Blog Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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Rosetta and PanLex Projects at Exploratorium Market Days 10/19/13

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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This Saturday October the 19th, Rosetta and PanLex Project staff will be at the Exploratorium’s final Market Days event of this year. The Exploratorium has been holding these free, outdoor events in the spirit of “exchanging fresh ideas on local phenomena.” Saturday’s theme is Heirlooms and Rosetta and PanLex will showcase our planet’s diverse linguistic stock.

Come to the Rosetta / PanLex Project booth where you can:

  • Learn about the thousands of languages spoken around the world, why many of them are endangered, and why this is important for everybody.
  • Learn how you can make and archive language recordings that document the languages used in your family, classroom and community.
  • Use the PanLex tattoo generator to make a temporary tattoo using words from thousands of languages around the world.
  • See a real Rosetta Disk – an archive of thousands of the world’s languages that read with a microscope, and can hold in the palm of your hand.

The event runs from 11:00am to 3:00pm at the Exploratorium’s new location at Pier 15.

Dissident Futures at YBCA

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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On October 17th, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts opens their new exhibition, Dissident Futures which will explore how we think about possible futures through a variety of media, with a thematic focus on utopian, speculative, and pragmatic concepts.

A range of programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibit, in collaboration with Long Now and other Bay Area organizations.

Dissident Futures presents art that investigates possible alternative futures,  particularly those that question or overturn conventional notions of innovation, such as existing power, economic and technological structures.

Long Now has partnered with YBCA on three events throughout the exhibition:

Opening Night Party

Friday October 18th, 8:00pm to 10:00pm
Free for Long Now Members (check your email for promo code!)


Project Nunway

Saturday November 2nd, 7:00pm
with Long Bets table (make predictions without the $50 Prediction fee)

Dissident Futures Art and Ideas Festival

Saturday November 23rd, 1:00pm to 10:00pm
Long Now staff present on The Manual for Civilization at 2:00pm, Free with RSVP


Long Bets table at WorldFuture 2013

Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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From July 19th- 21st in Chicago, the World Future Society will be hosting their annual conference, WorldFuture 2013. The conference has over 60 sessions, workshops, and special events over the course of two and a half days, including a keynote from former SALT speaker Nicholas Negroponte.

Topics range from Artificial Intelligence and the future of education to gaming and politics. The World Future Society was founded in 1966 as an organization dedicated  to thinking about the future, and has been publishing the forecasting magazine The Futurist since 1967.

This year, Long Now will be hosting a Long Bets table at the conference. For this weekend only, we will be waiving the $50 prediction fee and giving conference guests the chance to make predictions for free. We’re hoping that the thought-provoking panels and discussions at the conference will lead to some new exciting predictions and bets.

In the long-term, Long Bets aims to track the specific elements common to predictions that succeed, thus providing a better framework for everyone to think about the future. To attend the conference and visit our table, please visit the WorldFuture 2013 site.

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Being Human Conference 02013

Posted on Friday, June 21st, 02013 by Austin Brown
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On September 28, 02013, the second Being Human conference will he held at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco. With talks by neuroscientists, philosophers, anthropologists and psychologists, this day-long event seeks to probe science’s developing picture of what it means to be human. As the organizers put it,

For most of human history we’ve been trying to understand our lives based on metaphysical, religious, and supernatural concepts. Then the Age of Enlightenment ushered in science and Darwin’s remarkable theory of evolution—a powerful new way to look at ourselves and the world. Now disciplines such as cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, genetics, anthropology, and philosophy are delivering fascinating new findings which have the potential to radically remake the way we see ourselves. Based on these scientific insights, a more comprehensive view of human nature is now emerging.

Long Now Board Member David Eagleman is among the presenters – he’ll lead the day’s final session, “The Future of Being Human.” At last year’s inaugural Being Human, he discussed the vast complexity of the human brain:

Discounted early registration is available until July 1st.

Long Now Members can also get a 10% discount via a promotional code that you’ll find in your email.

Making in Italy/Making in USA

Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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Long Now Executive Director Alexander Rose and former SALT Speaker Chris Anderson will appear this weekend in an event that seeks to bring together Italian artisanal design with Silicon Valley innovation.

Innovating with Beauty runs through June 24th and features symposia, workshops and exhibitions exploring the possibilities of collaboration between Italy’s design community and Silicon Valley technologists and makers.

Chris Anderson will give the opening speech for a symposium called From Taylorism to Tailor Made on Saturday June 22nd beginning at 2:00pm. Other participants in the symposium include MAKE’s Dale Doherty and Long Now’s Alexander Rose. The event will be at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. The public are welcome to attend this free symposium and can view the event’s details here.

Other events include the opening of “The New Italian Design,” an exhibition at the Academy of Art University and “From Made in Italy to Make in Italy”, a workshop and exhibition featuring Italian designers and engineers.

Stewart Brand Seminar Primer

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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Stewart Brand (left) with Ben Novak, the scientist working on reviving the passenger pigeon.

“Reviving Extinct Species”

Tuesday May 21st, 02013 at the SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco

From promoting the publication of NASA’s first satellite images of the whole Earth to co-founding The Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand has always sought to simultaneously humble and empower. Our planet, seen for the first time against the vastness of space, suddenly seemed finite and precious. Our society’s moment placed within The Long Now – the history and future of civilization – becomes tenuous and ephemeral. But, given this expanded awareness and “access to tools,” the biosphere and society’s lasting legacy are ours to sustain and cultivate.

It is difficult to give a cursory list of the projects that Stewart Brand has instigated over the years. Some of his notable accomplishments include founding the “Whole Earth Catalog”, starting the Hackers Conference, co-founding the first online community (The WELL), and co-founding The Long Now Foundation. On top of all of this, he has found the time to write several books, including: The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, The Media Lab, and Whole Earth Discipline.

In this talk, Stewart Brand will discuss his newest project, Revive & Restore, which is seeking to de-extinct species with the help of genetic technologies. Over the past two years, Brand has been busy convening meetings that brought together the leading scholars working on the science of de-exintction, which culminated in March’s TEDx DeExtinction conference. Through these conferences, Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan have mapped a set of questions to determine whether a species should be brought back from de-exinction. The common ground for the top candidate species are that humans were partially (if not largely) responsible for making them going extinct, and that these species were keystone species, or species that somehow played an integral and mutually beneficial role in the ecosystems they called home. In this sense, Revive and Restore is a natural complement to conservation movements that seek to rehabilitate ecosystems that have declined with the rise of the anthropocene.

One of the first direct de-extinction efforts of Revive & Restore (a project of The Long Now Foundation) is to bring back the passenger pigeon. This iconic bird numbered in the billions in the 19th century, only to have the last specimen die in captivity in 01914. Revive & Restore has hired Ben Novak, a self-proclaimed passenger pigeon fanatic, to sequence the genome of the passenger pigeon and its closing living relative, the band-tailed pigeon. With the help of a loose consortium of genetic scientists, Stewart hopes that the passenger pigeon will successfully be brought back and re-wilded in America, allowing it to revitalize the forest it once called home. Although the genetic technology behind Revive & Restore is moving quite fast, the process of re-wilding will take generations–one of the reasons that the project is under the auspices of The Long Now Foundation. For example – since Woolly Mammoths take about 20 years to reach sexual maturity, even after scientists clone an individual (which may itself take many years), it would still be hundreds of years before re-wilded herds roam the tundra.

Come join us at the new SFJAZZ Center on May 21st to learn about de-extinction from the front lines of this new science. You can reserve tickets, get directions, and sign up for the podcast on the Seminar page. If you are a member, please check your email for special ticketing instructions.

Subscribe to the Seminars About Long-term Thinking podcast for more thought-provoking programs.

Nicholas Negroponte Seminar Primer

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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“Beyond Digital”

Wednesday April 17, 02012 at the Marines’ Memorial Theater, San Francisco

nicholas-negroponte-4 (1)

Nicholas Negroponte has made a name for himself not just by predicting the future, but by creating it. He co-founded and, for 15 years, directed the MIT Media Lab, which has become the premier academic incubator for advanced technologies research in fields like mesh networks, personalized robotics, and human computer interaction.

During his time at MIT, Negroponte was the first investor in Wired Magazine, for which he authored a series of contributions that eventually became the book “Being Digital”. Collectively, these writings offered a glimpse into the world we now occupy–complete with ubiquitous wireless data, touch screens, e-books and personalized news.

One of Negroponte’s intellectual themes is the evolution and measures of education. He favors an educational approach that teaches children to “learn learning” and to become passionate about topics that interest them, believing that the current model is outdated, alienating and stifling to natural curiosity. This vision led him to leave the Media Lab to found “One Laptop Per Child”. The reasoning behind the project stemmed from one of Negroponte’s mantras:

“When I wake up in the morning, I ask myself one question, and that question is: Will normal market forces do what I am doing today? And if the answer is yes, stop.”


Ten years ago, laptops were not dropping in price. As Intel increased processing speeds, Windows increased their processing requirements, which kept the price of a basic laptop near $1,000 and the digital divide insurmountable for many.

Negroponte’s mission was to create a $100 laptop that could be given to children in poor countries with struggling education systems to allow for a new type of educational boost. Ten years later, he has distributed 2.5 million computers across the world, and cheap computers have become an established norm.

It will take many years to fully determine the effect of these 2.5 million laptops, but Negroponte’s work has been a major driver in the narrowing of the digital divide.

His vision of low-cost laptops proliferating across the developing world is just one example of the kind of long-view thinking that has made Negroponte an effective leader, mover and shaker in the world of technology and access to it. Another might be the eponymous Negroponte switch, which he describes (and extrapolates upon) below.

Negroponte’s last column for WIRED, written in 1998, was entitled “Beyond Digital”. On April 19th at Marines’ Memorial Theater he resurrects this title to give us a glimpse of the possibilities that lie ahead. You can reserve tickets, get directions, and sign up for the podcast on the Seminar page. If you are a member, please check your email for special ticketing instructions.

Subscribe to the Seminars About Long-term Thinking podcast for more thought-provoking programs.

TEDxDeExtinction: A Primer

Posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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This Friday, March 15th, Long Now’s Revive & Restore project, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, are hosting TEDxDeExtinction, an independently organized TED event. To be held at National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, DC, the event will feature 25 talks about the emerging science of de-extinction.

Speakers include practitioners in the field of molecular biology who are developing new techniques to make de-extinction possible, conservation biologists and ecologists who can speak to the challenges of re-introducing extinct species into the wild, ethicists who wonder if we should even attempt such things, and artists who’ve depicted endangered and extinct species in paintings and photographs.


Researchers around the world have been working to bring back extinct species, and, in fact, have done so on one occasion already. As this science matures, a robust public discussion can help guide de-extinction practitioners along a path that maximizes the benefits of these new capabilities while keeping ethical, social, and ecological concerns in mind. It can also help educate the public. One de-extinction scenario popular in the public imagination is that of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. In reality, DNA decays at a known half-life and is completely destroyed after 6.8 million years. Cloned dinosaurs, therefore, are not a realistic concern. But the development of this science in secrecy, as depicted in the film, is. With TEDxDeExtinction and other activities, Revive & Restore seeks to support awareness and public comprehension of de-extinction science and to encourage scientists in the field to work openly and collaboratively.

Stewart Brand discussed this emerging field and Revive & Restore at TED 02013:

National Geographic Society authors and researchers are also extensively exploring the implications, challenges and prospects for de-extinction on their website and in the April issue of the Magazine. Among the work is a cover story by author and former SALT speaker Carl Zimmer (previewed on his blog, The Loom), an argument against de-extinction by conservationist Stuart Pimm, and a slideshow of popular revival candidate species such as the Woolly Mammoth.

Reviving any extinct species will be a difficult and long-term project. It will require the consideration of many human, ecological and technological factors. At Pharyngula, Chris Clarke makes a strong case for reviving the Shasta Ground Sloth, a 400-pound cousin of today’s tree-dwelling variety. Through the example of arguing for a particular species, his essay surveys many of the issues de-extinction raises.

TEDxDeExtinction is divided into four sessions: Who, How, Why and Why Not, and Wild Again. It begins at 8:30am EDT on Friday March 15th and you can attend in person, stream it live on the web, find a viewing party to watch with, or wait until the videos are posted online afterwards. We hope you’ll participate in the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. And, for or updates on de-extinction science beyond this week’s TEDx, follow Revive & Restore on Facebook and Twitter.

Stewart Brand and Isabella Kirkland discuss extinction and revival – 3/7/13

Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 02013 by Austin Brown
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On Thursday March 7th, Stewart Brand and Isabella Kirkland will discuss their combined efforts to keep recently extinct species from completely fading away. Kirkland has created a series of paintings featuring endangered and extinct species (on display at the David Brower Center in Berkeley – where the talk will be held) and Brand is working with molecular and conservation biologists to bring the passenger pigeon and other extinct species back to life.

Kirkland’s work, influenced by 16th and 17th century Dutch still lifes, includes two series of paintings, Taxa and NovaTaxa delves into the biodiversity of past and present, featuring species that are extinct, in decline or that have been brought back from the brink of extinction. Nova, on the other hand, focuses more on the future, exploring plant and animal species discovered over the past two decades and hinting at the possibilities of what could be if we take action to protect our natural resources.

The talk is free to attend.

The David Brower Center
Conversation and book signing with Isabella Kirkland and Stewart Brand
Presented in partnership with the Long Now Foundation
Thursday, March 7
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
Goldman Theater

Please see the Brower Center website for details, and Brown Paper Tickets to RSVP.

Chris Anderson Seminar Primer

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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“The Makers Revolution”

Tuesday February 19, 02013 at the Lam Research Theater at YBCA, San Francisco

Long Now emeritus board member Chris Anderson originally earned his marks in publishing, starting as an editor of Science, Nature, and The Economist before taking the helm of Wired magazine. It was at Wired that Anderson became an unofficial evangelist of the Maker’s movement, becoming so deeply involved that he recently quit his day job as Editor to join a 22-year-old from Tijuana in running a “Makers” firm, 3D Robotics. Anderson’s current prognosis for the future focuses on how the Maker’s movement will change the world of objects that surround us:

Here’s the history of two decades in one sentence: If the past 10 years have been about discovering post-institutional social models on the Web, then the next 10 years will be about applying them to the real world.

Anderson’s book THE LONG TAIL chronicled how the web revolutionized and democratized content distribution. For most of history, to publish content one required a factory, complete with the bureaucratic systems that surround such institutions. When the first desktop laser printer became accessible, it created a new wave of self publishing. Nearly thirty years later, all we need to do is click a “publish” button in WordPress. Anderson’s new book MAKERS shows how the same thing is happening to manufacturing, with even wider consequences for the world:

Transformative change happens when industries democratize, when they’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments, and other institutions and handed over to regular folks. The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital — the long tail of bits. Now the same is happening to manufacturing — the long tail of things.

It all started when Anderson wanted to find some new science projects to work on with his kids. He bought a 3d printer (check out the demo below) and found a series of projects that were kid-friendly. Although his kids often quickly lost interest in the various projects he started, Anderson realized that technologies like 3D printers were more than just hobbyist niches. They were the beginnings of a system that has the power to disrupt established systems of manufacturing. MAKERS shows how new systems of funding (kickstarter, crowdfunding), open-sourced design communities (, and new manufacturing technologies (3d printers, laser cutters, web-integrated small-batch factories) together allow for the radical democratization of manufacturing:

The collective potential of a million garage tinkerers is about to be unleashed on the global markets, as ideas go straight into production, no financing or tooling required. “Three guys with laptops” used to describe a Web startup. Now it describes a hardware company, too.

Chris Anderson will discuss the coming “Maker’s Revolution” and how it will affect our systems of manufacturing on February 19th at the Lam Research Theater at YBCA. You can reserve tickets, get directions, and sign up for the podcast on the Seminar page. This talk is in partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and we would like to extend a special welcome to the YBCA:YOU members. We would also like to welcome members of General Assembly. Check your email for special ticketing instructions.