Futures is Nature’s weekly science fiction slot. Adam Rutherford reads you his favourite from this month, Survivors and Saviours, by Philip T. Starks.
Tagged with “nature” (13)
Once long past, listening gave clues for survival. Now we listen unconsciously, blocking noise and tuning in to what we want to hear. Yet the unwanted sounds we filter out tell us a lot about our environment and our lives. Broadcaster Teresa Goff listens for the messages in our walls of sound.
As civilization has become more mechanized, more urbanized and more digitized, the amount of noise has increased in tandem. This noise, according to Garrett Keizer, author of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise , "is a window for understanding some of the paradoxes and contradictions of being human." If you take the sum total of all sounds within any area, what you have is an intimate reflection of the social, technological, and natural conditions of that place.
Hildegard Westerkamp, a founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, says that "Environmental sound is like a spoken word with each sound or soundscape having its own meanings and expressions." So when you listen to the noise, what does it have to tell you? "Noise is a pit of interpretation," says noise musician Brian Chippendale. Broadcaster Teresa Goff goes into the pit with her documentary, The Signal of Noise.
A radical re-assessment of human progress from one of the world’s most exciting public thinkers.
In his latest work, Steven Pinker explores the ways in which modernity and its cultural institutions are actually making us better people.
In ‘The Better Angels of our Nature’, Pinker traces a history of progress that reveals the historical circumstances and “civilising forces”, from commerce to cosmopolitanism, that have brought us to the most peaceful era humankind has yet experienced. Join Steven Pinker at the RSA for a fascinating insight into the conditions, norms and policies that combine to engage the "better angels" of human nature - our capacity for co-operation, empathy and altruism.
Speaker: Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and author of ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes’ (Allen Lane, 2011).
Alan Turing is sometimes called ‘the founder of computer science’. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, Charlotte Stoddart went to Oxford to meet his biographer, physicist Andrew Hodges. In this podcast, they talk about Turing’s famous 1936 paper on computable numbers, his contribution to cracking the German Enigma ciphers, and his thoughts on machine intelligence. http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/index-turing-2012-02-23.html
Steven Pinker has written a game-changer on the little matter of how quickly humanity is headed for hell or redemption. The short form of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is that we’re on the verge of Liebniz‘s (and Candide‘s) “best of all possible worlds.” Much more than that, Better Angels is a tour de force in 700 pages of dense, witty prose, distilling and explaining the ever-steeper downward trends in battle-deaths, state executions, murder, rape, wife-beating and child-spanking, among others things. “Interesting if true” was my instinctive newspaper-guy response. After a month’s immersion, and this conversation, I’m staggered and stunned, avid for the new Enlightenment.
A series of new studies has revealed that jellyfish are far more than mindless blobs that can spoil your day at the beach. On today’s Please Explain, Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes at the New England Aquarium, and Marine Biologist and Chief Aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Michael Howard discuss why jellyfish are much more complex and interesting than scientists once thought.
Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson joins us to discuss his new book, "The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies." Wilson is faculty emeritus in the department of entomology at Harvard University and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction.
Long ago, when we started using technology, we lacked the collective cognizance to define the limits we wanted to exercise control within, so we tried controlling everything. The notion of technological advancement was about the degree of control exercised over nature. However, the modern trend indicates an inversion of that philosophy. According to sci-fi author Karl Schroeder, the world is now reaching a point where we are learning when to let go, and that, he says, is working well.
There is evidence now that it is sometimes possible to get things done more efficiently by relinquishing the traditional methods of control. Open source, democracy, government 2.0, and the invisible hand of the free market, to name a few, are mechanisms that demonstrate of the success of this inversion. He refers to the handing over of control to the self-willed as "rewilding." The original definition of the word "wild" was "self-willed." To "rewild," therefore, is to subscribe to the surrender of control, albeit a conditional renunciation.
Open source is an example of organizational rewilding that eliminates top-down, hierarchical, carrot and stick control and replaces it with a different system of incentives. Wikinomics, slashdot, wikipedia, where knowledge organizes itself from the ground-up, crowdsourcing, open government, government 2.0 — all involve the idea of relinquishing traditional control in favor of knowing when to control and when to leave alone. The value of open source is an example of the value of self-willed.
Karl foresees a time when we understand ourselves and our world well enough that we’ll know when to trust, and learn when to control. Open source is a part of that process.
DLD Conference presents a panel discussion on The Future of Organic Design featuring discussants Ross Lovegrove, Arturo Vittori, Andreas Vogler. This event was moderated by Paola Antonelli.
With cities contributing upwards of 75 per cent of global carbon emissions, urban design is increasingly important when planning for climate change. This discussion examines the creative urban design solutions coming out of the world’s cities. Saskia Sassen is Robert S Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Richard Sennett is professor of sociology at LSE and NYU. Jonathon Porritti s the chair of the sustainable development commission and founder and director of Forum for the Future.
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