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Tagged with “long now” (119)

  1. Analysis: Thinking for the Long Term

    How critical is the ability to think and plan for the long term?

    "The origin of civil government," wrote the Scottish philosopher David Hume in 1739, is that "men are not able radically to cure, either in themselves or others, that narrowness of soul, which makes them prefer the present to the remote."

    Today, Hume’s view that governments can help societies abandon rampant short-termism and adopt a more long term approach, feels little more than wishful thinking. The "now" commands more and more of our attention - quick fixes are the order of the day. But could that be about to change?

    Margaret Heffernan asks whether the current pandemic might be the moment we are forced to rediscover our ability to think long term. Could our ability to emerge well from the current health crisis be dependent, in fact, on our ability to improve our long-term thinking?

    Among those taking part: Paul Polman (Co-founder of Imagine and former CEO of Unilever), General Sir Nick Carter (Chief of the Defence Staff), Justine Greening (former Conservative minister and founder of the Social Mobility Pledge), Lord Gus O’Donnell (former head of the Civil Service), Chris Llewellyn Smith (former Director General of CERN), and Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales).

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kmkc

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  2. Fall, or Dodge in Hell | Neal Stephenson

    Neal Stephenson, author of "Fall, or Dodge in Hell", in conversation with Long Now Board Member, Kevin Kelly.

    "Fall, or Dodge in Hell": https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062458711/fall-or-dodge-in-hell/ is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.

    Neal Stephenson: https://www.nealstephenson.com is the bestselling author of the novels "Reamde", "Anathem", "The System of the World", "The Confusion", "Quicksilver", "Cryptonomicon", "The Diamond Age", "Snow Crash", and "Zodiac", and the groundbreaking nonfiction work "In the Beginning…Was the Command Line." He lives in Seattle, Washington.

    "Neal Stephenson - Fall, or Dodge in Hell " was given on June 06, 02019 as part of The Long Now Foundation’s “Conversations at The Interval” Salon Talks. These hour long talks are recorded live at The Interval, our bar, cafe, & museum in San Francisco. Since 02014 this series has presented…

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    Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkxuzwCps70&feature=youtu.be
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Wed Feb 19 02:58:07 2020 Available for 30 days after download

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  3. Bina Venkataraman: Long-Term Thinking in a Distracted World - The Long Now

    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.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02020/jan/15/long-term-thinking-distracted-world/

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  4. Longform Podcast #376: Kevin Kelly · Longform

    Kevin Kelly is a writer and a founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. He is the author of What Technology Wants, Out of Control and The Inevitable: Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

    “I always try to write about the future—and it became harder and harder because things would catch up so fast. If you read Out of Control now, I’ve heard that people say, ‘well, this is obvious.’ I have to tell you, it was dismissed as entirely pie-in-the-sky, wild-eyed craziness twenty-five years ago.”

    https://longform.org/posts/longform-podcast-376-kevin-kelly

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  5. Andrew McAfee: More From Less - The Long Now

    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).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/nov/18/more-from-less/

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  6. Paul Ehrlich: The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment - The Long Now

    Becoming a Benign Dominant

    To track how humans became Earth’s dominant animal, Ehrlich began with a photo of a tarsier in a tree. The little primate had a predator’s binocular vision and an insect-grabber’s fingers. When (possibly) climate change drove some primates out of the trees, they developed a two-legged stance to get around on the savanna. Then the brain swoll up, and the first major dominance tool emerged—language with syntax.

    About 2.5 million years ago, the beginnings of human culture became evident with stone tools. “We don’t have a Darwin of cultural evolution yet,” said Ehrlich. He defined cultural evolution as everything we pass on in a non-genetic way. Human culture developed slowly-the stone tools little changed from millennium to millennium, but it accelerated. There was a big leap about 50,000 years ago, after which culture took over human evolution—our brain hasn’t changed in size since then.

    With agriculture’s food surplus, specialization took off. Inuits that Ehrlich once studied had a culture that was totally shared; everyone knew how everything was done. In high civilization, no one grasps a millionth of current cultural knowledge. Physicists can’t build a TV set.

    Writing freed culture from the limitations of memory, and burning old solar energy (coal and oil) empowered vast global population growth. Our dominance was complete. Ehrlich regretted that we followed the competitive practices of chimps instead of bonobos, who resolve all their disputes with genital rubbing.

    “The human economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Earth’s natural systems,” said Ehrlich, and when our dominance threatens the ecosystem services we depend on, we have to understand the workings of the cultural evolution that gave us that dominance. The current two greatest threats that Ehrlich sees are climate change (10 percent chance of civilization ending, and rising) and chemical toxification of the biosphere. “Every cubic centimeter of the biosphere has been modified by human activity.”

    The main climate threat he sees is not rising sea levels (”You can outwalk that one”) but the melting of the snowpack that drives the world’s hydraulic civilizations— California agriculture totally dependent on the Sierra snowpack, the Andes running much of Latin America, the Himalayan snows in charge of Southeast Asia. With climate in flux, Ehrlich said, we may be facing a millennium of constant change. Already we see the outbreak of resource wars over water and oil.

    He noted with satisfaction that human population appears to be leveling off at 9 to 10 billion in this century, though the remaining increase puts enormous pressure on ecosystem services. He’s not worried about depopulation problems, because “population can always be increased by unskilled laborers who love their work.”

    The major hopeful element he sees is that cultural evolution can move very quickly at times. The Soviet Union disappeared overnight. The liberation of women is a profound cultural shift that occurs in decades. Facing dire times, we need to understand how cultural evolution works in order to shift our dominance away from malignant and toward the benign.

    In the Q & A, Ehrlich described work he’s been doing on cultural evolution. He and a graduate student in her fifties at Stanford have been studying the progress of Polynesian canoe practices as their population fanned out across the Pacific. What was more conserved, they wondered, practical matters or decoration? Did the shape of a canoe paddle change constantly, driven by the survival pressure of greater efficiency, or did the carving and paint on the paddles change more, driven by the cultural need of each group to distinguish itself from the others.

    Practical won. Once a paddle shape proved really effective, it became a cultural constant.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02008/jun/27/dominant-animal-human-evolution-and-environment/

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  7. Monica L. Smith: Cities: The First 6,000 Years - The Long Now

    “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.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/aug/13/cities-first-6000-years/

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  8. Marcia Bjornerud: Timefulness - The Long Now

    research focuses on the physics of earthquakes and mountain-building. She combines field-based studies of bedrock geology with quantitative models of rock mechanics.

    She is the author of Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth and is a contributing writer to the New Yorker’s Annals of Technology blog.

    Marcia Bjornerud’s Homepage
    More about Marcia Bjornerud
    

    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).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/jul/22/timefulness/

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  9. Mariana Mazzucato: Rethinking Value - The Long Now

    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).

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/jun/24/rethinking-value/

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  10. David Byrne:Good News & Sleeping Beauties - The Long Now

    David Byrne is a Scottish-American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, artist, actor, writer and filmmaker who was a founding member, principal songwriter and lead singer and guitarist of the American new wave band Talking Heads.

    Byrne has released solo recordings and worked with various media including film, photography, opera, fiction, and non-fiction. He has received Academy, Grammy, and Golden Globe Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Bio courtesy of Wikipedia)

    David Byrne’s Homepage
    David Byrne’s Wikipedia page
    

    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.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/jun/04/good-news-sleeping-beauties/

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