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Long Now Boston
49 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
Bina Venkataraman -- Long-Term Thinking, a Short-Term Priority
“If no one else seems to care about the future, why should I?” Short-term thinking can lead to disillusionment and cynicism. Author and Boston Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkatarman provides a refreshing counterpoint to negative thinking in her 2019 book, The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, named a top business book by The Financial Times and one of the year’s best books by Amazon, Science Friday, and National Public Radio. Through research, anecdotes, and case studies drawn from her background in public policy, climate change strategy, and journalism, Bina builds the case for long-term thinking, and shares practical tactics for employing it. Bina will lead a Long Now Boston conversation, moderated by author and scholar William Powers, on March 2 on topics such as: How can we sharpen our own long-term thinking? What are some key ways to build a culture of long-term thinking? How can we encourage long-term thinking in business, media, and government?
49 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
Raj Sisodia -- Conscious Capitalism
Over the past two centuries, free-enterprise capitalism has delivered immense benefits to human civilization. The adjusted standard of living worldwide has increased by over 1,500 percent since 1800, while population increased more than 8,000 percent. Thanks to business activity, global trade and technological innovations, vastly more people are living longer and much more comfortable lives. Yet capitalism faces significant challenges today and its reputation is in severe decline. According to Raj, the key problem is with the ideology that capitalism gets good results through the self-interested choices of market participants and that success is due to the “survival of the fittest.” This ideology planted the seeds that led to an increasingly short-term focus for businesses and investors in recent decades. The idea that businesses should focus on long-term goals and on the overall welfare of customers, employees, communities as well as investors, has been increasingly diminished. The solution, which Raj and his colleagues have carefully laid out, is to rebuild a business culture based on enlightened “conscious capitalism.” Businesses designed and led on the basis of conscious capitalism understand that success is a function of healthy, mutually beneficial relationships in the business ecology, including customers, suppliers, investors, employees, unions, communities, regulators, government and, critically, the natural environment on which we all rely. Among the questions Raj will address: •What are the key features of conscious capitalism and how is it working? •How does a business operating under the principles of conscious capitalism deal with success and failure? •How does conscious capitalism get enforced and reinforced in the real world? •What would the world look like, in terms of well-being, relative inequality, poverty, health and personal fulfillment, under a fully conscious capitalist economy in a century? In a millennium? Join the conversation and be part of the solution.
46 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
Avi Loeb -- Searching for Life in Deep Space
In the past few years, scientists have made huge progress probing ever more deeply into space. They have confirmed the existence of a vast multitude of earth-like planets. They have found evidence of complex chemistry in deep space and validated the claim that all life on Earth is made of stardust. Yet there is still no evidence of life originating anywhere other than on Earth. This may change soon. Upcoming searches will aim to detect markers of life in the atmospheres of planets outside the solar system. We also have unprecedented technologies to detect signs of intelligent civilizations through industrial pollution of planetary atmospheres, space archaeology of debris from dead civilizations or artifacts such as photovoltaic cells that are used to re-distribute light and heat on the surface of a planet or giant megastructures. At the same time, we continue to launch interplanetary and even interstellar explorations of our own. Others may notice and seek to contact us --- or we may find messages that confirm we are not alone. Among the questions: What are some of the advanced scientific tools and techniques we are developing in the search for extraterrestrial life? How might these benefit other scientific disciplines? What are some of the explanations scientists have proposed to account for the discrepancy between the apparent readiness for life and the lack of evidence for life? What are the implications of finding extraterrestrial life? Of not finding it?
30 minutes | Jun 11, 2020
James Hughes -- Technology and the Ethics of Future Humans (Part 2)
Technologies are changing humans from the inside. The outsourcing of our short-term memory to smart phones is just the tip of the iceberg. We are moving into an era when human perception, reproduction, genetics, and even physiology and brain function, will be fundamentally enabled by engineering and biological technologies. James Hughes (IEET) will discuss the prospects for engineered super-humans, and the many ethical issues that will be raised. Check out Part 1 of this seminar on Technology and the ethics of future humans with Nir Eisikovits in our podcast feed.
21 minutes | Jun 11, 2020
Nir Eisikovits -- Technology and Ethics of Future Humans (Part 1)
Recently, alarms have begun to sound about the impact of excessive screen time, the ethics of AI and the negative effects of social media on culture and politics. These technologies have increased communication and inspired social change – but they are also changing the human beings they are intended to serve, in unanticipated and potentially harmful ways. Nir Eisikovits (AEC UMass Boston), will discuss these impacts and how they could play out in the decades and centuries ahead. Check out part two of this conversation with James Hughes in our podcast feed.
25 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
Nova Spivack -- DNA Data Storage
In 2025 the world will generate 160 zettabytes of data. Stored in conventional digital media, this would fill many data centers, each the size of a corporate campus consuming enormous amounts of energy. DNA molecules offer an attractive alternative. DNA is a million times more dense, can last hundreds and even thousands of years, and has been around for 3.5 billion years as an integral building block of life. Using DNA, 2025’s bytes will fit into a few shipping containers. But there are even more exotic applications for DNA data storage. The Arch Mission Foundation, created in 2015, seeks to “back up” planet Earth through extraterrestrial libraries with durability on billion year timescales. DNA data storage provides a significant technical solution. Arch Mission already delivered a payload into solar orbit in the glove compartment of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and crash-landed a 30 million-page Lunar Library on the Moon, with Space IL. Nova Spivack is the co-founder of Arch Mission Foundation. In the near-term, Arch Mission serves as an educational project, promoting awareness of our fragile ecosystem and the contributions to humanity’s knowledge by all cultures. In the long-term it may be the only remaining trace of human civilization. Among the questions to be probed: How can biological “wet-ware” provide such an efficient and rugged data storage application? How will this technology impact our silicon-based information and communication systems? Could DNA serve as “seed” for long distance interstellar exploration or colonization? Are there concerns that extraterrestrials might discover and decode an Arch?.
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