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Mariana Mazzucato Seminar Primer

Posted on Monday, March 10th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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Since the Enlightenment and its corresponding assumptions of social-technological progress, scholars have debated what political and economic systems best facilitate technological growth.
These days, one of the common assumptions of the technology sector is that the government is fundamentally a limiting force when it comes to innovation. This view is a well-established conservative position since the advent of the Chicago School of Keynesian Economics, but even among progressives, there’s a strong sentiment that the government doesn’t have what it takes to innovate and bring new technologies to the helm. Headlines seem to support this theory: it takes the private sector a fraction of the cost to send rockets to space, new laws banning disruptive technology companies like AirBnb and Uber seem to crop up every week. A cursory glance at this issue would seem to suggest that when it comes to developing new technologies, Thomas Jefferson’s maxim still rings loud and true: That government which governs best, governs least.

5579b77b74fa8628aaa2b0fb97317742e3d7b6c1_254x191Enter Mariana Mazzucato. Currently the RM Phillips chair in the Economics of Innovation at the University of Sussex, she also has a long resume of academic positions at other prestigious universities, including University of Denver, London Business School, Open University, and Bocconi University. Her research focuses on the role of the State in modern capitalism, and her analysis runs counter to the tech communities’ common understanding of how technologies come to market. Mariana Mazzucato’s research shows that many of the technologies that form the backbone of our technological revolutions were the direct result of multi-decade research by the state. Consider the examples of computers, the internet, and GPS–all of these technologies were developed and funded by the government for decades before entering the consumer market, and it’s impossible to imagine an iphone without these technologies.

In his 02011 SALT talk, Geoffrey West noted that the average lifespan of a company is merely 10 years. On such short time scales, it’s hard for companies to invest in technologies that don’t have immediate market potential. It’s not a coincidence that Apple or Google came to fruition under the auspices of a government that heavily invested in these technologies: the computer manufacturer was able to build its first machine by virtue of a $500,000 investment from an obscure government entity, and the search engine’s revolutionary algorithm was developed through research that was funded by the National Science Foundation. When one then considers the network of publicly-funded universities and labs (which developed technologies such as HTML and touchscreens), the mythos of the lone entrepreneur/inventor starts to look incomplete at best.

Mazzucato’s analysis forces us to ponder a rather uncomfortable question: Why do we systematically downplay these long-term investments by the government, and champion the companies that bring these mature technologies to market?

To learn more about the economics of innovation, come see Mariana Mazzucato on March 24th at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. You can reserve tickets, get directions and sign up for the podcast on the Seminar page.

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

Chime Generator Table for The Interval at Long Now

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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We want to share some of the details about The Interval, our public space in San Francisco which opens this Spring. We’ve planned a series of updates that will include an introduction to our Chalkboard Robot, more about Brian Eno’s sound & light installations in the space, documentation of the final construction work, and details on when the doors of The Interval will open, later this year.

First we’d like to tell you about our Chime Generator Table, which will be a centerpiece at The Interval. The Chime Generator prototype itself was a much-enjoyed feature at the first incarnation of our public space. Here it is back in 02006 on the opening day of Long Now’s old Museum and Store:

Long Now Chime Generator Museum 02006 Scott Beale

At the 02006 opening of Long Now’s Museum and Store, photo by Scott Beale

This functioning Chime Generator is a prototype at about one tenth the scale of the one that is now being built for the Clock of the Long Now. The mechanism rings a series of ten bells, utilizing an algorithm designed by Long Now Board members Danny Hillis and Brian Eno to vary the order each day for more than 3.5 million permutations in total. This allows our Clock to play a different bell sequence for nearly every day of the next 10,000 years.

The prototype was originally designed for us by Paolo Salvagione and Greg Staples, and was built by Christopher Rand. It is made mostly of waterjet aluminum with steel gears, screws, and bearings.

Over the years we have used both tubular bells (seen above) and metal “singing bowls” to demonstrate how the Clock will generate its daily song. For its life as a table, we’ve designed around the mechanism itself. While it is not built to last 10,000 years, this prototype did a vital job in proving a concept that we are now using in building the full-sized Clock. Now it has a job to do at The Interval.

As a table, the Chime Generator will be both a functioning piece of furniture and a museum artifact. As shown below, it awaits a slab of plate glass which will be placed on top. When you visit The Interval you can set your coffee or cocktail down and gaze into the inner workings of this piece of our Clock design. We hope it inspires as many questions and conversations as it has bell ringing permutations.

table

We have only weeks left to finish our fundraising for this space, and are currently about $100,000 short of our goal. We’re asking for your help: please consider donating to support this project. Any amount you can give brings us closer to the finish line! We have unique gifts to offer our donors, amongst other benefits. As an Interval supporter, you’ll be the first to hear news about the venue, you can suggest books for the Manual for Civilization and vote on other submissions, and best of all, you’ll receive invitations to our special pre-opening parties, the very first events at The Interval!

Here’s one more shot of the Chime Generator, this time with singing bowls attached, from the Anathem release event in 02008. It shared the stage with Long Now co-founders Stewart Brand and Danny Hillis, as well as Anathem author Neal Stephenson, who is himself a donor to our Interval ‘brickstarter’.

Neal Stephenson donated to The Interval

The Interval at Long Now

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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The Interval is the name of Long Now's new salon space in San Francisco. Opening Spring 02014

Today we are proud to introduce you to The Interval. You know it already as “The Long Now Salon.” But all along we knew our new space at Fort Mason in San Francisco needed a name all its own.

The Interval will be a bar, museum, event venue, cafe, and archive. A welcoming public space and a gathering place for The Long Now Foundation’s fans, friends, and members.

An interval is a measure of time or the space between. An intervening period, a pause within time that is in a way time-less. Long Now’s mission is to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. And implicitly we want to change the way people perceive time. All times intersect at The Interval: a place for longer nows, discussing the future, enjoying the present, celebrating the past.

The Interval opens very soon, in just a matter of weeks. We need your help to complete the funding for this unique venue. Our ‘brickstarter’ campaign has raised more than two-thirds of what’s needed, but we still have about $100,000 to go as we finish construction and approach opening.

Recent progress includes installing new doors at the entrance to The Interval:

The Interval is Long Now's new bar, cafe and venue

Every donation helps bring this new space to life. And we have devised some special ways to say “thanks” for your tax-deductible gift. These include special events just for donors in the first days of The Interval, Long Now gifts, and special “bottle keep” drinks at the venue. All the details are here.

Soon we’ll have exciting announcements about Brian Eno’s sound and visual design for the space, more about the Manual for Civilization, our chalkboard robot, the opening date, pre-opening events and the amazing cocktail & cafe menus we’ll be serving.

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We invite you to join the list of hundreds of supporters including Long Now’s Board, past speakers, eminent authors, artists, scientists, and people around the world. Every gift helps us toward our goal.

 

Mariana Mazzucato Seminar Tickets

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Mariana Mazzucato presents The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths

Mariana Mazzucato presents

“The Entrepreneurial State:

Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths”

TICKETS

Monday March 24, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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

 

About this Seminar:

Where do the boldest innovations, with the deepest consequences for society, come from?

Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and libertarians claim that the private sector leads the way always, and government at best follows by decades and at worst impedes the process with bureaucratic regulations.

Mariana Mazzucato proves otherwise. Many of the most profound innovations—from the Internet and GPS to nanotech and biotech —had their origin in government programs developed specifically to explore innovations that might eventually attract private sector interest. Governments can take on multi-decade, slow-payoff, ambitious projects where most businesses cannot. The process works pretty well now. How can it work better?

Mazzucato is a professor of the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths.

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 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.

The Unlooting of Civilization’s Treasures in Wartime Iraq

Monday February 24, 02014 – San Francisco

Because the talk revolves around and discusses the specifics of what is still an on-going investigation, there will not be any recording of any kind–audio or visual, of this Seminar. Thank you for your understanding.

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Unlooting the Iraq Museum – a summary by Stewart Brand

Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad had been closed to the public by Saddam Hussein for over two decades when his regime fell in April 02003. Iraqis felt no connection to the world renowned cultural treasures inside. Like every other government building, it was trashed and looted.

Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos, then in Basra leading a counter-terrorism group, volunteered part of his team to attempt recovery of the lost artifacts. He arrived at the museum with 14 people to protect its dozen buildings and 11 acres in a still-active battle zone. Invited by the museum director, they took up residence and analyzed the place as a crime scene.

Missing were some of civilization’s most historic archeological treasures. From 3200 BC, the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world’s oldest carved stone ritual vessel. From 2600 BC, the solid gold bull’s head from the Golden Harp of Ur. From 2250 BC, the copper Akkadian Bassetki Statue, the earliest known example of lost-wax casting. From 3100 BC, the limestone Mask of Warka, the first naturalistic depiction of a human face. From 800 BC, the Treasure of Nimrud— a fabulous hoard of hundreds of pieces of exquisite Assyrian gold jewelry and gems. Plus thousands of other artifacts and antiquities, including Uruk inscribed cylinder seals from 2500 BC.

Bidding on the international antiquities black market went to $25,000 for Uruk cylinder seals, $40 million for the Vase of Warka.

Since the goal was recovery, not prosecution, Bogdanos instituted a total amnesty for return of stolen artifacts—no questions asked, and also no payment, just a cordial cup of tea for thanks. Having learned from duty in Afghanistan to listen closely to the locals, Bogdanos and his team walked the streets, visited the mosques, played backgammon in the neighborhoods, and followed up on friendly tips (every one of which turned out to be genuine). 3,000 items had been taken from the museum by random looters. Local Iraqis returned 95% of them.

The prime pieces stolen by professional thieves took longer to track down. Raids on smuggler’s trucks and hiding places turned up more items. The Bassetki Statue was found hidden in a cesspool; the Mask of Warka had been buried in the ground. Some pieces began turning up all over the world and were seized when identified. (Bogdanos noted that Geneva, Switzerland, is where that kind of contraband often rests in warehouses that law enforcement is not allowed to search.)

It turned out Saddam himself had looted the museum of the Treasure of Nimrud and the gold bull’s head back in 01990. Tips led to a flooded underground vault in the bombed-out Central Bank of Iraq, and the priceless items were discovered.

Everything found was returned to the Iraq National Museum, where the great antiquities are gradually being restored to public display. Iraq, and the world, is retaking possession of its most ancient heritage.

Bogdanos quoted Sophocles: “Whoever neglects the arts… has lost the past and is dead to the future.”

(This talk was neither recorded nor filmed, because material presented in it is part of a still on-going investigation. You can get the full story from Bogdanos’ excellent book, Thieves of Baghdad.)

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Stewart Brand’s “SALT Summaries” Kindle Update

Posted on Friday, February 14th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Salt Summaries

Since their inception in 02003, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking have featured over 100 speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Curated by Stewart Brand, each of these Seminars address some aspect of long-term thinking. From the ideas presented and discussed in the live event, he crafts a summary which captures and elucidates these ideas.  A few days after a Seminar, this summary gets posted to the SALT list and blog, but we also collect these distillations in a book, “The SALT Summaries”. Every six months we update the Kindle eBook with the most recent Seminars, and we wanted to let our readers know how they can now update their Kindle book.

After you login to your Amazon account, go to the Manage Your Kindle page. On that page, you should see the cover of the book with an update option hovering above it. If you click update, the update should transfer to all of your devices. Thank you for supporting the Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

 

 

Laura Welcher Speaks at Contemporary Jewish Museum This Sunday

Posted on Thursday, February 13th, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
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How do public archives, as collections of cultural artifacts, shape our collective memory? And how is this changing as new digital tools make it ever easier for scholars and artists to access these repositories?

This Sunday, Long Now’s Laura Welcher joins a group of archivists and artists to discuss these questions and more at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Entitled Finders and Keepers: Archives in the Digital Age, the panel discussion accompanies an exhibit by Chicago-based photographer Jason Lazarus, who creates collaborative installations with pictures and texts submitted by others.

The panel discussion starts this Sunday, February 16th, at 3 PM; the event is free with museum admission.

 

Brian Eno and Danny Hillis Seminar Media

Posted on Tuesday, February 4th, 02014 by Austin Brown
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

The Long Now, now

Tuesday January 21, 02014 – San Francisco

 

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

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Video is up on the Eno and Hillis Seminar page.

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Make the next legal U-turn – a summary by Stewart Brand

“Bitching Betty,” they call the robotic voice of the car’s GPS guidance system. Eno and Hillis, on their road trips, always become so engrossed in conversation that they get lost—one time, driving to Monterey they wound up in Sacramento, 200 miles wrong. So they turn on GPS, and Betty joins the conversation with helpful advice about U-turns.

Hillis observed, “The GPS is very good at giving you instructions to get someplace. But Brian and I have no idea where we’re going; we just want some time together. What usually happens for us after a couple days of frustratingly looking at the tiny GPS map is that we stop and buy a big paper map. And the moment we open a map of Nevada or Arizona, it feels like we’re in a much bigger world. The big maps are not that useful to navigate by, but there’s a sense of relief of seeing the bigger context and all the possibilities of where we might go. That’s exactly what The Long Now Foundation is for.”

Culture is a long conversation, Eno proposed. “When I talk about the practice of art I often use the word “conversation” because I think that you never see a piece of art on its own. You look at a painting in relation to the whole conversation of paintings. Some things are completely meaningless outside of that kind of context. if you think about Kazimir Malevich’s “White on White” painting, it’s hardly a picture actually, but it’s an important picture in the history of painting up to that point.”

Hillis replied, “My plan for painting is to have my bones removed and replaced with titanium, and then I grind up my bones to make white pigment.” Eno: “That’s very old-fashioned.”

Hillis talked about the long-term stories we live by and how our expectations of the future shape the future, such as our hopes about space travel. Eno said that Mars is too difficult to live on, so what’s the point, and Hillis said, “That’s short-term thinking. There are three big game-changers going on: globalization, computers, and synthetic biology. (If I were a grad student now, I wouldn’t study computer science, I’d study synthetic biology.) I probably wouldn’t want to live on Mars in this body, but I could imagine adapting myself so I would want to live on Mars. To me it’s pretty inevitable that Earth is just our starting point.”

Eno remarked, “Sex, drugs, art, and religion—those are all activities in which you deliberately lose yourself. You stop being you and you let yourself become part of something else. You surrender control. I think surrendering is a great gift that human beings have. One of the experiences of art is relearning and rehearsing surrender properly. And one of the values perhaps of immersing yourself in very long periods of time is losing the sense of yourself as a single focus of the universe and seeing yourself as one small dot on this long line reaching out to the edges of time in each direction.”

Hillis described some elements of surrender designed in to the visitor experience of the 10,000-year Clock being built in the mountains of west Texas. “You’ll be away from your usual environment for days to travel to the remote site. Because of where it is on the mountain, you have to wake up before dawn, and there’s the physical exertion of climbing up the mountain. As you climb, there’s some points of confusion, where you’re not sure if you’re in the right place.

“For example, in the total darkness inside the mountain, as you go up the spiral stairs surrounding the Clock mechanism for hundreds of feet, you think you know where you’re going because there’s light at the top of the shaft that you’re climbing toward, but as you get up there, the stairs keep becoming narrower, and you see they’re tapering off to smaller than you could possibly walk on. And you realize, ‘My plan isn’t going to work.’

“You have to get away from the idea of direct progress and surrender that kind of control in order to find your way.”

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos Seminar Tickets

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos presents The Unlooting of Civilization’s Treasures in Wartime Iraq

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos on “The Unlooting of Civilization’s Treasures in Wartime Iraq”

TICKETS

Monday February 24, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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

Please note that because this talk revolves around and discusses the specifics of what is still an on-going investigation, there will not be any recording of any kind–audio or visual, nor a live stream for members.

Thank you for your understanding.

About this Seminar:

Destruction is easy. Recovery is hard. Destruction is big news. Recovery is the real news.

In April 02003 when Baghdad fell to US forces, the renowned Iraq Museum was looted of thousands of civilization’s most ancient and unique treasures, and the international press reacted with outrage. Marine Colonel Bogdanos, who had advanced degrees in Classical Studies and Law, rushed to Baghdad with a team of special-forces volunteers to recover the lost artifacts. Two years later he could write in the American Journal of Archaeology, “Working closely with Iraqis and using a complex methodology that includes community outreach, international cooperation, raids, seizures, and amnesty, the task force and others around the world have recovered more than 5,000 of the missing antiquities.“ (That was out of some 15,000 items stolen. The total of recovered antiquities is now over 10,000, with more still turning up.)

Matthew Bogdanos is a homicide prosecutor with the district attorney’s office in New York City and a middleweight boxer. He continues to serve in the US Marine Corps Reserve, where his nickname is “Pit Bull.”

For members unable to attend in person, you can learn more about the investigation through Colonel Matthew Bogdanos’ book, Thieves of Baghdad. The book will be for sale at the Seminar.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 8 Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 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.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 8

Tuesday December 17, 02013 – San Francisco

 

Video is up on the Prelinger Seminar page for Members.

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Unlost San Francisco Life – a summary by Stewart Brand

“You are the soundtrack,” Prelinger reminded the 1,400 assembled at the Castro to revel in his eighth mustering of wondrous archival film of San Francisco.

(Long Now people and San Franciscans do love to party, we notice every December at the Castro with Rick. All the more reason to have high expectations for the Long Now Bar (ahem, Salon) under construction at Fort Mason. It will be a non-stop thoughtful party, perhaps lasting centuries, opening in 02014. You can hasten its opening with a contribution.)

Rick’s film this time featured the China Clipper taking off from the water next to the World’s Fair on Treasure Island; another float plane hopping along the water from Oakland to San Francisco as a ferry; the now outlawed traditional downtown blizzard of calendar pages drifting down from highrise offices celebrating the last day of work every December; the dirt roads of Telegraph Hill leading to Julius’ Castle; one of the 80,000 Victory Gardens in the city during World War 2; the bay filled with war ships (no one was supposed to photograph them); a tourist promotion film lauding San Francisco’s “invigorating sea mists”; a drive down historic middle Market Street, with the audience crying out a landmark, “There’s the Twitter Building!”

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.