Blog Archive for the ‘Seminars’ Category

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Stephen Pyne Seminar Tickets

Posted on Monday, January 18th, 02016 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Stephen Pyne on Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep

Stephen Pyne on “Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep”

TICKETS

Tuesday February 9, 02016 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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

 

About this Seminar:

Fire acts in the short-term & long-term. It periodically destroys landscapes with devastating speed, yet, if properly managed, it leads to the long-term health of many ecosystems.

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor at Arizona State University, author of Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America (amongst many other books), and considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the history and management of fire.

Rick Prelinger Seminar Media

Posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 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.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 10

Wednesday December 9, 02015 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Prelinger Seminar page.

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Eric Cline Seminar Tickets

Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 02015 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Eric Cline presents 1177 B.C: When Civilization Collapsed

Eric Cline presents “1177 B.C: When Civilization Collapsed”

TICKETS

Monday January 11, 02016 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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

 

About this Seminar:

In 1177 B.C., the Bronze Age came to a sudden end, and with it the end of the dominance of the Minoans, Mycenaeans, Trojans, Hittites, and Babylonians– empires that had ruled for over a millennium. Eric Cline’s research paints a vivid picture of these thriving cultures and the complex causes that led to this “First Dark Age.”

Philip Tetlock Seminar Media

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 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.

Superforecasting

Monday November 23, 02015 – San Francisco

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

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All it takes to improve forecasting is KEEP SCORE – a summary by Stewart Brand

Will Syria’s President Assad still be in power at the end of next year? Will Russia and China hold joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean in the next six months? Will the Oil Volatility Index fall below 25 in 2016? Will the Arctic sea ice mass be lower next summer than it was last summer?

Five hundred such questions of geopolitical import were posed in tournament mode to thousands of amateur forecasters by IARPA—the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity–between 2011 and 2015. (Tetlock mentioned that senior US intelligence officials opposed the project, but younger-generation staff were able to push it through.) Extremely careful score was kept, and before long the most adept amateur “superforecasters” were doing 30 percent better than professional intelligence officers with access to classified information. They were also better than prediction markets and drastically better than famous pundits and politicians, who Tetlock described as engaging in deliberately vague “ideological kabuki dance.”

What made the amateurs so powerful was Tetlock’s insistence that they score geopolitical predictions the way meteorologists score weather predictions and then learn how to improve their scores accordingly. Meteorologists predict in percentages—“there is a 70 percent chance of rain on Thursday.” It takes time and statistics to find out how good a particular meteorologist is. If 7 out of 10 such times it in fact rained, the meteorologist gets a high score for calibration (the right percentage) and for resolution (it mostly did rain). Superforecasters, remarkably, assigned probability estimates of 72-76 percent to things that happened and 24-28 percent to things that didn’t.

How did they do that? They learned, Tetlock said, to avoid falling for the “gambler’s fallacy”—detecting nonexistent patterns. They learned objectivity—the aggressive open-mindedness it takes to set aside personal theories of public events. They learned to not overcompensate for previous mistakes—the way American intelligence professionals overcompensated for the false negative of 9/11 with the false positive of mass weapons in Saddam’s Iraq. They learned to analyze from the outside in—Assad is a dictator; most dictators stay in office a very long time; consider any current news out of Syria in that light. And they learned to balance between over-adjustment to new evidence (“This changes everything”) and under-adjustment (“This is just a blip”), and between overconfidence (“100 percent!”) and over-timidity (“Um, 50 percent”). “You only win a forecasting tournament,” Tetlock said, “by being decisive—justifiably decisive.”

Much of the best forecasting came from teams that learned to collaborate adroitly. Diversity on the teams helped. One important trick was to give extra weight to the best individual forecasters. Another was to “extremize” to compensate for the conservatism of aggregate forecasts—if everyone says the chances are around 66 percent, then the real chances are probably higher.

In the Q & A following his talk Tetlock was asked if the US intelligence community would incorporate the lessons of its forecasting tournament. He said he is cautiously optimistic. Pressed for a number, he declared, “Ten years from now I would offer the probability of .7 that there will be ten times more numerical probability estimates in national intelligence estimates than there were in 2005.”

Asked about long-term forecasting, he replied, “Here’s my long-term prediction for Long Now. When the Long Now audience of 2515 looks back on the audience of 2015, their level of contempt for how we go about judging political debate will be roughly comparable to the level of contempt we have for the 1692 Salem witch trials.”

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Andy Weir Seminar Media

Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 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.

The Red Planet for Real

Tuesday October 27, 02015 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Weir Seminar page.

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

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Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 10 Seminar Tickets

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 02015 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, 10

Rick Prelinger presents

“Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 10″

TICKETS

Wednesday December 9, 02015 at 7:30pm Castro Theater

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

 

About this Seminar:

The 10th annual screening of Rick Prelinger’s archival tour of San Francisco’s past (and anticipation of its future) happens again at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre on December 9.

Combining favorites from past years with this year’s footage discoveries, this feature-length program shows San Francisco’s neighborhoods, infrastructures, celebrations and people from 01906 through the 01970s. New sequences this year include 01930s scenes in downtown taverns, New Deal labor graphics and an exuberant 01940s Labor Day parade, radical longshore workers, newly discovered World War II-era tourist-shot Kodachrome, residential neighborhood activities and much more.

As always, the audience makes the soundtrack at the glorious Castro Theatre! Come prepared to identify places, people and events; to ask questions; and to engage in spirited real-time repartee with fellow audience members.

James Fallows gives update to his “Civilization’s Infrastructure” Seminar

Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 02015 by Andrew Warner
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infrastructure

We under-imagine benefits and over-imagine problems with civilian infrastructure projects, yet we do the opposite with military infrastructure-scale weapons systems.  Both behaviors defy reason and cause harm.

– Stewart Brand

James Fallows recently wrote a piece for the Atlantic describing common bias in dealing with military infrastructure vs. public infrastructure, expanding on the themes he talked through at last month’s Seminar, “Civilization’s Infrastructure“.

Philip Tetlock Seminar Tickets

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 02015 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Philip Tetlock on Superforecasting

Philip Tetlock presents “Superforecasting”

TICKETS

Monday November 23, 02015 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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

About this Seminar:

The pundits we all listen to are no better at predictions than a “dart-throwing chimp,” and they are routinely surpassed by normal news-attentive citizens. So Philip Tetlock reported in his 02005 book, Expert Political Judgement—and in a January 02007 SALT talk.

It now turns out there are some people who are spectacularly good at forecasting, and their skills can be learned. Tetlock discovered them in the course of building winning teams for a tournament of geopolitical forecasting run by IARPA—Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. His brilliant new book, SUPERFORECASTING: The Art and Science of Prediction, spells out the methodology the superforecasters developed. Like Daniel Kahneman’s THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, the book changes how we think about thinking.

Philip Tetlock is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. With his co-researcher (and wife) Barbara Mellors he is running the Good Judgement Project, with its open competition for aspiring forecasters.

James Fallows Seminar Media

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 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.

Civilization’s Infrastructure

Tuesday, October 6 02015 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Fallows Seminar page.

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

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Infrastructure investment tricks – a summary by Stewart Brand

All societies under-invest in their infrastructure—in the systems that allow them to thrive. There is hardware infrastructure: clean water, paved roads, sewer systems, airports, broadband; and, Fallows suggested, software infrastructure: organizational and cultural practices such as education, safe driving, good accounting, a widening circle of trust. China, for example, is having an orgy of hard infrastructure construction. It recently built a hundred airports while America built zero. But it is lagging in soft infrastructure such as safe driving and political transition.

Infrastructure always looks unattractive to investors because the benefits: 1) are uncertain; 2) are delayed; and 3) go to others—the public, in the future. And the act of building infrastructure can be highly disruptive in the present. America for the last forty years has starved its infrastructure, but in our history some highly controversial remarkable infrastructure decisions got through, each apparently by a miracle—the Louisiana Purchase, the Erie Canal, the Gadsden Purchase, the Alaska Purchase, National Parks, Land Grant colleges, the GI Bill that created our middle class after World War II, and the Interstate highway system.

In Fallows’ view, the miracle that enabled the right decision each time was either an emergency (such as World War II or the Depression), stealth (such as all the works that quietly go forward within the military budget or the medical-industrial complex), or a story (such as Manifest Destiny and the Space Race). Lately, Fallows notes, there is a little noticed infrastructure renaissance going in some mid-sized American cities, where the political process is nonpoisonous and pragmatic compared to the current national-level dysfunction.

By neglecting the long view, Fallows concluded, we overimagine problems with infrastructure projects and underimagine the benefits. But with the long view, with the new wealth and optimism of our tech successes, and expanding on the innovations in many of our cities, there is compelling story to be told. It might build on the unfolding emergency with climate change or on the new excitement about space exploration. Responding to need or to opportunity, we can tell a tale that inspires us to reinvent and build anew the systems that make our society flourish.

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Saul Griffith Seminar Media

Posted on Saturday, October 3rd, 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.

Infrastructure & Climate Change

Monday September 21, 02015 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Griffith Seminar page.

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

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Green infrastructure – a summary by Stewart Brand

Griffith began with an eyeroll at the first round of responses in the US to reducing greenhouse gases, a program he calls “peak Al Gore.” Some activities feel virtuous —becoming vegetarian, installing LED lights, avoiding bottled water, reading news online, using cold water detergent, and “showering less in a smaller, colder house”—but they demand constant attention and they don’t really add up to what is needed.

Griffith’s view is that we deal best with greenhouse gases by arranging our infrastructure so we don’t have to think about climate and energy issues every minute. Huge energy savings can come from designing our buildings and cars better, and some would result from replacing a lot of air travel with “video conferencing that doesn’t suck.“ Clean energy will mostly come from solar, wind, biofuels (better ones than present), and nuclear. Solar could be on every roof. The most fuel-efficient travel is on bicycles, which can be encouraged far more. Electric cars are very efficient, and when most become self-driving they can be lighter and even more efficient because “autonomous vehicles don’t run into each other.” Sixty percent of our energy goes to waste heat; with improved design that can be reduced radically to 20 percent.

Taking the infrastructure approach, in a few decades the US could reduce its total energy use by 40 percent, while eliminating all coal and most oil and natural gas burning, with no need to shower less.

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