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Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Media & Entertainment Podcasts

Explore hundreds of lectures by scientists, historians, artists, entrepreneurs, and more through The Long Now Foundation's award-winning lecture series, curated and hosted by Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand (creator of the Whole Earth Catalog). Recorded live in San Francisco each month since 02003, past speakers include Brian Eno, Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Earle, Daniel Kahneman, Jennifer Pahlka, Steven Johnson, and many more. Watch video of these talks and learn more about our projects at Longnow.org. The Long Now Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility.


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Explore hundreds of lectures by scientists, historians, artists, entrepreneurs, and more through The Long Now Foundation's award-winning lecture series, curated and hosted by Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand (creator of the Whole Earth Catalog). Recorded live in San Francisco each month since 02003, past speakers include Brian Eno, Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Earle, Daniel Kahneman, Jennifer Pahlka, Steven Johnson, and many more. Watch video of these talks and learn more about our projects at Longnow.org. The Long Now Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility.






: The Climate Parables: Reporting from the Future

2 nights of live science storytelling, art & music the evenings of May 12th & May 13th at St. Joseph's Arts Society; there is one show each night, doors are at 7:00pm and the show starts at 8:00pm. The Long Now Foundation has teamed up with Anthropocene Magazine (a publication of Future Earth) and Back Pocket Media to take the magazine’s new fiction series “The Climate Parables,” from the page to the stage. Starting with the idea that survival in the Anthropocene depends on upgrading not just our technology, but also our collective imagination, 3 acclaimed storytellers will perform work from creative science fiction writers Kim Stanley Robinson, Marc Alpert and Eliot Peper. Think of it as climate reporting from the future. Tales of how we succeeded in harnessing new technology and science to work with nature, rather than against it. It’s all wrapped up in an evening of performed journalism that blends science and technology, fiction and non-fiction, video, art, and music. What could possibly go right? Anthropocene Magazine's Climate Parables is made possible with funding support of the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. Supporting Sponsors: The Carbon Collective: Charm Industrial, Living Carbon, Vesta, Lithos Carbon and other innovators in the space are teaming up to support the Climate Parables and share their visions of a world with less carbon. They will have a dedicated space at the event to showcase their solutions.


Ryan Phelan: Bringing Biotech to Wildlife Conservation

How can we turn the tide on species loss and help biodiversity and bioabundance flourish for millennia to come? Ryan Phelan is Executive Director of Revive & Restore; the leading wildlife conservation organization promoting the incorporation of biotechnologies into standard conservation practice. Phelan will share the new Genetic Rescue Toolkit for conservation – a suite of biotechnology tools and conservation applications that offer hope and a path to recovery for threatened species. In this talk, Phelan will present examples of the toolkit in action, including corals that better withstand rising ocean temperatures, trees that withstand a fungal blight, and the genetic rescue of the black-footed ferret, once thought to be extinct. Revive & Restore brings biotechnologies to conservation in responsible ways; from engaging local communities where ecological restorations are underway, to connecting stakeholders in disciplines like biotech, bioethics, conservation organizations and government agencies. Together, they are forging new paths to bioabundance in our changing world. Ryan Phelan will be joined by forecaster and Long Now Board Member Paul Saffo for the Q&A; to discuss long-term outcomes and the Intended Consequences framing used by Revive & Restore.


Becky Chambers, Annalee Newitz: Resisting Dystopia

Join us for a thought-provoking conversation between two Hugo award-winning science fiction authors, Becky Chambers and Annalee Newitz. Known for challenging classic science fiction tropes such as war, violence, and colonialism, both authors create vivid and immersive worlds that are filled with non-human persons, peace, and a subtle sense of hope. The authors will discuss what it means to take these alternative themes seriously, delve into their writing & world building process, and explore how science fiction can help us imagine new futures that can make sense of our current civilizational struggles.


Jenny Odell: Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock

"What first appears to be a wish for more time may turn out to be just one part of a simple, yet vast, desire for autonomy, meaning, and purpose." -Jenny Odell Join us for an evening on long-term thinking with a talk & reading from Jenny Odell and conversation with Long Now's Executive Director Alexander Rose. Artist and writer Jenny Odell brings her acutely insightful observations to the dominant framework of time, based on industrial and colonial worldviews, that is embedded within our societies. Addressing the inability to reconcile the artificially constructed time pressures of modern culture with planetary-scale crisis, she offers a series of histories, concepts, and places as "provocations that can defamiliarize an old language of time, while pointing in the direction of something else." Odell's newest book is Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock (March 02023) and her first book is the widely-read How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (02019). Her visual work is exhibited internationally, and she's been artist in residence at Recology SF (the dump), the San Francisco Planning Department, the Internet Archive, and the Montalvo Arts Center. Previously, Odell taught digital art at Stanford University.


Ismail Ali: Psychedelics: History at the Crossroads

Psychedelics and other mind-altering substances have been used for thousands of years across the world in religious, spiritual, celebratory, and healing contexts. Despite a half century of a "War on Drugs" in the United States, there has been a recent resurgence in public interest in ending drug prohibition and re-evaluating the roles these substances can play in modern society. What can our several-thousand year history with these substances teach us about how they can be used in a modern society? What legal & cultural frameworks can be used to increase access to these substances, and what are the potential downsides of these frameworks? Ismail Ali works daily developing and implementing the legal and policy strategies that will define the next several decades of psychedelic access, and joins Long Now in an evening of exploring the deep history of psychedelics and what role they can play in our future. Ismail Lourido Ali, JD (he/him or they/them) is the Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and has been personally utilizing psychedelics and other substances in celebratory & spiritual contexts for over fifteen years. Ismail works with, is formally affiliated with, or has served in leadership or board roles for numerous organizations in the drug policy reform ecosystem, including Alchemy Community Therapy Center (formerly Sage Institute), Psychedelic Bar Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Chacruna Institute, and the Ayahuasca Defense Fund.


Ryan North: How to Invent Everything

How would someone fare if they were dropped into a randomly chosen period in history? Would they have any relevant knowledge to share, or ability to invent crucial technologies given the period's constraints? Ryan North uses these hypothetical questions to explore the technological and implicit knowledge underpinning modern civilization, offering a practical guide of how one could rebuild civilization from the ground up.


Adam Rogers: Full Spectrum: The Science of Color and Modern Human Perception

Tracing an arc from the earliest humans to our digitized, synthesized present and future - Adam Rogers shows the expansive human quest for the understanding, creation and use of color. We meet our ancestors mashing charcoal in caves, Silk Road merchants competing for the best ceramics, and textile artists cracking the centuries-old mystery of how colors mix, before shooting to the modern era for high-stakes corporate espionage and the digital revolution that’s rewriting the rules of color forever. This journey has required millennia of remarkable innovation and a fascinating exchange of ideas between science and craft that’s allowed for the most luminous manifestations of our built and adorned world. Adam Rogers is the author of Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern and Proof: The Science of Booze. He is a deputy editor at Wired, and was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and a writer covering science and technology for Newsweek.


Parag Khanna: Why Mobility is Destiny

The map of humanity isn’t settled -- not now, not ever. In the 60,000 years since people began spreading across the continents, a recurring feature of human civilization has been mobility—the ever-constant search for resources, stability and opportunity. Driven by global events from conflicts, famine, repression and changing climates - to opportunities for trade, social advancement and freedom of thought - humans have relocated around the globe for millennia. But what happens when billions of people are on the move? As climate change tips toward full-blown crisis, economies collapse, governments destabilize, and technology disrupts, we’re entering a new age of mass migrations. Futurist Parag Khanna uncovers the deep trends that are shaping the most likely scenarios for our future and asks what map of human geography will emerge.


Eric Debrah Otchere: Sonic Spaces: A Psychology of Music and Work

Eric Debrah Otchere's research revolves around the power of music in the context of work; covering an ambitious range from ethnographic research on Ghanaian indigenous fishing culture to personalized musical preferences via modern technology. Throughout history, the power of music to enhance productivity and focus at work has been explored, leveraged and exploited - by individuals and societies. Combining empirical data from his extensive fieldwork with a critical review of literature and theories from different areas of study, Otchere is connecting previously siloed research into a comprehensive body of knowledge on the intricate relationship between music and work. This Long Now Talk is presented in partnership with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. CASBS brings together deep thinkers from diverse disciplines and communities to advance understanding of the full range of human beliefs, behaviors, interactions, and institutions. A leading incubator of human-centered knowledge, CASBS facilitates collaborations across academia, policy, industry, civil society, and government to collectively design a better future.


Wade Davis: Activist Anthropology

What is the role and purpose of Anthropology today? Wade Davis looks back at the pioneering work of Franz Boas in the early 20th century that upended long-held Western assumptions on race & gender, along with definitions of "social progress". Boas and his students used comparative ethnography to advance “cultural relativism”-- the idea that every culture is as “correct” as every other culture. Boas showed that our differences can be completely explained by social conditioning, not inherent genetic makeup, upending a deep history of scientific racism. This fundamental change in understanding laid the intellectual foundations for the political movements for racial, gender, and cultural equality in the 20th century. But over the last few decades, the field of Anthropology has turned inward, and seems increasingly unable to address global challenges like linguistic loss, cultural erasure, environmental destruction, and economic injustice. Davis offers ideas on how the field could change direction and reclaim global activism as part of its core once again.


Johanna Hoffman: Speculative Futures: Design Approaches to Foster Resilience and Co-create the Cities We Need

Urbanist, researcher and writer Johanna Hoffman joins us to talk about speculative futures -- a powerful set of tools that can reorient urban development help us dream and build more resilient, equitable cities. Navigating modern change depends on imagining futures we’ve never seen. Urban planning and design should be well positioned to spearhead that work, but calculated rationale often results in urban spaces crafted to mitigate threats rather than navigate the unexpected, leaving cities increasingly vulnerable to the uncertainties of 21st century change. Long used in art, film, fiction, architecture, and industrial design, speculative futures offers powerful ways to counter this trend by moving us beyond what currently exists into the realms of what could be. Far from an indulgent creative exercise, speculative futures is a means of creating the resilient cities we urgently need.


Kate Darling: The New Breed: What Our Animal History Reveals For Our Robotic Future

Robot ethicist Kate Darling offers a nuanced and smart take on our relationships to robots and the increasing presence they will have in our lives. From a social, legal, and ethical perspective, she shows that our current ways of thinking don’t leave room for the robot technology that is soon to become part of our everyday routines. Robots are likely to supplement, rather than replace, our own skills and relationships. Darling also considers our history of incorporating animals into our work, transportation, military, and even families, and shows how we already have a solid basis for how to contend with, and navigate our future with robots. Dr. Kate Darling works at the intersection of law, ethics and robotics; as a researcher at MIT Media Lab, author and intellectual property policy advisor. Her work with Dr. Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and other institutions explores the difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Darling's work is widely published and covered in the media; and her new book is The New Breed: What Our History With Animals Reveals About Our Future With Robots.


Suzanne Simard: Mother Trees and the Social Forest

Forest Ecologist Suzanne Simard reveals that trees are part of a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground mycorrhizal networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities, and share and exchange resources and support. Simard's extraordinary research and tenacious efforts to raise awareness on the interconnectedness of forest systems, both above and below ground, has revolutionized our understanding of forest ecology. This increasing knowledge is driving a call for more sustainable practices in forestry and land management, ones that develop strategies based on the forest as a whole entity, not on trees as isolated individuals.


Alicia Eggert: This Moment Used To Be The Future

Interdisciplinary artist Alicia Eggert and Long Now's Executive Director Alexander Rose will be in conversation for this special evening discussion of time, art and long-term thinking. Eggert's sign work uses sculpture to bring time to the foreground, embodying its passage through carefully chosen quotes. These words, rendered in neon and steel, cycle rhythmically through subtle text changes designed to encourage a heightened awareness of time and place in the viewer. In the sculpture “This Present Moment,” she uses an epigram of Stewart Brand’s from his book The Clock of The Long Now, which she first encountered while doing research in 02008. For more in-depth reading, see Long Now Managing Editor Ahmed Kabil's 02021 interview with Alicia Eggert and Long Now Fellow Jonathon Keats' article on Eggert's work in Forbes. Alicia Eggert's work gives material form to language and time, powerful but invisible forces that shape our perception of reality. Her creative practice is motivated by an existential pursuit to understand the linear and finite nature of human life within a seemingly infinite universe. Her inspiration is drawn from physics and philosophy, and her sculptures often co-opt the styles and structures of commercial signage to communicate messages that inspire reflection and wonder. Eggert's artworks have been installed on building rooftops in Russia, on bridges in Amsterdam, and on uninhabited islands in Maine, beckoning us to ponder our place in the world and the role we play in it. Eggert is an Associate Professor of Studio Art and the Sculpture Program Coordinator at the University of North Texas; her work has been exhibited internationally, and is in the collection of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


Stewart Brand, Jonathan Haidt, Kevin Kelly: Democracy in the Next Cycle of History

Jonathan Haidt sees that we have entered a social-psychological phase change that was initiated in 02009 when social media platforms introduced several fateful innovations that changed the course of our society and disintegrated our consensus on reality. In this conversation with Long Now co-founders Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly, Haidt presses on questions of technological optimism, morality vs ethics, teen mental health, possible platform tweaks that could reduce the damage and just how long this next cycle of history could last. Prompted by Haidt's piece on Why The Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid, this discussion offers a behind the scenes look at the thinking going into Haidt's next book; release slated for the fall of 02023.


Michael Tubbs: Upsetting the Setup: Creating a California for All

How do we address society's most pressing issues and create opportunity for those who need it most? Can we create a blueprint for a just and inclusive economy that includes a safety net that centers dignity, quality jobs that empower workers, housing as a human right, wealth creating opportunities for all, and much more? Michael Tubbs is developing that blueprint by creating and implementing policies that address these inequalities, and projects like the Universal Basic Income pilot in the city of Stockton. Our Q&A; Host will be Michael McAfee, president of PolicyLink, a national institute that advances racial and economic equity. Michael Tubbs is the Founder of End Poverty in California (EPIC); the Founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income; and the Special Advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility. In 02016, he was elected Mayor of Stockton at 26, the city’s first African-American Mayor, and the youngest Mayor of any major city in American history. Tubbs piloted the first mayor-led guaranteed income pilot in the country and raised over $20 million dollars to create the Stockton Scholars, a universal scholarship and mentorship program for Stockton students. Tubbs is author of The Deeper The Roots: A Memoir of Hope and Home; a call for leadership and policy that is more empathetic and responsive to people who are struggling with poverty and other issues.


Dorie Clark: The Long Game: How to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share these talks on YouTube and Long Now Personal goals need a long-term strategy too. Dorie Clark offers concrete practices to sharpen strategic thinking and incorporate a long-term perspective within a personal time scale. By reorienting ourselves to focus on the big picture, and using the power of small but persistent changes over time, Clark shows how long-term thinking can be applied to reshape our own futures. Clark's new book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World will be for sale at the in-person talk. Dorie Clark is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and consults and speaks for clients such as Google, Yale University, and the World Bank. Clark teaches executive education for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School, and offers continuing professional education through her newsletter, courses, writing and appearances. Clark is author of The Long Game, Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out; all books which delve deep into her business acumen around helping individuals and companies realize their best ideas, take control of their futures and make an impact on the world.


Kim Stanley Robinson: Climate Futures: Beyond 02022

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share this talk on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Long Now Long Now continues our dialogue with the acclaimed writer Kim Stanley Robinson around COP26 and his most recent book The Ministry for the Future. Clean energy advocate & author Ramez Naam will join Robinson on stage after the talk for a further discussion. Tackling topics from carbon quantitative easing, to political action, to planetary-level engineering, Robinson describes our current situation as "all-hands-on-deck" where every possible mitigation strategy should be tried. You can find our other talks with Kim Stanley Robinson on our YouTube channel. Kim Stanley Robinson is an American novelist, widely recognized as one of the foremost living writers of science fiction and increasingly, climate fiction. His work has been described as humanist or literary science fiction and his use of scientific accuracy and non-fiction descriptions places him in the hard sci-fi genre. Robinson has published more than 20 novels including his much honored "Mars trilogy", New York 2140 (02017), and The Ministry for the Future (02020). Robinson studied under Ursula K Le Guin and earned a Ph.D. in literature from UCSD with a dissertation on the works of Philip K. Dick.


John Markoff: Floating Upstream: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand

Attend the Long Now Talks in-person or via our livestream Watch & share these talks on YouTube and Long Now Join us for an illuminating evening with journalist John Markoff in conversation with Long Now's Co-founder Stewart Brand and Executive Director Alexander Rose around Markoff's new biography of Brand. Journalist John Markoff writes about technology, society and the key figures who shaped Silicon Valley and the personal computer revolution. Along the way, his stories and reporting intersected with Stewart Brand's paths numerous times and in surprising ways. And now Markoff has distilled Brand's formative rise from the Merry Pranksters and the Whole Earth Catalog, to the marriage of environmental consciousness and hacker capitalism into his newest book, Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand. The book will be available to purchase at the in-person talk, and sales will benefit BookShop West Portal. John Markoff writes for the New York Times, has covered Silicon Valley since 01977, wrote the first account of the World Wide Web in 01993, and broke the story of Google’s self driving car in 02010. He is the author of What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry and Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots, amongst others. His new biography of Stewart Brand is Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand, which will be released on March 22, 02022.


Prerna Singh: State, Society and Vaccines

As a society, how do we address the "wicked hard problem" of vaccine acceptance? How can public health institutions reach those who are hesitant when even robust fact-based campaigns don't seem to work? Infectious diseases are one of the long-standing challenges for humanity; historical plagues and flare ups of disease have transformed societies, redrawn boundaries across the globe and instigated mass migrations. Successive civilizations have grappled with attempts to control contagion and tried to protect their populations. With the advent of vaccines in the late 1700's it seemed humanity had finally found the way out of this potentially existential threat. But despite humans' deeply embedded fear of infectious disease, issues of vaccine acceptance arose from the start. Through decades of public health campaigns in multiple countries, a persistent thread can be seen of reluctance to adopt vaccines, despite extensive educational campaigns or even coercive tactics to get populations fully vaccinated. Prerna Singh asks how do we go beyond the usual behavior modeling to find out what actually works for these critical public health campaigns? Can we uncover the keys to human motivation to get people to act for their own protection and for the greater good? This Long Now Talk is presented in partnership with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. CASBS brings together deep thinkers from diverse disciplines and communities to advance understanding of the full range of human beliefs, behaviors, interactions, and institutions. A leading incubator of human-centered knowledge, CASBS facilitates collaborations across academia, policy, industry, civil society, and government to collectively design a better future.