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Explore hundreds of lectures by scientists, historians, artists, entrepreneurs, and more through The Long Now Foundation's award-winning lecture series, curated and hosted by Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand (creator of the Whole Earth Catalog). Recorded live in San Francisco each month since 02003, past speakers include Brian Eno, Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Earle, Daniel Kahneman, Jennifer Pahlka, Steven Johnson, and many more. Watch video of these talks and learn more about our projects at Longn ...
 
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Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestreamWatch & share this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long NowLong Now continues our dialogue with the acclaimed writer Kim Stanley Robinson around COP26 and his most recent book The Ministry for the Future. Clean energy advocate & author Ramez Naam will join Robinson on stage after the t…
 
Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestreamWatch & share these talks on YouTube and Long NowJoin us for an illuminating evening with journalist John Markoff in conversation with Long Now's Co-founder Stewart Brand and Executive Director Alexander Rose around Markoff's new biography of Brand.Journalist John Markoff writes about technol…
 
As a society, how do we address the "wicked hard problem" of vaccine acceptance? How can public health institutions reach those who are hesitant when even robust fact-based campaigns don't seem to work? Infectious diseases are one of the long-standing challenges for humanity; historical plagues and flare ups of disease have transformed societies, r…
 
What is time? What is humankind’s role in the universe? What is the meaning of life? For much of human history, these questions have been the province of religion and philosophy. What answers can science provide?In this talk, Sean Carroll will share what physicists know, and don’t yet know, about the nature of time. He’ll argue that while the unive…
 
Long Now Talks are in-person or via our livestream; get tickets for the in-person talk in San Francisco or RSVP for the free livestream.Watch & share this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Live.Join us for an evening with Neal Stephenson reading from his newest book Termination Shock (pub. 11/16/21) and a discussion with Long Now's Ex…
 
Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley track the history and future of quarantine around the globe, chasing the story of emergency isolation through time and space—from the crumbling lazarettos of the Mediterranean, built to contain the Black Death, to an experimental Ebola unit in London, and from the hallways of the CDC to closed-door simulations where…
 
How has time been imagined, politicized, and weaponized over the centuries—and how it might bring peace?Horologist David Rooney tells the hidden story of timekeeping and how it continues to shape our modern world. From medieval water clocks to monumental sundials, and from coastal time signals to satellites in earth's orbit, Rooney takes us on a gl…
 
One of Long Now’s founding premises is that humanity’s most significant challenges require long-term solutions, including institutions that caretake and guide the knowledge and commitment needed to work over long time scales. However, there are a limited number of organizations that have managed to stay stable over many centuries, and in some cases…
 
Reporter and writer Nathaniel Rich delves deep into conversation with Revive & Restore's Ryan Phelan and Ben Novak to discuss his newest book Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade,which attempts to come to terms with the massive changes that are underway on our planet, and how humans can better understand our role to caretake, conserve and thou…
 
A compelling case can be made that we are in the early stages of another tech and economic boom in the next 30 years that will help solve our era’s biggest challenges like climate change, and lead to a societal transformation that will be understood as civilizational change by the year 02100.Peter Leyden has built the case for this extremely positi…
 
Jason Tester asks us to see the powerful potential of "queering the future" - how looking at the future through a lens of difference and openness can reveal unexpected solutions to wicked problems, and new angles on innovation. Might a queer perspective hold some of the keys to our seemingly intractable issues?Tester brings his research in strategi…
 
Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, journalist James Nestor questions the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function, breathing.Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the science behind ancient …
 
Nadia Eghbal is particularly interested in infrastructure, governance, and the economics of the internet - and how the dynamics of these subjects play out in software, online communities and generally living life online.Eghbal, who interviewed hundreds of developers while working to improve their experience at GitHub, argues that modern open source…
 
Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. The need to draw on our capacity to think long-term has never been more urgent, whether in areas such as public health care, to deal with technological risks, or to confront t…
 
Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable. There is a cumulative body of multigenerational…
 
"I have always felt I have an obligation to build the future I want to see.We know that AI-powered cyber-physical systems (CPS) will scale in society. The challenge we face now is how we do that responsibly and sustainably? If we act proactively, we can avoid some of the negative impacts we have seen during other technological leaps.We need to star…
 
Craig Childs chronicles the last millennia of the Ice Age, the violent oscillations and retreat of glaciers, the clues and traces that document the first encounters of early humans, and the animals whose presence governed the humans chances for survival.With the cadence of his narrative moving from scientific observation to poetry, he reveals how m…
 
Throughout Peter Calthorpe's decade-spanning career in urban design, planning, and architecture, he has developed and practiced the key principles of New Urbanism: that the most successful places are diverse in uses and users, are scaled to the pedestrian and human interaction, and are environmentally sustainable.Calthorpe developed the concept of …
 
"As a forecaster and Afrofuturist who imagines alternative futures from a Black Diaspora perspective, I think about long-term signals that will shape the next 10 to 100 years." ---Dr. Lonny J Avi Brooks Dr. Brooks develops and promotes a wider Afrocentric perspective that champions Black storytelling and imagination, to push beyond the colonial min…
 
At the intersection of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food scarcity lies an unexpected and abundant resource: insects. Brian Fisher has spent three decades documenting biodiversity in Madagascar, a nation off East Africa that's estimated to contain 5% of the world's total plant and animal life. Across the island, harsh economic realities fo…
 
Dr. Laurance Doyle is an astrophysicist and principal investigator at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) with expertise in diverse subjects including extrasolar planets, signal processing and communications theory. He has worked on image analysis from the Voyager mission and Halley's Comet, developed statistical methodologies to search…
 
Humans have consumed psychedelics for at least the last 10,000 years. The outlawing of psychedelics in most of the world in the 20th century didn’t stop that, but it did put an end to promising research into their psychotherapeutic applications to treat depression, addiction, PTSD, anxiety, and trauma.Today, we’re in the midst of a psychedelic rena…
 
Companies that operate with a long-term mindset tend to outperform their peers over time. But the pressure to achieve short-term quarterly gains often works against longer-term sustainable growth, and can push even the most visionary company into a short-term mindset.In 02019, the Long-Term Stock Exchange was approved as the country’s 14th and newe…
 
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 tac…
 
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 exploit…
 
Coming to the fore in this century is Asian perspective on everything. A thrilling place to watch the shift is in art. Extraordinary contemporary art from all over the world, especially Asia, has been collected for the new world-class museum in Hong Kong called M+. The massive museum won’t open for a year or two, but a rich sample of the collection…
 
“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 …
 
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 f…
 
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, incre…
 
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…
 
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 conversa…
 
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 t…
 
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 Hea…
 
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 t…
 
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 technolo…
 
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…
 
“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 an…
 
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 prosp…
 
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 …
 
"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. …
 
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 dire…
 
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 increasin…
 
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 t…
 
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 lea…
 
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 be…
 
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 …
 
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 repe…
 
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 countles…
 
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…
 
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 li…
 
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