Bloglikes - Future en-US Mon, 19 Apr 2021 06:40:09 +0000 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter Quote of the Day: Confucius

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Chris Brown & Young Thug – “Go Crazy (Remix)” f. Future, Lil Durk & Mulatto (Video) Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:30:49 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Videos Future Jazz Chris Brown Young Thug Lil Durk Mulatto Touching the Future In search of a new story for the future of artificial intelligence, Long Now speaker Genevieve Bell looks back to its cybernetic origins — and keeps on looking, thousands of years into the past.

From her new essay in Griffith Review:

In this moment, we need to be reminded that stories of the future – about AI, or any kind – are never just about technology; they are about people and they are about the places those people find themselves, the places they might call home and the systems that bind them all together.

Genevieve Bell, “Touching the Future” in Griffith Review.
Tue, 13 Apr 2021 11:03:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Computing Technology
In Real Time Horologist Brittany Nicole Cox giving a talk at The Interval at Long Now on horological heritage (02019). Photo by Anthony Thornton.

How do you measure a year? As straightforward as this seems, it is a truly personal question to each of us. What comes to mind? Life, weather or seismic events, loss or gains, political enterprises, a global pandemic? Or terms such as calendars, months, or dates? As a horologist, someone who studies time, I’ve realized there is no concrete way to answer that question. Yet, my job lies in the calculation, measurement, and the sure prediction of time passing in hours, minutes, and seconds. One might say I measure time through numbers, but often it is measured through the inevitable deterioration of the mechanisms I study that are responsible for calculating the passing of time. If anything, I have found that time is not measurable, but perceptible. It is the observation of change and loss that accounts for the passing of time.

Brittany Nicole Cox at her workbench. Photograph by Ben Lindbloom.

In my work I watch the brass and steel components of clock and watch mechanisms wear and break down, an indicator of how hard time has been on them. The tarnish of brass, the result of age and environmental factors. These mechanisms are continually renewed with the intention of the timepiece maintaining both its tangible and intangible qualities: its ability to calculate and record the passing of time, as well as fulfill its function as an artifact created by someone long ago with their own artistic vision and intentions for the observer. As time went on, these mechanisms were made with more wear resistant materials, always with the hope that they could outlast degradation, despite time. Perhaps one of the most successful at this was the 18th century clockmaker John Harrison, the man responsible for inventing the first marine chronometer. Some of his time pieces required no lubrication, as he invented rolling bearings for the application and relied on the synthesis between materials to maintain the time keeping qualities of the mechanism.¹ The clocks of John Harrison can still be seen keeping time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

John Harrison’s H4, displayed at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Photograph by Mike Peel (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Keeping time is the work carried on by many before me and is one of the only things we still have in common with pre-Homo sapiens. We have measured time by seasons, famine, light, and darkness, our almanacs a result of such tidings.² These tomes published yearly include such things as tide tables, dates of eclipses and the movements of celestial bodies, and religious festivities. They recommend planting times for crops, give weather forecasts, and record the rising and setting of the sun and moon.³ Yet, none of these things truly indicate the inevitable passing of time. Only one thing changes on a molecular level from second to second. From the moment before and after a baby is born, or the instant when your loved one is still taking in breath to the moment when they are gone — the moment when you are present tense to the moment when you are past. A loss of heat is the only thing that indicates the passing of time.⁴ The more I have studied time, the more ethereal it becomes. Manifesting as water, in its different forms. Much like a snowflake melts, the longer you hold it or try to study it.⁵ Much like a snowflake, each person’s experience of time is different. It cannot be regulated. Time is a personal manifestation of our perception of the space we occupy, truly unique to each of us. It is a strange fact that our heads age faster than our feet. A shorter person is younger than you if you were born at the same instant in time.⁶ Even if time could be measured by some concrete means, our experience of time changes throughout our lives due to physical changes that occur in our brain.⁷ We cannot hold time, possess it, buy it, earn it, or commodify it. It may be the one thing we cannot commodify. Our experience of time changes, one day based on what we have gained and another through what we have lost, or more concisely put, what has changed.

Al-Jaziri’s candle clock (01305). Source: Freer Gallery of Art.

Perhaps one of the oldest methods of telling time through a loss or change principle are candle clocks. The earliest ones were often long thin candles with marked intervals to indicate the passing of hours as the candle burned down.⁸ Later variations included dials and even automata.⁹ The chemistry of a candle simply explained is as follows: you light a candle, the heat from the flame melts the wax, which becomes liquid. This liquid is then drawn up into the wick via capillary action. The heat from the flame vaporizes the liquid wax turning it to gas, which is then drawn into the flame creating heat and light. Enough heat is created to continue this cycle until the wax is exhausted.¹⁰

Chinese incense clock. Source: Science Museum Group(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Incense clocks work in a similar fashion and at times were just as elaborate with bells and gongs, pulleys, and dials. The simplest form was that of an incense stick calibrated to burn at a known rate of combustion. Hours, minutes, and days were passed in witness of the incense stick.¹¹ Yet these forms of telling time through loss are based on confined, predictable, known systems. Our time is not. Our bodies are not like candles or incense sticks and yet we deteriorate with time, changed by factors such as our environment, toxins, or disease that can accelerate the deterioration of our bodies. Change is the body’s way of knowing time.

This may not leave one feeling very grounded in their experience of time, yet our individual perception is all that we have. Life by nature is fleeting. It does not outlast time. Our life is finite and time continues. It is one of the great condolences it can offer. When loss is too great to bear, remember the age-old adage, “everything passes with time.” There is wisdom with this idea carried across cultures. In the Cheyenne Native American tribe, there was a saying told to those ailing, going into battle, or suffering the losses that life brings,

My friends,

Only the stones

Stay on Earth forever

Use your best ability¹²

Though stones change, they do stay. They lose their original primeval form, eventually becoming something only recognizable through magnification. Their erosion is an indicator of time, much like seasons. The degradation of all materials, organic and inorganic, is irreversible and inevitable. To calculate the passing of time through the lens of water eroding stone is a manifestation of nature’s experience of time. Time is based here on the flow rate of the river. It is season based, environment based, climate based, degradation based and is impacted both negatively and positively through the cumulative actions of human beings.

Alaska River Time engages a network of glacial and spring rivers to regulate a new kind of clock, which speeds up and slows down with the waters. The clock can be used to recalibrate all aspects of life from work schedules to personal relationships. Source: Alaska River Time.

The Alaska River Time project of Jonathon Keats brings about an intentional unification between nature’s experience of time and our perception of its passing, while bringing to light our direct impact on it. We are both forced to bear witness and invited to engage. It is not unlike the time realized in our bodies, but here through known bodies of water.

I’d like to say that River Time can offer a more accurate time keeping system than the finest atomic clock, quartz watch, or mechanical time keeper, as it provides a true reflection of time through real time change. I realize that it is unpredictable and the flow rate of a river depends on many factors that the river is forced to exist within, that it cannot control, but can only experience. Perhaps it is this unpredictability which is its greatest asset.


[1] Jonathan Betts, John Harrison: inventor of the precision timekeeper.

[2] “The term almanac is of uncertain medieval Arabic origin; in modern Arabic, al-manākh is the word for climate,” From the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

[3] Encyclopaedia Britannica.

[4] Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time.

[5] Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time.

[6] Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time.

[7] David Eagleman, Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain.

[8] H.H. Cunynghame, Time and Clocks: A Description of Ancient and Modern Methods of Measuring Time.

[9] Alfred Chapuis, Le Monde des Automates.

[10] Encyclopaedia Britannica.

[11] N.H.N Mody, Japanese Clocks.

[12] Paul Goble, The Boy and His Mud Horses: and Other Stories from the Tipi.


Alfred Chapuis and Eduouard Gelis, Le Monde des Automates: Etude Historique et Technique (Paris: 1928), Pages 51–68.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Almanac.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 25, 2018.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Candle.” Encyclopedia Britannica, July 20, 2019.

Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time (New York: Riverhead Books, 2018), Pages 3, 10, 25.

David Eagleman, Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain (New York: Pantheon, 2020).

H.H. Cunynghame, Time and Clocks: A Description of Ancient and Modern Methods of Measuring Time (Detroit: Single Tree Press, 1970), Page 46.

Jonathan Betts, John Harrison: inventor of the precision timekeeper. Endeavour Volume 17, Issue 4, 1993, Pages 160–167.

N.H.N Mody, Japanese Clocks (Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1977), Plate 114.

Paul Goble, The Boy and His Mud Horses: and Other Stories from the Tipi (China, World Wisdom, Inc., 2010).

Recommended Reading
  • Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
  • The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Learn More
  • Watch Brittany Cox’s 02019 Interval talk, “Horological Heritage.”
  • Watch Jonathon Keats’s 02015 Interval talk, “Envisioning Deep Time.”
  • Pre-order Jonathon Keats’s forthcoming book, Thought Experiments: The Art of Jonathon Keats.

This essay was commissioned by the Anchorage Museum and was originally published on the Alaska River Time website.

Tue, 23 Mar 2021 07:22:06 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art Japan New York Technology Climate Change Time Future Essays Cheyenne Anchorage Museum John Harrison Jonathon Keats Carlo Rovelli Paul Goble Brittany Nicole Cox Conversations at the Interval Anthony Thornton Horologist Brittany Nicole Cox Ben Lindbloom Royal Observatory in Greenwich London Al Jaziri Science Museum Group CC BY NC SA Alaska River Time Alaska River Time The Alaska River Time River Time Jonathan Betts John Harrison David Eagleman Livewired Alfred Chapuis Le Monde Alfred Chapuis Eduouard Gelis Le Monde Etude Historique et Technique Paris Britannica T Editors of Encyclopaedia Time New York Riverhead Books 2018 Pages Charles E Tuttle Company Inc Tipi China World Wisdom Inc Edward AbbeyThe Elisabeth Tova Bailey Brittany Cox
Long Now Member Ignite Talks 02020

With thousands of members from all around the world, from artists and writers to engineers and farmers, the Long Now community has a wide range of perspectives, stories, and experience to offer.

On October 20, 02020, we heard 12 of them in a curated set of short Ignite talks given by Long Now Members. What’s an Ignite talk? It’s a story format created by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis that’s exactly 5 minutes long, told by a speaker who’s working with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds (ready or not).

These 12 Ignite talks ranged from geeky, fanciful, poignant, educational, with some fresh angles on long-term thinking. We’re pleased to share them with you below.

Collaborating with Insects Catherine Chalmers

Long Now Member Catherine Chalmers guides us through her multimedia “American Cockroach Project”—a 10-year investigation into humanity’s adversarial relationship with nature.

Activism as Futurism: Imagining Better Worlds Allison Cooper

Long Now Member Allison Cooper encourages us to widen our windows on what is possible, plausible, probable, and preferable.

Change Agents (and How to Become One) Danese Cooper

Long Now Member Danese Cooper shares a personal journey — of being changed by the world, and changing the world.

Instant stone (just add water!) Jason Crawford

Long Now Member Jason Crawford shares the story of concrete, a sufficiently advanced technology indistinguishable from magic.

Plastic Mathematics in the Clock Stewart Dickson

Long Now Member Stewart Dickson recounts the Equation of Time’s journey from mathematical equation, to 3D model, to machined-metal cam for the Clock of the Long Now.

Deep Fakes & The Archaic Revival Michael Garfield

Long Now Member Michael Garfield tells a story about the end of reality. Not the end of the world, but the end of the idea of one consensus world.

The Great Dead End Quentin Hardy

Long Now Member Quentin Hardy uses the historical example of Sienna, Italy to suggest that our present plague-year will have downstream cultural effects for generations.

The Future of Storytelling Asmara Marek

Long Now Member Asmara Marek points at paths forward for the future of storytelling.

Our future drugs will come from the oceans; Can we save them in time? Louis Metzger

Long Now Member Louis Metzger explains how our individual and collective well-being is intimately dependent on the preservation of ocean biodiversity.

Leways: The Story of a Chinatown Pool Hall Marc Pomerleau

Long Now Member Marc Pomerleau gives us a glimpse of a Chinatown past, and a vision of its vitality rediscovered in a Chinatown future.

Art and Time Madeline Sunley

Long Now Member Madeline Sunley shares her ideas & process for making oil paintings of marking systems for communication with the far future.

A Longer Now Scott Thrift

Long Now Member Scott Thrift creates analog tools that tune our awareness to the perennial cycles of the day, the moon, and the year, so we can collectively rediscover the original nature of time–and a longer now.

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 04:34:21 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Video Science Technology Environment Time Future History Long-term Thinking Chinatown Bre Pettis Brady Forrest Dickson QUENTIN HARDY Revive & Restore Allison Cooper Long Now Seminars Michael Garfield Millennial Precedent Louis Metzger The Clock of the Long Now Insects Catherine Chalmers Long Now Catherine Chalmers American Cockroach Project Imagining Better Worlds Allison Cooper Long Now Jason Crawford Long Now Member Jason Crawford Sienna Italy Storytelling Asmara Marek Long Now Asmara Marek Louis Metzger Long Now Chinatown Pool Hall Marc Pomerleau Long Now Marc Pomerleau Time Madeline Sunley Long Now Madeline Sunley
​Dyson spheres: The key to resurrection and immortality?
  • In a 2018 paper, researchers Alexey Turchin and Maxim Chernyakov published a paper outlining various ways humans might someday be able to achieve immortality or resurrection.
  • One way involves creating a simulated afterlife, in which artificial intelligence would build simulations of past human lives.
  • Getting the necessary power for the simulation might require building a Dyson sphere, which is a theoretical megastructure that orbits a star and captures its energy.

Is there an afterlife?

Despite centuries of inquiry, nobody's made progress on this fundamental question, and perhaps nobody ever will. So, maybe a better question is: Can humans create an afterlife?

Some scientists think so.

In 2018, Alexey Turchin and Maxim Chernyakov, both members of the Russian Transhumanist Movement, wrote a paper outlining the main ways science might someday make immortality and resurrection possible. Called the "Immortality Roadmap," the project describes the ways people might be able to extend lifespan or live forever, from using cryonics to freeze themselves, to constructing nanobots for "treatment of injuries and cell cyborgization."

But the Immortality Roadmap mentions one particularly grandiose road to immortality. Outlined in "Plan C" of the project, the idea is to create a simulation of humanity's past through artificial intelligence that's able to digitally reconstruct people.

The AI would use DNA and other information about individuals to create models of those individuals within a simulation, allowing recently deceased people to experience another chance at life — or, at least an approximation of life.

"The main idea of a resurrection-simulation is that if one takes the DNA of a past person and subjects it to the same developmental condition, as well as correcting the development based on some known outcomes, it is possible to create a model of a past person which is very close to the original," the researchers wrote.

"DNA samples of most people who lived in past 1 to 2 centuries could be extracted via global archeology. After the moment of death, the simulated person is moved into some form of the afterlife, perhaps similar to his religious expectations, where he meets his relatives."

But would that digital copy really be you, or rather a fundamentally different digital being that resembles you? What about the other "people" that inhabit the simulation, would they be "real"? And would people actually want to repeat their lives over again, perhaps forever?

Of course, these are questions that Immortality Roadmap can't answer. But what's clear is that, if technology ever becomes able to create a "resurrection simulation," it's going to require vast amounts of computing power — far more than what currently exists on Earth. That's where Dyson spheres come into play.

​Dyson spheres

In 1960, the theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson published a paper describing a peculiar strategy scientists could use to detect signs of alien life: look for stars encompassed by gigantic megastructures.

Why? Dyson figured that if spacefaring alien civilizations do exist, then they must have figured out a way to generate vast amounts of energy. One theoretical way aliens could do that is through harnessing the power of stars: By surrounding a star with orbiting structures that capture solar energy, a civilization could theoretically generate far more energy than they could on a planet.

That's the basic idea behind Dyson spheres. Of course, modern science is far from being able to build such a complex megastructure, and it's unclear whether it'll ever be possible.

"An actual sphere around the sun is completely impractical," Stuart Armstrong, a research fellow at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute who has studied megastructure concepts, told Popular Mechanics in 2020.

There are many questions about and arguments against the feasibility of Dyson spheres. Obviously, our modern engineering capabilities wouldn't enable us to build a structure that big and complex, and then transport it to the sun. And even if engineers could build an enormous sun shell, we don't have materials with enough tensile strength to hold together the structure once it's surrounding the sun.

Other potential problems: space debris colliding with the sphere, inefficiencies in transporting the energy back to Earth, and having to perform maintenance on a megastructure that's dangerously close to the sun. In short, the Dyson sphere is a very theoretical concept.

Dyson sphere

But some people think building a Dyson sphere is more feasible than it seems. In 2012, the bioethicist and transhumanist George Dvorsky published a blog post titled "How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps." His strategy, in short, calls for sending autonomous robots into space, where they would:

  1. Get energy
  2. Mine Mercury
  3. Get materials into orbit
  4. Make solar collectors
  5. Extract energy

"The idea is to build the entire swarm in iterative steps and not all at once. We would only need to build a small section of the Dyson sphere to provide the energy requirements for the rest of the project. Thus, construction efficiency will increase over time as the project progresses," Dvorsky wrote.

"We're going to have to mine materials from Mercury. Actually, we'll likely have to take the whole planet apart. The Dyson sphere will require a horrendous amount of material—so much so, in fact, that, should we want to completely envelope the sun, we are going to have to disassemble not just Mercury, but Venus, some of the outer planets, and any nearby asteroids as well."

Turchin echoed a similar idea to Popular Mechanics, acknowledging that while humans currently can't build a Dyson sphere, "nanorobots could do it."

Still, even if scientists someday manage to create a Dyson sphere that's able to power a resurrection simulation, there's a good chance many people won't take part: Surveys repeatedly show that most people would not opt to live forever if given the choice.

Mon, 15 Mar 2021 16:15:28 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Technology Religion Future Earth Artificial Intelligence Robots Innovation Consciousness Dyson Venus George Dvorsky Stuart Armstrong Freeman Dyson Dvorský Turchin Oxford University s Future of Humanity Institute Alexey Turchin Maxim Chernyakov Russian Transhumanist Movement Immortality Roadmap
‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ documentary explores the dark side of simulation theory
  • Simulation theory proposes that our world is likely a simulation created by beings with super-powerful computers.
  • In "A Glitch in the Matrix," filmmaker Rodney Ascher explores the philosophy behind simulation theory, and interviews a handful of people who believe the world is a simulation.
  • "A Glitch in the Matrix" premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is now available to stream online.

Are you living in a computer simulation?

If you've spent enough time online, you've probably encountered this question. Maybe it was in one of the countless articles on simulation theory. Maybe it was during the chaos of 2020, when Twitter users grew fond of saying things like "we're living in the worst simulation" or "what a strange timeline we're living in." Or maybe you saw that clip of Elon Musk telling an audience at a tech conference that the probability of us not living in a simulation is "one in billions."

It might sound ludicrous. But Twitter memes and quotes from "The Matrix" aside, simulation theory has some lucid arguments to back it up. The most cited explanation came in 2003, when Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper claiming at least one of the following statements is true:

  1. The human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage
  2. Any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof)
  3. We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation

The basic idea: Considering that computers are growing exponentially powerful, it's reasonable to think that future civilizations might someday be able to use supercomputers to create simulated worlds. These worlds would probably be populated by simulated beings. And those beings might be us.

In the new documentary "A Glitch in the Matrix", filmmaker Rodney Ascher sends viewers down the rabbit hole of simulation theory, exploring the philosophical ideas behind it, and the stories of a handful of people for whom the theory has become a worldview.

The film features, for example, a man called Brother Laeo Mystwood, who describes how a series of strange coincidences and events — a.k.a "glitches in the matrix" — led him to believe the world is a simulation. Another interviewee, a man named Paul Gude, said the turning point for him came in childhood when he was watching people sing at a church service; the "absurdity of the situation" caused him to realize "none of this is real."

But others have darker reactions after coming to believe the world is a simulation. For example, if you believe you're in a simulation, you might also think that some people in the simulation are less real than you. A few of the film's subjects describe the idea of other people being "chemical robots" or "non-player characters," a video-game term used to describe characters who behave according to code.

The documentary's most troubling sequences features the story of Joshua Cooke. In 2003, Cooke was 19 years old and suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness when he became obsessed with "The Matrix." He believed he was living in a simulation. On a February night, he shot and killed his adoptive parents with a shotgun. The murder trial spawned what's now known as the "Matrix defense," a version of the insanity defense in which a defendant claims to have been unable to distinguish reality from simulation when they committed a crime.

Of course, Cooke's case lies on the extreme side of the simulation theory world, and there's nothing inherently nihilistic about simulation theory or people who believe in it. After all, there are many ways to think about simulation theory and its implications, just as there are many different ways to think about religion.

And as with religion, a key question in simulation theory is: Who created the simulation and why?

In his 2003 paper, Bostrom argued that future human civilizations might be interested in creating "ancestor simulations," meaning that our world might be a simulation of a human civilization that once existed in base reality; it'd be a way for future humans to study their past. Other explanations range from the simulation being some form of entertainment for future humans, to the simulation being the creation of aliens.

"If this is a simulation, there's sort of a half dozen different explanations for what this is for," Ascher told Big Think. "And some of them are completely opposite from one another."

To learn more about simulation theory and those who believe in it, we spoke to Ascher about "A Glitch in the Matrix", which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is now available to stream online. (This interview has been lightly edited for concision and clarity.)

Throughout 2020, many people seemed to talk about the world being a simulation, especially on Twitter. What do you make of that?

I see that just as sort of evidence of how deep the idea [of simulation theory] is penetrating our culture. You know, I'm addicted to Twitter, and everyday something strange happens in the news, and people make some jokes about, "This simulation is misfiring," or, "What am I doing in the dumbest possible timeline?"

I enjoy those conversations. But two things about them: On the one hand, they're using simulation theory as a way to let off steam, right? "Well, this world is so absurd, perhaps that's an explanation for it," or, "Maybe at the end of the day it doesn't matter that much because this isn't the real world."

But also, when you talk about the strange or horrifying, or bizarre unlikely things that happen as evidence [for the simulation], then that begs the question, well what is the simulation for, and why would these things happen? They could be an error or glitch in the matrix. [...] Or those strange things that happen might be the whole point [of the simulation].

How do you view the connections between religious ideas and simulation theory?

I kind of went in [to making the film] thinking that this was, in large part, going to be a discussion of the science. And people very quickly went to, you know, religious and sort of ethical places.

I think that connection made itself clearest when I talked to Erik Davis, who wrote a book called "Techgnosis", which is specifically about the convergence of religion and technology. He wanted to make it clear that, from his point of view, simulation theory was sort of a 21st-century spin on earlier ideas, some of them quite ancient.

To say that [religion and simulation theory] are exactly the same thing is sort of pushing it. [...] You could say that if simulation theory is correct, and that we are genuinely in some sort of digitally created world, that earlier traditions wouldn't have had the vocabulary for that.

So, they would have talked about it in terms of magic. But by the same token, if those are two alternative, if similar, explanations for how the world works, I think one of the interesting things that it does is that either one suggests something different about the creator itself.

In a religious tradition, the creator is this omnipotent, supernatural being. But in simulation theory, it could be a fifth-grader who just happens to have access to an incredibly powerful computer [laughs].

How did your views on simulation theory change since you started working on this documentary?

I think what's changed my mind the most in the course of working on the film is how powerful it is as a metaphor for understanding the here-and-now world, without necessarily having to believe in [simulation theory] literally.

Emily Pothast brought up the idea of Plato's cave as sort of an early thought experiment that is kind of resonant of simulation theory. And she expands upon it, talking about how, in 21st-century America, the shadows that we're seeing of the real world are much more vivid. You know, the media diets that we all absorb, that are all reflections of the real world.

But the danger that the ones you're seeing aren't accurate—whether that's just signal loss from mistakes made by journalists working in good faith, or whether it's intentional distortion by somebody with an agenda—that leads to a really provocative idea about the artificial world, the simulated world, that each of us create, and then live in, based on our upbringing, our biases, and our media diet. That makes me stop and pause from time to time.

Do you see any connections between mental illness, or an inability to empathize with others, and some peoples' obsession with simulation theory?

It can certainly lead to strange, obsessive thinking. [Laughs] For some reason, I feel like I have to defend [people who believe in simulation theory], or qualify it. But you can get into the same sort of non-adaptive behavior obsessing on, you know, the Beatles or the Bible, or anything. [Charles] Manson was all obsessed on "The White Album." He didn't need simulation theory to send him down some very dark paths.

Why do you think people are attracted to simulation theory?

You might be attracted to it because your peer group is attracted to it, or people that you admire are attracted to it, which lends it credibility. But also like, just the way you and I are talking about it now, it's a juicy topic that extends in a thousand different ways.

And despite the cautionary tales that come up in the film, I've had a huge amount of fascinating social conversations with people because of my interest in simulation theory, and I imagine it's true about a lot of people who spend a lot of time thinking about it. I don't know if they all think about it alone, right? Or if it's something that they enjoy talking about with other people.

If technology became sufficiently advanced, would you create a simulated world?

It'd be very tempting, especially if I could add the power of flight or something like that [laughs]. I think the biggest reason not to, and I just saw this on a comment on Twitter yesterday, and I don't know if it had occurred to me, but what might stop me is all the responsibility I'd feel to all the people within it, right? If this were an accurate simulation of planet Earth, the amounts of suffering that occurs there for all the creatures and what they went through, that might be what stops me from doing it.

If you discovered you were living in a simulation, would it change the way you behave in the world?

I think I would need more information about what the nature of the purpose of the simulation is. If I found out that I was the only person in a very elaborate virtual-reality game, and I had forgotten who I really was, well then I would act very differently then I would if I learned this is an accurate simulation of 21st-century America as conceived by aliens or people in the far future, in which case I think things would stay more or less the same — you know, my closest personal relationships, and my responsibility to my family and friends.

Just that we're in a simulation isn't enough. If all we know is that it's a simulation, kind of the weirdness is that that word "simulation" starts to mean less. Because whatever qualities the real world has and ours doesn't is inconceivable to us. This is still as real as real gets.

Tue, 02 Mar 2021 17:40:45 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future America Computers Innovation Philosophy Virtual Reality Ai Oxford University Simulation Plato Cooke Bostrom Erik Davis Nick Bostrom Rodney Ascher Emily Pothast Ascher Paul Gude Laeo Mystwood Joshua Cooke Charles -RSB- Manson
How sci-fi helps humanity avoid species-level mistakes
  • Robots (from the Czech word for laborer) began appearing in science fiction in the early 1900s as metaphors for real world ideas and issues surrounding class struggles, labor, and intelligence. Author Ken MacLeod says that the idea that robots would one day rebel was baked into the narrative from the start. As technologies have advanced, so too have our fears.
  • "Science fiction can help us to look at the social consequences, to understand the technologies that are beginning to change our lives," says MacLeod. He argues that while robots in science fiction are a reflection of humanity, they have little to do with our actual machines and are "very little help at all in understanding what the real problems and the real opportunities actually are."
  • AI has made the threat of "autonomous killer robots" much more of a possibility today than when Asimov wrote his three laws, but it's the decisions we make now that will determine the future. "None of these developments are inevitable," says MacLeod. "They're all the consequences of human actions, and we can always step back and say, 'Do we really want to do this?'"

The Corporation Wars Trilogy by now at amazone --> List Price: $19.99 New From: $15.76 in Stock Used From: $2.49 in Stock

Sun, 28 Feb 2021 09:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Books Science Fiction Technology Movies Film Future Society Innovation Literature Philosophy Morality Humanity Asimov MacLeod Ken MacLeod
Podcast: The Transformation | Peter Leyden The Long Now Foundation · Peter Leyden – The Transformation: A Future History of the World from 02020 to 02050

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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Spotify.

Tue, 23 Feb 2021 11:27:43 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Technology Climate Change Future Futures Peter Schwartz The Interval Long Now Long Now Foundation Long Now Seminars Peter Leyden
Leaders: Are You Ready For A Purpose-Led Future? One thing I have noticed over the last year since the start of the pandemic is how many people have started to re-evaluate and re-discover their personal purpose.  Many people, having time on their hands, as the world has “stopped” have had the space to reflect on their lives and how they are living.  Many people have discovered they no longer wish to continue to commute 2 hours to work each day. People have enjoyed flexible work schedules as the rule book has been thrown out the window, making life changes that once seemed impossible now seem a real reality.

The reason for this focus on individual purpose is clear. During times of crisis, individual purpose acts as a guidepost that can help people face up to uncertainties and navigate them better, and thus mitigate the damaging effects of long-term stress. People who have a strong sense of purpose tend to be more resilient and exhibit better recovery from negative events.

Research from McKinsey indicates that people living “their purpose at work” report five times higher levels of wellbeing and are four times likely to be more engaged in their work, which in turn leads to higher levels of productivity and profitability. So the business case for leaders to focus on helping team members connect to their individual purpose is compelling, particularly when it is combined with other research that indicates that purposeful people live longer and healthier lives. Specifically, purpose-led people are:

  • 5 times more likely to be free of dementia
  • 22 percent less likely to exhibit risk factors for stroke
  • 52 percent less likely to have experienced a stroke

Purpose can be an important contributor to employee experience, which in turn is linked to higher levels of employee engagement, stronger organizational commitment, and increased feelings of well-being.

So knowing that individual purpose is such a contributor to both team member well-being but also business performance, it is imperative that leaders pay more attention to this as business returns to operations and begin feeling their way into the subsequent phases of the “next to normal.”

The real test with purpose is beginning to start right now as the immediate pandemic crisis fades, in light of the vaccinations available. Now the hard work for leaders begins as they reimagine and reform business for a post-pandemic world. It will take hard work, commitment, and creativity to embed and activate individual purpose thoroughly into the various elements of the employee experience.

Here are some areas that leaders would be well advised to focus on first, as it is likely the benefits will build upon one another:

1) Recruiting.
Potential team members want to know about the business purpose, so explicitly connect the purpose of the organization to the personal contributions an individual in the role could bring to the company. And if you back this up with real, purpose-rich stories from hiring managers who have seen this in action, you will increase the odds of attracting people whose purpose fits well with the organization and the work, and helps them be productive sooner.

2) Onboarding.
Make purpose part of the first conversation between line manager and the team. This will help build a shared vocabulary and help people to start to reflect on how the work and the organization connect with their own purpose. In fact, applied research finds that encouraging new employees to focus on expressing personal values at work allowed them to significantly outperform peers, be more satisfied at work, and increased retention by more than 30 percent.

3) Feedback and performance management.
Many leaders understand the value of strengths-based feedback and purpose is a natural extension that can help connect a team members broader self to their work. Activating purpose during feedback sessions may even help buffer people against the uncomfortable aspects of receiving negative feedback. Try starting a performance conversation with a reflection on purpose and how the work the individual has been doing—as well as their performance—illuminates their purpose and values.

Many other opportunities will naturally arise as you go through this process to help leaders and their team members join the dots to see how their purpose is aligned with the organization.  And nothing is more valuable to both parties as appreciating this alignment because it has massive benefits – both emotional and financial – for everyone.  So will you put purpose at the heart of your business?

The post Leaders: Are You Ready For A Purpose-Led Future? appeared first on Lead Change.

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Chris Brown & Young Thug Remix “Go Crazy” with Future, Lil Durk, Mulatto Fri, 19 Feb 2021 00:44:22 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future Jazz Chris Brown Songs Young Thug Lil Durk Mulatto Durk Mulatto Evan “Skytree” Snyder on Atomic Priests and Crystal Synthesizers Evan “Skytree” Snyder in his studio. Source: Facebook.

Evan “Skytree” Snyder straddles two worlds: by day, he is a robotics engineer. By night, he produces electronic music that drops listeners into lush atmospheres evocative of both the ancient world and distant future.

We had a chance to speak with Snyder about his 02020 album Infraplanetary and his recent experiments with piezoelectric musical synthesis. Both projects ratchet up themes of deep time, inviting listeners to meditate on singing rocks and post-historic correspondences.

Our discussion has been edited for clarity and length.

Let’s talk about the lyrics to “Atomic Priest” off Infraplanetary.

An excerpt:

“This is for the humans living ten thousand years from now
With radioactive capsules, thousands of feet underground
Grabbin’ the mic to warn you of these hazardous sites
For those who lack in the sight in the black of the night
The least good that we could do is form an Atomic Priesthood
To keep the future species from going where no one should
We’ve buried the mistakes of past nuclear waste
Hidden underground for future races to face
It’s our task to leave signs for civilization to trace
But who’s to say what language these generations will embrace?
Basic symbols up for vast interpretation
Disasters resulting from grave mistranslation
This is not a place of honor and glory
This is a deep geological nuclear repository
Reaching through millennia to give some education
And preserve the evolution of beings and vegetation.”

These are hip-hop artist Jackson Whalan’s words, but you prompted him to write a fairly specific piece about communicating to the distant future. What motivated you to make this, and how does it fit into the way you consider and communicate deep time concerns in the rest of your work?

Skytree: I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you. “Atomic Priest” is definitely inspired by my lifelong fascination with deep time — specifically its effect on design principles, engineering challenges, and bridging cultures. I’m intrigued by things that endure, how they endure, and why. The simple practice of considering the long-term is uniquely inspiring, and compared to the relative chaos of the present I find some refuge and meditative calm when reflecting on the decamillennial scale.

The long view also shows up in my process as a music producer. Building compositions is a months-long solo endeavor within my audio workstation. It’s an obsessive, detailed, and laborious process, and my reflecting on deeper timescales while composing is reflected in the product. I’m mindful that the end result feels timeless or out of sync with everyday chronology.

Collaboration makes the work less lonely. The lyrics to “Atomic Priest” were indeed written by Jackson. When I sent him the instrumental to record over I already had a title and theme, and included an article describing the unique challenges of the EPA’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) — an attempt to contain nuclear materials that remain lethal for over 300,000 years. When I first read the article in 02006 I was captivated by the project’s concept sketches of how one might warn unknown future civilizations about nuclear contamination. I then researched the EPA’s Human Interference Task Force and the work of linguist Thomas Sebok, which I also provided to Jackson for reference. I was thrilled with the result. Combining something as contemporary and human as hip-hop with a subject so immense in scale feels very satisfying to me.

Image for post Skytree’s song, “Atomic Priest,” was inspired in part by the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Source: Center for Land Use Interpretation.

You’re touching on something that goes deeper than the future-chic aesthetic of many other electronic artists.

Futurism has always been an inspiration, but on this album I tried to go a bit deeper with it than just sounds or spaces. I often stepped back and reflected on what it might sound like to someone in the deep future, in the unlikely chance they’d find it. What sort of “message in a bottle” might surprise them, excite them, deviate from what they’d expect to find, or feel like a knowing hand-shake from the past?

This potential for a two-way dialogue between entities separated by eons is one of most tantalizing potentials of thinking in deep time scales. The Voyager craft are of course excellent literal vehicles for this potential — designed in the hopes to one day be found, perhaps light years from our star system and far, far in the future, by intelligences we may never meet or learn of but who realize we intended them to find this message. That is perhaps about as close to a real time machine as we may ever get. I’d like to think this album is the best result I’ve achieved to that end.

Image for post A still from Skytree’s music video for “Out There.” Source: Instagram / Skytreemusic.

I want to talk with you more about your current project, linking up piezoelectric sensors to crystals to send CV signals to modular synthesizers. As someone who actually ate Moon dust as a kid, can you please wax philosophical about making music from stones, and what it is about this that stimulates your artistic or scientific imagination?

My grandfather was the chief of security at NASA during Apollo, and served there for 25 years. One of his most recognizable accomplishments was that he was personally responsible for safely transporting Moon specimens for public viewing and analysis from the NASA archives to the Smithsonian, where many of them are still on display today. He accompanied them on the last leg of their journey to the public’s eye. As a kid, I remember visiting the Smithsonian with my family and marveling at how he was a small but notable part of that incredible accomplishment.

Shortly thereafter, I took that a step too far and snuck a small taste of his personal sample of Moon dust while he was mowing his lawn. I was 8 years old. I remember carefully observing how long it took him to mow the lawn, when it obstructed his view into his house, where he kept his display case keys in his home office, and noting where the small step stool was that I needed to reach the top shelf. It wasn’t so much out of mischief, though outfoxing NASA’s former chief of security, as a child, on the very artifacts he was dutied to protect…feels pretty funny now. Rather, it was more out of a genuine need to try it. Something in me just had to see if I could eat part of the Moon. I did. It tasted chalky, powdery — about what you’d expect. If he were still alive today I wouldn’t dare share this story. He was a hardass and not someone to cross. (Rest in peace, Grandpa.)

So, my love of rocks goes pretty deep. For years, my artist bio has read, “sounds generated by minerals, plants, animals and artifacts.” This used to be tongue-in-cheek, avoiding genres, but I am now quite literally making sounds generated by minerals and plants, plus my already extensive use of animals and artifacts.

This series of experiments scratches a very particular itch. My favorite areas of any museum have always been geology and mineralogy. I remember staring into displays filled with crystals for so long my parents would have to pull me away — especially if they were interactive, illustrating principles like stratification, fossilization, or piezoelectricity. Ever since learning about the use of piezoelectric resonators and components in everyday electronics like radios and computers, I couldn’t help but wonder…could this same effect be demonstrated on a raw quartz point? It turns out it’s not even that difficult.

Just weeks ago, I found a successful method for turning raw quartz pieces in my collection into surprisingly effective piezoelectric pickups. Though I’d used standard factory-made piezos for years, making vibrations onto the surface of a crystal and hearing them come ringing through my headphones was an absolutely magical moment. All that’s needed is some copper tape, copper wire, the right leads, some amplification and signal processing to remove noise. Two electrodes are taped on opposite faces of the crystal point — one out of three sets of faces tends to work best and provides the greatest voltage output. Some crystals work better than others.

Image for post Skytree uses a transducer to vibrate a crystal and records the output via piezoelectric signal. Source: Instagram / Skytreemusic.

At first I went for the tried-and-true approach of simply whacking on these specimens with a mallet, but I’ve gotten more refined with it. Using a function generator (output from a fancy oscilloscope) and a transducer (effectively a speaker without the cone), I’ve been able to impart specific frequencies onto quartz specimens, find resonant points, and record the resulting audio. Moreover, I’ve been able to use this piezoelectric signal as control voltage for my modular synth. I can’t underscore enough how much excitement and motivation this brings me and how happy I am to share this. There’s something incredible about using relatively unaltered geological specimens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years old, in a modular synthesizer in 02021. It feels like a very raw and timeless dialogue between my creative self and immense forces of nature.

Image for post Still from a video of Skytree explaining his modular “geosonification” rig. Source: Instagram / Skytreemusic.

I’m already imagining the crystal keyboard in the dash of Carl Sagan’s Ship of the Imagination, only it’s a Moog.

I’ve also been experimenting with using conductive specimens like meteorite and native copper as crude theremin antennae, to send control voltage to synth modules. This is far easier to set up than the piezoelectric experiments, but nonetheless highlights important and useful physical principles of these materials. My next experiments will involve pyrite, which shifts from an insulator to semiconductor to conductor depending on the strength of the magnetic field it’s exposed to. An electromagnet is sitting on my desk and ready to aid my continued explorations of literal rock music. For the time being, I’m calling this process “geosonification” as a nod to using plants in synthesis under the guise of “biosonification.”

It gives me a way to integrate my loves of music and science and make mutually reinforcing discoveries. With music, I often discover more about myself. With science experiments, I discover more about the world. Combining the two, I get both. It keeps me playing and interested. I’m not an exceptionally talented instrumentalist, but this gives me a way to tread new ground using some of the oldest tricks on Earth.

Since you mentioned plants, and as far as leaving a record for the future is concerned, we’re having this exchange in the context of the growing popularity of attaching sensors and MIDI converters to plants, and sonifying data in general. Data sonification seems key in the ongoing work of making multiple spatiotemporal scales easier to grasp and work with. And “letting plants speak” in music seems par for the course right now, as the Wood Wide Web becomes a colloquial idea and we collectively grapple with the ideas of personhood for companies or ecosystems operating on vastly different timescales.

Yeah, to the point of piezoelectrcity and plants, I have a synth module that turns subtle variations in capacitance from a plant, person or other semiconductor into usable control voltages. My dad has been a huge inspiration with all this. He recently retired after 27 years in the National Park Service as midwest region radio manager. Growing up, there were always electronics around; I was exposed to the fundamentals of these technologies pretty early on and first burned my hand on a soldering iron when I was ten.

One of the most fascinating stories my dad ever told me was about an unexplained vast radio deadzone in National Park land. It turned out that a miles-long row of trees had grown into an old line of forgotten barbed wire fence. This grid of metal wire turned the electrolytic trees into a giant capacitor, which significantly disrupted radio propagation in the entire region. That’s a pretty seamless, unintended, and unexpected blend of nature and technology. It’s also a reminder there really is a hidden dimension of energy running through things, and sometimes you find it by accident.

That’s a fine place to end this.

Thanks, Michael and Long Now, for your inspiring work, and thank you to all the long-view thinkers out there that share a sense of wonder, awe, and stillness when gazing into the unknowable future.

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The Time Machine 77 Million Paintings generative artwork (02007).

Editor’s Note: This paper was sent our way by its lead author, Henry McGhie. It was originally published in Museum & Society, July 2020. 18(2) 183-197. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. No changes have been made. 

The Time Machine: challenging perceptions of time and place to enhance climate change engagement through museums

By Henry McGhie*, Sarah Mander**, Asher Minns***


This article proposes that applying time-related concepts in museum exhibitions and events can contribute constructively to people’s engagement with climate change. Climate change now and future presents particular challenges as it is perceived to be psychologically distant. The link between this distance and effective climate action is complex and presents an opportunity for museums, as sites where psychological distance can be explored in safe, consequence-free ways. This paper explores how museums can help people develop an understanding of their place within the rhetoric of climate change, and assist them with their personal or collective response to the climate challenge. To do so, we find that two time- and place-related concepts, Brian Eno’s the Big Here and Long Now and Foucault’s heterotopia, can provide useful framings through which museums can support constructive climate change engagement.

Key words: Museums, climate change, futures, engagement, psychological distance

1. Introduction

Climate change presents one of the most serious challenges to human society and the environment, where both reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change involve major systemic change to society and the economy. Given the scale, nature and speed of these systemic changes, greater public engagement has been considered to be essential for numerous reasons, including the building of democratic support for action (see for example Carvalho and Peterson 2012), and to improve policy making (Pidgeon and Fischhoff 2011), notably through the incorporation of diverse perspectives (Chilvers et al. 2018). From an international climate change policy perspective, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1992) and Paris Agreement (2015) each include an article on education, training, public awareness, public participation and access to information (article 6, which also includes ‘international co-operation’, and article 12 respectively, referred to jointly as Action for Climate Empowerment).¹ The UN Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint for international sustainable development from 2015–30, include a goal (13) to ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’; this goal includes a target to ‘Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning’.²

Climate change engagement may be defined as ‘an ongoing personal state of connection’ with the issue of climate change (Lorenzoni et al. 2007: 446; Whitmarsh et al. 2011). As connection incorporates a broad range of aspects that constitute what we think, feel and do about climate change — cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral aspects — simply knowing more about climate change does not necessarily promote action and, where information provision does not provide people with an understanding of the actions that are needed or is demotivating, it can inadvertently disempower people (Moser and Dilling 2004; O’Neill and Nicholson-Cole 2009). The three elements of climate change engagement — cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural — approximate to the three domains of the learning model used by UNESCO as a framework for Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); GCED aims to educate people ‘to know, to do, to be, and to live together’, empowering learners of all ages to play an active role in overcoming global challenges (UNESCO 2015: 22; see also UNESCO 2017).

Cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural aspects connect in non-linear, non- sequential ways, but are iterative and dialogical. Engaging constructively with all three aspects presents a plausible route towards constructive engagement with the topic, allowing people to make sense of climate change in their daily lives, connecting thoughts and concerns with choices and actions (Lorenzoni et al. 2007).

Museums have the potential to be important venues to promote public education, empowerment and action around climate change (see below), and were formally recognized at COP24 in Katowice (Poland) in December 2018 as key sites for supporting Action for Climate Empowerment.³ In this paper, we explore two questions: 1) how can museums help people develop their understanding of what climate change means to them? and 2) how can museums help facilitate a response to the climate challenge? These questions are explored using two concepts, Michel Foucault’s work on heterotopias and Brian Eno’s the Big Here and Long Now. We suggest that these can be used to challenge conventional ways of thinking about time and place, and frame climate change engagement in museums in a way that allows people to negotiate and navigate the psychological distance of climate change in constructive ways. In Section 2 we provide an overview of the potential roles of museums in responding to climate change; in Section 3 we discuss the literature on psychological distance. In Sections 4 and 5 we present Michel Foucault’s work on heterotopias, and Brian Eno’s the Big Here and Long Now, in relation to climate change focused exhibitions in museums.

2. Museums and climate change

Fiona Cameron and her colleagues have written extensively on the role[s] of museums in the context of climate change. They explored the current and potential roles of museums (specifically, natural history museums, science museums and science centres) in society in relation to climate change, in Australia and the US as part of the ‘Hot Science Global Citizens: The Agency of the Museum Sector in Climate Change Interventions’ project (2008–12). Their results demonstrated significant differences between the current and desired roles of museums in respect of climate change among the public and museum workers. The project suggested nine strategic positions for museums to adopt to better meet the desires of their publics, as well as key role changes for science centres and museums (based on large differences between public and museums’ desires for particular positions) (Cameron 2011, 2012). Results of the ‘Hot Science’ project were used to develop a set of nine principles intended to support museums and science centres to act meaningfully on climate change (Cameron et al. 2013).

Cameron (2010) introduced the concepts of ‘liquid museums’ and ‘liquid governmentalities’ to explore how museums can support action and empowerment around contemporary issues such as climate change, without exercising authoritarian control (see also Cameron 2007, 2011). Cameron et al. (2013: 9) wrote

The big task of the museum sector is not only to inform publics on the science of climate change but also to equip citizens with tactical knowledges that enable participation in actions and debates on climate change that affect their futures.

They also suggested that

museums and science centers can engage a future-oriented, forward thinking frame, as places to link the past to the far future through projections of what might happen as places to offer practical governance options and as places to present long-term temporal trajectories. They offer an antidote to short-term thinking and the failure of governments to act, by presenting the variable dispositions, ideologies, and governance options, thereby constructing a mediated view of the future as a series of creative pathways (Cameron et al. 2013: 11; see also Cameron and Neilson 2015).

Notwithstanding the wide potential of museums to contribute meaningfully to addressing the challenges of climate change, Canadian Robert Janes has noted that, for the most part, museums have been slow to incorporate climate change into their work, risking their own long-term relevance (Janes 2009, 2016).

In Curating the Future, Newell et al. proposed that museums can be effective places for supporting discussion and action to address climate change. Through a wide range of case studies that read or re-read objects and exhibitions in the context of rapid climate change, they explored how contemporary museums have been adjusting their conceptual, material and organizational structures to reposition themselves on four deeply rooted trajectories that separate colonized and colonizer, Nature and Culture, local and global, authority and uncertainty (Newell et al. 2017).

Rather than direct their attention to protecting material from the past, museums can direct their work (the full range of their work, including collecting and public-facing work) towards supporting and enabling better futures more actively. Natural history museums and science centres could readily engage around contemporary issues such as climate change and other environmental topics (as could many other kinds of museums) to become ‘natural futures museums’; military museums could focus on topics around the causes and consequences of contemporary wars in order to reduce future conflicts; and ethnographic museums could emphasize issues around cultural diversity and identity in the face of globalization and social inequality (see e.g. Basu and Modest 2015; Dorfman 2018). This approach recognizes the interconnectedness of different forms of heritage — material, natural, cultural and intangible — and connects with emerging ideas of heritage as a future-making practice, e.g.

heritage is not a passive process of simply preserving things from the past that we choose to hold up as a mirror to the present, associated with a particular set of values that we wish to take with us into the future. Thinking of heritage as a creative engagement with the past in the present focuses our attention on our ability to take an active and informed role in the production of our own ‘tomorrow’ (Harrison 2013: 4).

In previous work, we have proposed sets of recommendations for museums, to support them to develop constructive climate change engagement activities (McGhie et al. 2018; McGhie 2019). The present paper builds on these contributions, by providing a more theoretical framework drawing on applied social psychology perspectives.

3. Psychological distance, climate change and museums

From the perspective of many in the Global North, climate change is widely perceived to be a distant phenomenon, something which will happen in the future, in far-away places (so impacting most on those in the Global South), and which has great uncertainty associated with it in terms of the likelihood, scale and nature of impacts. The proximity of climate change can be usefully described in terms of ‘psychological distance’, a theoretical construct defined as ‘a subjective perception of distance between the self and some object, event, or person’ (Wang et al. 2019). Four dimensions of psychological distance have been identified: temporal distance (time), spatial distance (place), social distance (cultural difference), and hypothetical distance (certainty or uncertainty) (Trope and Liberman 2010). These, together, describe the ‘perception of when [an event] occurs, where it occurs, to whom it occurs and whether it occurs’ (Trope and Liberman 2010: 442, quoted in Wang et al. 2019: 2).

As the need to mitigate climate change becomes more urgent (Committee on Climate Change 2019a, 2019b) and climate impacts are felt more strongly (see for example Burke and Stott, 2017; Van Oldenborgh et al. 2017), the influence of the proximity of climate change on people’s decisions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or adapt to climate impacts has been suggested as ‘a promising strategy for increasing public engagement with climate change’ (Jones et al. 2017). Reducing psychological distance has frequently been suggested as a means of increasing public engagement with, and action to address, climate change (see Schuldt et al. 2018 for references). There is indeed evidence from several studies that public concern about climate change decreases as the psychological distance of climate change increases, but this is not a simple or straightforward panacea (see Wang et al. 2019 for references). Exploring whether pro-environmental behaviour was best predicted by concrete, close perceptions of climate change (psychological closeness), or abstract, distant perceptions (large psychological distance), Spence et al. (2012) found that, among a nationally representative cohort of people in Britain aged over fifteen years of age (N=1,822), psychological closeness with energy futures and climate change was associated with higher levels of concern and preparedness to reduce energy consumption; so, people who have direct experience of climate impacts, which brings it close in terms of time, place and certainty, have been reported as being more willing to take mitigation actions (Spence et al. 2012; Broomell et al. 2015). However, Spence et al. (2012) also found that greater distance on the social distance dimension was associated with higher preparedness to take personal action, with people expressing concern for people in the Global South who were likely to be personally more seriously impacted by climate change than the survey respondents considered they would be themselves.

Scholars have considered climate change and psychological distance in relation to Construal Level Theory (Brügger et al. 2016; Griffioen et al. 2016; Wang et al. 2019), which is concerned with the ways in which our mental representations depend on their closeness to our present situation. Phenomena of which we have direct experience, or which are close to our present situation, require little mental effort to interpret or construe (low-level construal). By contrast, phenomena which are spatially, temporally or socially distant, or where there is inherent uncertainty, require a greater amount of effort to be represented mentally, and will result in high-level construals which will be more abstract and less concrete (Brügger et al. 2016). According to this rationale, if climate change is perceived as distant, it may be conceived in an abstract way. Abstractness has been found to encourage a goal-centred mind-set, allowing for the exploration of more distant, creative solutions (Liberman and Trope 2008), and enhancing self-control (Trope and Liberman 2010, see Wang et al. 2019). However, a concrete construal of climate change may promote psychological closeness, which may foster concern (Trope and Liberman 2010; Van Boven et al. 2010). Wang et al. (2019) found that psychological closeness to climate change predicted pro-environmental behaviour, while construal level produced inconsistent results; manipulations of both features did not increase pro-environmental behaviour. They also found that the presumed close association between psychological distance and construal level may not hold true in the case of climate change.

In one study on construal level and environmental issues, interventions were most effective when participants were asked to find an abstract goal in a specific context, or a specific goal in an abstract context, in that they facilitated both a greater awareness and a consideration of how to take personal action (Rabinovich et al. 2009; see also Ejelöv et al. 2018). Moreover, McDonald et al. (2015) found a complex relationship, where direct experience (short psychological distance) did not necessarily lead to action, and that ‘the optimal framing of psychological distance depends on 1) the values, beliefs and norms of the audience, and 2) the need to avoid provoking fear and resulting avoidant emotional reactions’. To Wang et al., this ‘suggests that both psychological closeness and distance can promote pro-environmental action in different contexts’ (Wang et al. 2019: 3).

Overall, research in this area demonstrates that the relationship between psychological distance and climate change is complex, but many scholars have pointed out that inspiring more, or sufficient, action on climate change is not simply a matter of bringing climate change closer (see for example Brügger et al. 2015; McDonald et al. 2015; Brügger et al. 2016; Schuldt et al. 2018; Wang et al. 2019).

A role for museums

Clearly, climate change presents an especially complex topic when considering psychological distance and construal level. However, acknowledging this complexity and considering the dimensions of psychological distance and construal level within the design of, and intended outcomes from, climate change engagement activities has the potential to increase their effectiveness. This may help promote people’s constructive engagement with climate change as a result, and offers a distinctive role for museums to play.

Climate change engagement activities may provide opportunities to explore climate change considering the social, spatial (see for example Lorenzoni et al. 2007; Spence et al. 2012) and temporal dimensions of psychological distance and climate change (see for example Rabinovich et al. 2010). These we consider to be of particular relevance in a museum setting as museums use their artefacts, collections and exhibits to connect (‘engage’) visitors with other places and times. They use their collections to tell and create stories in formal, informal and non-formal educational activities that can resonate with, or challenge, the values and world views of their visitors (McGhie et al. 2018; McGhie 2019). Science museums and science centres can also play a particular role in supporting people to understand the key importance of uncertainty and probability in science, which relates to the hypothetical dimension of psychological distance and climate change. Increasing numbers of museums are also seeing themselves as place-makers or spaces for activism, and are actively trying to engage people with thinking about the future (e.g. Janes 2016; Janes and Sandell 2019).

We now move on to present the Big Here and Long Now and heterotopia, two concepts that provide alternative ways of thinking about time and place. We consider how these can usefully be ‘deployed’ to frame museum engagement on climate change and provide examples of where museums are using them.

4. The Big Here and Long Now

Observing the fast pace of New York lifestyles, musician Brian Eno observed ‘everyone seemed to be passing through. It was undeniably lively, but the downside was that it seemed selfish, irresponsible and randomly dangerous’. Eno conceived of this as a ‘short now’, with a fast pace of life, and short timeframes for decisions and for considering the impacts of those decisions. However, this also suggested to Eno the possibility of the opposite, the ‘long now’. Eno also considered how people think about ‘here’: for some it is their immediate surroundings, a ‘small here’, while for others the spatial scale is wider, encompassing neighbourhoods, towns and indeed the world, a ‘big here’. Eno conceived of a ‘Big Here’ and ‘Long Now’, combining these considerations of place and time respectively.⁴

The idea of the Long Now became a manifesto for the Foundation of the Long Now, established in 1996 to encourage a long-term view and stewardship of the long-term (Brand 1999). The first project of the Foundation was the idea of a 10,000-year clock, which is currently being built in Texas (see Brand 1999 for background). Futurist Danny Hillis, who devised the concept of the clock, wrote:

I cannot imagine the future, but I care about it. I know I am a part of a story that starts long before I can remember and continues long beyond when anyone will remember me. I sense that I am alive at a time of important change, and I feel a responsibility to make sure that the change comes out well. I plant my acorns knowing that I will never live to harvest the oaks. I have hope for the future.⁵

Kevin Kelly, also of the Long Now Foundation, popularized a quiz developed by naturalist Peter Warshall, which aimed to encourage people to think in a larger geographical context, namely a river’s watershed.⁶ Kelly broadened the concept to encourage people to think on a macro scale, to constitute a Big Here, which could extend to a country, the planet or indeed beyond the planetary scale. The combination of the Big Here and Long Now has been adopted by the Long Now Foundation as a means for broadening both a sense of place and time, that ‘now’ is not a particular moment but a moment that connects with what has gone before and what will follow, and ‘here’ is bigger than the small piece of ground that we stand upon. ‘Now’ and ‘here’ become entirely subjective in terms of their scope.

Conceptualizing and framing climate change in terms of the Big Here and Long Now, in contrast to the Small Here and Short Now, opens a space for stretching our thinking about place from beyond our immediate surroundings and towards a broader conceptualization of society, both spatially and temporally. This draws our attention to processes, contexts and consequences of decisions — our individual and collective decisions — over a broad range of scales and timeframes. Such an approach may help promote climate change engagement in people’s everyday lives, and climate action through responsible, sustainable consumption.

5. Heterotopia

The Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals represent an idealized, desired future state. This is a utopia, in the properly ambiguous sense of the word: both an ‘ideal place’ (a ‘eutopia’) and, being in the future, a ‘nowhere place’ (an ‘outopia’) (see, especially, Marin 1984, 1992; Hetherington 1997). In exploring and envisioning this ‘other place’, we can draw on one of the most familiar time-related concepts relating to museums, Michel Foucault’s concept of museums as heterotopia. Foucault introduced the concept in 1967, during a period of work that was concerned with archaeology and archives (Foucault 1986, 1998; see Hetherington 2015). Foucault noted ‘we are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed’ (Foucault 1986: 22). Foucault distinguished sites that have the ‘curious property’, that ‘suspect, neutralize, or invent the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect’ (Foucault 1986: 24). He identified two such sites; firstly, utopias, sites with no real place that represent society in a perfected form. Secondly, there were sites,

something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality (Foucault 1986: 24).

These are, of course, Foucault’s heterotopia. Hetherington has built on this definition, to construe heterotopia as ‘spaces of alternate ordering. Heterotopia organize a bit of the social world in a way different to that which surrounds them’ (Hetherington 1997: viii). Foucault held there to be six principles of heterotopia: firstly, that they probably exist in every culture. Second, and importantly for our purposes, that heterotopia can be made to function in a very different fashion at different times. Third, the heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing several sites and spaces that are themselves incompatible. Fourth, heterotopia are most often linked to slices in time, and ‘the heterotopia begins to function at full capacity when men arrive at a sort of absolute break with their traditional time’ (Foucault 1986: 26). Most notably, in this respect, Foucault wrote:

…there are heterotopias of indefinitely accumulating time, for example museums and libraries. Museums and libraries have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit, whereas in the seventeenth century, even at the end of the century, museums and libraries were the expression of an individual choice. By contrast, the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity. The museum and the library are heterotopias that are proper to western culture of the nineteenth century (Foucault 1986: 26).

Fifth, heterotopia are not freely accessible: there are limitations or rules around their openness. Finally, heterotopia have a function in relation to all remaining space, either ‘to create a space of illusion that exposes every real space’; ‘their role is to create a space that is other, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours is messy, ill constructed, and jumbled’ (Foucault 1986: 27). Hetherington notes that heterotopia are ambiguously articulated, whether as ‘other places / places of otherness / emplacements of the other’ (Hetherington 2015: 35).

While Foucault’s work on heterotopia has, understandably, been related to museums (see Lord 2006 for examples), as Lord points out, Foucault’s primary discussion of museums as heterotopia was in terms of the building of an archive: of the materiality of the museum that builds up and the knowledges associated with that material, rather than the constant creation and recreation of the past from an interrogation of that material (they ‘endlessly accumulate times in one space through the material objects they contain and the knowledge associated with them’ (Hetherington 2015: 35)). Lord expanded on Foucault’s work on heterotopia to emphasise the key importance of narrative and interpretation in museums’ function as heterotopia:

The museum is the space in which the difference inherent in its content is experienced. It is the difference between things and words, or between objects and conceptual structures: what Foucault calls the ‘space of representation’ (1970: 130)… the space of representation is the heterotopia (Lord 2006: 4–5).

It is worth noting that museums’ attempts to represent everything or to ‘constitute a place of all times that is itself outside time’, to draw on Foucault’s phrase (Foucault 1986: 26, see Hooper-Greenhill 2000; Lord 2006), are increasingly unsustainable or impossible. Their attempts to exist ‘outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages’ (Foucault 1986: 26) are similarly tested by social, economic and environmental challenges, including climate change.

Heterotopia can be repurposed to explore the time that does not yet exist, the future, exploring Foucault’s brief mention on utopias as sites that ‘have a general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space of Society. They represent society itself in a perfected form, or else society turned upside down, but in any case these utopias are fundamentally unreal spaces’ (Foucault 1986: 24).⁷ Lord notes how ‘the definition of museum as heterotopia explains how the museum can be progressive without subscribing to politically problematic notions of universality or ‘total history’, but as a ‘growth of capabilities’’. She concludes that ‘museums are best placed to critique, contest and transgress those problematic notions, precisely on the basis of their Enlightenment lineage’ (Lord 2006: 12). Here, then, we can see potential for museums as sites for subverting and imagining other potential societies and futures, and a ‘growth of capabilities’ speaks well to the language of a productive future where, in the language of the Sustainable Development Goals ‘no-one is left behind’.

Figure 1. In Human Time exhibition, Climate Museum, New York, showing Peggy Weil’s film 88 Cores, image credit: Sari Goodfriend, courtesy of the Climate Museum. 6. Applying the Big Here and Long Now, and heterotopia in museums

In this section we consider how the two aforementioned concepts can be related to exhibitions and events linked to climate change, and how they can be factored into new developments. Museums typically have collections shown in exhibits that originate from different time periods and places, which speak to both the Big Here and the Long Now, extending the viewer’s or participant’s ‘here’ or ‘now’. Considering the Big Here and Long Now can provide a useful context for exploring issues such as climate change, sustainability and citizenship, and can be seen in many exhibitions about climate change. The Big Here and Long Now becomes a useful lens which, together with considerations of psychological distance and construal level, allows us to consider how museum interventions are aligning, or not, with these concepts.

To take one example, the recent exhibition Human Nature (2019–20) at the World Cultures Museum in Stockholm conveys the key message ‘it’s all connected. How we live our lives is closely related to the state of our earth’.⁸ This exhibition and this strapline extend our sense of the here and now; they seem to attempt to reduce psychological distance, linking our lives with their impacts; by giving form and voice to these relationships the museum appears to make our construal of the relationship more concrete. The Climate Museum in New York staged a two-part exhibition, In Human Time (2017–18) by Peggy Weil and Zaria Forman, to explore ‘intersections of polar ice, humanity, and time’ (fig. 1).⁹ A film, by Peggy Weil, shows close-ups of ice cores that were drilled down two miles into the Greenland Ice Sheet, spanning 110,000 years; the film pans very slowly over the ice core, revealing the subtle changes in colour, bubbles and texture of the ice. Weil wrote ‘The pace and scale of the work is a gesture towards deep time and the gravity of climate change’.¹⁰ Zaria Forman’s work consisted of a reproduction of a hyper-realistic image of an Antarctic iceberg, grounded in an ‘iceberg graveyard’ in Antarctica. The image was accompanied by a timelapse video, illustrating the process of the creation of the image. This single exhibition, in two parts, demonstrates a complex interplay of the concepts of the Big Here and Long Now, with the long timescale of the development of the ice in the ice core reflected in the slow pace of the film. The grounded, melting iceberg in the Antarctic reflects a concrete construal of the effects of climate change, while the far away nature of the Antarctic speaks of a large psychological distance.

Figure 2. Climate Control exhibition, Manchester Museum, UK, 2016, showing two entrances where visitors decided whether to explore the past or the future. Image credit: Gareth Gardner.

To take another example, the exhibition Climate Control was shown at Manchester Museum (University of Manchester) during the city’s time as European City of Science in 2015–16. Two of the authors (HM and SM) were involved in the development of the exhibition and accompanying programme. The exhibition was accompanied by a range of activities, developed in partnership with and involving academics from the University of Manchester and a range of NGOs and community organizations, as well as Manchester Climate Change Agency, which is responsible for developing and overseeing the city’s climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. Through these partnerships, the exhibition was used as the inspiration for, and reinterpreted through, a range of engagement activities to promote climate change awareness, adaptation and mitigation.

The exhibition had two entrances where visitors could choose either to explore climate change in the past (and present) or the future (fig. 2). The section of the exhibit on the past (and present) included exhibits on fossil fuels and fossils from millions of years ago, a range of Arcic wildlife impacted by climate change today, and photographs of people impacted by climate change around the world. The exhibit emphasized the connection between events over very long timescales: the trapping of sunlight by plants millions of years ago, their preservation as fossils, and the burning of fossil fuels over the last three centuries. It also emphasized the connection between far-distant places: the burning of fossil fuels in industrial countries, and climate impacts in the Arctic and around the world. The connection was illustrated by birds that spend the summer in the Arctic and migrate to the UK in the winter, to foster a sense of shared wildlife. Images of people affected by flooding in Bangladesh, sea-level rise in Belize, and people who rely on meltwater from vanishing glaciers in Ladakh and Peru, showed the real-life impacts of climate change on people round the world. The exhibit explored climate change from a local, place-specific context, in terms of the industrial history of Manchester, a global dimension linking Manchester to the Arctic, and to a range of different communities around the world. A taxidermy mount of a Polar Bear was accompanied by the open-ended question ‘are we so different?’. This exhibition thus approached climate change from an abstract and concrete construal level, brought in various psychological distances, and was strongly linked with the Big Here and Long Now concept. The viewer or participant was always intended to be psychologically close to the place – the museum and exhibition gallery – where the exhibition was shown.

Seeking to empower visitors to the Climate Control exhibition to consider their place in this and the myriad of possible alternative future worlds, the other half of the exhibition was entitled ‘explore the future’. This part of the exhibition did not contain museum objects, but instead was a space with information on climate change action at local, national and international scales and activities which invited people to share ideas on ‘changing the future’ and to reflect on the ideas of others. The exhibition was intended to look unfinished when it first opened, as the future is not set in stone. This part of the exhibition was, we feel, a heterotopia in the sense that it asked people to create a place that is not a real place, but which has a role in relation to the external world.

The two halves of the exhibition were divided by a central wall. Visitors to the ‘explore the past’ section were invited to stick a small black sticker to a white wall to represent their carbon footprint, and to emphasize that together we make a large collective impact. This can be regarded as a concrete construal level. On the reverse side of the wall, in the ‘explore the future’ section, visitors were invited to add stickers on which they wrote their ideas on how to create a sustainable future. This, being abstract, we feel represented a higher construal level.

The accompanying engagement activities, developed in partnership with community organizations and academics, further sought to engage visitors to the museum with climate change in novel and multi-sensory ways, encouraging them to think about climate change in terms of time and place. During exhibition opening hours, researchers and practitioners invited visitors to take part in ‘Climate Conversations’, talking and telling their own climate change story. Each person took a different approach to their ‘climate conversation’ using experiments, computer simulations, stories, data and objects as the jumping off points for discussion; the purpose was not to provide information, but instead to present a diverse range of perspectives on the meaning of climate change in the lives of researchers and practitioners and, in so doing, invite visitors to think about what climate change meant to them. Climate Control sought to elicit new visions from the people of Manchester for their city, through the co-creation of alternative futures in the heterotopia of the museum. This took place in different ways including creative mapping and facilitated sessions based on Manchester’s Climate Change Strategy, where people built their visions for a sustainable Manchester from Lego, guided by policies on mitigation and adaptation from the city’s climate strategy.¹¹

The triangulation of academia, public engagement and public policy raised challenges of working together, but was aimed at supporting the development of climate change policies within the city, and promoting civic participation among the public. Climate Control drew upon Manchester’s industrial heritage and its inextricable link to climate change to create public opportunities directed towards shaping the future (McGhie et al. 2018; McGhie 2019).

7. Discussion

As the need for climate action becomes ever more urgent, we argue in this paper that museums have a key role to play, providing a space where people can work through the meaning of climate change in their own lives, and in inspiring and supporting climate actions. More ambitiously, however, we argue that museums can support people’s constructive, meaningful and impactful climate change engagement beyond the museum, by developing exhibitions and other events which recognize the psychological distance of climate change. Whilst making climate change closer — more immediate, personal or concrete — is not a silver bullet for enhancing climate change awareness, empowerment and action, working with psychological distance, in terms of time, place and uncertainty in museums, contributes to the perceived distance of climate change from people’s everyday lives, which can be a barrier to climate action.

Framing climate engagement through the Big Here and Long Now offers the opportunity to change perceptions of time and place, enabling people to explore and question the relationship between the local and the global or national, and recognize that their ‘now’ is merely a stopping off point between the past and multiple possible futures which have yet to be created. Through their exhibitions, museums can develop narratives which align with the multiple values of their visitors, telling different stories at the same time. Depending on the narrative, climate change can be made less abstract, or alternatively a narrative could be framed around the abstract aspect of climate change to encourage people to reflect on rights, responsibilities and morality. We suggest that the combination of the Big Here and Long Now with the concept of the heterotopia presents a particularly powerful approach, combining a deep exploration of ‘where we are now’, from the Big Here and Long Now, with a vision-creating element from the heterotopia: where we are trying to get to. This enriched understanding provides opportunities to explore how we, individually and collectively, will bridge the difference between our current state and the state we desire, regarding climate change.

Museums have a unique role as trusted organizations and spaces where people come not only to be entertained but also to learn; increasingly museums are using their collections in creative ways as sites of social change. Working in collaboration with partners, museums can be part of a coalition of action on climate change, as Manchester Museum sought to do with the Climate Control exhibition and associated activities. For example, the co-creation of future visions for Manchester out of Lego allowed people to explore alternative visions, with such models having a ‘performative’ purpose, moving discussions away from targets to places, lives and communities. Working with different conceptions of time and place can give people a sense of agency, whereby transformation is something created by people, rather than happening to them (see Cameron and Deslandes 2011). Museums can aim to work with people, as individuals and communities, in co-production and co-creation, to give people agency in their future and its creation: ‘Rather than treating audiences as passive species bodies to be reformed, museums need to acknowledge the creative potential of their audiences as valued actors having valued opinions and expertise, skills, capacities, desires, expectations, reflexive capabilities and imagination’ (Cameron 2011: 100).

Museums have the potential to provide people with opportunities to explore alternative pasts, presents and futures, and to negotiate the connections (and disconnections) between local and global dimensions, and short and long-term temporalities; in other words, museums can help people (individually and collectively) negotiate the psychological distance dimensions of climate change, and connect them with their own lives. Focussing on local and immediate situations has perhaps the greatest potential to empower people and to consider personal contribution, community and citizenship; while long-term dimensions can provide greater opportunity for creative exploration of more radically different, structural changes to society. ‘Starting’ with the local may engage people who are not immediately concerned with exploring more abstract ideas of the future. The combination of creative, interactive experiences mentioned above, which draw on people’s own ideas as much as projecting ‘museum narrative’ for people to consume, provides a more plausible route for supporting people’s ongoing, constructive engagement and dialogue with climate change beyond the museum, going beyond ‘mere’ intellectual understanding to self-knowledge. Providing opportunities for people to understand, share and respond as part of museum experiences provides opportunities for people to explore and begin to create possible futures together in a safe environment.

If we are to transform society, and our lives, we need spaces that support transformation and that create opportunities to imagine, design and begin to create desirable futures. When we think about the future, we normally do so in the box of our town, our house, our lives. In a museum you are transported to a different place; accepting the museum’s function as heterotopia can free you up to imagine new futures with different boundaries and free to explore different times and places (at least in some sense): surely a kind of ‘partly enacted utopia’ that can be put to work. By providing a space (physical and intellectual) and a frame to consider the present as a point on the journey from the past to one of a myriad of possible futures, museums can begin to reposition themselves to actively promote civic participation and action around climate change.

Received: 5 September 2018 

Finally accepted: 11 Mar 2020


An early version of this paper was presented (by HM) at the 25th International Congress of the History of Science and Technology (Rio de Janeiro, July 2017) in a symposium on ‘Narratives of Future Earth’. HM and SM are grateful to Dr. David Gelsthorpe, Anna Bunney (both Manchester Museum), Dr. Rebecca Cunningham (University of Technology, Sydney) and Jonny Sadler (Manchester Climate Change Agency) for help in developing the Climate Control programme at Manchester Museum.


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*Henry McGhie, Curating Tomorrow, 40 Acuba Road, Liverpool UK, L15 7LR,
 Tel: 07402 659 372

Henry McGhie has a background as an ornithologist, museum curator and senior manager. He has been working on sustainability, climate change and museums for over 15 years, developing exhibitions, working with local and international policy workers, organizing international conferences and editing two books on the subject. He established Curating Tomorrow in 2019 as a consultancy for museums and the heritage sector, helping them draw on their unique resources to enhance their contributions to society and the natural environment, the Sustainable Development Goals, climate action and nature conservation. He is a member of the International Council of Museums Working Group on Sustainability.

**Sarah Mander, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, M13 9QL,
 Tel: 0161 3063259

Dr Sarah Mander is a Reader in Energy and Climate Policy and an interdisciplinary energy researcher, with over a decade’s experience using deliberative and participatory approaches to understand social, institutional and governance barriers to climate mitigation. For the past five years, she has coordinated Tyndall Manchester’s public engagement activities, working with museums, schools and community organizations to develop arts-based and creative approaches to climate change engagement, including theatre games and performance art. Dr Mander is a member of the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), where her work combines her expertise in social responses to low-carbon technology with her belief that, in the absence of effective action on climate change from governments, innovation by grass-roots organizations is key to driving the low-carbon transition.

***Asher Minns, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich,

Asher Minns is a science communicator specialising in knowledge transfer of climate change and other global change research to audiences outside of academia. He has over two decades in practice, and is also the Executive Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Fri, 05 Feb 2021 05:26:19 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art UK New York Texas London Climate Change Australia Future US Society Unesco Britain Commerce Paris Manchester United Nations Newcastle Cameron Arctic Antarctica Switzerland Peru Bangladesh Un Macmillan Greenland Brian Eno Jones Stockholm Morton Belize Neilson Time Machine Nilsson Antarctic Foundation Eno Kelly Nicholson Lawrence McDonald John Wiley Foucault Salazar Moser Burke Peterson Harrison Chichester Wang Pidgeon Ladakh University of Manchester Underhill Janes Abingdon Kevin Kelly Cullen Weil Newell Gareth Gardner Climate Control Global South O'Neill Stott Liberman Spence Environmental Research Letters PETER JOHNSON Katowice Poland Carvalho Wehner Anabela Carvalho Routledge Dorfman Griffioen Hargreaves Rickard Sandell Basu The Big Here Hine Manchester Museum Long Now Long Now Foundation Journal of Social Psychology Michel Foucault Schuldt Hetherington Peter Warshall Zaria Forman Fischhoff Robert Janes Dilling Mander Henry Mcghie Whitmarsh Chilvers Peggy Weil Van Boven Van Oldenborgh Henry McGhie Sarah Mander Asher Minns Fiona Cameron Museum Sector in Climate Change Interventions Broomell Rabinovich Futurist Danny Hillis Heterotopia Hooper Greenhill Climate Museum New York Sari Goodfriend Climate Museum World Cultures Museum Manchester Museum UK Manchester Museum University of Manchester Manchester Climate Change Agency David Gelsthorpe Anna Bunney Jonny Sadler Manchester Climate Change Agency Manchester Museum Notes Museums Heritage and International Development Routledge Brand Long Now Time Devine Wright Simon J Knell Suzanne MacLeod Sheila Watson Lynda Kelly Agency of Museums and Science Centres Cameron F R Hodge Routledge Carvalho Cambria Press Chilvers Parliament London Committee on Climate Change 2019b Progress Committee on Climate Change Dorfman E ICOM Advances in Museums Research James D Faubion Allen Lane Griffioen Beek J Lindhout Environmental and Health Domains ' Applied Studies Routledge Hetherington Andrea Witcomb Kylie Message Routledge Janes Routledge Jones Climate Change ' Risk Analysis Policy Implications ' Global Environmental Change McDonald R Walter Leal Filho Bettina Lackner Handbook of Climate Change Communication Springer Moser Newell J Robbin L Routledge O'Neill Rabinovich A Morton Kane J McGraw Leviston Z Walker Whitmarsh L O'Neill Behaviour Change and Communication London Earthscan Authors Henry McGhie Curating Tomorrow Acuba Road Liverpool UK Sarah Mander Tyndall Manchester Centre for Climate Change Asher Minns
Podcast: Queering the Future | Jason Tester The Long Now Foundation · Jason Tester – Queering the Future: How LGBTQ Foresight Can Benefit All

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?

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Spotify.

Thu, 04 Feb 2021 12:32:09 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future Culture Futures Civilization The Interval Long Now Foundation Long Now Seminars Jason Tester
13.8: Why we’re here
  • 13.8 is relaunching on Big Think today! Visit 13.8 every week to join physicists Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser as they tackle the big, serious, silly, and small questions in science.
  • What will you learn at 13.8? Adam and Marcelo will look critically at straight-up science news, from life in the universe and cognitive science to particle physics and everything that blows their minds.
  • They're also going to spend a lot of ink on where science and culture meet. That means book and movie reviews, pieces on the overlap between Buddhist views on mind and current neuroscience, and how we can tackle climate change in the face of science denial.

The world is a place of unfathomable beauty. Our highest purpose is to study its cosmic intricacies with joy and wonder. The world is a place of endless sorrow and suffering. Our highest purpose is to find ways to heal, inspire, and be useful.

Although, at first sight, these two statements may appear diametrically opposite and irreconcilable, they are woven together through our quest for meaning, being complementary aspects of what it means to be human. Even if these twin aspects of the human condition have always been at play, in our current times the various tensions and potential promises they incite frame the most important question facing us all: What is the overlap between science and culture?

How can we find a way forward with climate change in the face of such powerful science denial? How concerned should we really be about artificial intelligence? And what about other existential threats to our species?

We live in a scientifically dominated age. Virtually every aspect of our lives is now mediated in some way by science and technology. Our greatest threats, from climate change to nuclear war to the unintentional effects of AI and automation, all stem from science and technology. Our greatest expressions of hope, from medical advances to space exploration to green technologies, also rise from science. As do our greatest fears, as technology and its uses contribute to the decline of our project of civilization. Today, science can't be separated from culture: for better or for worse, their symbiotic relationship drives forward the frontiers of arts and politics.

As a result, if we really want to understand the human condition in the 21st century, we need to critically investigate the braiding of science and culture in all its glory and hope and danger.

That's what 13.8 is all about.

We started to blog more than a decade ago, when the two of us met over coffee on a sunny day at Dartmouth College. We were, then and now, both researchers passionate about our work and the boundless potential of science. But we were, and still are, just as interested in where, when, and how science influences and is influenced by the rest of human endeavor. We knew science isn't the only way human beings search for their truths. Music, poetry, religions, and the endless fight for justice also sculpt our experience of what is essential and what is fundamental, explorations of our identity and of our relations to each other and to the natural world.

So that's what we started writing about. For many years, the blog ran on NPR (where it was called 13.7 Cosmos and Culture). Then we moved to Orbiter, a remarkable online project that pushed the boundaries of reporting on science and the question of meaning. Today, we are happy to begin the next step in the journey with Big Think.

Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser

If you are not familiar with 13.8 (and we invite you to take a look at past material here), let us tell you what you can expect from our postings on Big Think. Sometimes we will cover straight-up science news. From life in the universe to the frontiers of cosmology and particle physics, or the latest developments in artificial intelligence and cognitive science, we are going to be exploring the cutting edges of science with a researcher's eye to what's solid, what's silly, and what blows our minds.

But we are also going to spend a lot of ink, (ok, not ink but electrons) on where science and culture meet. In the weeks that follow you'll find book and movie reviews, as well as pieces on the overlap between Buddhist views on mind and current neuroscience, or how the technology of Triple-A video games (like "The Last of Us II") change the art of storytelling. There will also be a lot about the future of humanity. How can we find a way forward with climate change in the face of such powerful science denial? How concerned should we really be about artificial intelligence? And what about other existential threats to our species?

We are incredibly excited to be working with Big Think on this next phase of 13.8's journey into science and the human experience. We hope you will join us and our community of followers on this exploration of the boundless frontier.

Visit 13.8 weekly for new articles by Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser.

    Wed, 03 Feb 2021 09:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Politics Science Future Culture Innovation Npr Marcelo Dartmouth College Adam Adam Frank Cosmos Marcelo Gleiser 13.8
    Smithsonian acquires artwork based on Stewart Brand epigram This Present Moment (02019-20). Via The University of North Texas.

    The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery has acquired a light sculpture based on quote from Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand’s book on long-term thinking, The Clock of the Long Now (01999).

    The epigram comes from the book’s final chapter, and has its origins in an exchange between Brand and his friend, the Beat poet Gary Snyder:

    While I was completing this book, the poet Gary Snyder sent me an epigram that had come to him:

    This present moment

    That lives on to become

    Long ago.

    I felt it was The Clock of the Long Now that responded to him:

    This present moment

    Used to be

    The unimaginable future.

    Stewart Brand, The Clock of the Long Now (01999), 163-4.

    In 02019, Alicia Eggert, an artist and professor of sculpture at The University of North Texas, created a light sculpture based on Brand’s epigram titled This Present Moment. The artwork cycles through two neon statements: “This present moment used to be the unimaginable future” and “This present moment used to be the future.”

    The Present Moment (02019-20).

    “My goal is always to say something that feels really meaningful but is always relevant — something that will be true today and 1,000 years from now,” Eggert said in a statement. “These statements from Brand are always true, but they mean different things at different times, and their meanings can vary from person to person.”

    This is Eggert’s first acquisition. The artwork will debut at the museum as part of the Renwick Gallery’s 50th anniversary exhibition in 02022.

    “Having my work in a museum was unimaginable to me for a long time,” Eggert said. “The idea that it’s going to be cared for and be viewed by people for generations to come is such an incredible thing.”

    Wed, 03 Feb 2021 05:11:20 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Quotes Art Future Smithsonian University Of North Texas Gary Snyder Renwick Gallery Eggert Alicia Eggert University of North Texas The Smithsonian
    Can scientists find the ‘holy grail’ of Alzheimer’s research?
    • Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is estimated to affect twice as many Americans by 2050, making it a troubling eventuality for many young adults.
    • There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, but clinical trials of immunotherapy approaches show promise.
    • Immunotherapies may also alleviate the psychotic symptoms of Alzheimer's, like agitation, aggression, and paranoia.

    It can be hard to conceptualize the total damage caused by Alzheimer's. The neurodegenerative disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 100,000 people each year. And as Alzheimer's progresses in the brain it not only erodes memory but also causes troubling symptoms like agitation, paranoia, and aggression.

    These burdens fall not only on patients but also on their loved ones, doctors, and caregivers. Economically, the cost of caring for Alzheimer's patients hit an estimated $305 billion in 2020, according to a report from the Alzheimer's Association. And that figure doesn't include an estimated $244 billion in unpaid caregiving provided by family and friends.

    The number of Alzheimer's patients in the U.S. is expected to double by 2050, affecting about 14 million people. That's one reason why hospitals and health professionals are already working to bolster how they care for the elderly and Alzheimer's patients. It takes 15 years to develop new treatments, so today's research needs adequate funding.

    "Caring for our older adults is a big responsibility, one that we take great pride in," said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. "Our aging population will face health issues, including and especially Alzheimer's, that will require the right care at the right time. That's why we have increased our services, including at Glen Cove Hospital, and research at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research."

    ... the real suffering comes from the changes that happen in the personality...
    What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

    While the costs of Alzheimer's are clear, its exact causes remain frustratingly mysterious. Currently, there's no cure for the disease, nor treatments that stop its progression.

    "Alzheimer's is this brain problem, and everyone sort of knows what's probably causing the problem, but nobody's been able to do anything about it," said Dr. Jeremy Koppel, a geriatric psychiatrist and co-director of the Litwin-Zucker Alzheimer Research Center.

    But in recent decades, researchers have zeroed in on likely contributors to the disease. The brains of Alzheimer's patients reliably show two abnormalities: build-ups of proteins called abnormal tau and beta-amyloid. As these proteins accumulate in the brain, they disrupt healthy communication between neurons. Over time, neurons get injured and die, and brain tissue shrinks.

    Still, it's unclear exactly how these proteins, or other factors such as inflammation, may drive Alzheimer's.

    "We are dealing with very complicated components," said Dr. Philippe Marambaud, a professor at the Feinstein Institutes and co-director of the Litwin-Zucker Alzheimer Research Center. "The actual culprit is not clearly defined. We know there are three possible culprits [tau, beta-amyloid, inflammation]. They're working in concert, or maybe in isolation. We don't know precisely."

    Many Alzheimer's researchers have spent years developing therapies that target beta-amyloid, which can accumulate to form plaques in the brain. The Alzheimer's Association writes:

    "According to the amyloid hypothesis, these stages of beta-amyloid aggregation disrupt cell-to-cell communication and activate immune cells. These immune cells trigger inflammation. Ultimately, the brain cells are destroyed."

    Unfortunately, clinical trials of therapies that target beta-amyloid haven't been effective in treating Alzheimer's.

    Anti-tau immunotherapies: The holy grail of Alzheimer’s?

    At the Feinstein Institutes, Dr. Marambaud and his colleagues have been focusing on the lesser-explored Alzheimer's component: abnormal tau.

    In healthy brains, tau plays several important functions, including stabilizing internal microtubules in neurons. But in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, a process called phosphorylation changes the structure of tau proteins. This blocks synaptic communication.

    Dr. Marambaud said there are good reasons to think anti-tau therapies may effectively treat Alzheimer's.

    "The main argument around why [anti-tau therapies] could be more beneficial is that we've known for a very long time that tau pathology in the brain of the Alzheimer's patient correlates much better with the disease progression, and the loss of neuronal material in the brain," compared to beta-amyloid, Dr. Marambaud said.

    "The second strong argument is that there are inherited dementias, called tauopathies, which are caused by mutations in the gene coding for the tau protein. So, there is a direct genetic link between dementia and tau pathology."

    To better understand how this protein interacts with Alzheimer's, Dr. Marambaud and his colleagues have been developing immunotherapies that target abnormal tau.

    Immunotherapies, such as vaccines, typically target infectious diseases. But it's also possible to use the body's immune system to prevent or treat some non-infectious diseases. Scientists have recently succeeded in treating certain forms of cancer with immunotherapies, for example.

    "We have developed a series of monoclonal antibodies, which are basically the therapeutics that are required when you want to do immunotherapy," Dr. Marambaud said.

    Currently, Feinstein Institutes researchers are conducting promising ongoing clinical trials with anti-tau antibodies, some of which are in phase III trials under the Food and Drug Administration. Patients receive these therapies intravenously over several hours and would undergo multiple rounds of treatment. It's similar to chemotherapy.

    In the short term, it's more likely that anti-tau therapies would help to stabilize Alzheimer's, not cure it.

    "Just stabilization of the disease's progression will save a huge societal, but also financial, burden," Dr. Marambaud said. "As research progresses, we would improve upon these stabilization approaches to make them more and more efficacious."

    Even if anti-tau therapies don't prove to be the holy grail of Alzheimer's treatments, they could potentially alleviate severe behavioral symptoms of the disease, and potentially illuminate some of the mechanisms behind psychosis.

    Alzheimer’s and psychosis

    When most people think of Alzheimer's, they tend to focus on the erosion of memory. But the darkest effects of the disease are often psychotic symptoms like agitation, aggression and paranoia, according to Dr. Koppel, who, in addition to researching Alzheimer's, spent decades treating Alzheimer's patients as a clinician.

    "My research focus comes out of 20 years of sitting with Alzheimer's families and listening to what the primary issue is," said Dr. Koppel. "It's never memory. It starts out with memory as a diagnostic issue. But the real suffering comes from the changes that happen in the personality and the belief system that make Alzheimer's patients" ostracized or even become violent toward their loved ones.

    At the Feinstein Institutes, Dr. Koppel's research focuses on alleviating Alzheimer's-related psychotic symptoms through anti-tau immunotherapies.

    "It's our hypothesis that abnormal tau proteins in the brain somehow, downstream, impact the way that people think," Dr. Koppel said. "And the impact that it has is this paranoid, agitated, psychotic phenotype."

    Supporting this hypothesis is research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease that involves the accumulation of abnormal tau. CTE, common among professional football players, also causes psychotic symptoms like agitation, aggression and paranoia.

    What's more, research shows that as Alzheimer's patients accumulate more abnormal tau in their brains, as measured through cerebrospinal fluid, they exhibit more psychotic symptoms, and are more likely to die sooner than patients with less abnormal tau.

    Given these strong connections between psychosis and abnormal tau, Dr. Koppel and his colleagues hope that anti-tau immunotherapies will alleviate psychosis in Alzheimer's patients, who currently lack safe and effective treatment options and are often given medication that is meant to alleviate psychosis in people with schizophrenia.

    "We are giving medications to Alzheimer's patients that hasten their cognitive decline and lead to bad outcomes, like stroke and sudden death," Dr. Koppel said. "Nonetheless, the schizophrenia medications do treat some of the psychotic symptoms and aggressive behavior related to Alzheimer's disease, and for many families this is crucial. We just don't have many options, and we desperately need more."

    Beyond treating Alzheimer's patients, anti-tau immunotherapies may shed light on other mental illnesses.

    "Alzheimer's may give us a window into what happens in the brain that makes people psychotic," Dr. Koppel said. "Once you have a biologic treatment for psychosis that gets at an underlying pathophysiology, believe me, you could look at schizophrenia in new ways. Maybe it's not going to be tau, but it may be a paradigm for treating mental illness."

    The future of Alzheimer’s treatments

    Dr. Marambaud said the long-term goal of anti-tau immunotherapies is to prevent Alzheimer's. But that's currently impossible because scientists lack the biomarkers and diagnostic tools needed to detect the disease before cognitive symptoms appear. It could take decades before prevention becomes possible, if it ever does.

    In the short term, stabilizing Alzheimer's is a more realistic goal.

    "Our hope is that the treatments will be aggressive enough so that we can at least stabilize the disease in patients identified to be already affected by dementia, with cognitive tests that can be done by the clinicians," Dr. Marambaud said. "And even better, maybe reduce the cognitive impairments."

    Dr. Marambaud said he encourages the public not to lose faith.

    "Be patient. It's a very complicated disease," he said. "A lot of labs are really committed to making a difference. Congress has also realized that this is a huge priority. In the past five years, [National Institutes of Health] funding has increased tremendously. So the scientific field is working very hard. The politicians are behind us in funding this research. And it's a complicated disease. But we will make a difference in the years to come."

    In the meantime, the Alzheimer's Association notes that physical activity and a healthy diet can reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's, though more large-scale studies are needed to better understand how these factors interact with the disease.

    "Many of these lifestyle changes have been shown to lower the risk of other diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, which have been linked to Alzheimer's," the association wrote. "With few drawbacks and plenty of known benefits, healthy lifestyle choices can improve your health and possibly protect your brain."

    Mon, 01 Feb 2021 09:13:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Health Congress Relationships Future Mental Health Brain Medical Research Innovation National Institutes of Health Alzheimer's Mind Cte Alzheimer s Association Northwell Health Koppel Michael Dowling Feinstein Institutes Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research Philippe Marambaud Glen Cove Hospital Jeremy Koppel Litwin Zucker Alzheimer Research Center Marambaud
    Workplace disrupted – five themes that will define the future of work

    Last year the Government of India announced ground-breaking measures that ease several registration and compliance requirements to enable employees of IT and BPO companies to work from anywhere, permanently.

    This was a watershed moment for the future of jobs and workplaces scripted in a country that has 4.36 million ICT workers (almost half of that of the whole of Europe) who are at the forefront of global digital transformation that is currently afoot, providing services to virtually every Fortune/G1000 organizations.

    The future of the workplace will be digital, so it's only axiomatic that India with its massive demographic bulge and technology industry with its transformative history, is showing the way. The Indian Government has continued to push the accelerator on reforms that have significantly impacted the ease of doing business, eliminated ambiguity and increased our sector's market resilience.

    Such progressive policy support will be the crucible for future competitiveness of not just my country's own technology sector but for the entire economic and social fabric of today's hyperconnected world.

    It is very important for all of us to understand that the new normal, or next normal in the post-COVID era will be shaped more definitively by technology than any other force in the global theatre today. Every aspect of our lives, from wellbeing to work, and everything else in between, will be massively disrupted in the coming years, thanks to technology.

    Specifically, the way people work and interact with their workplaces and the way companies operate will see tremendous changes. We can group them under five core themes.

    1. Work from anywhere

    Location-independent jobs have become de-facto in the current pandemic wherein modern tools, technologies and telecoms have provided the ability to work from anywhere. BCG's recent 'Workplace of the Future' survey found that companies expect about 40% of their employees to follow a remote-working model in the future. I however, believe, that the future is more heterogenous – it is a combination of home, hybrid and on-location working. The reasons are twofold: there are still many roles that require physical presence due to the nature of existing customer or system interfaces as also compliance guidelines in some sectors, and two, the very important aspect of social and mental health of employees can be better ensured in hybrid formats in the long term.

    2. Work for all

    With a greater number of roles enabled for remote delivery, a wider slice of the population can participate in the active labour pool that was otherwise location restrictive and disproportionately tilted in favour of large cities and economic hubs. Employers also gain as they have access to a wider pool of talent. Taking 'work to people' rather than 'people to work' will be the hiring theme of the future.

    3. Work at will

    Gig economy platforms like UpWork, TaskRabbit or Kalido enabled by digital technologies are empowering individuals to take on short-term and on-demand positions, and freelance work. One study predicts that by 2020, 40% of American workers will be independent contractors. The reasons, I believe, are apparent - millennials like having the flexibility to choose when and where to work. They also enjoy the freedom of improving their work-life balance by being more in control of their work schedules. Businesses also stand to benefit, because they can hire workers to fill specific gaps and employ freelancers who are otherwise too expensive to hire permanently.

    4. Work smarter

    Work will become 'smarter' as Artificial Intelligence and human-machine collaboration will take over repetitive and routine tasks, thereby freeing employees to focus on more meaningful work. Robotics and Automation can also play a stellar role in augmenting or replacing the human interface in high-risk arenas like the frontline of the current pandemic. I am confident that despite the alarmists' warnings, AI will directly or indirectly create more net new jobs than it will displace and provide additional headroom for human ingenuity, ushering in a new era of exponential innovation.

    5. Work for planet

    If 19th century represented the industrial economy and the 20th century the knowledge economy. The 21st century is hopefully going to go down in the history books as the era of sustainable economy. With greater urgency for environment protection action, I believe that companies, communities and countries will rewire their policies and programmes at scale to protect the planet and people alongside their need for profits. Jobs that drive this sustainable way of life will therefore be at the centre of the 21st century and will grow in millions. Technology and tech companies will advise, create and enable these new jobs in the intersection of climate change and public services as well as consumer products.

    As these disruptions take shape, technology will also play a crucial role in supporting and modernizing management to better align to these emerging contours of 'work'. New tools, applications and platforms will help reconstruct workplace processes and redefine productivity. These systems are still currently hard-wired in favour of legacy on-site teams. Digital platforms will also enable skilling at scale as highlighted in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2020, which rightly predicted that 50% of all employees will need reskilling in the next five years.

    The pandemic has given us an excellent opportunity to transition from designing workplaces for efficiency to designing for effectiveness, inclusion, resilience and sustainability.

    It is imperative for all of us to realize that all this is not some 'far future' crystal gazing, but rather change is already happening and accelerating. If we don't acknowledge, own and act on change, we will become victims of it and we will be scrambling to adjust rather than being in a position to shape things.

    To paraphrase an old proverb - the best time to start was yesterday, the second best is right now!

    Reprinted with permission of the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

    Thu, 28 Jan 2021 14:43:01 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Work Productivity Europe India Future Work-life balance Innovation Ai Personal Growth ICT BCG
    Nils Gilman Wins 12-Year Long Bet About Women in Sports, But It Was Closer Than The Final Score Suggests Nils Gilman, VP of Programs at the Berggruen Institute, Deputy Editor of Noema magazine, and a Long Now Speaker, has won a 12-Year Long Bet about Women in Sports. In 02008, Gilman challenged a prediction by Thomas R. Leavens, a Chicago attorney, that by the end of 02020, a professional sports team that was part of either the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, or Major League Soccer would integrate and have a woman as a team member on its regular season roster. 

    Leavens presented the following argument in favor of his prediction:

    While there may be a rational basis for arranging competitive sporting events by gender when the competition is one-on-one, such as track, skiing, or tennis, that rationale starts to break down with respect to team sports, where gender physical differences may not have the same impact and women may not be viewed as being disadvantaged (or advantaged) by competing against men. Participation by women in all areas of sports has increased, with many entering areas previously occupied only by men. However, to my knowledge, no woman has been selected as a player with a major US professional football, soccer, hockey, basketball, or baseball team. My prediction is based on the belief that by 02020, a woman athlete will emerge as a member of such a team, based not only on her skill but also on the greater available pool of women playing such sports, the incentive of the greater talent compensation available to players on the major sports teams (as opposed to the compensation paid to current women-only sports teams), and the changing overall societal view of the role of gender that will make a team’s decision to add a woman player to a previously all-male team more compelling.

    Gilman challenged Leavens’s prediction on the basis of the physical disparities in size, speed, strength and testosterone levels that advantage men in most sports—resulting, by some estimates, in an 8-12% performance gap between the sexes:

    In many sports, men and women are able to compete at nearly equal levels. Sports that are primarily about eye-hand coordination, reflexes, and rapid decision making are ripe for gender integration. However, there are many sports for which strength — in terms of explosiveness, endurance, and sheer force — are predominant factors in determining excellence. At the elite, professional level, male athletes in these sports exceed the conceivable strength of all females. This applies to football, soccer, hockey, basketball and baseball. Genetic or chemical modification could conceivably change this, and if such technologies were to become available, they would presumably also be used by male athletes, thus leveling the playing field.

    While these leagues made notable progress toward gender integration outside of the field of play, none came close to adding a woman as a team member.¹ Gilman’s $500 in winnings will go to the UC Berkeley History Department, where he completed his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees. 

    At first glance, Gilman appeared to win this bet handedly. But it was closer than the final score suggests. 

    “At the time the bet was made, the categories of ‘men’ and ‘women’ were much more stable than they are now — the bet itself presumes that everyone (in men’s professional sports) will be cis-gendered,” Gilman tells Long Now. “So far, in fact, that has turned out to be true, but at this point I wouldn’t count on that lasting that much longer.” 

    There have been significant advances in trans-visibility and trans-rights since 02008. These advances have occurred alongside a societal evolution regarding the fluidity of gender. This is especially evident in Gen Z, the demographic cohort whose members were born in the mid-to-late 01990s. 

    According to a 02018 report on gender fluidity, nearly 25% of Gen Zers expect their gender to change throughout their lifetimes. Of those, “45% expect their gender identity to change 2-3 times.”

    How would the bet have been resolved if a trans-woman emerged on the roster in the five professional sports leagues?

    The bet’s terms made room for this possibility, stating that “a woman, or a person who identifies as a woman” would satisfy the bet. 

    Gilman admits that when outlining the bet’s terms, he did not have transgender people in mind, but athletes along the lines of Dennis Rodman, the eccentric basketball player from the 01990s who once wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography. Regardless, had a trans-woman made the roster of a team, Leavens would have won the bet. 

    “I still think trans-phobia will prevent that from happening for quite some time, but I don’t know how long of a bet I’d want to make that for now — certainly not past the end of this decade,” Gilman says. “But at the time I made the original bet, I was so naively cis-centric that I didn’t even contemplate this possibility.”

    Long Now’s Long Bets project was founded on the premise that we can improve our long-term thinking by holding ourselves accountable for the predictions we make about the future. By revisiting our forecasts as time goes by, we reveal the subtle mechanics of society’s evolution, and teach ourselves something about what kinds of visions might turn into reality. 

    “One of the challenges of thinking long is that one focuses inevitably on a set of things that one thinks is going to change,” Gilman says. “And one makes implicit assumptions about things that aren’t going to change.”

    Sometimes, what predictors miss is as illuminating as what they anticipate.


    [1]  The NFL came closest, but that isn’t saying much. In 02013, Lauren Silberman became the first woman to participate in an NFL try out at a regional combine. In 02019, Women’s World Cup hero Carli Lloyd was approached by several NFL teams after footage of her kicking field goals went viral, but nothing came of it. 

    Learn More

    Wed, 27 Jan 2021 03:31:14 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future US NFL Chicago New York Times Major League Soccer International Olympic Committee Baltimore Ravens Dennis Rodman Carli Lloyd Gilman Joanna Harper Long Bets Thomas R Leavens Lauren Silberman Nils Gilman Heather Khalifa Nils Gilman Berggruen Institute Deputy Editor of Noema UC Berkeley History Department
    Dark energy: The apocalyptic wild card of the universe
    • The universe is expanding faster and faster. Whether this acceleration will end in a Big Rip or will reverse and contract into a Big Crunch is not yet understood, and neither is the invisible force causing that expansion: dark energy.
    • Physicist Dr. Katie Mack explains the difference between dark matter, dark energy, and phantom dark energy, and shares what scientists think the mysterious force is, its effect on space, and how, billions of years from now, it could cause peak cosmic destruction.
    • The Big Rip seems more probable than a Big Crunch at this point in time, but scientists still have much to learn before they can determine the ultimate fate of the universe. "If we figure out what [dark energy is] doing, if we figure out what it's made of, how it's going to change in the future, then we will have a much better idea for how the universe will end," says Mack.

    The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) by now at amazone --> List Price: $19.99 New From: $15.95 in Stock Used From: $14.36 in Stock
      Mon, 25 Jan 2021 05:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Death Space Science Future Physics Innovation Universe Humanity Dark Matter Mack Cosmos Dark Energy Katie Mack
      Can We Dream Again? This week, I had the privilege of being a part of some celebrations commemorating the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Also, for the first time, I participated in the The National Day of Racial Healing, and with February, aka Black History Month, right around the corner, I have been reflecting on being God’s voice in my sphere of influence.

      In elementary school, I remember being taught about Dr. King and his leadership in the movement to secure human rights for Black and all poor Americans. School lessons presented him as an ambassador for nonviolence and an architect of the civil rights movement. Beyond school, I learned that because of his crusade against global imperialism, his out-spoken opposition to the Vietnam War, and his campaign for the poor, the U.S. government considered Dr. King to be the most dangerous man in America. Almost sixty years after his assassination, we are still gleaning and learning from his revolutionary vision.

      Out of all that I’ve learned from his life, I am most inspired by how his speech, “Normalcy Never Again” (from August 28, 1963) was amended. We know this as the “I Have a Dream” speech. Originally, it included nothing about a dream. Though Dr. King had referenced dreams before, he was told by his advisors not to mention them in this speech. But during his oration, singer Mahalia Jackson, The Queen of Gospel, shouted to Dr. King to tell the massive assembly about the dream. Without hesitation, Dr. King launched into an improvisation, resulting in his most recognizable rendering.

      I was taught much about Dr. King as a scholar, a pastor, and a revolutionary, and I was very familiar with the vision he spoke of that day:

      So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . 

      But when I learned that he was given dreams, the speech spoke to me in an entirely new way. I was enthralled and inspired by his prophetic voice! For me, this meant that Dr. King wasn’t laying out his personal goals or his ideals for the future of America, as I had been taught in elementary school. Instead, he was simply a conduit passing along God’s dream, God’s vision for us and to us. He was resonating God’s voice to ears that needed to hear of a future that encompassed hope and healing for a hurting and confused nation.

      Every thought and feeling about our country’s struggle with all kinds of social -isms and schisms have been on full display for a while now. Honestly, I am somewhat relieved to see that the struggle is widespread, as opposed to isolated to a small corner of the country. Widespread means that at least we are wrestling altogether.

      But as we do, I wonder, Can we dream again? Who is willing to be a conduit for God’s vision for humanity? While we are learning and unlearning, resisting and advancing, how many of us will simply be His voice — authentically, now, in this moment, for those who need to be inspired by a glimpse of the future? I pray that we have the capacity to reach for dreams that resonate beyond our today to inspire and guide future generations.

      The thing about God’s dreams is that they don’t come from a place of fear, trepidation, and reservation. They are given by the One who knows the end from the beginning. They’re fashioned from love, assurance, and generosity, and they propel us forward into the future, fueled by hope. Because we trust the Dream Giver, we can employ faith to follow the visions He gives us.

      Despite our rocky road, I believe that we are on the path of manifesting the dream relayed by Dr. King. As I have benefited from the dreams spoken before me, I must also be a voice resonating God’s vision beyond my today.

      “In the last days,” God says,
      “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
      Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
      Your young men will see visions,
      and your old men will dream dreams.”
      Acts 2:17 (NIV)

      May the future benefit from your God-given dreams, and may you have the courage to speak them into being. 

      Fri, 22 Jan 2021 01:20:52 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Hope Future Inspiration America Diversity Racism Community Courage King Martin Luther King Jr Dreams Jr Mahalia Jackson NIV Anti-racism Dr. Martin Luther King
      How Marketing Will Change In The Coming Years Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:29:25 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future Marketing Strategy Seo Norbert ‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create
      • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
      • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
      • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.

        Imagine it's 2045. You start hearing rumors from your well-heeled friends about a mysterious corporation based on an undisclosed island that's offering an unprecedented service: the ability to genetically design your baby.

        The baby will have some of your genetics, and some genetics from a sperm or egg donor, selected by you. But the rest of your child's genetic profile will be engineered by science. These changes will make it impossible for your child to develop genetic diseases. They'll also allow you to customize your child for dozens of traits, including intelligence level, emotional disposition, sexual orientation, height, skin tone, hair color, and eye color, to name a few.

        This raises unsettling philosophical questions for some customers. "When does my child stop being my child?" they ask the corporate representatives. These wary customers are reminded of how risky it is to reproduce the old-fashioned way. The Better Genetics Corporation's motto sums it up: "Only God plays dice—humans don't have to."

        This is the world described in a new science-fiction series by Eugene Clark titled "Genetic Pressure", which explores the moral and scientific implications of a future in which designer babies are becoming a major industry. The first book begins with the story of Rachel, a renowned horse breeder who befriends a billionaire client, and soon gets the funding to visit the tropical island on which the Better Genetics Corporation is headquartered.

        There, corporate executives walk her through the process of designing a baby—an experience that feels like an uncanny mix between visiting a doctor and designing a luxury car. The series is told from multiple perspectives, serving as a deep dive into a complex moral web that today's scientists may already be weaving.

        [T]he introduction of designer babies would create a labyrinth of philosophical dilemmas that society is only beginning to explore.

        Case in point: In 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced that he had helped create the world's first genetically engineered babies. Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR on embryos, He Jiankui modified a gene called CCR5, which enables HIV to enter and infect immune system cells. His goal was to engineer children that were immune to the virus.

        It's unclear whether he succeeded. But what's certain is that the experiment shocked the international scientific community, which generally agreed that it's unethical to conduct gene-editing procedures on humans, given that scientists don't yet fully understand the consequences.

        "This experiment is monstrous," Julian Savulescu, a professor of practical ethics at the University of Oxford, told The Guardian. "The embryos were healthy. No known diseases. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer."

        Importantly, He Jiankui wasn't treating a disease, but rather genetically engineering babies to prevent the future contraction of a virus. These kinds of changes are heritable, meaning the experiment could have major downstream effects on future generations. So, too, would a designer-baby industry, even if scientists can do it safely.

        With major implications on inequality, discrimination, sexuality, and our conceptions of life, the introduction of designer babies would create a labyrinth of philosophical dilemmas that society is only beginning to explore.

        Tribalism and discrimination

        One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.

        "[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."

        For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product."

        Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with.

        Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate?

        Sexuality dilemmas

        Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.

        But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.

        But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image.

        When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc.

        Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.

        "In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.

        But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme.

        Regulating designer babies

        On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.

        In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough."

        After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations into the 1970s). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century.

        Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies.

        But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits.

        If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the opposites of those traits are undesirable. As the International Bioethics Committee wrote, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."

        "Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps" by Eugene Clark is available now.

        Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps by now at amazone --> List Price: $3.00 New From: $3.00 in Stock ]]>
        Mon, 18 Jan 2021 10:52:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Books Science Technology Supreme Court Children Future Genetics Innovation Literature University of Oxford Crispr Bioethics Rachel Julian Savulescu Eugene Clark Oliver Wendall Holmes He Jiankui Jiankui Better Genetics Corporation Constitution Supreme Court International Bioethics Committee
        Imagining 02030 Bases on the moon and colonies on Mars. The eradication of poverty. Catastrophic climate change.

        WIRED shares six visions of what the world of 02030 could look like.

        Fri, 15 Jan 2021 05:08:01 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Future Mars Futures Long Bets
        A deep dive on Steve Jurvetson and Maryanna Saenko’s $200 million new fund Future Ventures — cofounded by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson and Maryanna Saenko, a colleague of Jurvetson at his last firm, DFJ, as well as an investor previously with Airbus Ventures and Khosla Ventures — has closed its second fund with $200 million in capital commitments, say the pair.

        In a wide-ranging conversation yesterday afternoon, Jurvetson characterized the fund as “dramatically oversubscribed in a fairly short period of time,” adding that roughly one-third of its investors are venture capitalists or other investors, that the “second largest bucket [comprises] tech executives, CEOs, and former CEOs of enormous companies of relevance to our ecosystem” and that the last third of the firm’s capital is coming from institutions, including one university endowment. (He didn’t specify which.)

        As with Future’s $200 million debut fund, which closed two years ago, the outfit’s newest vehicle has a 15-year time horizon, giving it more leeway to make longer-term bets. Jurvetson also confirmed that as with that debut fund, Future features fairly standard economics, including charging 2.5% in management fees and 25% in so-called carried interest (meaning the share of the profits that Future keeps from its investments).

        “We tell our LPs, ‘Look, this is a long game, these companies take longer than five to seven years to come to full maturity, ” said Jurvetson, who has been on the board of SpaceX since 2009 and, along with three other directors, left the board of Tesla in September, following a 13-year run as a director. “They may go public in that timeframe. But as you can see with Tesla and SpaceX and some of the greatest tech stories of our day, you really would regret having feel pressured to punch out early when they’re really in the greatest phases of torrid growth.”

        Undoubtedly, the fund could have been bigger. Jurvetson has been doing business with Elon Musk for more than 20 years, and beyond his early involvement with SpaceX and Tesla, Future participated in the first round of Musk’s tunnel-based transportation system, Boring Company.

        It wrote the first check to Musk’s neurotechnology startup, Neuralink, which last summer unveiled its progress toward developing implantable brain-computer interfaces that include thousands of electrodes that Musk helps will eventually help to cure conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries, among other things.

        Though SpaceX is now an 18-year-old company, Future has a stake in that business, too. In fact, Future’s first check went to Space X, and the firm last year raised a $100 million SpaceX SPV in just five days — capital that Saenko said came from most of the firm’s fund one investors, along with some additional investors who were able to get to know the firm through the process.

        These pop-up type funds won’t happen routinely, according to Jurvetson. “We communicated in our fundraising that a special situation, maybe two, would occur where we do a later-stage, large check, single investment in a company we have immense conviction in, and we didn’t anticipate that to happen right away, but the opportunity to reopen the prior year’s round [in SpaceX] and join an extension of that close made it very tempting to do on behalf of the fund.”

        Instead, the plan is to continue writing mostly small checks — $3.8 million on average — that represent the first checks raised by startups. The idea is to back around 20 companies from the new fund (as with the last) and to take a more relaxed view on board seats than might other firms. Part of that owes to necessity, suggests Saenko, noting that the two only have so much bandwidth, but also she said could “not think of a single situation where we’re not fully in the information flow of the company” even without a director role, which is often why VCs insist on one.

        In the meantime, well beyond its Musk-related bets, Future has been assembling a portfolio that’s wide-ranging, with investments tied to cellular manufacturing, longevity, and edge AI, among other things.

        Just yesterday, it was announced that it led a follow-on round in Sensei Biotherapeutics, a 21-year-old, Boston-based developer of personalized cancer drugs that’s planning a public offering this year and which uses bacteriophage to induce an adaptive immune response.

        Future, which is also investor in the lab-grown meat producer Memphis Meats, is also very focused right now on regenerative agriculture and permaculture, which is an approach to land management that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems.

        Said Saenko, “I think it would behoove all of us to look at our food industry and ask what are the ways in which we are currently feeding our global population that are unsustainable in the future, given the number of people that we have and are going to continue having on this planet.”

        What does not interest the pair are other trends sweeping the venture industry right now, from space investing to moving out of California.

        On space investing, Jurvetson — who led DFJ’s investment in both SpaceX and the satellite company Planet — said it’s far too crowded at this point (“though I’m going to be a space tourist one day for sure”).

        As for moving — as Musk did recently to Austin — Saenko isn’t going anywhere, she said. Neither is Jurvetson, who spent 12 years in Texas, including in high school, and calls it a “hellhole.”

        “Sadly,” he said yesterday, “many of my friends have punched out and gone to Texas or Florida.” He berates them for it, too, added. “If you become wealthy enough as an investor or an entrepreneur such that you could choose to live anywhere you want in your life, why in the world would you pick up and go to some godforsaken place now? Just to avoid capital gains tax? How about, for example, donate to charity instead and avoid that capital gains tax?”

        There is a “different way to look at the world rather than just trying to do wealth transfer and preservation across generations; that just feels so short sighted to me.”

        And don’t get them started on the blank-check companies that have come into vogue as a path for more automotive companies in particular to become publicly traded. For example, Lucid Motors, the California EV startup that gave up majority ownership to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund last year in exchange for $1.3 billion, is reportedly in talks to go public through a merger with one of the special purpose acquisition vehicles of Wall Street veteran Michael Klein.

        Faraday Future, another electric vehicle startup, is reportedly looking to go public via a merger with a separate SPAC sponsor.

        Asked what Future Ventures makes of the trend, Jurvetson — who experienced a high-profile split from DFJ in 2017 (DFJ later reorganized as Threshold Ventures) —  did not mince words about the electric vehicle category in particular. “It would be really refreshing if a decent company was included in the mix, but it is just a rogue’s gallery of horrific companies.” Mostly, he continued, “these are companies that unable to raise a penny from any other source.”

        Saenko was more diplomatic if no more optimistic about some of the tie-ups being pieced together right now.

        “We’re not saying that every SPAC company is a terrible company,” she said. “I think what we’re saying is that everyone should be very wary of these companies because of Steve’s point that they’re early-stage companies and the SPAC is solely a fundraising system.”

        Public market investors “expect a particular level of maturity and progress and meaningful forecasting from the companies that are on the public markets,” she added. “And that’s just not going to be true of the vast majority of the companies that have gone through SPACs. And that could have a potentially terrible blowback on the entire tech industry.”

        Tue, 12 Jan 2021 17:34:41 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs TC Spacex Elon Musk Florida Texas California Saudi Arabia Boston Future Tech Tesla Venture Capital Steve Khosla Ventures Dfj Musk SPAC Airbus Ventures Steve Jurvetson Memphis Meats Jurvetson Lucid Motors Maryanna Saenko Future Ventures Threshold Ventures Saenko Sensei Biotherapeutics Said Saenko Austin Saenko Michael Klein Faraday
        Steve Jurvetson and Maryanna Saenko on their new fund, SPACs and the great tech exodus Future Ventures — cofounded by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson and Maryanna Saenko, a colleague of Jurvetson at his last firm, DFJ, as well as an investor previously with Airbus Ventures and Khosla Ventures — has closed its second fund with $200 million in capital commitments, say the pair.

        In a wide-ranging conversation yesterday afternoon, Jurvetson characterized the fund as “dramatically oversubscribed in a fairly short period of time,” adding that roughly one-third of its investors are venture capitalists or other investors, that the “second largest bucket [comprises] tech executives, CEOs, and former CEOs of enormous companies of relevance to our ecosystem” and that the last third of the firm’s capital is coming from institutions, including one university endowment. (He didn’t specify which.)

        As with Future’s $200 million debut fund, which closed two years ago, the outfit’s newest vehicle has a 15-year time horizon, giving it more leeway to make longer-term bets. Jurvetson also confirmed that as with that debut fund, Future features fairly standard economics, including charging 2.5% in management fees and 25% in so-called carried interest (meaning the share of the profits that Future keeps from its investments).

        “We tell our LPs, ‘Look, this is a long game, these companies take longer than five to seven years to come to full maturity,'” said Jurvetson, who has been on the board of SpaceX since 2009 and, along with three other directors, left the board of Tesla in September, following a 13-year run as a director. “They may go public in that timeframe. But as you can see with Tesla and SpaceX and some of the greatest tech stories of our day, you really would regret having feel pressured to punch out early when they’re really in the greatest phases of torrid growth.”

        Undoubtedly, Future’s new fund could have been bigger. Jurvetson has been doing business with Elon Musk for more than 20 years, and beyond his early involvement with SpaceX and Tesla, Future participated in the first round of Musk’s tunnel-based transportation system, Boring Company.

        The firm also wrote the first check to Musk’s neurotechnology startup, Neuralink, which last summer unveiled its progress toward developing implantable brain-computer interfaces that include thousands of electrodes that Musk helps will eventually help to cure conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, among other things.

        Though SpaceX is now an 18-year-old company, Future has a stake in that business, too. In fact, Future’s first check went to Space X, and the firm last year raised a $100 million SpaceX SPV (special purpose vehicle) in just five days — capital that Saenko said came from most of the fund’s investors, who were given the option of participating if they wanted.

        These pop-up type funds won’t happen routinely, according to Jurvetson. “We communicated in our fundraising that a special situation, maybe two, would occur where we do a later-stage, large check, single investment in a company we have immense conviction in, and we didn’t anticipate that to happen right away, but the opportunity to reopen the prior year’s round [in SpaceX] and join an extension of that close made it very tempting to do on behalf of the fund.”

        The broader plan is to continue committing smaller amounts to startups — $3.8 million on average — and for that funding to be the first that the teams raise. Future intends to invest in roughly 20 companies altogether from the new fund — as with the last — and to take a more relaxed view on board seats than might other firms.

        Part of that owes to necessity, suggests Saenko, noting that she and Jurvetson only have so much bandwidth. But she also said she could “not think of a single situation where we’re not fully in the information flow of the company” even without a director role, which is often why VCs insist on one.

        In the meantime, well beyond its Musk-related bets, Future has been assembling a portfolio that’s wide-ranging, with investments tied to cellular manufacturing, longevity, and edge AI, among other things.

        It just led a follow-on round in Sensei Biotherapeutics, a 21-year-old, Boston-based developer of personalized cancer drugs that’s planning a public offering this year and which uses bacteriophage to induce an adaptive immune response.

        Future — which is also investor in the lab-grown meat producer Memphis Meats — is also very focused right now on regenerative agriculture and permaculture, which is an approach to land management that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems.

        Said Saenko, “I think it would behoove all of us to look at our food industry and ask what are the ways in which we are currently feeding our global population that are unsustainable in the future, given the number of people that we have and are going to continue having on this planet.”

        What doesn’t interest the pair remotely are other trends sweeping the venture industry right now, from space investing to moving from California.

        On space investing, Jurvetson — who led DFJ’s investment in both SpaceX and the satellite company Planet — said it’s far too crowded now (“though I’m going to be a space tourist one day for sure”).

        As for moving — as Musk did recently to Austin — Saenko isn’t going anywhere, she said. Neither is Jurvetson, who spent 12 years in Texas, including in high school, and has no interest in returning.

        “Sadly,” he said yesterday, “many of my friends have punched out and gone to Texas or Florida.” He berates them for it, too, he said, explaining: “If you become wealthy enough as an investor or an entrepreneur such that you could choose to live anywhere you want in your life, why in the world would you pick up and go to some godforsaken place now? Just to avoid capital gains tax? How about, for example, donate to charity instead and avoid that capital gains tax?”

        There is a “different way to look at the world rather than just trying to do wealth transfer and preservation across generations,” he said. “That just feels so short-sighted to me.”

        And don’t even get them started on the blank-check companies that have come into vogue as a path for more automotive companies in particular to become publicly traded. For example, Lucid Motors, the California EV startup that gave up majority ownership to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund last year in exchange for $1.3 billion, is reportedly in talks to go public through a merger with one of the special purpose acquisition vehicles of Wall Street veteran Michael Klein.

        Faraday Future, another electric vehicle startup, is reportedly looking to go public via a merger with a separate SPAC sponsor.

        Asked what Future Ventures makes of the trend, Jurvetson — who experienced a high-profile split from DFJ in 2017 (DFJ has continued on as DFJ Growth) —  did not mince words about the electric vehicle category especially. “It would be really refreshing if a decent company was included in the mix, but it is just a rogue’s gallery of horrific companies.”

        Mostly, he continued, “these are companies that are unable to raise a penny from any other source” at this point in their trajectory.

        Saenko was more diplomatic if no more optimistic about some of the related deals being struck right now.

        “We’re not saying that every SPAC company is a terrible company,” she said. “I think what we’re saying is that everyone should be very wary of these companies because of Steve’s point that they’re early-stage companies and the SPAC is solely a fundraising system.”

        Public market investors “expect a particular level of maturity and progress and meaningful forecasting from the companies that are on the public markets,” she added, “and that’s just not going to be true of the vast majority of the companies that have gone through SPACs. And that could have a potentially terrible blowback on the entire tech industry.”

        Tue, 12 Jan 2021 17:34:41 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs TC Spacex Elon Musk Florida Texas California Saudi Arabia Boston Future Tech Tesla Venture Capital Steve Khosla Ventures Dfj Musk SPAC Airbus Ventures Steve Jurvetson Memphis Meats Jurvetson Lucid Motors Maryanna Saenko Future Ventures Saenko Sensei Biotherapeutics Said Saenko Austin Saenko Michael Klein Faraday
        How to Plan for the Future in Times of Uncertainty

        The past year has encompassed a series of eradicative historical events. A worldwide pandemic forced the world into isolation, police brutality became more visible than ever, and polarizing political leaders fomented conspiracy theories and invited chaos in the streets. Tumult and unpredictability have rapidly become…


        Fri, 08 Jan 2021 11:30:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Life Planning Future Planning Lifehacks
        How will we govern super-powerful AI?
        • The question of conscious artificial intelligence dominating future humanity is not the most pressing issue we face today, says Allan Dafoe of the Center for the Governance of AI at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. Dafoe argues that AI's power to generate wealth should make good governance our primary concern.
        • With thoughtful systems and policies in place, humanity can unlock the full potential of AI with minimal negative consequences. Drafting an AI constitution will also provide the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of past structures to avoid future conflicts.
        • Building a framework for governance will require us to get past sectarian differences and interests so that society as a whole can benefit from AI in ways that do the most good and the least harm.

          Fri, 08 Jan 2021 05:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Technology Government Future Society War Policy Peace Innovation Oxford Global development Machine Learning Ai Dafoe Big Problems Allan Dafoe
          Future & Lil Uzi Vert – “Drankin N Smokin” (Video) Thu, 07 Jan 2021 15:35:11 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Videos Future Jazz Lil Uzi Vert