Alexander has been trying to build a clock that will last for 10,000 years.
Tagged with “long now” (17)
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.
Interview with @Wired Founder Kevin Kelly by Avi Solomon http://boingboing.net/2012/05/11/kk.html Avi interviewed Kevin at his home in Pacifica.
When we think of cultural artifacts, we often think of objects – a painting, a book, or a Clock. But perhaps not all artifacts take tangible form: can the ideas that inspired such objects be considered cultural artifacts, too? And if so, how can we save these for future generations?
Hans Ulrich Obrist answers that first question with a resounding ‘yes’ – and offers an answer to that second one, as well. The swiss-born curator and art historian has been working on a project of cultural preservation – but rather than collect objects, he is capturing ideas as they materialize in conversation. Part art project, part oral history, and part exercise in the workings of memory, the Interview Project is an effort “to preserve the voices of the world’s artists and innovative thinkers of the last 50 years in a digital archive.”
Through a series of “sustained conversations” with influential figures from the worlds of art, science, and culture, Obrist seeks to do more than just document the important ideas that drive today’s culture: he hopes to capture their dynamic and transformative nature. Focusing on how ideas are born and recreated through dialogue, the Interview Project explores the role of time, evolution, and global connections in shaping human culture and innovation.
As part of this project, Obrist recently interviewed Danny Hillis, co-chair of the Long Now Foundation’s board of directors. In a public event organized in conjunction with the Institute for the 21st Century, a Los Angeles-based initiative that works to archive Obrist’s interviews, he and Hillis spoke about the ideas that inspired Long Now’s 10,000-year clock, and the cultural evolution it hopes to encourage.
Discussing the convergence of science, technology, and art, their conversation (which you can listen to here) illustrates that no cultural artifact emerges in a vacuum. New ideas are born from those that came before, and go on to inspire others in return. Culture is carried by, and created through, the dynamic exchange of conversation. “Knowing something is so 20th century,” says Hillis in the interview, speaking about the pre-internet age, in which a person’s knowledge was the sum of what his memory could hold. Today more than ever, in a world where billions of bits of digital information can be accessed at the tap of a finger, human knowledge and culture reside in our global network of exchange. And just as Hillis’ Connection Machine proved that linking processors together can transform the capability of computers, so can the connection of ideas produce unprecedented opportunities for new cultural creation. The Clock of the Long Now grew from the convergence of ideas that inspired its creators, and will hopefully contribute to the development of many new ideas and directions in the future.
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.
In a desert in Texas a 200-feet-tall clock is being constructed deep inside a mountain. Once completed, it will keep time for the next 10,000 years, even if there are no humans around to use it. Tune in as Chuck and Josh get to the bottom of the Long Now.
Creative photographer Sussman showed beautiful slides of very elderly organisms. The captions were as crucial as the images—-naming the species, the place, and the approximate age. You can see many of them here: http://rachelsussman.com/portfolios/OLTW/main.html
The series began with the only animal—-an eighteen-foot brain coral in the waters of Tobago, thought to be 2,000 years old. An enormous baobob in South Africa might be 2,000 years old. Then there is the astounding welwitschia mirabilis of the Namibian desert, a conifer that feeds on mist, with the longest leaves in the plant kingdom.
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. Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2010 00:00:00 -0700 Location: San Francisco, CA, Novellus Theater, Long Now Foundation Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2010/07/27/Jesse_Schell_Visions_of_the_Gamepocalypse
Why do policy makers and historians shun each other? Gavin observed that policy people want actionable information, certainty, and simple explanations. Meanwhile historians revel in nuance, distrust simple explanations and also distrust power and those who seek it. Thus historians keep themselves irrelevant, and policy makers keep their process ignorant.
Gavin proposed five key concepts from history that can inform understanding and improve policy dramatically.
Nils Gilman describes deviant globalization as "the unpleasant underside of transnational integration."
There’s nice tourism, and then sex tourism, such as in Thailand and Switzerland. The vast pharmacology industry is matched by a vast traffic in illegal drugs. The underside of waste disposal is the criminal dumping in the developing world of toxic wastes from the developed world. Military activities worldwide are fed by a huge gray market in weapons. Internet communications are undermined by floods of malware doubling every year. Among the commodities shipped around the world are exotic hardwoods, endangered species, blood diamonds, and stolen art worth billions in ransom. Illegitimate health care includes the provision of human organs from poor people — you can get a new kidney with no waiting for $150,000 in places like Brazil, the Philippines, Istanbul, and South Africa. Far overwhelming legal immigration are torrents of illegal immigrants who pay large sums to get across borders. And money laundering accounts for 4-12% of world GDP — $1.5 to 5 trillion dollars a year.
These are not marginal, "informal" activities. These are enormous, complex businesses straight out of the Harvard Business Review. The drug business in Mexico, for example, employs 400,000 people. A thousand-dollar kilo of cocaine grows in value by 1400-percent when it crosses into the U.S. — nice profit margin there.
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