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Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking

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United States

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We will have a banner to add soon. We also just submitted our "Long Now: Conversations at The Interval" podcast.

Twitter:

@longnow

Language:

English


Episodes

Ian McEwan: Machines Like Me

5/4/2019
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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...

Duration:01:36:47

Jeff Goodell: The Water Will Come

4/2/2019
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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...

Duration:01:24:36

Chip Conley: The Modern Elder and the Intergenerational Workplace

3/13/2019
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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...

Duration:01:24:10

John Brockman: Possible Minds

2/25/2019
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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 Edge.org, a website devoted to discussions of cutting-edge science by many...

Duration:01:36:02

Martin Rees: Prospects for Humanity

1/14/2019
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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...

Duration:01:24:35

Niall Ferguson: Networks and Power

11/19/2018
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“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...

Duration:01:30:16

Mary Lou Jepsen: Toward Practical Telepathy

10/29/2018
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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...

Duration:01:29:57

Stewart Brand: Whole Earth Catalog 50th Anniversary Celebration

10/13/2018
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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...

Duration:02:00:26

Julia Galef: Soldiers and Scouts: Why our minds weren't built for truth, and how we can change that

9/12/2018
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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...

Duration:01:32:45

Juan Benet: Long Term Info-structure

8/6/2018
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"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...

Duration:01:29:12

George P. Shultz: Perspective

7/16/2018
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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...

Duration:01:03:01

Chris D. Thomas: Are We Initiating The Great Anthropocene Speciation Event?

6/19/2018
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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,...

Duration:01:40:43

Benjamin Grant: Overview: Earth and Civilization in the Macroscope

5/22/2018
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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...

Duration:01:21:59

Kishore Mahbubani: Has the West Lost It? Can Asia Save It?

4/23/2018
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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...

Duration:01:31:01

Steven Pinker: A New Enlightenment

3/13/2018
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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...

Duration:01:32:18

Michael Frachetti: Open Source Civilization and the Unexpected Origins of the Silk Road

2/26/2018
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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...

Duration:01:28:14

Charles C. Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet

1/22/2018
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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...

Duration:01:27:46

Elena Bennett: Seeds of a Good Anthropocene

11/20/2017
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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...

Duration:01:19:02

Renee Wegrzyn: Engineering Gene Safety

10/30/2017
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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...

Duration:01:21:15

David Grinspoon: Earth in Human Hands

9/6/2017
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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...

Duration:01:31:39