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Blog Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Overview: Earth and Civilization in Macroscope

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on May 29th, 02018

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.“ — Astronomer Fred Hoyle, 01948 I. “Why Do You Look In A Mirror?” InFebruary 01966, Stewart Brand, a month removed from launching a multimedia psychedelic festival that inaugurated the hippie counterculture, sat on the roof of his apartment […]

Can “Zebras” Fix What “Unicorns” Break?

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on October 26th, 02017

Long Now Partners with Zebra Movement to Help Bring Long-Term Thinking to Startups and Venture Capital

The disruptive potential of Silicon Valley, epitomized in the mantra to “move fast and break things”, was once praised as its killer feature. These days, it is increasingly perceived as a bug.  Startups come and go, but the. . .   Read More

Galloping, GIFs and Genes: Geneticists Store Moving Image in Living Bacteria

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on August 22nd, 02017

In 01872, California Governor Leland Stanford hired the famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a question of popular debate—whether all four of a horse’s feet ever left the ground when it galloped. The resulting series of photographs, Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, showed without a doubt that horses do indeed go airborne at. . .   Read More

The AI Cargo Cult: The Myth of a Superhuman Artificial Intelligence

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on July 5th, 02017

In a widely-shared essay first published in Backchannel, Kevin Kelly, a Long Now co-founder and Founding Editor of Wired Magazine, argues that the inevitable rise of superhuman artificial intelligence—long predicted by leaders in science and technology—is a myth based on misperceptions without evidence.

Kevin is now Editor at Large at Wired. . .   Read More

The Nuclear Bunker Preserving Movie History

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on June 22nd, 02017

During the Cold War, this underground bunker in Culpeper, Virginia was where the government would have taken the president if a nuclear war broke out. Now, the Library of Congress is using it to preserve all manner of films, from Casablanca to Harry Potter. The oldest films were made on nitrate, a fragile and highly. . .   Read More

Göbekli Tepe and the Worst Day in History

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on May 24th, 02017

Technological advances are revolutionizing the field of archaeology, resulting in new discoveries that are upending our previous understanding of the birth of civilization. Many scholars believe that few will be as consequential as Göbekli Tepe.

The ruins of Göbekli Tepe. Photograph by Vincent J. Musi.

IN 01963, anthropologists from the University of Chicago. . .   Read More

Is Anything Original? The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Remediation

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on May 19th, 02017

As PBS Newshour reports, modern-day renaissance workshop Factum Arte preserves art and historical works threatened by war, looting and the passage of time by creating high tech, full-scale reproductions of them. In so doing, the organization is challenging notions of what constitutes an original work of art.

&nbsp. . .   Read More

How Hard Would It Be To Restart Civilization From Scratch?

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on April 24th, 02017

It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire civilization to build a toaster.

That’s what Designer Thomas Thwaites learned when he set himself the challenge of building his own, from start to Pop Tarts. He smelted ore, coaxed plastic out of oil, and toiled towards a prototype that. . .   Read More

The Other 10,000 Year Project: Long-Term Thinking and Nuclear Waste

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on March 16th, 02017

With half-lives ranging from 30 to 24,000, or even 16 million years , the radioactive elements in nuclear waste defy our typical operating time frames. The questions around nuclear waste storage — how to keep it safe from those who might wish to weaponize it, where to store it, by what methods, for how long, […]

A Brief Economic History of Time

by Ahmed Kabil - Twitter: @ahmedkabil on March 16th, 02017

“The age of exploration and the industrial revolution completely changed the way people measure time, understand time, and feel and talk about time,” writes Derek Thompson of The Atlantic. “This made people more productive, but did it make them any happier?”

In a wide-ranging essay touching upon the advent of the wristwatch, railroads, and. . .   Read More