Juan Enriquez “Mapping Life”

Posted on Saturday, October 13th, 02007 by Stewart Brand
link Categories: Seminars, Technology   chat 0 Comments

Juan Enriquez

Mapping Life

“All life is imperfectly transmitted code,” Enriquez began, “and it is promiscuous.” Thus discoveries like the one last month of an entire bacterial genome inside the DNA of a fruitfly is exploding the old tree-of-life models of evolution. The emerging map replaces gene lineages with gene webs.

“There is a whole genomic continent to discover, and we’ve just mapped part of the coastline so far…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

  • Ron Long

    Juan had an interesting comment about religion and mapping that “all religions die a thousand deaths.” In fact the maps of religion dissolve through history but the underlying source is still the same pure spirit creation. Pure spirit is by nature ordered chaos with individuals grasping to map definition around the pure energy. In this sense instead of religion evolving into a limitless lineage of maps that die and are reformed, the evolution of religion is multi-dimensional spirituality. Ken Wilber and the participants of ISC (Integral Spiritual Center) are mapping this path now.

  • Chas Warner

    I really like that – “pro-actionary”.

  • Bruno Grieco

    I’ve seen it a thousand times: whenever someone with a technical background start deriving conclusions about human and social sciences, they tend to try to explain things using a comparative approach that works very well with science but brings to incorrect conclusions in humanities.

    The portuguese example from Macau is a an example of that. Portugal is not a wreck (as shown) because it didn’t integrate the colonies population. Actually, Portugal is not a wreck anymore at all, since it integrated itself in the EU. On the other hand, the dutch didn’t integrate their colonies at all, had an absurd discrimination against the local population and never reached a situation that resembled Portugal. France is a quite good example of that also. As an extract of Portuguese history, Portugal became the first United Kingdom in the 1800s and it’s capital was Rio de Janeiro, a former colony.

    The comments about religion are also very naive. On a matter of fact, we watched in the “1000 years in Bali…” speech how religion can bring to an optimal sollution where science and politics just messed things up.

    What may a college student study that won’t be obsolete in the next 14 years ? Humanities ! Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, etc. They aren’t obsolete at all.

  • Joseph Daniels

    Like all of Long Now’s seminars, I tremendously enjoyed listening to Juan Enriquez. Sincere thanks to both him and the Long Now Foundation.

    I do agree with the comment by Bruno above that when Enriquez strayed outside of his expertise and into history and cultural and social issues, his analysis was often less insightful, and sometimes flawed.

    But details aside, Enriquez’s emphasis on the success or failure of particular nation states puzzled me most. He generally presented a big-picture view and observed that “religions die a thousand deaths”, yet at the same time, his emphasis on how nations win or lose suggests he has been fooled by the slightly more up-to-date replacements for religion – the country and the flag. Of course, just like religions, nations frequently die. The nation state itself hasn’t been around for long. It started very late in human history and will in all likelihood finish very early. Religion, in fact, has been around for much longer.

    So, in the context of a discussion about a “scientific renaissance”, where we’ve “just mapped part of the coastline” of a newly discovered continent, and where every day is like “Christmas”, the emphasis on what it all means for the battle among nations to be economically and culturally dominant seems to be rather unscientific and short sighted. I mean, surely the age-old human practice of dominating other cultures is as much a folly as the practice of any religion?

    Just my 2 cents.

  • scratchmark

    An insightful, lateral minded speaker with something to say, clear vision, and some genuine optimism.
    I haven’t ante’d up for a membership yet – but if you keep bringing in fellows like Enriquez, I surely will.

  • scratchmark

    I’m back, with one caveat… Enriquez went silent (for humorous impact) when his slides went up, and/or failed to mention their contents, in general ..any possibility of getting his slide show posted?

  • Tom

    I am sorry to say this is the first of all the seminars (yes all, I have religiously listened to every one and enjoyed them all (some twice) that I switched off before reaching the end. I have never heard such a bunch of sweeping generalizations from one speaker. It almost discredits the whole Long Now seminars projects and now when I tell my students and my friends about I warn them about this particular speaker.
    Besides many sweeping generalizations, Juan Enriquez talks about Portugal in a most derogatory way and his comments are based on utter here-say and nonsense ( and I have to say have caused considerable offence in Portugal). I have lived in Portugal for the last 11 years and the last thing I would say about it, is that it is worn down. Did Juan ever come to Portugal? If so, when? And does he know anything about European history? A country’s modern economic success has very little to do with 500 years ago. He mentioned a lot about Portugal and China, he said that Portugal did not learn languages, or teach Portuguese, and that there are no Chinese or Indian restaurants in Portugal…. now anyone living in Lisbon can only laugh when they hear this… If one bothers to do a little research in the local yellow pages they will find out that Lisbon has plenty of Chinese and Indian restaurants … in fact about 10% of Lisbon’s restaurants are either Chinese or Indian. Lisbon has a very complete cosmopolitan society made up of migrants from all over the world (even to the casual visitor who visits only the main sites, it is difficult to not to see this) and had kept peaceful colonies far longer than any other European country. The Portuguese are one of the most moderate and peaceful people in the developed world and have fine tuned the use of soft power around the world.
    Another point to be remembered is the Luso-Chinese relationship. Portugal, unlike Britain accepted that the islands of Macau were leased and used them as a strategic trade post, Casinos were legalized but these were largely run by Chinese (as gambling is illegal on the mainland). At the same time the UK was building Hong Kong and was using its extremely strong financial influence of London (something Lisbon could never even dream about having (if anything due to numbers- Portugal’s entire population is that of London)), Portugal was building museums and landmarks that would stay. When one looks back from the future I think one will see Portuguese presence in Macau and the UK presence may very well be missed. The Portuguese were, by the way, the first to write a full Chinese- Western language dictionary. The Chinese, by the way, rely on this strong relationship to help links with Africa.
    To say Portugal is worn out is firstly very wrong… There are areas of the country that are poor (as there are in Spain, USA, UK and many other countries and I’m sure I could head into some backwater in the states and find terrible area, take a photo of it and pause for effect while saying that the USA was worn down). However the main cities in Portugal show thriving development and growth, visit Lisbon’s old expo site or Alta de Lisboa (developed in by Macanese Stanley Ho, the owner of the two casinos in Portugal) or many other areas to see this in action, to link this with old history is utterly wrong. Portugal’s development was put at a standstill by a dictator for over 40 years, unlike Spain the dictatorship held that outside influence and development were contrary to the wishes of the Portuguese people.
    Well I could go on about the mistakes that Juan made… (Spain being a miracle in being the doorway to Latin America (when did Spain ever learn Indian languages or not exploit a people), the UK not knowing where it is going (despite being the 4th strongest global economy) while Ireland was obviously sure (one of the world’s greatest oil dependents)
    This was the weakest, most air filled seminar yet… did Juan make everything he said up as he went. I hope not to hear any more like this.
    I had asked my wife for a membership, I have now asked her to hold it off until things improve.

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