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Pace Layers Thinking: Paul Saffo and Stewart Brand @ The Interval — January 27, 02015

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 02015 by Mikl Em
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Pace layering from "The Clock of the Long Now" by Stewart Brand“Pace Layers” diagram from Stewart Brand’s book “The Clock of the Long Now”

January 27, 02015:
Paul Saffo and Stewart Brand (Long Now Board members)
Pace Layer Thinking
at The Interval

This talk is sold out.
Long Now members can tune in for a live audio simulcast at 7:15 PT on January 27

In “Pace Layer Thinking” Stewart Brand and Paul Saffo will discuss Stewart’s six-layer framework for how a healthy society functions. It is an idea which, 15 years after he first suggested it, continues to be influential and inspiring.

Because interest in this event has been overwhelming (tickets sold out within hours of our announcing it), Long Now will share a live audio stream on the Long Now member site. Any member can access this stream starting at 7:15pm PT tonight. Memberships start at $8/month. We also live stream our monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking to our members.

Stewart Brand speaks at The Interval on January 27, 02015Stewart Brand photo by Pete Forsyth

Stewart will join fellow Long Now board member Paul Saffo (Stanford, Singularity University) to reflect on the past and future of one his many enduring ideas. An expert forecaster himself with decades of experience, Paul will put Pace Layers’ influence into perspective. And lead a discussion with Stewart and the audience about the many ways that Pace Layers thinking can be useful.

This talk takes place at The Interval, Long Now’s San Francisco museum/bar/cafe/venue. The Interval hosts events like this on Tuesday nights a couple times a month. The limited capacity guarantees an intimate event. Speakers at The Interval stay afterwards to continue the discussion with the audience. See our upcoming lineup here.

The Interval at Long NowPhoto by Because We Can

Stewart Brand first explained the idea of “Pace Layers” in his 01999 book The Clock of Long Now. On page 37, in a chapter that cites Brian Eno and Freeman Dyson amongst others, the diagram first appears. It shows six layers that function simultaneously at different speeds within society. We will have a limited number of signed copies of The Clock of Long Now as well as Stewart’s How Buildings Learn for sale at the talk.

Recently Stewart spoke about Pace Layers at the Evernote Conference (video below) at the request of Evernote CEO Phil Libin. Phil’s intro makes it clear how much Stewart’s work has influenced him. Especially Pace layers.

If you weren’t able to get tickets to tonight’s talk, you can still tune in online at 7:15 PT for the live audio stream if you are a member of The Long Now Foundation.

Stewart Brand co-founded The Long Now Foundation in 01996 and serves as president of the Long Now board. He created and edited the Whole Earth Catalog, co-founded the Hackers Conference and The WELL. His books include The Clock of the Long Now; How Buildings Learn; and The Media Lab, and most recently Whole Earth Discipline. He curates and hosts Long Now’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking series in San Francisco. He also co-founded Revive & Restore, a Long Now project focused on genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.

Paul Saffo is a Long Now Foundation board member and a forecaster with extensive experience exploring the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He teaches forecasting at Stanford University and chairs the Future Studies and Forecasting track at Singularity University. He is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. Paul’s essays have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Wired, Washington Post, and The New York Times amongst many others.

Jesse Ausubel Seminar Media

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 02015 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Nature is Rebounding: Land- and Ocean-sparing through Concentrating Human Activities

Tuesday January 13, 02015 – San Francisco

Audio is up on the Ausubel Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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Why nature is rebounding – a summary by Stewart Brand

Over the last 40 years, in nearly every field, human productivity has decoupled from resource use, Ausubel began. Even though our prosperity and population continue to increase, the trends show decreasing use of energy, water, land, material resources, and impact on natural systems (except the ocean). As a result we are seeing the beginnings of a global restoration of nature.

America tends to be the leader in such trends, and the “American use of almost everything except information seems to be peaking, not because the resources are exhausted but because consumers changed consumption and producers changed production.“

Start with agriculture, which “has always been the greatest raper of nature.” Since 01940 yield has decoupled from acreage, and yet the rising yields have not required increasing inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, or water. The yield from corn has become spectacular, and it is overwhelmingly our leading crop, but most of it is fed to cars and livestock rather than people. Corn acreage the size of Iowa is wasted on biofuels. An even greater proportion goes to cows and pigs for conversion to meat.

The animals vary hugely in their efficiency at producing meat. If they were vehicles, we would say that “a steer gets about 12 miles per gallon, a pig 40, and a chicken 60.“ (In that scale a farmed fish gets 80 miles per gallon.) Since 01975 beef and pork consumption have leveled off while chicken consumption has soared. “The USA and the world are at peak farmland, “ Ausubel declared, “not because of exhaustion of arable land, but because farmers are wildly successful in producing protein and calories.” Much more can be done. Ausubel pointed out that just reducing the one-third of the world’s food that is wasted, rolling out the highest-yield techniques worldwide, and abandoning biofuels would free up an area the size of India (1.2 million square miles) to return to nature.

As for forests, nation after nation is going through the “forest transition” from decreasing forest area to increasing. France was the first in 01830. Since then their forests have doubled while their population also doubled. The US transitioned around 01950. A great boon is tree plantations, which have a yield five to ten times greater than logging wild forest. “In recent times,” Ausubel said, “about a third of wood production comes from plantations. If that were to increase to 75 percent, the logged area of natural forests could drop in half.” Meanwhile the consumption of all wood has leveled off—for fuel, buildings, and, finally, paper. We are at peak timber.

One byproduct of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the longer temperate-zone growing seasons accompanying global warming is greater plant growth. “Global Greening,“ Ausubel said, “is the most important ecological trend on Earth today. The biosphere on land is getting bigger, year by year, by two billion tons or even more.”

Other trendlines show that world population is at peak children, and in the US we are peak car travel and may even be at peak car. The most efficient form of travel, which Ausubel promotes, is maglev trains such as the “Hyperloop“ proposed by Elon Musk. Statistically, horses, trains, cars, and jets all require about one ton of vehicle per passenger. A maglev system would require only one-third of that.

In the ocean, though, trends remain troubling. Unlike on land, we have not yet replaced hunting wild animals with farming. Once refrigeration came along, “the democratization of sushi changed everything for sea life. Fish biomass in intensively exploited fisheries appears to be about one‐tenth the level of the fish in those seas a few decades or hundred years ago.“ One fifth of the meat we eat comes from fish, and about 40 percent of that fifth is now grown in fish farms, but too many of the farmed fish are fed with small fish caught at sea. Ausubel recommends vegetarian fish such as tilapia and “persuading salmon and other carnivores to eat tofu,” which has already been done with the Caribbean kingfish. “With smart aquaculture,“ Ausubel said, “life in the oceans can rebound while feeding humanity.”

When nature rebounds, the wild animals return. Traversing through abandoned farmlands in Europe, wolves, lynx, and brown bears are repopulating lands that haven’t seen them for centuries, and they are being welcomed. Ten thousand foxes roam London. Salmon are back in the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine. Whales have recovered and returned even to the waters off New York. Ausubel concluded with a photo showing a humpback whale breaching, right in line with the Empire State Building in the background.

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David Keith Seminar Tickets

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 02015 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

David Keith presents Patient Geoengineering

David Keith on “Patient Geoengineering”

TICKETS

Tuesday February 17, 02015 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

The main arguments against geo-engineering (direct climate intervention) to stop global warming are: 1) It would be a massive, irreversible, risky bet; 2) everyone has to agree to it, which they won’t; 3) the unexpected side effects might be horrific; 4) once committed to, it could never be stopped.

What if none of those need be true?

Harvard climate expert David Keith has a practical proposal for an incremental, low-cost, easily reversible program of research and eventual deployment that builds on local research and is designed from the beginning for eventual shutdown. All it attempts is to reduce the rate of global warming to a manageable pace while the permanent solutions for excess greenhouse gases are worked out. Global rainfall would not be affected. The system is based on transparency and patience—each stage building adaptively only on the proven success of prior stages, deployed only as needed, and then phased out the same way.

One of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Environment,“ David Keith is a Professor of Applied Physics in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy in the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also executive chairman of the Calgary-based company, Carbon Engineering, which is developing air capture of carbon dioxide.

Long Now’s Nevada and Artists with Lasers: January 02015 at The Interval

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Scotty Strachan speaks at The Interval - January 6, 02015

We have just announced our lineup of upcoming events at The Interval for 02015. The first four months of the year will feature talks on art, science, history, technology and long-term thinking. Tickets are on sale now for the first two:

January 6, 02015
Scotty Strachan: The Great Basin in the Anthropocene
environmental researcher at University Nevada-Reno
Scotty will talk about his scientific research in the Great Basin region including the Long Now owned site on Mount Washington in Nevada

January 20, 02015
Mathieu Victor: Artists with Lasers
artist, technology consultant (formerly of Jeff Koons studio)
first in a series on art, time, and technology talks produced with ZERO1

Space is limited at these events and tickets will sell out. So get yours early. If you make a tax-deductible donation to The Interval you’ll be added to our list for early notice about Interval event tickets. More information on these events below.

When we opened The Interval in June 02014 one of our goals was to host great events in our cafe/bar/museum space at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It was important that these talks complement our larger format Seminars About Long-term Thinking series which we produce for audiences of several hundred in San Francisco each month and are enjoyed around the world via podcast.

So The Interval’s “salon talk” series events are more frequent (2 or 3 times a month) and intimate: fewer than 100 people attend and have the chance to meet and converse with our speaker afterward. So far we’ve produced 14 events in this series and all of them have sold out. They are being recorded and will eventually become a podcast of their own. But we don’t yet have a timeline for that, so your best bet is to attend in person.

Scotty Strachan speaks at The Interval on January 6, 02015
Scotty Strachan speaks at The Interval - January 6, 02015

Tuesday January 6, 02015:
Scotty Strachan: Long Now’s Nevada: the Great Basin in the Anthropocene

Our first Interval salon talk of 02015 features geographer Scotty Strachan discussing the Great Basin region of eastern Nevada. Amonst his other work Scotty conducts research on Long Now’s Mount Washington property. Scotty has done extensive work with bristlecone pine trees which are amongst the oldest organisms on the planet often living for several thousand years. He will discuss his work in eastern Nevada and put it in perspective with climate science efforts worldwide.

Mathieu Victor speaks at The Interval on January 20, 02015
Mathieu Victor speaks at The Interval - January 20, 02015

Tuesday January 20, 02015:
Mathieu Victor: Artists with Lasers. Art, Tech, & Craft in the 21st Century

A creator, art historian and technologist, Mathieu Victor has worked for artists, galleries, and leading design studios. Mathieu’s study of past practice matched with his experience in executing extraordinary contemporary projects give him a unique perspective on how art in the physical world benefits from the digital age.

Other highlights of the 02015 salon talk schedule that we’ve announced: The Interval’s architect/design team Because We Can and Jason Scott of the Internet Archive will speak in February; and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes will talk about his new book on the Spanish Civil War in March. More talks will be announced soon. We hope you’ll join us at The Interval soon.

Jesse Ausubel Seminar Tickets

Posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Jesse Ausubel presents Nature is Rebounding: Land- and Ocean-sparing through Concentrating Human Activities

Jesse Ausubel presents “Nature is Rebounding: Land- and Ocean-sparing through Concentrating Human Activities”

TICKETS

Tuesday January 13, 02015 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

Jesse Ausubel is an environmental scientist and program manager of a number of global biodiversity and ecology research programs. Ausubel serves as Director and Senior Research Associate of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University.

He was instrumental in organizing the first UN World Climate Conference which was held in Geneva in 01979, and is one of the founders of the field of Industrial Ecology.

Kevin Kelly Seminar Media

Posted on Monday, December 1st, 02014 by Danielle Engelman
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Technium Unbound

Wednesday November 12, 02014 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Kelly Seminar page.

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Audio is up on the Kelly Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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Holos Rising – a summary by Stewart Brand

When Kevin Kelly looked up the definition of “superorganism” on Wikipedia, he found this: “A collection of agents which can act in concert to produce phenomena governed by the collective.” The source cited was Kevin Kelly, in his 01994 book, Out of Control. His 02014 perspective is that humanity has come to dwell in a superorganism of our own making on which our lives now depend.

The technological numbers keep powering up and connecting with each other. Their aggregate is becoming formidable, rich with emergent behavior, and yet it is still so new to us that it remains unnamed and scarcely considered.

Kelly clicked through some current tallies: one quintillion transistors; fifty-five trillion links; one hundred billion web clicks per day; one thousand communication satellites. Only a quarter of all the energy we use goes to humans; the rest drives Earth’s “very large machine.” Kelly calls it “the Technium” and spelled out what it is not. Not H.G. Wells’ “World Brain,” which was only a vision of what the Web now is. Not Teilhard de Chardin’s “Noosphere,” which was only humanity’s collective consciousness. Not “the Singularity,” which anticipates a technological event horizon that Kelly says will never occur as an event—”the Singularity will always be near.”

The Technium may best be considered a new organism with which we are symbiotic, as we are symbiotic with the aggregate of Earth’s life, sometimes called “Gaia.” There are pace differences, with Gaia slow, humanity faster, and the Technium really fast. They are not replacing each other but building on each other, and the meta-organism of their combining is so far nameless. Kelly shrugged, “Call it ‘Holos.’ Here are five frontiers I think that Holos implies for us…”

1) Big math of “zillionics” —beyond yotta (10 to the 24th) to, some say, “lotta” and “hella.” 2) New economics of the massive one-big-market, capable of surprise flash crashes and imperceptible tectonic shifts. 3) New biology of our superorganism with its own large phobias, compulsions, and oscillations. 4) New minds, which will emerge from a proliferation of auto-enhancing AI’s that augment rather than replace human intelligence. 5) New governance. One world government is inevitable. Some of it will be non-democratic—”I don’t get to vote who’s on the World Bank.“ To deal with planet-scale issues like geoengineering and climate change, “we will have to work through the recursive dilemma of who decides who decides?” We have no rules for cyberwar yet. We have no backup to the Internet yet, and it needs an immune system.

There is lots to work out, but lots to work it out with, and inventiveness abounds and converges. “We are,” Kelly said, “at just the beginning of the beginning.”

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The Interval’s Chalk-Drawing Robot Makes Its Debut: December 8, 02014

Posted on Monday, November 24th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Chalk Drawing Machine by Jürg Lehni at The Interval at Long Now

On the evening of Monday December 8, 02014 from 8pm to midnight, come see the first demonstrations of Jürg Lehni’s Chalk-Drawing Machine at The Interval.

Jürg will be in attendance and will give live demonstrations throughout the evening.

The Long Now Foundation commissioned Jürg and his team in Switzerland to build a custom version of his Viktor chalk-drawing machine and create software to interface with it for our San Francisco bar/cafe/museum venue The Interval. We are working with Jürg to develop content for the machine and eventually make it a platform for use by visiting speakers and artists.

The design of the chalk-drawing machine is extremely elegant, using an unconventional system of pulleys that is driven by high-quality Maxon Swiss servo motors to triangulate the drawing tool. The motors are coordinated by an open-source controller developed by Jürg himself.

Thanks to swissnex San Francisco who brought Jürg Lehni and his work to San Francisco in 02013; we met Jürg through his participation in several shows that year.

Ambition: Rosetta Mission Video

Posted on Monday, November 10th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This Wednesday, November 12 02014, the European Space Agency‘s Rosetta Mission will deploy the Philae lander onto the 67P Comet after over a decade-long journey.  When this mission was first conceived, the ESA asked to put one of Long Now’s Rosetta Disks on the craft, making the Rosetta Probe the first off-world long-term archive of human language.

To honor the culmination of this historic mission, ESA has released a short science fiction film imagining the potential legacy of the Rosetta Mission. This dramatic, inspiring short was directed by Tomek Bagiński and co-stars Aidan Gillen (of The Wire and Game of Thrones). It’s a reminder of how historic this mission truly is.

Rosetta_mission_selfie_at_comet-e1410372789496
You can watch the live stream of the Rosetta Space Probe sending it’s lander to Comet 67P, from 6:00am to 9:00am PT on November 12 02014.

Here in the Bay Area, The Long Now Foundation is partnering with the Chabot Space Center and swissnex SF to host a breakfast event at the Chabot Space & Science Center. The event will feature the live stream and our own Dr. Laura Welcher giving a presentation about the Rosetta Disk, as well as Chabot’s staff astronomer Ben Burress and a live Skype with Kathrin Altwegg from the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt. Doors & breakfast are at 6:00am; tickets and more information can be found here.

Rick Prelinger Seminar Tickets

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Rick Prelinger presents Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 9

Rick Prelinger presents “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 9″

TICKETS

Thursday December 4, 02014 at 7:30pm Castro Theater

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

This year’s LOST LANDSCAPES (the 9th year in a row!) will bring together familiar and unseen archival film clips showing San Francisco as it was and is no more.

Blanketing the 20th-century city, from the Bay to Ocean Beach, this screening includes San Franciscans at work and play; peace rallies in Golden Gate Park; early hippies in the Haight; a walk on the incomplete Golden Gate Bridge; newly-discovered images of Playland and the waterfront; families living and playing in their neighborhoods; detail-rich streetscapes of the late 1960s; 1930s color images of a busy Market Street; a selected reprise of greatest hits from years 1-7; and much, much more.

As usual, you’ll be the star at the glorious Castro — audience members are asked to identify places and events, ask questions, share their thoughts, and create an unruly interactive symphony of speculation about the city we’ve lost and the city we’d like to live in.

Larry Harvey Seminar Media

Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Why The Man Keeps Burning

Monday October 20, 02014 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Harvey Seminar page.

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Audio is up on the Harvey Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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The Hundred Year Burn – a summary by Paul Saffo

Stewart Brand’s flight from London was delayed causing him to miss this talk, so this months Seminar was hosted by Long Now executive director Alexander Rose, and the write up is by board member Paul Saffo.

Burning Man is like one of those birthday candles you can’t blow out,” observed Burning Man’s primary founder and Chief Philosophical Officer. Indeed, Burning Man has thrived in the face of Burners and skeptics alike declaring it dead after each of its first 25 years. Too big, too fashionable, too many rich people, too hard to get in: each year the rationale changes, and Burning Man continues to thrive.

Half of the secret is simplicity. Consider the Man. Before anything exists on the playa, Burning Man begins with a single stake pounded into the ground marking the spot where the Man will stand. This is the axis mundi of Burning Man, the point on which everything converges, from the radiating streets to the final ritual of the burn. The stake itself is the object of a spontaneous ritual: as it is placed each year, each crew-member gives the stake a few hammer-blows to drive it in.

The other half of Burning Man’s secret is transformation. “Just when you are done with one existential challenge, then you encounter another.” For example, in recent years, forty percent of Burning Man’s population are newcomers. “I am pretty comfortable with that – it is new energy that keeps things very much alive,” observed Harvey.

Burning Man is now setting on a course to thrive for another 75 years. Its Ten Principles are the compass and the newly established Philosophical Center is the think tank and “collective memory and conscience” helping guide Burning Man on this 100-year journey. Harvey observed that, “Corporations have a remarkably short life-span, while cities have a remarkably long life-span – drop an atom bomb on it and it comes right back. We will find our way. It always looks dubious when we set out because we are setting out in the dark. But your faith always guides you.” Our advice: mark your calendar for the last Monday of August 02090 and sign up early; the tickets are certain to sell out fast.

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