One of Long Now’s founding premises is that humanity’s most significant challenges require long-term solutions, including institutions that caretake and guide the knowledge and commitment needed to work over long time scales. However, there are a limited number of organizations that have managed to stay stable over many centuries, and in some cases, over a millennium. Long Now has been informally tracking these organizations for years, and in 02019 formed The Organizational Continuity Project to study long-lived institutions more formally. Alexander Rose, Long Now's Executive Director, discusses how The Organizational Continuity Project hopes to discover the lessons behind these long-lived organizations and build a discipline of shareable knowledge that will help contemporary institutions, companies, and governments develop into robust, long-lasting structures. In turn, we hope these institutions will be better equipped to address civilizational-scale problems with multi-generational thinking.
Nathaniel Rich, Ryan Phelan, Ben Novak: Second Nature: Green Rabbits, Passenger Pigeons, Cloned Ferrets, and the Birth of a New Ecology
Reporter and writer Nathaniel Rich delves deep into conversation with Revive & Restore's Ryan Phelan and Ben Novak to discuss his newest book Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade,which attempts to come to terms with the massive changes that are underway on our planet, and how humans can better understand our role to caretake, conserve and thoughtfully manage our relationship with nature for the long term. From Losing Earth to the film Dark Waters (adapted from his writing), Nathaniel Rich’s stories have come to define the way we think of contemporary ecological narrative. In Second Nature, he asks what it means to live in an era of terrible responsibility. The question is no longer, How do we return to the world that we’ve lost? It is, What world do we want to create in its place?
A compelling case can be made that we are in the early stages of another tech and economic boom in the next 30 years that will help solve our era’s biggest challenges like climate change, and lead to a societal transformation that will be understood as civilizational change by the year 02100. Peter Leyden has built the case for this extremely positive yet plausible scenario of the period from 02020 to 02050 as a sequel to the Wired cover story and book he co-authored with Long Now cofounder Peter Schwartz 25 years ago called The Long Boom: The Future History of the World 1980 to 2020. His latest project, The Transformation, is an optimistic analysis on what lies ahead, based on deep interviews with 25 world-class experts looking at new technologies and long-term trends that are largely positive, and could come together in surprisingly synergistic ways.
1 hr 6 min
Jason Tester asks us to see the powerful potential of "queering the future" - how looking at the future through a lens of difference and openness can reveal unexpected solutions to wicked problems, and new angles on innovation. Might a queer perspective hold some of the keys to our seemingly intractable issues? Tester brings his research in strategic foresight, speculative design work, and understanding of the activism and resiliency of LGBTQ communities together as he looks toward the future. Can we learn new ways of thinking, and thriving, from the creative approaches and adaptive strategies that have emerged from these historically marginalized groups?
Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, journalist James Nestor questions the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function, breathing. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary specialists to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe. His inquiry leads to the understanding that breathing is in many ways as important as what we eat, how much we exercise, or whatever genes we’ve inherited.
Dec 22, 2020
1 hr 9 min
Nadia Eghbal is particularly interested in infrastructure, governance, and the economics of the internet - and how the dynamics of these subjects play out in software, online communities and generally living life online. Eghbal, who interviewed hundreds of developers while working to improve their experience at GitHub, argues that modern open source offers us a model through which to understand the challenges faced by online creators. Her new book, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software, is about open source developers and what they tell us about the evolution of our online social spaces. Eghbal sees open source code as a form of public infrastructure that requires maintenance, and that offers us a model through which to understand the challenges faced by online creators on all platforms.
Dec 9, 2020
1 hr 10 min
Human beings have an astonishing evolutionary gift: agile imaginations that can shift in an instant from thinking on a scale of seconds to a scale of years or even centuries. The need to draw on our capacity to think long-term has never been more urgent, whether in areas such as public health care, to deal with technological risks, or to confront the threats of an ecological crisis. What can we do to overcome the tyranny of the now? The drivers of short-termism threaten to drag us over the edge of civilizational breakdown, while ways to think long-term are drawing us towards a culture of longer time horizons and responsibility for the future of humankind. Creating a cognitive toolkit for challenging our obsession with the here and now offers conceptual scaffolding for answering one of the most important questions of our time: How can we be good ancestors? ---Roman Krznaric Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His newest book on the history and future of long-term thinking is The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking. Other books include Empathy, The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, which have been published in more than 20 languages. Krznaric founded the traveling Empathy Museum and is especially interested in the challenges of how we extend empathy to future generations. Roman Krznaric is also a Long Now Research Fellow.
Nov 18, 2020
1 hr 23 min
Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable. There is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices, and beliefs designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems. Watson's work reconnects with this sophisticated global body of knowledge. Julia Watson teaches Urban Design at Harvard and Columbia University and is author of Lo-TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism (02019). Her work focuses on experiential, landscape, and urban design, with an ethos towards global ecological change.
Oct 6, 2020
"I have always felt I have an obligation to build the future I want to see. We know that AI-powered cyber-physical systems (CPS) will scale in society. The challenge we face now is how we do that responsibly and sustainably? If we act proactively, we can avoid some of the negative impacts we have seen during other technological leaps. We need to start creating now for that future 30 years hence, when we are completely embedded in both a digital and physical environment, and are experiencing a climate unrecognisable from the climate of today [...] for a future characterised by economic prosperity, social equality and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability." -----Genevieve Bell Genevieve Bell is an Australian anthropologist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development. Bell established the 3A Institute (at the Australian National University College of Engineering and Computer Science) to focus on exploring how to bring together data science, design thinking and ethnography to drive new approaches in engineering; and to question of what it means to be human in a data-driven economy and world.
Aug 28, 2020
Craig Childs chronicles the last millennia of the Ice Age, the violent oscillations and retreat of glaciers, the clues and traces that document the first encounters of early humans, and the animals whose presence governed the humans chances for survival. With the cadence of his narrative moving from scientific observation to poetry, he reveals how much has changed since the time of mammoth hunters, and how little. Across unexplored landscapes yet to be peopled, readers will see the Ice Age, and their own age, in a whole new light. Craig Childs is a writer, wanderer and contributing editor at High Country News, commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and teaches writing at University of Alaska and the Mountainview MFA at Southern New Hampshire University. His books include Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America (02019), Apocalyptic Planet (02013) and House of Rain (02008).
Aug 17, 2020
1 hr 2 min