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Tagged with “civilisation” (9)

  1. Palladium Podcast 59: Samo Burja on Long History – Palladium

    Samo Burja joins Wolf Tivy from Turkey to discuss why civilization is older than we thought. Samo’s research into ruins like Göbekli Tepe inspired him to ask just how ancient civilization could really be. Topics include why national politics can end up yielding archaeological progress, whether the Dunbar number is a false limit on human development, and why Samo is willing to bet on finding cities that predate the last Ice Age.

    https://palladiummag.com/2021/05/22/palladium-podcast-59-samo-burja-on-long-history/

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  2. Martin Rees: Prospects for Humanity - The Long Now

    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.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/jan/14/prospects-humanity/

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  3. Michael Frachetti: Open Source Civilization and the Unexpected Origins of the Silk Road - The Long Now

    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).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02018/feb/26/open-source-civilization-unexpected-origins-silk-road/

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  4. The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell

    Maybe an asteroid hit Earth. Perhaps a nuclear war reduced our cities to radioactive rubble. Or avian flu killed most of the population. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it has ended and now the survivors must start again. But how do we set about rebuilding our world from scratch?

    Once you’ve salvaged what you can from the debris, how do you grow food and make clothes? How do you generate energy and develop medicines? And once you’ve mastered the essentials, how do you smelt metals, make gunpowder, or build a primitive radio set?

    The Knowledge is a guidebook for survivors. We have become disconnected not only from the beautiful fundamentals of science and technology but even from the basic skills and knowledge on which our lives and our world depend.

    The Knowledge is a journey of discovery, a book which explains everything you need to know about everything. Here is the blueprint for rebooting civilisation.

    It will transform your understanding of the world – and help you prepare for when it’s no longer here.

    http://lewisdartnell.com/en-gb/2013/11/the-knowledge-how-to-rebuild-our-world-from-scratch/

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  5. Ep96 – Jared Diamond | The Bryan Callen Show

    More than any other, the book we mention most on this podcast is Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It’s a tremendous honor to have the man himself on the podcast today.

    In his twenties, Jared Diamond was looking for adventure. He was also looking for the world’s most beautiful birds. And so, he ended up going to Papua New Guinea. A massive island off the northern coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea’s mountainous highlands are so inaccessible that well into the 1960s there were stone-age tribes that had never seen metal, still practiced cannibalism and had never seen a white person. These experiences of first contact proved incredibly dangerous for both parties. However, they also proved very instructive. As Diamond explains in this interview, while our technology and customs might have been remarkably different, our emotional systems, our intelligence and our capacity for learning were virtually identical. That’s when a Papua New Guinean friend named Yalli asked Diamond a deceptively simple question, “Why do Europeans have so much cargo?” Diamond would spend the next three decades reading research from a wide range of disciplines trying to answer Yalli’s question. Why should peoples with essentially the same brains end up with such different societies. The answer is beautifully laid out in his Pulitzer-prize winning book Guns, Germs and Steel.

    In today’s interview, returns to the experience of first contact, but from an entirely different perspective. Yalli had wanted to know why societies such as ours had so much technology to offer Papua New Guineans. In his latest book The World Until Yesterday, Diamond asks what traditional, small-scale societies have to teach us about how our not-so-distant ancestors ate, handled conflict and dealt with danger. While not practicing cannibalism is definitely a win for modern society, it’s clear that traditional diets with their low salt levels and lack of refined sugar have much to teach us about what does a body good. Our legal system focuses on punishing the perpetrator. Should we—like traditional societies—put just as much emphasis on helping victims recover emotionally from the damage that was done to them?

    Besides these lofty topics, Professor Diamond also tells Bryan and Hunter about male breastfeeding, how cannibals prepare human meat and things that will kill you in the jungle. It’s an awesome interview with a truly awesome man.

    Jared Diamond is the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Why Sex is Fun, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and most recently The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? His books are available everywhere. Read them. They’ll change your life, make you a better person and give you all the knowledge you need to beat racism.

    http://bryancallen.com/2014/01/23/ep96-jared-diamond/

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  6. Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization

    Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

    “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”

    Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.

    But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

    “I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

    That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

    “I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/03/vernor-vinge-geeks-guide-galaxy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Jared Diamond: How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed - The Long Now

    Sophisticated societies from time to time collapse utterly, often leaving traces of a civilization that was at a proud peak just before the fall. Other societies facing the same dangers figure out how to adapt around them, recover, and go on to further centuries of success. Tonight the author of Collapse examines the differences between them…

    To an overflow house (our apologies to those who couldn’t make it in!), Jared Diamond articulately spelled out how his best-selling book, Collapse, took shape.

    At first it was going to be a book of 18 chapters chronicling 18 collapses of once-powerful societies— the Mayans with the most advanced culture in the Americas, the Anasazi who built six-story skyscrapers at Chaco, the Norse who occupied Greenland for 500 years. But he wanted to contrast those with success stories like Tokugawa-era Japan, which wholly reversed its lethal deforestation, and Iceland, which learned to finesse a highly fragile and subtle environment.

    Diamond also wanted to study modern situations with clear connections to the ancient collapses. Rwanda losing millions in warfare caused by ecological overpressure. China— “because of its size, China’s problems are the world’s problems.” Australia, with its ambitions to overcome a horrible environmental history. And Diamond’s beloved Montana, so seemingly pristine, so self-endangered on multiple fronts.

    He elaborated a bit on his book’s account of the Easter Island collapse, where a society that could build 80-ton statues 33 feet high and drag them 12 miles, and who could navigate the Pacific Ocean to and from the most remote islands in the world, could also cut down their rich rain forest and doom themselves utterly. With no trees left for fishing canoes, the Easter Islanders turned to devouring each other. The appropriate insult to madden a member of a rival clan was, “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth!” The population fell by 90% in a few years, and neither the society nor the island ecology have recovered in the 300 years since.

    Diamond reported that his students at UCLA tried to imagine how the guy who cut down the LAST tree in 1680 justified his actions. What did he say? Their candidate quotes: “Fear not. Our advancing technology will solve this problem.” “This is MY tree, MY property! I can do what I want with it.” “Your environmentalist concerns are exaggerated. We need more research.” “Just have faith. God will provide.”

    The question everyone asks, Diamond said, is, How can people be so dumb? It’s a crucial question, with a complex answer. He said that sometimes it’s a failure to perceive a problem, especially if it comes on very slowly, like climate change. Often it’s a matter of conflicting interests with no resolution at a higher level than the interests— warring clans, greedy industries. Or there may be a failure to examine and understand the past.

    Overall, it’s a failure to think long term. That itself has many causes. One common one is that elites become insulated from the consequences of their actions. Thus the Mayan kings could ignore the soil erosion that was destroying their crops. Thus the American wealthy these days can enjoy private security, private education, and private retirement money. Thus America itself can act like a gated community in relation to the rest of the world, imagining that events in remote Somalia or Afghanistan have nothing to do with us. Isolation, Diamond declared, is never a solution to long-term problems.

    I’ll add two items to what Diamond said in his talk. One good sharp question came from Mark Hertzgaard, who asked the speaker if he agreed “with Stewart Brand’s view that the threat of climate change justifies adopting more nuclear power.” To my surprise, Diamond said that he was persuaded by last year’s “Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges” to treat nuclear as one important way to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. (In the commission’s report, the environmentalist co-chair John Holdren wrote: “”Given the risks from climate change and the challenges that face all of the low-carbon and no-carbon supply options, it would be imprudent in the extreme not to try to keep the nuclear option open.”)

    While I was driving Jared Diamond back to the El Drisco hotel, we got talking about how to separate the good actors from the bad actors among corporations. He said that third-party validation was absolutely essential. For instance, he studied the exemplary environmental behavior of Chevron in Papua New Guinea and reported on it in “Discover” magazine. As a result of that favorable report, validated by the World Wildlife Fund (where Diamond is a director), Chevron was able to land an immensely valuable contract with Norway, who was demanding environmentally responsible behavior from any oil company it would deal with.

    The new term taken seriously in oil and mining corporations, Diamond said, is “social license to operate.” A company must earn that from the public in order to stay in business.

    And we the public must do our vigilant part so that “social license” means something.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02005/jul/15/how-societies-fail-and-sometimes-succeed/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  8. Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization | Underwire | Wired.com

    Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

    “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”

    Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.

    But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

    “I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

    That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

    “I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/03/vernor-vinge-geeks-guide-galaxy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio