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Deep Civilization, a New Essay Series by BBC, Takes the Long View

by Ahmed Kabil on January 14th, 02019

BBC Future has launched a new series about “the long view of humanity” called “Deep Civilization:”

[Deep Civilization] aims to stand back from the daily news cycle and widen the lens of our current place in time. Over the coming months, we will explore multi-generational thinking in all its forms, and hear from writers, researchers and artists who are looking beyond the short-term horizon.

Our goal is to explore what really matters in the broader arc of human history and what it means for our descendants, as well as revealing the hidden patterns shaping our societies in the long term.

Its inaugural article, written by Richard Fisher (a managing editor at BBC), explores the perils of short-term thinking, calling it “civilization’s biggest threat.”

Fisher begins by contemplating his young daughter’s future, who might live to see the year 02100. 02100 is an oft-cited milestone in journalism, but thinking about it in the concrete as it relates to his daughter’s future makes Fisher realize we don’t often consider the long view in our daily lives, which will likely yield devastating effects for our future.

The rest of the essay provides an extensive survey of various thinkers and project whose aim is to provide antidotes to short-termism, including The Long Now Foundation’s 10,000 Year Clock, Long Now Research Fellow Roman Krznaric, Jem Finer’s Longplayer, and more:

What these thinkers from myriad fields share is a simple idea: that the longevity of civilisation depends on us extending our frame of reference in time — considering the world and our descendants through a much longer lens. What if we could be altruistic enough to care about people we might never live to see? And if so, what will it take to break out of our short-termist ways?

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