Blog Archive for the year 02009

navigateleft Older Articles   

Long Bets in 02010

Posted on Thursday, December 31st, 02009 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Long Bets   chat 0 Comments

This year there are several Long Bets and Predictions up for adjudication.  We will be contacting these bettors this year to ask them to make a self assessment of the bet, if the parties cannot come to an agreement we will make a determination.  Some wont be decided officially until the end of the year, but we may have passed the tipping point on some of these already.

We welcome your input as comments on this thread…
A profitable video-on-demand service aimed at consumers will offer 10,000 titles to 5 million subscribers by 2010.

The U.S Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics ( will report a lower number of total highway vehicle miles traveled in 2010 than in 2005.

Predictions:  While we dont officially make adjudications on predictions, they are posted for the world the judge.  Tell us what you think.

By 2010 more than 50 percent of books worldwide will be read on digital devices rather than in print form.

Within 5 years all power plants will be converted to full-spectrum laser-fired—all oil/gas/coal/nuclear power plants will be obsolete and retired.

Within the next 5 years, Google employees will become dissatisfied, and kick-start a new wave of new technology and prosperity in Silicon Valley.

The world will not reach ‘Peak Oil’ by 2010.

There will be a quantum computer with over 100 qubits of processing capability sold either as a hardware system or whose use is made available as a commercial service by Dec 31, 2010

By 2010, the use of dial-up modems will represent less than 5 percent of all Internet access (represented as a percentage of all households) in the United States.

The U.S. will not pull all of its troops out of Iraq until the 10 largest corporations in the U.S. use their influence to make it happen. I don’t see this as a possibility until after Nov. 9, 2010 the next mid-term elections.

Long Now Media Update

Posted on Tuesday, December 29th, 02009 by Danielle Engelman
link   Categories: Announcements, Seminars   chat 0 Comments


There is new media available from our monthly series, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Stewart Brand’s summaries and audio downloads or podcasts of the talks are free to the public; Long Now members can view HD video of the Seminars and comment on them.

Watch the video of Sander van der Leeuw’s “The Archaeology of Innovation”

Watch the video of Rick Prelinger’s “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4 “

Thomas Jefferson and the Clock of the Long Now

Posted on Thursday, December 24th, 02009 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Clock of the Long Now, Long Term Art, Long Term Thinking   chat 0 Comments

A little while ago Clock designer and Long Now founder Danny Hillis came across this podcasted radio show by former president Thomas Jefferson.  We were all surprised to find him giving radio broadcasts given he passed away in 01826 (on the 4th of July I might add).  But what was most surprising was to find that one of his episodes discussed the Clock of the Long Now (Listen to the MP3).  Danny listened with great interest as Jefferson discussed our project, clocks and time in general, and decided to send in a letter.  And just the other day Jefferson discussed the letter at length on the show (Listen to that MP3).  As you would expect, Jefferson has an encyclopedic knowledge of new and old world technology, clocks and mechanica.  It makes for fun listening, happy holidays.

Wade Davis Ticket Info

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 02009 by Danielle Engelman
link   Categories: Announcements, Seminars   chat 0 Comments


The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking

presents Wade Davis on “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World”

Wednesday January 13, 02010 at 7:30 pm at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today!

or you can purchase tickets for $10 each.

About this Seminar:

Anthropologist Wade Davis is one of the world’s great story tellers, with personal adventures to match. An Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, he specializes in hanging out with traditional peoples and exploring their religious practices.

He first came to public notice with his discovery of the reality of zombies in Haitian voodoo and the substance used to poison them—chronicled in his 1985 book, The Serpent and the Rainbow. He is the author of 13 books, including One River and Shadows in the Suns, and has hosted, written, and starred in numerous television specials, including “Earthguide,” “Light at the Edge of the World,” “Spirit of the Mask,” and “Forests Forever.” This talk is based on the prestigious Massey Lectures that Davis gave in Canada in 2009.

Twitter – up to the minute info on tickets and events
Long Now Blog – daily updates on events and ideas
Facebook – stay in touch through our fan page
Long Now Meetups – join one or start your own

1,000 Years of Forgetting

Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 02009 by Kevin Kelly
link   Categories: Digital Dark Age   chat 0 Comments

One thousand years from now, much of what we know will be forgotten. That’s been true in the past. We have only a fragmentary cultural memory of what happened 1,000 years ago. And what we think we know about 1000 may in fact be quite garbled. In a very witty demo of this, this youtube clip, the Beatles 3000, imagines how corrupted our current ideas of “what everone knows” will most likely be in 10 centuries. Ever heard of the Beatles?  (Thanks, Mark)

The next mass extinction

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 02009 by Kirk Citron
link   Categories: Long News   chat 0 Comments

The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

Hollywood notwithstanding, it seems fairly unlikely that mankind will be wiped out in 02012. But unfortunately, tales of mass extinction turn out to have some basis in reality; some even say we are already in the midst of a sixth great planetary catastrophe. The difference this time is that the culprit isn’t an asteroid, or a volcanic eruption: it’s us.

Some recent news stories about threats to biodiversity:

1. The most dangerous animal is man:
It’s nature’s law: when people arrive, animals vanish
More than 800 wildlife species now extinct
Species census reveals extinction threat
New list highlights animals threatened by climate change
Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse
Mankind using Earth’s resources at alarming rate

2. On the other hand, maybe things will turn around:
New findings show a quick rebound from marine mass extinction event
Antarctica served as climatic refuge in Earth’s greatest extinction event
Australian dust storms feed life explosion

3. Why we might care:
Animal biodiversity keeps people healthy

4. Not to worry, evolution will make more:
Study catches two bird populations as they split into separate species

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

The Long Zoom of Social Transformation

Posted on Saturday, December 12th, 02009 by Stuart Candy
link   Categories: Long Term Art, The Big Here   chat 0 Comments

You’ve seen Seattle-based artist Chris Jordan‘s work before — at this very blog, for instance. Aside from the unmistakable green thread of ecologically conscientious, socially critical themes running through it, a signature element is his use of scale: a pattern that looks one way at a distance is revealed as something else up close. Often the near and far perspectives comment on each other.

Below appears a set of images of a 2009 work called “E Pluribus Unum” — “Out of many, one” (an important U.S. motto).

Jordan’s website explains:

This large scale mandala depicts the names of one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice, and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture.

The actual number of such organizations is unknown, but Paul Hawken’s “Blessed Unrest” project estimates the number at somewhere between one and two million, and growing. If the lines in this piece were straightened out, they would make an unbroken line of names, in a ten point font, twenty seven miles long.

Of course, to read the statistics is one thing; actually to image them is another. This remarkable visualisation helps bring home the scale of social transformation, at the institutional level, which we are currently undergoing.

Paul Hawken’s Seminar About Long-term Thinking that deals with the themes of Blessed Unrest can be found here.

[Images: Chris Jordan]

Long Now Media Update

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 02009 by Danielle Engelman
link   Categories: Announcements, Seminars   chat 0 Comments


There is new media available from our monthly series, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Stewart Brand’s summaries and audio downloads or podcasts of the talks are free to the public; Long Now members can view HD video of the Seminars and comment on them.

Listen to the Audio of Rick Prelinger’s “Lost Landscape’s of San Francisco, 4 “ (downloads tab)

Mumble in the Jungle

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 02009 by Austin Brown
link   Categories: Long Term Science, Long Term Thinking, Rosetta, Technology   chat 0 Comments

Campbells Monkey

This week, the New York Times ran an article about a recent scientific discovery in the predator alert calls of Campbell’s monkeys.   Strikingly, they seem to have the ability to create complex calls out of multiple elements – a “morphological” (word building) process previously thought to only take place in human language.

Human languages do this all the time – for example the word ‘walked’ is built of two morphemes, one carrying the main verbal action ‘walk’ and the other marking past tense ‘-ed’.  In the case of the Campbell’s monkey, morphemes are often combined to indicate different types of threats.  Previous observations of monkeys have shown that they sometimes use different types of calls for different types of predators, but what’s unique about these calls is that some of them can be combined with other calls to change their meaning.  So, instead of just having a “jaguar!” call and an “eagle!” call as has been observed in Vervet monkeys, Campbell’s monkeys have a “leopard!” call that can be combined with a suffix that changes its meaning to indicate a less specific threat:

Crucially, “krak” calls were exclusively given after detecting a leopard, suggesting that it functioned as a leopard alarm call, whereas the “krak-oo” was given to almost any disturbance, suggesting it functioned as a general alert call. Similarly, “hok” calls were almost exclusively associated with the presence of a crowned eagle (either a real eagle attack or in response to another monkey’s eagle alarm calls), while “hok-oo” calls were given to a range of disturbances within the canopy, including the presence of an eagle or a neighbouring group (whose presence could sometimes be inferred by the vocal behaviour of the females).

– Ouattara, Lemasson & Zuberbühler

Just as artificial intelligence researchers have been busy over the last several decades celebrating each previously-unique human capacity achieved by computers, biologists have been finding behaviors once thought to mark the uniqueness of humans in other animals.  Neurobiologist and primatologist Robert Sapolski recently gave a lecture at Stanford about the uniqueness of humans, which provides a great overview of what we share and don’t share with other animals (as is currently understood).

Similarly, primatologist Frans de Waal has made a career of describing the political, cultural, emotional and moral lives of primates.  His work has illustrated the evolutionary breadth and depth of many human characteristics previously thought to be recent behavioral innovations without precedent and unique to our species.

As artificial intelligence research looks forward to recreating human capabilities it focuses our efforts to understand those capabilities.  Similarly, in identifying in other animals capacities like syntax once thought to be unique to humans, we are afforded a clearer look back on the deep history and development of those capacities.  Looked at this way, it actually did take millions of years to produce the works of Shakespeare.

Visualizing empires in decline

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 02009 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Long Term Art   chat 0 Comments

Visualizing empires decline from Pedro M Cruz on Vimeo.

This video timeline was sent in by Bryan Campen and covers the last 200 years of major world powers.  Fun visualization over time…