Blog Archive for the year 02005

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Sam Harris – “The View From The End Of The World”

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Sam Harris

On necessary heresy

With gentle demeanor and tight argument, Sam Harris carried an overflow audience into the core of one of the crucial issues of our time: What makes some religions lethal? How do they employ aggressive irrationality to justify threatening and controlling non-believers as well as believers? What should be our response?

Harris began with Christianity. In the US, Christians use irrational arguments about a soul in the 150 cells of a 3-day old human embryo to block stem cell research that might alleviate the suffering of millions. In Africa, Catholic doctrine uses tortured logic to actively discourage the use of condoms in countries ravaged by AIDS…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Clay Shirky – “Making Digital Durable: What Time Does to Categories”

Posted on Monday, November 14th, 02005 by Simone Davalos
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Clay Shirky

Categories go nova

It is fortunate that the leading thinker in “social software” is one of the best speakers in the high-tech world, a hot ticket at any conference that can get him. CLAY SHIRKY gave one of his dazzling presentations Monday, Nov. 14, examining a new dimension in one of the most vexed problems in the digital world— how the hell do we keep anything digital usable beyond ten years?

When a whole civilization goes digital, as we are, loss of continuity becomes a crucial issue, fit subject for a Seminar About Long-term Thinking. Thus…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Esther, Freeman, and George Dyson – “The Difficulty In Looking Far Ahead”

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 02005 by Simone Davalos
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Freeman and Esther Dyson

Finessing the future

Instead of one podium there were four chairs on the stage of Wednesday’s seminar. In three seats, three Dysons: Esther, George and Freeman. They were appearing together on stage for the first time. The fourth held Stewart Brand who led the three through an evening of queries. The questions came from Stewart himself, from the audience, and from one Dyson to another Dyson — a first for this format in a Long Now seminar.

George introduced his dad with an exquisite slideshow of Freeman’s prime documents. He began with a scan of a first grade school paper Freeman wrote on “Astronimy.” Besides the forgivable misspellings, the essay was full of fantasy…

Read the rest of Kevin Kelly’s Summary

Ray Kurzweil – “Kurzweil’s Law”

Posted on Monday, September 26th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Ray Kurzweil

Escape velocity

Attempts to think long term, Ray Kurzweil began, keep making the mistake of imagining that the pace of the future is like the pace of the past. Pondering the next ten years, we usually begin by studying the last ten years. He recommends studying the last twenty year for clues about the rate and degree of change coming in the next ten years, because history self-accelerates. That’s Kurzweil’s Law of accelerating returns: “technology and evolutionary processes progress in an exponential fashion.”

Thus, since the rate of progress doubles every ten years or so, we will see changes in the next 90 years equivalent to the last 10,000 years, and in the next 100 years changes equivalent to the last 20,000 years. It is always the later doublings where the ferocious action is…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Robert Fuller – “Patient Revolution: Human Rights Past and Future”

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Robert Fuller

The culminating human right

What does it take to change human habits of cruelty (such as slavery, genocide) and humiliation (racism, sexism)?

What do past and present efforts for human rights tell about their future?…

Robert Fuller is author of the ground-breaking SOMEBODIES AND NOBODIES: OVERCOMING THE ABUSE OF RANK.

“Personal is political,” Robert Fuller began, and he recounted his experience as president of Oberlin College in the early 1970s. It was the time when a number of movements were coming to a focus to empower women, blacks (and native Americans and Latinos), gays, and the disabled…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Jared Diamond – “How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed”

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 02005 by Simone Davalos
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Jared Diamond

On failing to think long-term

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…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Robert Neuwirth – “The 21ist Century Medieval City”

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Robert Neuwirth

World squatter reality

Humanity is urbanizing at a world-changing pace and in a world-changing way. A billion squatters are re-inventing their lives and their cities simultaneously. One of the few to experience the range of the phenomenon first hand is Robert Neuwirth, author of SHADOW CITIES: A BILLION SQUATTERS, A NEW URBAN WORLD. He took up residence in the scariest-seeming parts of squatter cities in Rio, Nairobi, Istanbul, and Mumbai. They vary profoundly. What Neuwirth found in the new “slums” is the future via the past. Hence his title:

“The 21st-century Medieval City,” Robert Neuwirth,

For his talk “The 21st-century Medieval City,” Robert Neuwirth took an overflow audience to “the cities of tomorrow…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Will Jarvis – “Time Capsule Behavior”

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Will Jarvis

Time capsule secrets

High school classes and world’s fairs do it. Universities and builders and companies and municipalities do it. They bury little hoards of things they think people in the future will treasure— the future being ten years or ten thousand or never (most time capsules are immediately forgotten). Something strange, deep, and rather endearing is going on.

Time capsules are about talking to the present, not the future.

That’s the main thing I learned from William Jarvis’s hilarious expose of time capsule reality last night…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Stewart Brand – “Cities And Time”

Posted on Monday, April 11th, 02005 by Simone Davalos
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Stewart Brand

A world made of cities

Cities are the human organizations with the greatest longevity but also the fastest rate of change. Just now the world is going massively and unstoppably urban (governments everywhere are trying to stop it, with zero success). In a globalized world, city states are re-emerging as a dominant economic player. Environmental consequences and opportunities abound.

As the author of HOW BUILDINGS LEARN I kept getting asked to give talks on “How Cities Learn.” With a little research I found that cities do indeed “learn” (adapt) impressively, but what cities mainly do is teach. They teach civilization…

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Spencer Beebe – “Very Long-term Very Large-scale Biomimicry”

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 02005 by Stewart Brand
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Spencer Beebe

The rainforests of home

SPENCER BEEBE is founder and head of Ecotrust, the Portland-based organization that is setting in motion a permanently prosperous conservation economy for the entire Pacific Coast from San Francisco north to Alaska— the temperate rain forest also known as “Salmon Nation.”

SPENCER BEEBE began his Seminar About Long-term Thinking last night with some quotes. First was from Janine Benyus, with her evoking of Nature as model, as measure, and as mentor for proper human biomimicry. Then came quotes from Jane Jacobs insisting that humans are so embedded in nature we can’t imitate it, but only use its methods…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary