Blog Archive for the year 02004

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Ken Dychtwald – The Consequences Of Human Life Extension”

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Ken Dychtwald

What long life means

Ken Dychtwald gave a terrific talk Friday evening to a standing-room audience on “The Consequences of Human Life Extension.”

The growing—and soon overwhelming—prevalence of the old in developed nations is leading to a “new old.” Ken described meeting a bright-eyed apparent 70-year-old who talked about his gym workouts. “I asked when he started, and he told me, ‘Oh, a couple years ago when I was 100. I’m getting in shape for the Senior Olympics.’ When he competed he not only won every event he entered, he set the World Record. He was alone in his age category— a two-foot shot put was the best ever. That’s typical. Everything the new old do is a first in human history…

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Michael West – “The Prospects of Human Life Extension”

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Michael West

Ever longer life

Our germline cells (eggs and sperm) are already immortal. What if the rest of the cells of our body could acquire the same ability? Tissue by tissue, one degenerative disease after another, it could gradually happen in the course of one or two human generations. When it does happen, what we mean by “generation” changes completely.

Thanks to Proposition 71, which funds embryonic stem cell research, California is now the frontier of the key technology for rejuvenating human cells, tissues, and organs; for not just treating but curing lethal diseases…

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Long Bet: Brian Wins…

Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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With the Republican control of the House and Senate, there is no scenario in which a Democrat can become President by August 2005 (the two-year horizon of my original Bet). Looking at the two arguments, Eno’s is persuasive in detail, mine clearly wrong.

The morning after the election I wrote Eno my summary of what happened and the prospects…

Dear Brian,

You win, we lose. My country is in a bad way and getting worse. Exit polls said that Bush supporters voted for his “moral values.” For “strong and wrong versus weak and right,” as Bill Clinton has put it.

Bin Laden won. He tried against all odds to set in motion a religious war, and he succeeded. The US majority WANTS a religious war of good against evil. Irrationality rules here, and as a result a very cynical Republican party rules— Presidency, Senate, House, judiciary, governorships, and state legislatures. They own America and are running it at a profit.

The unreported divide: educated Americans voted strongly for Kerry, the uneducated for Bush.

Kerry and the Democrats did everything as right as could be. They couldn’t have fielded a stronger candidate, nor worked harder individually to get out the huge vote. Bush’s war in Iraq went as badly as it possibly could, yet he was not held accountable.

Now I can only hope for your scenario to play out—Bush has to suffer the consequences of his own incompetence. But it will be a bleak four years. Irrationality feeds on failure. As things get worse, it just tries harder, gets shriller. I hate the prospect.

The turmoil will be good for the arts perhaps. We may see a revival of the religious left.

Economic wars can end; ideological wars can end. Religious wars go on and on. Long term I can imagine a new Enlightenment coming out of all this, and I will work for that.


Long Bet: The Red Sox Win (so does Danson)

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 02004 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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The Red Sox have won the Series and with it falls Mike Elliot’s argument around the speed of globalization vs. the Red Sox pitching depth.  Below is the write up in the New York Times.

Hey, Cliff Clavin, This Time Sam Malone’s the Smart One
The New York Times

Published: November 1, 2004

here once was a time when one of the (im)potent symbols of the luckless Red Sox Nation spent his time at a bar called Cheers. Sam “Mayday” Malone, a fictional former Boston pitcher ruined by drink, tended the bar he owned, chased his waitress, and probably placed some bets on his old team.

Now Ted Danson, the actor who portrayed Sam Malone, is making Red Sox fans proud for a different reason: as a result of Boston’s World Series victory last week, Mr. Danson won the first bet ever decided at Long Bets (, an online prediction site that focuses on scores that may not be settled for 45 years, if ever.

The Web site, which is popular among the Silicon Valley digerati, is a spinoff from the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco, whose aim is to foster long-term thinking and stimulate discussion about the future. Members make predictions, typically about topics like immigration or artificial intelligence, and other members challenge them, accompanied by a minimum wager of $200. Unlike most betting parlors, however, these contest are rarely about sports. Alexander Rose, executive director of the Long Bets Foundation, said all the predictions had “some social or scientific value.”

The Red Sox bet slipped in because Michael Elliot, the editor of Time Asia, argued that the United States soccer team would win the World Cup before the Red Sox won the World Series. In an argument posted on the site, he said his larger point was that immigration and technology would improve the quality of American soccer, but that the curse of the Bambino was “one of those mystical truths that are beyond the reach of human intervention.”

Mr. Danson’s counter was also scientific. “Statistically, scoring goals is harder than hitting a home run and in the World Cup you have the whole WORLD against you,” he wrote. In baseball, he argued, “the Red Sox only really have to beat the Yankees.”

Mr. Danson, who was not available to comment, now gets to donate $2,000 (they each bet $1,000, but winners receive bragging rights but no cash, according to the site’s rules), plus interest accumulated since the wager was made in February 2002, to a charity of his choice. Mr. Elliot, a self-described Yankee fan, said in an e-mail response, “I feel sorta proud to be the first to have lost, actually!”

If Chicago Cubs fans are so inclined, there is now room for a bet on which century that team will end its World Series winless streak.

Paul Hawken – The Long Green

Posted on Monday, October 18th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Paul Hawken

The long green

The environmental movement has moved on. It has become so deep and wide that it adds up to something new entirely, still unnamed. Whatever it is, it is now the largest movement in the world and the least ideological. Driven by science and patience, it is civilization-scale therapy.

Paul Hawken co-authored the now classic NATURAL CAPITALISM with Amory Lovins and also wrote THE ECOLOGY OF COMMERCE and GROWING A BUSINESS. He co-founded a great garden company, Smith & Hawken, and a great organic food company, Erewhon. He chaired the introduction of The Natural Step to the US and currently is creating several companies for Pax Scientific…

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Danny Hillis – “Progress on the 10,000-year Clock”

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Danny Hillis

“How’s the Clock coming?” Everyone connected with The Long Now Foundation or with Danny Hillis hears that question all the time.

“Progress on the 10,000-Year Clock,” Danny Hillis — Friday, September 10, 7pm, Fort Mason Conference Center, San Francisco. Doors open for coffee and books at 7pm; lecture is promptly at 8pm. You may want to come early to be sure of a seat. Admission is free (donation of $10 very welcome, not required).

Planned as an art/engineering work of heroic scale inside a Nevada mountain, the 10K Clock is meant to embody and inspire long-term thinking. The first working prototype was completed in 2000 and now ticks sedately away (one tick per minute) in London at the Science Museum (the Queen came to the opening). The second working prototype is nearing completion…

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Philip Longman – “The Depopulation Problem”

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Philip Longman

The depopulation problem

No need to summarize this time. Phillip Longman wrote out his whole talk, with the illustrations more viewable even than they were at the Seminar and talk.

It is full of rethink-the-news sentences like: “Notice that Japan’s lengthening recession began just as continuously falling fertility rates at last caused its working-age population to begin shrinking in relative size.”

One thing worth adding from the Q&A at Phil’s public lecture August 13th. Kevin Kelly asked him what he thought the world might feel like in 100 years.

“People a century from now will have so few blood relatives I think it could be very lonely.” The audience, convinced by then, was utterly still…

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Jill Tarter – “Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence – A Necessarily Long-Term Strategy”

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Jill Tarter

The long search

“The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: Necessarily a Long-term Strategy” is the title for Jill Tarter’s Seminar About Long-term Thinking this Friday. There’s no deeper question than “Are we alone in the universe?” And there’s no quick way to answer it. Slow, steady science is the hardest to fund and organize, but Jill Tarter has been working on the question for 30 years and the SETI Institute (which she co-founded) for 20 years. The work has had incremental jumps in capacity…

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Bruce Sterling – “The Singularity: Your Future as a Black Hole”

Posted on Monday, June 14th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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Bruce Sterling

Your future as a black hole

One reason lots of people don’t want to think long term these days is because technology keeps accelerating so rapidly, we assume the world will become unrecognizable in a few years and then move on to unimaginable. Long-term thinking must be either impossible or irrelevant.

The commonest shorthand term for the runaway acceleration of technology is “the Singularity”—a concept introduced by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1984. The term has been enthusiastically embraced by technology historians, futurists, extropians, and various trans-humanists and post-humanists…

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David Rumsey – “Mapping Time”

Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 02004 by Stewart Brand
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David Rumsey

Maps and time

DAVID RUMSEY’s spectacularly illustrated lecture, “Mapping Time” is not just about maps. It is the future of data and knowledge handling. People literally gasp at the things Rumsey shows can be done.

I love it when techies, artists, and historians all gasp at the same time. That happened with David Rumsey’s spectacularly illustrated Seminar About Long-term Thinking on May 13-14, “Mapping Time.”

Once an artist, long a real estate success, now one of the world’s leading historic map collectors and THE leading online map innovator, David Rumsey gives an exceptionally deft graphic talk. Complex and elegant things kept happening with his images…

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