this bankruptcy is the single most important reform effort that Americans face just now." As he did with helping fix copyright problems via Creative Commons, he has a plan for reforming elections to reestablish Congressional trust and effectiveness. (Public trust in Congress is currently at 12%.) Lessig is director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and author of Republic, Lost (2011) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (2000 and 2006).
1/18/20121 hour, 32 minutes, 33 seconds
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Rick Prelinger: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 6

Rick Prelinger, a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible, presents the 6th of his annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco screenings. You'll see an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes, labor and leisure in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and studio filmmakers.
12/9/20111 hour, 23 minutes, 5 seconds
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Brewster Kahle: Universal Access to All Knowledge

As founder and librarian of the storied Internet Archive (deemed impossible by all when he started it in 1996), Brewster Kahle has practical experience behind his universalist vision of access to every bit of knowledge ever created, for all time, ever improving. He will speak to questions such as these: Can we make a distributed web of books that supports vending and lending? How can our machines learn by reading these materials? Can we reconfigure the information to make interactive question answering machines? Can we learn from past human translations of documents to seed an automatic version? And, can we learn how to do optical character recognition by having billions of correct examples? What compensation systems will best serve creators and networked users? How do we preserve petabytes of changing data?
12/1/20111 hour, 34 minutes, 42 seconds
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Laura Cunningham: Ten Millennia of California Ecology

Ecologically, the past is always present if you know where and how to look. Paleontologist-biologist-artist Laura Cunningham spent 20 years exploring California's archives and relic lands to reconstruct exactly what life used to look like here over the past 10,000 years. Her beautiful images and her insights about long-period ecological change are collected in her new book, A STATE OF CHANGE: Forgotten Landscapes of California. Like many regions, California is busy restoring portions of the natural environment to previous conditions---native meadows, riparian woodlands, salt marshes, old-growth forests, along with the animals that used to populate them. But there is no static past to restore TO. With Cunningham's guidance we can choose to restore to a particular period: say, before the white invasion; or, during the Medieval Warm Period; or, before the human invasion; or, during the Ice Ages. With her inspiration, we can begin to envisage the ecological changes coming over the next 10,000 years.
10/18/20111 hour, 31 minutes, 15 seconds
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Timothy Ferriss: Accelerated Learning in Accelerated Times

As the times accelerate and we face ever more kaleidoscopic careers, a crucial meta-skill is the ability to learn new skills extremely rapidly, extremely well. That practice has no better exemplar and proponent than Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid-Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Not surprisingly, he has made himself adept at compelling presentations, this one prepared especially for the Long Now audience.
9/15/20111 hour, 25 minutes, 6 seconds
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Geoffrey B. West: Why Cities Keep on Growing, Corporations Always Die, and Life Gets Faster

As organisms, cities, and companies scale up, they all gain in efficiency, but then they vary. The bigger an organism, the slower. Yet the bigger a city is, the faster it runs. And cities are structurally immortal, while corporations are structurally doomed. Scaling up always creates new problems; cities can innovate faster than the problems indefinitely, while corporations cannot. These revolutionary findings come from Geoffrey West's examination of vast quantities of data on the metabolic/economic behavior of organisms and organizations. A theoretical physicist, West was president of Santa Fe Institute from 2005 to 2009 and founded the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
7/26/20111 hour, 49 minutes, 2 seconds
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Peter Kareiva: Conservation in the Real World

As chief scientist of one of the most highly respected conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy, Peter Kareiva is surprisingly radical. "Look," he says, "we're in nature. The deal is how to work with it and how to help it work for us. The better we are at ensuring that people get nature's benefits, the better we'll be at doing conservation." Through his insistence on "evidence-based conservation," he finds most ecosystems far less fragile than people think and none that can be protected as pristine, because pristine doesn't exist any more. His focus is on working the human/nature interface for maximum benefit to both. Kareiva is co-founder of the Natural Capital Project---allying with Stanford University and the World Wildlife Fund to measure the economic value of ecosystems---and co-author of the textbook, Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature.
6/28/20111 hour, 31 minutes, 40 seconds
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Carl Zimmer: Viral Time

The frontier of biology these days is the genetics and ecology of bacteria, and the frontier of THAT is what's being learned about viruses. "The science of virology is still in its early, wild days," writes Carl Zimmer. "Scientists are discovering viruses faster than they can make sense of them." The Earth's atmosphere is determined in large part by ocean bacteria; every day viruses kill half of them. Every year in the oceans, viruses transfer a trillion trillion genes between host organisms. They evolve faster than anything else, and they are a major engine of the evolution of the rest of life. Our own bodies are made up of 10 trillion human cells, 100 trillion bacteria, and 4 trillion very busy viruses. Some of them kill us. Many of them help us. Some of them are us. Viral time is ancient and blindingly fast. Science journalist Carl Zimmer is the author of A Planet of Viruses; the best introduction to the subject. His previous books include Parasite Rex and Microcosm.
6/8/20111 hour, 32 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tim Flannery: Here on Earth

Humans now engage the Earth at Gaian scale. How did Earth and humans get to this state? Given how we got here, how should we proceed? Tim Flannery finds that the evolutionary perspective of Alfred Russell Wallace offers better guidance than the more familiar Darwinian version of evolution. Australian biologist Tim Flannery is the renowned author of The Weather Makers, The Future Eaters, and a great ecological history of North America, The Eternal Frontier. His book Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet was published in 02011.
5/4/20111 hour, 31 minutes, 47 seconds
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Ian Morris: Why the West Rules - For Now

A Malaysian lawyer told a British journalist: "I am wearing your clothes, I speak your language, I watch your films, and today is whatever date it is because you say so." Do chaps or maps drive history? Human brilliance and folly, or geography? Or maybe genes, or culture? Ian Morris goes a level deeper than Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel to determine why the standards of Europe and North America now prevail in the world when it was the East that dominated for the 1,200 years between 550 and 1750 CE. Why did that happen, and what will happen next? Ian Morris is an archaeologist and professor of classics and history at Stanford. His splendid book is Why the West Rules -- For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future.
4/14/20111 hour, 38 minutes, 36 seconds
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Alexander Rose: Millennial Precedent

Alexander Rose, Long Now Executive Director and project manager for the Clock of the Long Now, discussed lessons learned in multi-millennial site design.
4/6/201152 minutes, 24 seconds
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Matt Ridley: Deep Optimism

Via trade and other cultural activities, "ideas have sex," and that drives human history in the direction of inconstant but accumulative improvement over time. The criers of havoc keep being proved wrong. A fundamental optimism about human affairs is deeply rational and can be reliably conjured with. Trained at Oxford as a zoologist and an editor at The Economist for eight years, Matt Ridley's is the author of The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. His earlier works include Francis Crick; Nature via Nurture; Genome; and The Origins of Virtue.
3/23/20111 hour, 37 minutes, 8 seconds
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Mary Catherine Bateson: Live Longer, Think Longer

We're not just living longer, we're thriving longer, but so far we seem to be thinking shorter. Aging societies the world over can benefit from increased longevity because human lives have added a new stage---what Bateson calls "Adulthood II: the age of active wisdom." People of grandparent age, finding themselves with more energy and health than obsolete stereotypes had led them to expect, are seeing their lives whole and the world whole and taking on radically new activities in light of that perspective. These older adults have the potential to bring a longer perspective to decision making that affects the future. Mary Catherine Bateson is a cultural anthropologist now 71, the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Her famed 1989 book Composing a Life showed how women were learning to treat their necessarily fragmented careers as a coherent improvisational art form. She is also the author of Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom.
2/10/20111 hour, 28 minutes, 46 seconds
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Philip K. Howard: Fixing Broken Government

Philip K. Howard is a conservative who inspires standing ovations from liberal audiences (short example here.) He says that governance in America---from the capitol to the classroom---has achieved near-total dysfunctionality by accumulating so many layers of piecemeal legalisms that the requirements of navigating them has replaced any hope of getting actual justice or effectiveness. Most attempts to fix the problems have made them worse. Howard thinks they can be fixed in a way that restores core functionality. Howard is the author of Life Without Lawyers (2009) and Death of Common Sense (1994) and is the founder and chair of Common Good, a reform advocacy nonprofit.
1/19/20111 hour, 34 minutes, 27 seconds
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Rick Prelinger: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 5

Rick Prelinger, a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible, presents the fifth of his annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco screenings. You'll see an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes, labor and leisure in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers. New material this year will include test flights over the unbuilt dunes of the Sunset District, Prohibition-era libertines partying in Golden Gate Park and drinking in their cars, lost travelogues and scenes from San Francisco countercultures. Suzanne Ramsey, aka Kitten on the Keys, will be back to open for Rick again this year; she will regale us with vintage tunes and a vivacious style that has entertained crowds from here in San Francisco to the Cannes Film Festival.
12/17/20101 hour, 29 minutes, 26 seconds
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Rachel Sussman: The World's Oldest Living Organisms

While we may aspire to live a century, Rachel Sussman documents creatures who don’t bat an eye at a millennium or two. Her photography has captured 4,500 year old bristlecone pines, 12,000 year old yucca, 400,000 year old Siberian bacteria, and many other wizened elders, all with stories longer than all of recorded human history.
11/16/20101 hour, 8 minutes, 3 seconds
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Lera Boroditsky: How Language Shapes Thought

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? For example, how do we think about time? The word "time" is the most frequent noun in the English language. Time is ubiquitous yet ephemeral. It forms the very fabric of our experience, and yet it is unperceivable: we cannot see, touch, or smell time. How do our minds create this fundamental aspect of experience? Do patterns in language and culture influence how we think about time? Do languages merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express? Can learning new ways to talk change how you think? Is there intrinsic value in human linguistic diversity? Join us as Stanford cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky re-invigorates this long standing debate with data from experiments done around the world, from China, to Indonesia, Israel, and Aboriginal Australia.
10/27/20101 hour, 47 minutes, 38 seconds
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Stewart Brand, Jane McGonigal: Long Conversation 19 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201017 minutes, 59 seconds
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Jane McGonigal, Tiffany Shlain: Long Conversation 18 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 25 seconds
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Paul Hawken, Tiffany Shlain: Long Conversation 17 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 13 seconds
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Katherine Fulton, Paul Hawken: Long Conversation 16 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 17 seconds
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Stuart Candy, Katherine Fulton: Long Conversation 15 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 38 seconds
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Stuart Candy, Danese Cooper: Long Conversation 14 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 43 seconds
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Danese Cooper, Peter Schwartz: Long Conversation 13 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 39 seconds
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Peter Schwartz, Pete Worden: Long Conversation 12 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 44 seconds
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Ken Foster, Pete Worden: Long Conversation 11 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 36 seconds
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Melissa Alexander, Ken Foster: Long Conversation 10 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 35 seconds
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Melissa Alexander, Ken Wilson: Long Conversation 9 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 37 seconds
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John Perry Barlow, Ken Wilson: Long Conversation 8 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/17/201019 minutes, 35 seconds
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John Perry Barlow, Violet Blue: Long Conversation 7 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201020 minutes, 4 seconds
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Violet Blue, Robin Sloan: Long Conversation 6 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201019 minutes, 34 seconds
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Robin Sloan, Jill Tarter: Long Conversation 5 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201019 minutes, 39 seconds
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Emily Levine, Jill Tarter: Long Conversation 4 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201019 minutes, 40 seconds
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Saul Griffith, Emily Levine: Long Conversation 3 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201019 minutes, 31 seconds
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Jem Finer, Saul Griffith: Long Conversation 2 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201019 minutes, 36 seconds
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Stewart Brand, Jem Finer: Long Conversation 1 of 19

Long Conversation, an epic relay of one-to-one conversations among some of the Bay Area's most interesting minds, took place over 6 hours in San Francisco on Saturday October 16, 02010. Interpreting the Long Conversation in real time was a data visualization performance by Sosolimited; an art and technology studio out of M.I.T. Long Conversation was presented with a live performance of 1,000 minutes of composer Jem Finer's Longplayer.
10/16/201020 minutes, 46 seconds
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Martin Rees: Life's Future in the Cosmos

President of the Royal Society, England's Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees brings a lifetime of cosmological inquiry to a crucial question: What if human success on Earth determines life's success in the universe? He thinks that civilization's chances of getting out of this century intact are about 50-50. He is hopeful that extraterrestrial life already exists, but there's no sign of it yet. But even if we are now alone, he notes that we may not even be the halfway stage of evolution. There is huge scope for post-human evolution, so that "it will not be humans who watch the sun's demise, 6 billion years from now. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae." Appropriately, Rees's Long Now talk will be at the Chabot Space & Science Center in the hills above Oakland, in the planetarium.
8/3/20101 hour, 39 minutes, 42 seconds
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Jesse Schell: Visions of the Gamepocalypse

Games perpetually revolutionize computer use toward denser interaction with the human mind. To do that, they perpetually revolutionize themselves. Understanding the next frontiers of the genre is one way to understand where society is going. In this talk Jesse Schell explores the social, cognitive, and technological trends in computer game design and use. Jesse Schell is the CEO of Schell Games, the author of the authoritative text, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, and a Professor of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon, specializing in Game Design. At Walt Disney, he was Creative Director of the Imagineering VR Studio.
7/28/20101 hour, 49 minutes, 55 seconds
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Frank Gavin: Five Ways to Use History Well

Policy makers typically ignore or misuse history. They are attracted by simplistic theories and analogies and take little account of huge events outside their policy-making domain. Scholarly historians can cure those blindnesses but are seldom invited to. Specifically, trained historians can help improve policy decisions by bringing the perspectives of vertical history (deep causes), horizontal history (complex linkages), chronological proportionality (many big deals aren't big for long), unintended consequences (irony abounds), and recognizing the limits of policy. Francis Gavin is an historian at the University of Texas specializing in international policy.
7/13/20101 hour, 40 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ed Moses: Clean Fusion Power This Decade

Finally achieving fusion energy may be closer than everyone thinks. For decades the dream has been to employ the reaction that powers stars to generate high-volume electricity without the drawbacks of fission reactors---no high-level waste, no weapons application, no risk of meltdown, no use of uranium, and (as with fission) no greenhouse gases. Ed Moses is director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Labs. Focussing massive amounts of laser light for a billionth of a second, the NIF is expected to demonstrate ignition of a fusion reaction (more energy out than in) for the first time in the coming year, followed by the prospect of a prototype machine for generating continuous clean energy by the end of this decade. That could change everything. The NIF itself is a spectacular work of "technological sublime."
6/17/20101 hour, 38 minutes, 42 seconds
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Nils Gilman: Deviant Globalization

Hidden and powerful and growing worldwide at twice the rate of the legal economy, "deviant globalization" is described by Nils Gilman as "human trafficking, drug dealing, gun running, cross-border waste disposal, organ trading, sex tourism, money laundering, transnational gangs, piracy (both intellectual and physical), and so on." He adds: "The structure of the current global economy is not designed for equitable, plodding growth; it's designed to reward opportunistic, risk-seeking innovators. Were one to construct an investment portfolio of illicit businesses, it would no doubt outperform Wall Street." In some parts of the world, with the decline of state sovereignty and growth of grassroots communication technology, outlaw organizations are taking over statelike duties. Trained as an historian, Nils Gilman is a consultant at Global Business Network/Monitor for licit organizations, including the US intelligence community. He is co-author of the forthcoming book, Deviant Globalization.
5/4/20101 hour, 34 minutes, 40 seconds
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David Eagleman: Six Easy Steps to Avert the Collapse of Civilization

David Eagleman may be the best combination of scientist and fiction-writer alive. Sum, his collection of afterlife alternatives, made a stunning literary debut last year and now appears in 21 languages. Simultaneously he is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, specializing in time perception. In this talk he spells out how to save the world.
4/2/20101 hour, 29 minutes, 43 seconds
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Beth Noveck: Transparent Government

President Obama's first executive action was the Open Government Memorandum calling for more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. It is likely that one of the longest lasting effects of the current administration will be how much it changed the culture of Washington by opening government data and pioneering innovations in policymaking. As the United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and leader of the President's Open Government Initiative in the White House, Beth Noveck is in the forefront of the Federal government's implementation of these changes. On leave as law professor at New York Law School and a visiting professor of communication at Stanford University, she lectures on intellectual property, innovation and technology law. She is also the Founder of the State of Play conferences. Noveck is the author of Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful.
3/5/20101 hour, 44 minutes, 55 seconds
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Alan Weisman: World Without Us, World With Us

Journalist Weisman traveled the world to investigate what happens when humans stop occupying an area. How long do our artifacts last? How does nature recover? What does that say about the human impact on the world? What would be the actual sequence of events if all of humanity suddenly disappeared? The exercise provides inspiration and techniques for humans to occupy Earth more lightly and therefore more durably.
2/25/20101 hour, 42 minutes, 10 seconds
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Stewart Brand, Brian Eno, Alexander Rose: Long Finance: The Enduring Value Conference

Long Finance aims to “improve society’s understanding and use of finance over the long-term”, in contrast to the short-termism that defines today’s financial and economic views. The immediate objective of the initiative is to establish a Foundation that can ignite global debate on long-term finance, by examining how commerce should enable and encourage environmental and social sustainability.
2/1/201039 minutes, 30 seconds
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Wade Davis: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Anthropologist Wade Davis is one of the world's great story tellers, with personal adventures to match. An Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, he specializes in hanging out with traditional peoples and exploring their religious practices. He first came to public notice with his discovery of the reality of zombies in Haitian voodoo and the substance used to poison them---chronicled in his 1985 book, The Serpent and the Rainbow. He is the author of 13 books, including One River and Shadows in the Suns, and has hosted, written, and starred in numerous television specials, including "Earthguide," "Light at the Edge of the World," "Spirit of the Mask," and "Forests Forever." This talk is based on the prestigious Massey Lectures that Davis gave in Canada in 2009.
1/14/20101 hour, 49 minutes, 12 seconds
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Rick Prelinger: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4

Rick Prelinger, a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible, presents the fourth of his annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco screenings. You'll see an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes, labor and leisure in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers. How we remember and record the past reveals much about how we address the future. Prelinger will preface the screening with a brief talk on how historical memory is shifting away from mass culture towards individual expression, and what consequences will arise from the emerging massive matrix of personal records.
12/5/20091 hour, 46 minutes, 45 seconds
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Sander van der Leeuw: The Archaeology of Innovation

Are we the first civilization to try and innovate our way out of climate change? How have past societies engineered sustainable solutions to a shifting world? Sander van der Leeuw, Director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and External Faculty Member of the Santa Fe Institute, has spent his career studying these questions. At his Seminar van der Leeuw will be exploring this research into the past, as well as its application to our current global predicament.
11/19/20091 hour, 29 minutes, 41 seconds
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Stewart Brand: Rethinking Green

This talk launches Brand's new book: Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.  His argument is that taking account of the emerging global forces of climate change, urbanization, and biotechnology forces a rethink of some traditional environmental positions.  Cities are Green, with huge room for improvement.  Nuclear power is Green, with better still to come.  Genetic engineering is Green and shows potentially revolutionary promise.  Direct intervention in the climate---geoengineering---may be necessary.  The classic environmental project of restoring natural systems has to step up in scale and deepen the quality of its science and engineering.
10/10/20091 hour, 30 minutes, 10 seconds
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Arthur Ganson: Machines and the Breath of Time

Arthur Ganson uses humble materials to create kinetic sculptures of humor, drama, and emotion.  His work has been shown around the world, and has been an ongoing inspiration for the 10,000 Year Clock project at Long Now.  His machinated gestures play with time spans that range from the epochal to the momentary. One of the touchstone pieces for the Clock project is the Machine with Concrete.  The input of the piece is a 200 revolution per minute motor, and after series of gear reductions it's output gear is cast in concrete.  Due to the multiplicative nature of the gear train it will take upwards of two trillion years to break the final gear.  Ganson will be discussing the theme of time in his work, and will be bringing a piece to show live at the event.
9/15/20091 hour, 23 minutes, 12 seconds
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Wayne Clough: Smithsonian Forever

Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  In July 1998 he took the reins of the world's largest museum and research complex and has since initiated long-range planning for the Smithsonian that includes increasing its accessibility.  Many of the 137 million objects in the Institution's collection will be digitized and made available to the public along with curatorial content produced by Smithsonian experts.
8/18/20091 hour, 26 minutes, 31 seconds
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Raoul Adamchak, Pamela Ronald: Organically Grown and Genetically Engineered: The Food of the Future

She's the head of a plant genetics lab at UC Davis; he teaches organic farming there. They're married (with kids), and they coauthored Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. In the book they wrote: "To meet the appetites of the world's population without drastically hurting the environment requires a visionary new approach: combining genetic engineering and organic farming. Genetic engineering can be used to develop seeds with enhanced resistance to pests and pathogens; organic farming can manage the overall spectrum of pests more effectively."Agriculture has been a revolutionary biological science for 10,000 years, husbanding soil, tweaking the genes of the food crops. This is the next stage.
7/29/20091 hour, 40 minutes, 35 seconds
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Paul Romer: A Theory of History, with an Application

Paul Romer is best known as the lead developer of New Growth Theory, which shows how societies can speed up the discovery and implementation of new technologies; essentially, ideas about how objects interact. However, to address the big problems we’ll face this century; insecurity, harm to the environment, and global poverty, new technologies will not be enough. His current focus is on mechanisms that can speed up the discovery and implementation of new rules - ideas about how people interact. For his work on the economics of ideas, Paul was named one of America’s 25 most influential people by TIME magazine.
5/19/200954 minutes, 21 seconds
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Michael Pollan: Deep Agriculture

Michael Pollan describes his program to transform American agriculture as a "sun food agenda." He is the author of two influential books---In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto; and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. He is the director the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at UC-Berkeley.
5/6/200958 minutes, 21 seconds
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Gavin Newsom: Cities and Time

More than any other political entity, cities learn from each other. San Francisco's youthful mayor has traveled the world examining what works best in other cities. Now in his sixth year on the job, he has seen various ideas and programs bloom or wither, and has led the city's ambition to become one of the world's Greenest. In this talk we hear about lessons learned and plans in the making, in a world now mostly urban.
4/9/20091 hour, 1 minute, 18 seconds
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Daniel Everett: Endangered languages, lost knowledge and the future

The Pirahã, a remote Amazonian tribe with little outside contact, have attracted the attention of mainstream media, scientists, zen buddhists, professors of religion, mathematicians, philosophers and others because of their unusual confluence of values, language, and culture. Now, after 20 years of high intellectual and physical adventure living among them, Dan Everett proposes a revolution in anthropology and linguistics: culture profoundly shapes language, even at the most fundamental level. What happens when a language-culture pairing like the Pirahãs' is lost? The Pirahãs are not alone in their lessons and knowledge for all of us -- there are hundreds of endangered languages in the world -- but their example provides a remarkably clear example of alternative knowledge and ways of talking of importance to all of us as we ponder how we should try to build future lives. Everett is author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazon Jungle (02008) and is Chair of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois State University.
3/21/20091 hour, 5 minutes, 2 seconds
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Dmitry Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices

A close student and observer of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe twenty years ago, engineer Dmitry Orlov finds a similar sequence of events taking shape in America. His savagely humorous presentation spells out how Russia was better prepared than the US is for the stages of collapse that begin with financial meltdown. Renewal awaits on the other side of collapse, and there are ways to hasten that process. Orlov is the author of Reinventing Collapse: Soviet Example and American Prospects (02008).
2/14/20091 hour, 10 seconds
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Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated

"It is not accurate to say we can still stop climate change," says Saul Griffith, the Bay Area inventor who received a MacArthur "genius" award in 2007.  "We are now working to stop worse climate change or much-worse-than-worse climate change." Griffith has done the research and the math to figure out exactly what it will take for humanity to soften the impact of climate change in the next 25 years, and he lays it out in a dazzling presentation.  It is horrifying news.  The politics and technologies we have now are not up to the task.
1/17/200956 minutes, 10 seconds
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Rick Prelinger: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco

Rick Prelinger is a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible. Prelinger will be presenting his third annual "Lost Landscapes of San Francisco" event, an eclectic montage of lost and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes and labor in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers. How we remember and record the past reveals much about how we address the future. Prelinger will preface the film with a brief talk on how fragmentary, incomplete histories are being overtaken by pervasive real-time documentation, and how history, memory and property are combining into a new matrix of experience. Since 01983 Rick has been collecting ephemeral films: advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur works. In 02002, the Prelinger film collection of over 200,000 items was acquired by the Library of Congress; much of it is available online at the Internet Archive. In 02004 Prelinger and spouse Megan opened the Prelinger Library in downtown San Francisco, which includes over 50,000 pieces of print ephemera, books, periodicals, maps and zines. We encourage the audience to interact with the film, especially to identify mystery scenes!
12/20/20081 hour, 10 minutes
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Drew Endy, Jim Thomas: Synthetic Biology Debate

Bioengineer Drew Endy is the leading enabler of open-source biotechnology. Technology historian Jim Thomas is the leading critic of biotech, based with ETC Group in Ottawa. "Synthetic Biology includes the broad redefinition and expansion of biotechnology, with the ultimate gils of being able to design and build engineered biological systems that process information, manipulate chemicals, fabricate materials and structures, produce energy, provide food, and maintain and enhance human health and our environment." -- Wikipedia. Synthetic biology is swarming ahead all over the world, at a self-accelerating pace far greater than Moore's Law, with a range of impacts far greater than genetically engineered food crops. Jim Thomas raises the question: "Is Synthetic Biology reckless or wise from the perspective of 'the long now?'. I feel the synthetic biology community is driven by immensely short term assumptions and motivations, and as a result the medium term prospect for this platform holds both predictable problems and nasty surprises." Drew Endy says: "Jim and I have somehow managed to establish a productive working relationship, and feel that there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop the cultural foundations needed to support long term and constructive discussions of the issues existing and emerging with biotechnology---safety, equity, security, community, and so on." The point of Long Now debates is not win-lose. The point is public clarity and deep understanding, leading to action graced with nuance and built-in adaptivity, with long-term responsibility in mind.
11/18/20081 hour, 3 minutes, 17 seconds
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Huey Johnson: Green Planning at Nation Scale

"You cannot manage elements of the environment individually, one by one, or all your best efforts will unravel," says Johnson.  Government planning is needed, and it must match the pace and scale of the environment itself.  He instigated that kind of planning when he was California's Secretary of Resources in the 1980s, and he is inspired by the exemplary Green Plans of the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore.  In this talk, as in his work with nations worldwide, he spells out the current best practices for serious, long-term Green Planning. Trained as a biologist, an avid hunter and fisherman, Huey Johnson is president of the Resource Renewal Institute, based in Fort Mason.  After serving as head of The Nature Conservancy he founded Trust for Public Land in San Francisco in 1972.  While Secretary of Resources from 1976 to 1982 he created a hundred-year plan for California's natural resources called "Investing for Prosperity," which set in motion lasting programs of restoration for the state's rivers, forests, and wetlands, and also promoted energy conservation and renewable energy.  In 2001 he received the Sasakawa Environment Prize from the United Nations.
10/4/20081 hour, 3 minutes, 17 seconds
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Peter Diamandis: Long-term X-Prizes

Prizes are proving themselves as powerful tools to accelerate goal-specific innovation. Diamandis, the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, has built on the success of the $10 million Ansari X Prize that inaugurated private-sector spaceflight in 2004 with Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne. Currently in play are new prizes for a $10,000 human genome, for a private Moon landing, and for a super-efficient car, with more in the pipeline. But prize contests so far have focussed on near-term goals---spectacular achievements that can be accomplished in a decade or two. What might be prize-worthy hundred-year goals, or thousand-year goals? What goals might a century of focussed effort transform from the clearly impossible to the merely difficult?
9/13/20081 hour, 10 minutes, 1 second
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Neal Stephenson: ANATHEM Book Launch Event

At an event hosted by the Long Now Foundation, science fiction author Neal Stephenson reads from his latest novel Anathem.
9/9/200819 minutes, 35 seconds
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Daniel Suarez: Daemon: Bot-mediated Reality

The viral success story of the year is a techno-thriller called Daemon. Software developer Suarez printed the book himself after being turned down by mainstream publishers. Blog raves, Amazon raves, and brief item in Wired magazine turned the book deservedly into a runaway hit. In this presentation, his first on the subject, Suarez spells out the ideas behind Daemon and its forthcoming sequel, Freedom™: "'Bots' are simple software programs designed to automate tasks - such as finding, retrieving, or acting upon information. Bots set loose on the Internet have been the catalyst behind many revolutionary Web 2.0 technologies. However, the unintended consequences of activating millions of bots in our networks -- bots that wield increasing influence over the activities and opportunities of human beings - may have serious consequences for society."
8/9/20081 hour, 18 minutes, 1 second
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Edward Burtynsky: The 10,000-year Gallery

Burtynsky's massively informative photographs change minds and influence policy. They are also exquisite art. Their historical value will grow with time. Other art has similar reach. There should be a gallery that collects, displays, and sifts such works over centuries and millennia, and develops ways to preserve them. That is exactly Burtynsky's plan--- a 10,000-year Gallery to accompany the 10,000-year Clock. His presentation will explore and demonstrate the idea. Edward Burtynsky is an Officer of the Order of Canada and winner of the 2004 Ted Prize. His photographs are in the permanent collections of fifteen major museums, including the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Bibiotheque Nationale in Paris, and the Victoria & Albert in London. He is the subject of a prize-winning film, "Manufactured Landscapes."
7/24/20081 hour, 16 minutes, 41 seconds
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Paul Ehrlich: The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment

Everything living evolves, but humans evolve culturally as well as biologically, and that puts us in a peculiar relation to the rest of life, with a peculiar responsibility. If we can understand how cultural evolution works, we'll have a better handle on how to manage our responsibilities. The question that Ehrlich has been exploring lately is whether cultural evolution really does show patterns that would yield predictive theory. He now has data from Polynesian canoes that indicate the answer is yes, cultural evolution is patterned enough to predict with. We can discover a new way to comprehend our own behavior and perhaps influence it to the benefit of life. Entomologist and population biologist Paul Ehrlich is President of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology, author and co-author of books ranging from The Population Bomb (1968) to One With Nineveh (2004), recipient of many awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Blue Planet Prize, and the Nobel-level Crafoord Prize.
6/28/20081 hour, 16 minutes, 31 seconds
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Iqbal Quadir: Technology Empowers the Poorest

Quadir is the now-legendary founder of GrameenPhone, which transformed his home country of Bangladesh in the 1990s and led the way for the cellphone revolution throughout the developing world. Currently Quadir heads the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT and is building Emergence BioEnergy Inc., a project to develop local electricity for the rural poor, using such devices as a fuel cell that runs on anaerobic bacteria. Linking new technology with the boundless resourcefulness of the poor drives innovation in surprising directions at surprising speed.
5/22/20081 hour, 15 minutes, 41 seconds
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Niall Ferguson, Peter Schwartz: Historian vs. Futurist on Human Progress

Distinguished historian Ferguson and renowned futurist Schwartz disagree profoundly on the nature of human progress. Both use scenarios (called "counterfactual history" by Ferguson) to analyze how events play out. Ferguson wrote The War of the World (2006), a history of the violence that defined the 20th Century. Schwartz wrote The Art of the Long View (1991), the standard text on scenario planning, and The Long Boom (1999), on global prosperity in the 21st century. Both speakers regard history as highly contingent. The question is, contingent on what?
4/29/20081 hour, 40 minutes, 56 seconds
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Craig Venter: Joining 3.5 Billion Years of Microbial Invention

With his current series of breakthroughs in synthetic biology Craig Venter and his team are not so much creating life as joining life. Reverse-engineering evolution's long-refined tricks and subtleties at the molecular level is building humanity's most powerful toolkit yet. Through shotgun-sequencing whole microbial populations ("metagenomics"), the domain of the organisms that rule the world is at last opening up. Genome synthesis will lead to major advances in biomedicine and in adjusting civilization's global energy metabolism.
2/26/20081 hour, 49 minutes, 23 seconds
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The Future Has Always Been Crazier Than We Thought

Skeptical empiricist Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, has bracing things to say about the future. It is inevitable that we will be massively blindsided by events, because our understanding is misled by an array of beguiling illusions about reality. Some lessons: Events are not predictable, but consequences are, so focus on preparedness. Pay attention to elders, because they've experienced more Black Swans. Check Wikipedia's bio of Taleb for more on the vividness of his ideas and exposition.
2/5/20081 hour, 27 minutes, 57 seconds
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Paul Saffo: Embracing Uncertainty: the secret to effective forecasting

"Some would argue that forecasting is a dangerous exercise in futility, but they are mistaken. In fact, effective forecasting is not merely possible, but remarkably easy; all it takes is simple shift in perspective and a few common-sense heuristics." The most quoted futurist alive, Paul Saffo specializes in the history and future of technology. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review he spelled out the secrets of his trade, which he will expand on in this talk. Saffo is a member of the board of The Long Now Foundation.
1/12/20081 hour, 25 minutes, 32 seconds
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Joline Blais, Jon Ippolito: At the Edge of Art

Art is humanity's long-term unconscious memory.  Artists work by creative misuse, and thanks to the Internet there have never been so many tools for so many artists (and multitudes who don't know they're artists) to creatively misuse.  Take a cruise through how strange and meaningful it is getting with the authors of At the Edge of Art .
12/15/20071 hour, 26 minutes, 3 seconds
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Rosabeth Moss Kanter: Enduring Principles for Changing Times

Principles are fundamental and moral, and they abide. Professor Kanter from the Harvard Business School, author of renowned leadership and strategy books such as The Change Masters and When Giants Learn to Dance, has a new book titled America the Principled. In it and in this talk, she "offers a positive agenda for the nation, focussed on innovation and education, a new workplace social contract, values-based corporate conduct, competent government, positive international relations through citizen diplomacy and business networks, and national and community service."
11/10/20071 hour, 20 minutes, 58 seconds
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Juan Enriquez: Mapping the Frontier of Knowledge

Enriquez has a world-class collection of historic maps made at the very point of discovery. He will deploy them for the first time in one of his dazzling presentations, to examine how we image and imagine what we are exploring, and thus image and imagine exploration itself. Enriquez is author of As the Future Catches You and The United States of America, and CEO and Chair of Biotechonomy, a life sciences research and investment firm.
10/13/20071 hour, 29 minutes, 22 seconds
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Rip Anderson, Gwyneth Cravens: Power to Save the World

The best introduction to the current realities and benefits of nuclear power is Gwyneth Cravens' forthcoming book Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. A science journalist and novelist, and long an activist against nuclear, Cravens had her assumptions shaken through friendship with the leading expert on nuclear risk assessment at Sandia National Laboratories, D. Richard Anderson, know as "Rip." Both are professional skeptics. They took their skepticism on the road to travel the uranium atom's path in America from mine to refinery to reactor to short-term and long-term storage, with a side trip to the coal alternative. It is a revelatory journey.
9/15/20071 hour, 44 minutes, 39 seconds
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Alex Wright: Glut: Mastering Information Though the Ages

8/18/20071 hour, 33 minutes, 13 seconds
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Francis Fukuyama: 'The End of History' Revisited

Frank Fukuyama's 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man had profound and lasting impact with its declaration that science and technology, the growing global economy, and liberal democracy are leading history in a quite different direction than Marx and Hegel imagined. In this revisit to those themes, Fukuyama examines conflict with and within Islam, the need for a diffuse form of global governance to deal with problems like climate change, and the deeper implications of biotechnology.
6/29/20071 hour, 12 minutes, 39 seconds
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Paul Hawken: The New Great Transformation

"I now believe there are over one million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice. This is the largest social movement in all of history, no one knows its scope, and how it functions is more mysterious than what meets the eye. What binds it together is ideas, not ideologies. The promise of this unnamed movement is to offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture." Paul Hawken is the author of Blessed Unrest and co-author of Natural Capitalism.
6/9/20071 hour, 11 minutes, 45 seconds
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Steven Johnson: The Long Zoom

Nobody discovers or imparts an insight with the dexterity of Steven Johnson, author of Emergence, Everything Bad Is Good For You, and The Ghost Map. In this talk he examines how humanity is transformed by its new scaling capability--- our ability now to examine and relate events at the nanometer and nanosecond scale and then zoom right out to a cosmic scale and time frame. With tools like Google Earth and Will Wright's "Spore" game, we all are learning to zoom with comfort. How does that change us?
5/12/20071 hour, 26 minutes, 10 seconds
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Frans Lanting: Life's Journey Through Time

Acclaimed nature photographer Lanting has created the most graphic timeline ever, at its best as a live performance. This is the "long now" in glowing imagery.
4/28/200713 minutes, 38 seconds
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Brian Fagan: We Are Not the First to Suffer Through Climate Change

How vulnerable are we to climate change? What does it do to us, exactly? Human experience over the last 15,000 years shows that even slight climate shifts have been one of the major shapers of history and pre-history, though that is overlooked in most history books and in most of the current public discourse about climate change. An experienced television presenter, anthropologist Brian Fagan is the author of The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization.
3/10/20071 hour, 19 minutes, 2 seconds
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Vernor Vinge: What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen?

Technology acceleration is like what happens approaching the singularity in the center of a black hole--- everything is transformed utterly and unpredictably. That metaphor was invented by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1980s and has entered standard usage as a way of thinking about the near future. In this talk Vinge challenges his own idea, investigating scenarios of "a human-scaled world with long time horizons," and how that might play out over ten or twenty thousand years.
2/16/20071 hour, 30 minutes, 55 seconds
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Philip Tetlock: Why Foxes Are Better Forecasters Than Hedgehogs

Why are so many experts so wrong, yet people keep listening to them? Who really is worth listening to about the future? The author of Expert Political Judgement builds on Isaah Berlin's characterization of judgment modes into Hedgehogs (who know one big thing) and Foxes (who know many things). Hedgehogs don't notice and don't care when they're wrong; that's why they're so compelling. Foxes learn.
1/27/20071 hour, 13 minutes, 7 seconds
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Philip Rosedale: 'Second Life:' What Do We Learn If We Digitize EVERYTHING?

Philip Rosedale is the founder of a burgeoning Web phenomenon, the massive multi-player substitute reality called "Second Life." When the scheduled speaker for this month, Francis Fukuyama, was suddenly sidelined by a motorcycle injury, Rosedale sprinted from the bench to take his place at the podium. He'll be improvising; he has a scintillating world to improvise with.
12/1/20061 hour, 14 minutes, 22 seconds
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Larry Brilliant, Katherine Fulton, Richard Rockefeller: The Deeper News About the New Philanthropy

New money, new ideas, whole new kinds of programs, and growing global impact characterize the transformations going on in philanthropy these days. Katherine Fulton, president of the Monitor Institute, is behind the scenes in all of it. She is joined on the stage by a fifth-generation Rockefeller and the head of newest philanthropic enterprise,
11/4/20061 hour, 14 minutes, 22 seconds
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John Baez: Zooming Out in Time

This graphic extravaganza from mathematical physicist John Baez shows not only humanity's nested time dimensions but how we expand our time perspective to understand and solve crises. Baez's famed online column, "This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics," which began in 1993, was an influential pioneer of the blog genre.
10/14/20061 hour, 27 minutes, 12 seconds
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Orville Schell: China Thinks Long-term, But Can It Relearn to Act Long-term?

Orville Schell is author of nine books about China and dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. The question facing China now is whether in practice it can live up to its sense of itself as the society with the longest and deepest continuity on earth. In a time of fabulous short-term gains, can it step up to long-term responsibility?
9/23/20061 hour, 28 minutes, 53 seconds
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John Rendon: Long-term Policy to Make the War on Terror Short

John Rendon, head of The Rendon Group, is a senior communications consultant to the White House and Department of Defense. His subject in this talk is how to replace tactical, reactive response to terror with long-term strategic initiative.
7/15/20061 hour, 30 minutes
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Brian Eno, Will Wright: Playing with Time

Will Wright, creator of the video games "Sim City," "The Sims," and the forthcoming "Spore," will speak on playing with time.
6/27/20061 hour, 40 minutes
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Chris Anderson, Will Hearst: The Long Time Tail

A new economic principle is the "the long tail," discovered and named by the editor of Wired magazine, Chris Anderson. The former dominance of best-sellers has been augmented by the new dominance of innumerable tiny-sellers, thanks to the Internet. Investor and publisher Will Hearst notes that there is a time dimension as well to the long tail phenomenon, still being discovered.
5/13/20061 hour, 29 minutes, 11 seconds
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Jimmy Wales: Vision: Wikipedia and the Future of Free Culture

Vision is one of the most powerful forms of long-term thinking. Jimmy Wales, founder and president of the all-embracing online encyclopedia Wikipedia, examines how vision drives and defines that project and its strategy--- and how it fits into the even larger world and prospects of "free culture."
4/15/20061 hour, 16 minutes, 10 seconds
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Kevin Kelly: The Next 100 Years of Science: Long-term Trends in the Scientific Method.

3/11/20061 hour, 18 minutes, 40 seconds
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Stephen Lansing: Perfect Order: A Thousand Years in Bali

Anthropologist/ecologist Stephen Lansing tells a gorgeous tale of how spiritual practices in Bali have finessed over 1,000 years the most nuanced and productive agricultural system in the world. Cutting edge complexity theory spells out how the highly complex, highly adaptive system emerged.
2/14/20061 hour, 19 minutes, 21 seconds
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Ralph Cavanagh, Peter Schwartz: Nuclear Power, Climate Change and the Next 10,000 Years

In a very pointed discussion, two energy experts bring opposite perspectives to the question of whether global climate change justifies reviving nuclear power. Ralph Cavanagh is co-director of the Energy Program at the National Resources Defense Council. Peter Schwartz is co-founder and chairman of Global Business Network.
1/14/20061 hour, 42 minutes, 22 seconds
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Sam Harris: The View from the End of the World

In his new book The End of Faith philosopher Sam Harris examines religious faith in terms of its consequences and aggressive irrationality. For this talk he explores how "end time" beliefs play out in social behavior and public policy. A Buddhist meditator, he mixes wicked humor into his compassion.
12/10/20051 hour, 21 minutes, 29 seconds
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Clay Shirky: Making Digital Durable: What Time Does to Categories

Clay Shirky is the most riveting of speakers at tech conferences, with his deep insight into social software and the culture and economics of networks. His talk for the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking takes on one of the most intractable problems of the information age: how to preserve digital information and tools in usable condition beyond ten years. The continuity of civilization is at stake in this matter.
11/15/20051 hour, 36 minutes, 30 seconds
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Esther Dyson, Freeman Dyson, George Dyson: The Difficulty of Looking Far Ahead

"The Difficulty of Looking Far Ahead" is Freeman Dyson's subject at the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking. He will be joined for the first time on a public stage by his daughter Esther Dyson and son George Dyson.
10/6/20051 hour, 21 minutes, 4 seconds
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Ray Kurzweil: Kurzweil's Law

The next Seminar About Long-term Thinking features Ray Kurzweil, speaking on "Kurzweil's Law"--- the exponential trend of accelerating returns governing life and technology.
9/24/20051 hour, 45 minutes, 53 seconds
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Robert Fuller: Patient Revolution: Human Rights Past and Future

From time to time a portion of humanity declares a new human right. Behavior thought normal for thousands of years is suddenly challenged.  What does it take for the new right to prevail?  It takes steady bearing down on the issue over decades and centuries... Bob Fuller is the author of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank.  The book defines "rankism"--- the pervasive misuse of power relationships that is expressed not just in racism and sexism but in every form of humiliation.  Humans have the universal right, the new movement insists, to be treated with dignity.  Fuller was president of Oberlin College when it integrated racially in the early 1970s.  Before that he was a highly regarded physicist working with John Wheeler.  After that he was a "citizen diplomat" quietly helping end the Cold War.  On stage he is a vivid story teller.
8/13/20051 hour, 1 minute, 31 seconds
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Jared Diamond: How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed

7/16/20051 hour, 11 minutes, 46 seconds
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Robert Neuwirth: The 21st Century Medieval City

6/11/20051 hour, 19 minutes, 48 seconds
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Stewart Brand: Cities & Time

4/9/20051 hour, 21 minutes, 14 seconds
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Spencer Beebe: Very Long-term Very Large-scale Biomimicry

Spencer Beebe, founder of Ecotrust, is giving the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking lecture, titled "Very Long-term Very Large-scale Biomimicry"---how to prosper with bio-regional economics over centuries. Friday, March 11, 7pm, Fort Mason Conference Center, San Francisco.
3/12/20051 hour, 15 minutes, 39 seconds
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Roger Kennedy: The Political History of North America from 25,000 BC to 12,000 AD

2/26/20051 hour, 24 minutes, 38 seconds
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James Carse: Religious War In Light of the Infinite Game

"Religious War in Light of the Infinite Game" is the subject of the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking lecture, given by James P. Carse. Carse is the author of the celebrated tiny book, Finite and Infinite Games.
1/15/20051 hour, 27 minutes, 11 seconds
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Ken Dychtwald: The Consequences of Human Life Extension

"The Consequences of Human Life Extension" will be discussed by Ken Dychtwald at the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking. Dychtwald is the author of Age Wave and Age Power: How the 21st Century will be Ruled by the New Old.
12/4/20042 hours, 4 minutes, 22 seconds
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Michael West: The Prospects of Human Life Extension

"The Prospects of Human Life Extension" is the subject of the next Seminar About Long-term Thinking, Friday, Nov. 12, 7 pm, at the Fort Mason Conference Center in San Francisco. The speaker is Michael West, founder of Geron, founder and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology, leading researcher in age-related degenerative disease and embryonic stem cells.
11/13/20041 hour, 24 minutes, 10 seconds
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Paul Hawken: The Long Green

Paul Hawken, ur-environmentalist, is the next speaker in the series of Seminars About Long-term Thinking, Friday, October 15, 7 pm, at the Fort Mason Conference Center in San Francisco. His subject is "The Long Green."
10/16/20041 hour, 19 minutes, 15 seconds
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Danny Hillis: Progress on the 10,000-year Clock

Danny Hillis is the next speaker in the Seminars About Long-term Thinking series, Friday, September 10, 7pm, at the Fort Mason Conference Center in San Francisco. His topic is "Progress on the 10,000-year Clock."
9/11/20041 hour, 6 minutes, 50 seconds
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Phillip Longman: The Depopulation Problem

8/14/20041 hour, 1 minute, 39 seconds
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Jill Tarter: The Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence: Necessarily a Long-term Strategy

7/10/20041 hour, 21 minutes, 11 seconds
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Bruce Sterling: The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole

6/12/20041 hour, 37 minutes, 25 seconds
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David Rumsey: Mapping Time

5/15/20041 hour, 40 minutes, 32 seconds
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Daniel Janzen: Third World Conservation: It's ALL Gardening

4/10/20041 hour, 26 minutes, 29 seconds
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Rusty Schweickart: The Asteroid Threat Over the Next 100,000 Years

The epitome of long-term thinking is to take seriously the protection of the Earth from massive asteroid impacts, which in the past have extincted as much as 90% of life on Earth. On Friday, March 12, astronaut Rusty Schweickart will give a public lecture titled "The Asteroid Threat Over the Next 100,000 Years." It will detail graphically the results of his research on asteroid impact frequency and damage, along with what it will take to find and deflect future threatening asteroids.
3/13/20041 hour, 31 minutes, 56 seconds
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James Dewar: Long-term Policy Analysis

2/14/20041 hour, 9 minutes, 8 seconds
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George Dyson: There's Plenty of Room at the Top: Long-term Thinking About Large-scale Computing

George Dyson is ringing a change on the famous 1959 lecture by physicist Richard Feynman that showed the way to nanotechnology. It was called, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom."
1/10/20041 hour, 30 minutes, 8 seconds
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Peter Schwartz: The Art Of The Really Long View

Peter Schwartz, considered by many to be the world's leading futurist, will be trying out new ideas in public in a talk titled, "The Art of the Really Long View." He'll be talking about ways to engage the next several hundred years.
12/13/20032 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds
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Brian Eno: The Long Now

This is not a concert. Brian Eno will be speaking about "The Long Now." His talk will be the first of a monthly series of Seminars About Long-term Thinking, sponsored by The Long Now Foundation. His talks are usually as amazing as his music. The on-going lectures in this new series will be every second Friday at Fort Mason. Future speakers include Peter Schwartz, George Dyson, Laurie Anderson, Rusty Schweickart, Paul Hawken, Daniel Janzen, and Danny Hillis.
11/15/20031 hour, 17 minutes, 18 seconds