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Jesse Schell, CEO and Creative Director of Schell Games, imagines a future where every aspect of our daily lives are integrated with video games.
Orville Schell, author of Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-First Century, describe how coal-fired power plants and mines in China are polluting the atmosphere and Yellow River.
The Open Government Initiative's Beth Noveck discusses Data.gov, the Obama administration's attempt to make government more transparent.
While conspiracy theorists of all ilk dominated the initiative's early days, Noveck says the community eventually stepped up and "removed away the weeds."
U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck explains why "loved data lasts longer."
Noveck says the raw data offered by the Open Government Initiative is useless unless mashed-up and/or converted into graphical visualizations, which she calls "a labor of love."
Vernor Vinge, the science fiction writer who coined the term "the singularity," argues that off-earth settlements are the only hope for survival of our species.
Founder Brewster Kahle discusses the next step for the Internet Archive, which involves making its information accessible to a new type of consumer: computers. He explains that in addition to helping improve artificial intelligence, it's also important to provide information in a format that children will want to consume.
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, discusses the organization's mission to digitize all the world's books. He explains that in addition to making books available online, they've also built "bookmobiles" to provide printed copies to impoverished communities.
Jon Ippolito discusses a computer scientist who challenged a court ruling that computer code did not fall under freedom of expression because it is executable by making artworks out of the code and ultimately overturning the ruling.
Kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson explains Machine for Softening Hardened Hearts, a new machine he built that allows the user to caress the heart of Adolf Hitler. The piece explores the personal nature of evil and forgiveness.
"It's really about the evolution of the soul," he says.
Kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson demonstrates his latest art exhibit, which draws on the mathematical principles of reduction.
"Machine with Concrete" uses a diminishing series of gears to create a chain of motion resulting in near-stillness.
Stewart Brand, President of the Long Now Foundation, and video game designer Jane McGonigal discuss Brand's game, Earth ball. McGonigal speculates on Earth ball's potential as a video game, drawing a comparison to the Olympic flame as an eternal symbol of global unity.
On a trek into the Chilean Andes, adventurer Craig Childs observes the aftermath in a landscape that once was dominated by a mighty glacier that melted away entirely in only a few generations.
Dr. Edward Moses, Director for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), explains that as the Kepler telescope continues to explore deep space, scientists will soon be unraveling cosmic mysteries right here on Earth.
Using nuclear fusion, Moses hopes to be performing experimental astronomy (like creating tiny supernovae) in the very near future.
Archivist Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Library, shows a clip from 'Along the Way,' a 1968 promotional video for San Francisco's BART system.
Edward Burtynsky presents a proposal for the 10,000 Year Gallery which will focus on the "ordinary objects" of modern Western civilization.
Sanitary napkins, stoves, and other "elements of the banal" are slated for exhibit in this museum of the mundane.
Edward Burtynsky discovered the process of carbon transferring when searching for a material durable enough to last 10,000 years.
Although invented in the 1850s, this process creates remarkably long-lasting photos.
Pamela Ronald explains how genetic engineering can be used in place of more harmful farming practices.
She describes how genetically modified cotton is used to reduce pesticide use and improve biodiversity.
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, proposes a plan to feed a global population of 9 billion people.
Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses, reveals surprising information about how viruses interact with bacteria in the ocean, and possibly contribute to climate change by altering the carbon cycle. "Viruses are planetary forces," says Zimmer.
Charles C. Mann, journalist and author of 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, talks about the impact of European settlers on the American east coast. Citing disease and reforestation, Mann declares that by 1650, America was a very different landscape from when Columbus arrived.
Former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson explains how 3D printers and design software like Autodesk turns bits into atoms and reduces the supply chain to an algorithm.
Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, explains why classic rock and pop hits make their way back into the Billboard and Amazon charts.
Melissa Alexander, Director of Public Programs at the Exploratorium, expresses optimism about the future of citizen science. Lauding the work of a biologist who collaborates with prison inmates on mycology studies, Alexander suggests science may become "something more osmotic."
Long Now Foundation founder Stewart Brand draws attention to the shift from well-defined borders to city 'nodes' and stateless countries.
Does intelligent life exist on other worlds? If so, how would we communicate with it? Astrophysicist Martin Rees discusses the complicated science of contacting extraterrestrial species.
Blogger and journalist Cory Efram Doctorow discusses the confusing state of computer and personal property rights in the 21st century. Although Doctorow believes that corporations and employers have certain rights over property ownership, he attempts to find a balance for property users.
Archaeologist Sander van der Leeuw explores the theory that humans will evolve when faced with an unstable climate. "I don't think it's [climate change] bad for humanity, I think it's bad for our societies," he argues. "I think we will survive… but there's going to be huge amount of collateral damage."
The Institute for Genomic Research founder Craig Venter discusses synthetically creating the Phi X 174 genome by inserting it into E. coli bacteria - essentially the software builds its own hardware.
Synthetic Genomics founder Craig Venter discusses the formation of a "fourth generation" fuel that begins with CO2 as the feedstock.
The Institute for Genomic Research founder Craig Venter discusses the mission of the Sorcerer II Expedition - to sample and discover microbes around the world.
Archivist Rick Prelinger shows found film footage of San Francisco's Bay Bridge from various periods during its construction and shortly after its completion.
Footage includes a trip across the bridge on the rail line that was originally operated on the lower deck.
Environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel from Rockefeller University in New York argues a smart aquaculture can save seafood and habitats.
Professor Daniel Everett, author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, discusses the lack of "recursion" in the Piraha people's native language, a unique characteristic among human languages.
If cultural values affect language, then the Piraha language debunks the commonly held position of prominent academics, like Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, that human language is an innate instinct.
Professor Daniel Everett, author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, discusses the Piraha concept of "xibipiio," a way of life defined by the immediacy of experience.
Everett, a former Christian missionary, was challenged to rethink his faith after learning the Piraha's concept of experiential liminality.
Daniel Suarez claims that now that we have seen the failings of the current model of the internet, we can create a new one that is less susceptible to infection and uncontrolled bot activity.
Daniel Suarez argues that in our efforts to make society more efficient, we've also made it easier for relatively simple computer programs to do everything that humans can, and thus pass for humans.
Author, businessman, and programmer Daniel Suarez (aka Leinad Zeraus) explains how bots, (i.e. automated computer programs) decide important aspects of our everyday life, affecting everything from our jobs to our health.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman asks, "What happens when the Net goes down?" He advocates for a back-up plan modeled after the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The facility would be powered by renewable energy and contain information on how to rebuild the network.
Synthetic biologist Drew Endy from iGEM looks at an experiment with small-batch cheeses cultured with various bacteria from the human microbiome.
Synthetic biologist Drew Endy discusses the exponential growth in the field of bioengineering.
He discusses how only recently have scientists been able to synthesize strands of DNA as a computer engineer would write code.
"It's the coolest, most impressive/scary technology I've encountered," says Endy.
Former Wired editor Kevin Kelly challenges Ray Kurzweil's vision of the singularity, and how the evolution of AI will help humanity evolve.
Film archivist Rick Prelinger unveils footage, donated by filmmaker Craig Baldwin, of the Haight district at the height of the hippie movement and the consequent 'death of the hippie' ceremony.
Author Nils Gilman argues the black market isn't necessarily a bad thing. "If you like entrepreneurship, if you like innovation," says Gilman, "then you've got to love deviant globalization."
The narcotics industry in Mexico, for example, directly employees 400,000 people -- more than finance or oil.
Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey describes how the 2014 redesign of the Burning Man effigy almost caused a debacle wherein the "man" wouldn't burn.
Psychologist/linguist Lera Boroditsky explains how former Vice President Dick Cheney absolved himself of responsibility for shooting his friend Harry Whittington in the face by simply (and masterfully) choosing his words carefully.
Anne Neuberger, special assistant to NSA Director Keith Alexander, discusses the potential dark side of big data collection in the commercial sector.
Paul Saffo claims that television is moving from the airwaves to the internet and that is where the most innovative and creative programs can be seen.
Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, explains how disposable plastics added to a culture of convenience in the 1950s.
How have the cultural movements related to the advent of the Internet influenced popular definitions of authority? Ken Foster, Executive Director of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, recalls a recent exhibit at YBCA that posed this question, breaking down barriers between authoritative artists and ordinary hobbyists.
Dmitry Orlov draws on his experience with gas shortages in Russia to predict US oil prices may skyrocket to $4000/barrel due to "hyper-inflation."
He urges for banning the sale of new cars, saying "We will run out of cars, just as we run out of gas."
Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues that statistical illiteracy leads to fear and that if you look at the numbers, U.N. peacekeepers are making a difference.
Did you know the UPS trucks that deliver your online purchases save millions of gallons of gas every year by never making left turns? This is one reason neuroscientist David Eagleman believes that online shopping and email are critical weapons in the fight against climate change.
Edward Burtynsky shows a series of photographs of large Chinese factories; one processes 100 million chickens a year, while another makes 22 million irons.
Burtynsky believes that the Chinese economic explosion in manufacturing is a direct outgrowth of Western invention.
Edward O. Wilson, biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, discusses the nature of humans, and what lies ahead for our species.
Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, discusses the influence and persistence of faith and religion in the 21st century and how faith is deeper than rational thought.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman outlines the Internet's potential to be utilized as a powerful tool to prevent the spread of epidemic disease.
By reducing human-to-human contact through telepresence and telemedicine, as well as by charting search queries, Eagleman is confident the Internet is civilization's "key to survival."
Social psychologist Philip Tetlock, author of Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?, defines hedgehog and fox personalities.
Juan Enriquez, CEO of Biotechonomy, describes how organized religion and worship has evolved over time and the questions science is better at answering.
Wildlife biologist Laura Cunningham describes how to learn to live with wildfires in California.
Common Good founder Philip K. Howard argues for a complete political overhaul in the United States. "America needs a new operating system," he says. Is it time for the U.S. to reboot?
Francis Fukuyama, political scientist and author of The End of History and the Last Man, argues that radical Islam does not pose as effective a long-term challenge to modernity and liberal democracy as many of its critics think.
Historian Frank Gavin uses Lyndon Johnson's response to the Chinese nuclear program in 1964 as an example of how a policy of doing nothing is sometimes the wisest move. He wonders if a similar tactic with Iran would "change the political calculus of Tehran."
Physicist Freeman Dyson argues that the future of biotechnology will copy computers, getting smaller and cheaper for everyone.
Genetically engineered foods are "only unnatural if you don't know the biology," says author and futurist Stewart Brand. "There is no good reason for genetically engineered food crops to be controversial."
Pamela Ronald, professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis, explains that although there is a stigma around the term, genetic engineering has been around for thousands of years.
She describes how Native Americans bred the teosinte plant into what we now know as corn.
Theoretical physicist Geoffrey B. West discusses the negative ramifications of a society that relies primarily on exponential growth. He implies that avoiding a collapse is as unlikely as avoiding a heart attack if forced to run on a treadmill that never stopped accelerating.
Stewart Brand of the Long Now Foundation details what the future might look like for a parcel of land that is being developed by a ecosystem revivalist, who hopes to reintroduce extinct ice age species to Russia.
Archivist Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Library, shows A home-movie taken during the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco.
Saul Griffith details the calculations which prove that, in order to keep carbon at a safe level, we must only use 2-3 terawatts of fossil fuels.
If we maintain current levels, Griffith suggests building over 11 terawatts of renewable energy.
Inventor Saul Griffith examines the long-term sustainability of a number of alternative energy sources. On the popular topic of hydrogen-based fuel cells, Griffith warns that the technology is not yet economically viable. "If every piece of land I own... was producing hydrogen [power], it still wouldn't cover the amount of energy that I use," he says.
Dmitry Orlov discusses the housing situation during communist Russia and compares it to the U.S. real estate crisis.
To remedy the housing crisis, Orlov humorously suggests converting office space into dorm rooms and college campuses into community centers and corrals.
Historian Ian Morris examines how the transatlantic trade economy and the geography of those trade routes led to mathematical breakthroughs in the 17th century. Morris argues that the advancement of mathematics caused a chain reaction of innovative thought that culminated in industrial and scientific revolutions across the British Empire.
Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees explores theories of speculative science in astronomy and physics. Rees questions the size of the universe, alternate dimensions and the number of big bangs that may have occurred.
Archaeologist Sander van der Leeuw says one way ancient humans survived periods of climate instability was to stay below the environment's carrying capacity. The only areas that experienced regular famine, he explains, were those abundant in natural resources because "people were lured into the idea that they could actually have more and more people."
Anthropologist J. Stephen Lansing describes how the green revolution, which brought pesticides, agrochemicals, and modern farming tech, interfered with rice planting in Bali.
SETI's Jill Tarter talks with inventor Robin Sloan about the importance of the institute's work beyond its quest to discover extraterrestrial intelligence.
Tarter argues that the search for ET is one of the few truly global issues, and suggests that simply pondering humanity's place in the universe forces people to "hold up a mirror to all of us...in a way that makes us see ourselves as all the same."
D. Richard Anderson and Gwyneth Cravens argue that nuclear energy is worth the risk in the face of disastrous climate change from carbon emissions.
Huey Johnson compliments the Dutch system of environmental regulation, recommending elements of their plan to the U.S.
Johnson finds the Dutch system exemplary, from the "passion" of protesters to the amount of power given to NGOs.
Huey Johnson compliments the Netherlands' green plan for environmental progress.
By focusing on a few discrete issues, Johnson believes the Netherlands has been able to achieve greater progress than the U.S.
Alex Wright, author of Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages, describes the information boom of the last ice age that produced cave paintings, totemic objects, and status symbols.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes presents a simulation of the potential impact of an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange. The immediate destruction, he says, would kill 20 million -- followed by another billion from failed crops in the aftermath.
Pete Worden, Director of NASA's Ames Center, announces the establishment of a "100 Year Spaceship" program: a DARPA-funded project to develop spacecraft capable of traveling to points far beyond our own solar system.
Astronomer Royal Martin Rees discusses the various options for colonizing worlds beyond our own solar system, and expresses skepticism that humanity will ever achieve faster-than-light travel. "There are hypothetical time machines, but the only one that's been worked out involves creating a black hole weighing as much as 10,000 suns," says Rees. "That seems a pretty tall technological order."
Iqbal Quadir's GrameenPhone program, which microfinances cell phones, has proven that many of the negative effects of giving aid to poor countries are misconceptions and can be counteracted by encouraging entrepreneurship among the poor.
In 1993, Bangladesh had little phone access, and what they had was concentrated in the capital city. According to Iqbal Quadir, investing in more telephones in Bangladesh would greatly benefit the country economically because worldwide statistics prove that connectivity leads to productivity, partially by allowing greater specialization.
Iqbal Quadir recalls numerous examples from history in which countries moved forward as individuals were empowered through technological innovations.
He believes that governments advance based on pressure from below, not an increase in centralized power. Thus, sending aid to the governments of poor countries does not help them advance.
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, cites a recent study that compared the brains of people living in rural areas to those living in cities. Interestingly, those living in rural areas demonstrated a greater ability to handle stress than their urban counterparts.
Archaeologist Sander van der Leeuw discusses the dangers of constant innovation. "Every innovation creates a cascade of new challenges," he says, which shifts a society's focus to short-term thinking.
He warns China is currently "addicted to innovation," but praises the bustling nation for its focus on long-term thinking.
Peter Schwartz outlines a sobering reality for space travel enthusiasts by explaining why exploration beyond our solar system is still a long way off.
Is it a natural characteristic of life on Earth to be self-destructive? Tim Flannery, author of Here on Earth, argues against Peter Ward's "Medea Hypothesis," which proposes that multicultural life is inherently suicidal.
From evolution to daily health, is fact-based science a "winning" notion in today's America? Inventor Saul Griffith and comedian Emily Levine discuss.
Environmentalist Paul Hawken argues that social networks and movements on the internet are nearly as complex as our immune systems.
Jesse Schell, CEO and Creative Director of Schell Games, describes the current relationship between advertisers and the video game industry, and predicts the future of what he calls "advergaming." "The virtual economies in these games are powerful," he says.
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales explains why social software works and how to establish trust between entry editors and the edited.
Huey Johnson, environmentalist and founder of the Resource Renewal Institute, discusses the controversy surrounding the use of public land in America.
Private companies are leasing the land for pennies, Johnson says, and questions why so little attention is paid to the issue.
Joline Blais discusses the artwork of the Yes Men, internet pranks that focus the world's attention on big corporations and global political entities.
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist and director of The Nature Conservancy, makes his case for why the organization began working with large corporations like Dow Chemical to invest in green infrastructure.
Author and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson talks with Stuart Brand about the importance of younger generations teaching their elders. She suggests that while it’s important for children to teach their parents and grandparents about various issues, it’s even more important that the older generations be willing to learn.
Veteran astronaut Ed Lu shows how many known asteroids NASA has discovered that pass near the Earth's orbit, and gives the odds that one could impact our planet.
Technology forecaster and strategist Paul Saffo outlines the "hardest rule" in practicing good forecasting - being indifferent. Saffo believes a good forecaster detaches what they wish would happen from what they think is likely to happen. Saffo details several implications of religious forecasting.
Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Harvard University, points out a fact that we all know: Congress has been corrupted by money. Government distrust has led to abysmal Congressional approval ratings, and he asserts, "there was more support for the British Crown in our government at the time of the Revolution than there is support for our Congress today."
Ed Moses, Director for the National Ignition Facility, describes NIF's plan to move fusion energy from the lab to the grid using the Laser Inertial Fusion Engine, or LIFE. The conceptual mechanism would harness the power of fusion to generate gigawatts of carbon-free energy by burning heavy water as fuel.
Cyberpunk and science fiction writer Bruce Sterling says the technological singularity will be analogous to the atomic bomb, lysergic acid, and computer viruses.
Whole Earth founder Stewart Brand interviews cosmologist Martin Rees about his Long Bets prediction that by 2020 a biological catastrophe (either bioterror or bioerror) will lead to one million casualties in a single event.
Author Craig Childs recalls one of his more arduous adventures: trekking through a GMO cornfield in Iowa during a heatwave, and how such an eerie landscape reminded him of an apocalyptic earth.
Matt Ridley, journalist and author of The Rational Optimist, examines the driving force behind human evolution and technological innovation, especially over the past 100,000 years. Ridley argues the answer lies in the development of exchange, or trade.
"The real key to genetic engineering is control of intellectual property of the food crops that we depend on," says author Michael Pollan of companies like Monsanto. He advocates an open source GE model.
"Estimates are between 10-15% of all atmospheric carbon could be returned to the soil with sustainable agriculture practices," says author Michael Pollan. He suggests developing a method to measure and reward farmers for sequestering carbon.
Katherine Fulton, President of the Monitor Institute, examines the state of modern journalism and the dark side of the media transparency that has emerged over the last two decades. "It isn't the journalism; it's the amplification of the messages," she says. "What we have now is a kind of pornographic information culture."
Pete Worden, Director of NASA's Ames Research Center, predicts there will be permanent settlements on Mars within the next half-century. "We are on the verge of extending humanity into the solar system, into the cosmos," he says.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Fooled By Randomness, candidly comments on his critics.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, explains Extremistan.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swam, explains Mediocristan.
Fooled by Randomness author Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses the meaning behind the title of his new book The Black Swan.
Neal Stephenson describes how he created new words for his book ANATHEM, which is set on a fictional world. Though he denies comparison to Tolkien's fictional languages, a glossary of terms is included with the book.
Neal Stephenson speaks to the connection between mathematics and music in his newest novel ANATHEM, discussing how the music was composed to represent the monastic traditions contained in the fictional world of the book.
Author Neal Stephenson discusses the philosophical concept of mathematical Platonism that appears throughout his novel ANATHEM. It is a belief in the constancy of mathematical concepts, irrespective of its discovery by people.
Historian Niall Ferguson and futurist Peter Schwartz dissect the overall trends of human history since the dawn of time.
Historian Niall Ferguson observes from the past that living longer will not necessarily make us more productive.
Historian Niall Ferguson and Futurist Peter Schwartz compare a history of violence in the Middle East and the world.
Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT's Media Lab, looks back at some of his work with early touch screen and "street view" technology dating back to the early 1970s.
National Geographic photojournalist Jim Richardson describes how thousands of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables have disappeared.
Mathematical physicist John Baez explains why mass extinctions on Earth aren't as cosmically exciting as black holes.
John Rendon, CEO and President of The Rendon Group, argues that by opening up to countries abroad, businesses and students can educate across borders.
Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, discusses how the Book of Revelation is a multipurpose story. It has been used throughout history to explain and deal with difficult times.
Wildlife photographer Frans Lanting draws attention to the patterns and continuity of life on Earth, from the veins in our hands to the drainage of a tidal marsh.
Paul Ehrlich explains that the cultural evolution which resulted in human dominance over the planet is now causing the destruction of the very ecosystem that supports life.
Paul Ehrlich comes out against drilling for oil in ANWR not to conserve the Alaskan wilderness, but because he believes drilling anywhere will only exacerbate the already dangerous climate change situation.
Paul Ehrlich sees the dispersion of toxic chemicals in the environment as one of the biggest threats to humans and talks about synthetic hormones in plastic bottles as an example.
Economist Paul Romer sites an example of how China pulled itself out of a thousand year slump in technological innovation by copying British controlled Hong Kong and adopting a new set of governing rules. Romer demonstrates how this method of entry can be used in rebuilding nations without the use of war.
Economist Paul Romer speculates how much land it would take to house 8 billion people or more. He says finding the land is easy, the challenge "will be to rethink things we've taken for granted, about rules and how rules change."
Peter Diamandis discusses how mega issues that are generally accepted as impossible to solve, like curing AIDS, could potentially be solved by offering incentive prizes.
Diamandis says, "The fact of the matter is that there are 1200 billionaires on this planet…I believe that we will start to see those individuals who are frustrated and want to cause fundamental change, and will put on the table large sums of money for things to change."
Peter Diamandis is optimistic that some of the world's large issues could be solved with large payouts from Mega-X Prizes.
This strategy, Diamandis says, may cure AIDS or put humans on Mars.
Peter Diamandis argues that the X Prize has demonstrated that "nothing is impossible."
He cites space flight, germ theory, atom splitting, and cloning as "inconceivable things" which were proven possible by scientific ingenuity.
Peter Diamandis argues that the X Prize allows maverick thinkers a "breakthrough" opportunity.
Diamandis says "crazy ideas" can become revolutionary ways of thought with the incentives and credentials of the X Prize.
Ecologist Peter Warshall suggests that the techniques used in art conservation and restoration, including digitized images, are examples of an evolution in the way we appreciate art and beauty.
Author Philip K. Howard discusses the origins of common sense, which he believes can only be gained through the freedom to make mistakes. "There's no such thing as the right answer," says Howard. "Freedom's not an instruction manual -- it's a hypothesis."
Are traditional human institutions bound to give way to the self-organizing structure of the Internet? Cyberlibertarian activist John Perry Barlow regards the present as a transitional period, during which political and social structures fibrillate -- perhaps before failing altogether.
Theoretical physicist Geoffrey B. West discusses his work developing a model to formulate predictions about a city based solely on its size. His equations can predict "mundane" properties like the number of gas stations in any given urban system, but can also be used to predict everything from wages to crime rates.
Journalist Jon Lackman and Lazar Kuntsmann, spokesman for les UX, sift through the ash heap of history and talk about our selective, collective memory.
Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, explains how associative psychology sways whether or not we believe in politicians and technology.
Alexander Rose, Clock Project Manager at The Long Now Foundation, says if you want modern architecture to be as iconic as the Great Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, fill it with loot.
Game designer Jane McGonigal and filmmaker Tiffany Schlain discuss how video games make people better, and can help change the world. McGonigal describes the "epic win," a special skill gamers develop to help them solve difficult problems and how that skill can be used as an amazing human resource in the physical world.
Archivist Rick Prelinger presents his tribute to San Francisco's Playland, the seaside amusement park located next to Ocean Beach that existed from 1913 to 1972. In 1972, the roller coaster rides were put on auction, Playland was discontinued and soon condominiums filled the waterfront vista.
Rick Prelinger exhibits old films taken during the San Francisco General Strike in 1934, including a newsreel with interviews and footage of riots in the street.
Archivist and filmmaker Rick Prelinger discusses the unforeseen value in archiving film, images, and other media.
He believes archival media may help predict and shape the future, though he also highlights the unintended consequences of technologies like Google Street View.
Katherine Fullerton, president of the Monitor Institute, argues that new economy philanthropists are smart, but too risk-adverse to get funding where it'll make the most impact.
Technology forecaster and strategist Paul Saffo predicts the next big thing - Robots. The '80s gave us computers; the '90s networked them together. Will robots be the next big breakthrough in technology?
Archivist and filmmaker Rick Prelinger shows archival footage of downtown San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and resulting fire.
Guerrilla archivist Rick Prelinger shares homemade films featuring a droll group of prohibition era "hipsters" that drank their way through the Bay Area in the 1930s. Taking turns behind the camera, they document their time spent drinking in Golden Gate Park.
Inventor Saul Griffith explores methods to conserve energy consumption and better our quality of life, including a dramatically reduced speed limit.
Would you drive 30 mph to save the world?
Second Life creator Philip Rosedale discusses the allure of immersive 3D worlds. He explains that it's not the graphics that are so appealing, rather the sense of community.
SETI director Jill Tarter stresses the importance of instilling an enthusiasm for the sciences in young students. "Being a scientist is a fantastic privilege," she says. "You never have to stop asking why. You don't ever have to grow up."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom describes innovative ways of thinking about electric cars. He suggests a pricing plan for electric cars modeled after cell phone pricing plans.
"Instead of buying minutes, you buy miles," says Newsom.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom explains plans to build wave-generating platforms 5 miles off of San Francisco's coast, as well as an inverted wind farm under the Golden Gate Bridge.
"Take the idea of a wind farm and put it underwater and now harness all the energy in that tidal flow," he explains.
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, discusses how mobile technology and social networks can be leveraged to foster climate change awareness and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Kareiva envisions an app that would allow users to photograph, geotag and share pictures of wildlife affected by Earth's shifting climate.
Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air and The Ghost Map, recalls how Dr. John Snow and Rev. Henry Whitehead mistakenly "cracked the code" of London's 1854 cholera outbreak by mapping deaths in the area.
Author and futurist Stewart Brand addresses worries about nuclear energy concerning proliferation of material and waste disposal. He describes a recycling program that converts old nuclear warheads into energy and a facility designed to safely bury spent nuclear fuel.
Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, argues that one of the keys to surviving climate change is to learn from similar events in history, explaining "reality is much more complex than even the most sophisticated computer model today."
He says that biological diversity, evolution and human development all depend on climate.
Dmitry Orlov applies his Comparative Theory of Superpower Collapse to the Soviet Union and United States.
He argues both nations will have collapsed due to a shortfall in the production of crude oil, a runaway military budget, a severe trade deficit, and ballooning foreign debt.
Environmentalist Paul Hawken touts the importance of "systems thinking," or regarding all things as connected to one another. He asserts that people are born systems thinkers, and only lose this ability as they learn compartmentalized skills like language.
Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, argues that by denying contraception during the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the Catholic Church acted unethically and irresponsibly.
Inventor Saul Griffith explains that, in terms of energy consumption, it is better to buy a Rolex once than many cheaper watches over a lifetime.
"A quarter of the energy we use is just in our crap," he says.
Photographer Rachel Sussman describes a species of baobab tree found in a particularly dry and fire-prone region of South Africa. The tree protects itself from fire damage by growing primarily upside down, and can live for up to 13,000 years.
In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan says the high demand of pollinating central California's almond crop may be contributing to the collapse of bee colonies.
Pollan says bees are shipped in from around the globe and even given "high fructose corn syrup so they will be sturdy enough to attack the almond crop."
Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, describes what fossils can reveal about ancient periods of global warming.
Fossils discovered by the Smithsonian have shown that global warming 55 million years ago occurred much more rapidly than anything experienced today.
Computing historian George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, argues that many of the coders and calculators during WWII were women, including Klara Dan Van Neumann and Hedvig Selberg.
Author Nils Gilman traces cocaine sales from production to retail, noting the profit margin is highest at the stage of U.S. importation due to increased regulatory pressure from narcotics agents.
The DEA "think they're in the drug eradication business," says Gilman. "They're actually in the drug regulation business."
In an event hosted by The Long Now Foundation, technology forecaster and strategist Paul Saffo outlines the thesis for his talk Embracing Uncertainty: The Secret to Effective Forecasting. The cone of uncertainty represents the wide range of future outcomes.
Synthetic biologist Drew Endy argues that all bioengineering work should be open source, or public and freely available.
Endy explains that biotechnology would only be dangerous if its power were concentrated in the hands of a select few.
Journalist Mark Lynas, author of The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans, describes the biodiversity boundary and how to bring nature into the economy.
Rick Prelinger, head of the Prelinger Archive, presents vintage footage of San Francisco’s world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Jesse Schell, CEO and Creative Director of Schell Games, applies Gartner's hype cycle to consumer reaction to the iPad, from inflated expectations, to disillusionment, all the way to the device finding its niche as a couch companion.
Artist Jem Finer discusses the inspiration behind his Longplayer, a collaborative music project intended to play for a thousand years.
Pamela Ronald explores the controversy surrounding labeling genetically modified food.
She calls the current system of labeling "complete marketing" and advocates for a system where everything from pesticides to proteins are included on a label.
Futurist Peter Schwartz argues that bringing Earth back to it's prehistoric climate would result in abrupt global warming and war.
Photographer Rachel Sussman presents an image of what is most likely the oldest living thing on planet Earth: a specimen of actinobacteria, found in Siberian permafrost. The bacteria are about 500,000 years old, and in danger of extinction due to climate change.
Archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo discuss the cataclysmic impact European contact had on the natives of Easter Island.
Laura Welcher, director of the Rosetta Project, announces the digital release of the Rosetta Disk. The original Rosetta Disk contains 13,000 pages of information etched onto a small metal disk and cost $25,000 to make. This version is available for free, online.
Found footage showcases the flight of the Wright Brothers' original plane design over the undeveloped Sunset District in San Francisco.
Paul Saffo asserts that one key to good technology forecasting is valuing failure. He explains, "most ideas take twenty years to become an overnight success." Saffo cites Silicon Valley and Second Life as examples.
Founder Brewster Kahle discusses the inner workings of the Internet Archive's most famous service, the Wayback Machine. He explains that in addition to providing users a dose of nostalgia, it can also be used to prevent people from rewriting history.
Bestselling author Tim Ferriss scoffs at Malcolm Gladwell's theory that most people can master a skill in 10,000 hours, quipping, "For most people, they do things the wrong way." However, argues Ferriss, given enough practice, most people have the capacity to excel at a variety of skills.
Political theorist Benjamin Barber gives examples of some of the rapidly developing ideas shaping the future of cities, including glocality, seasteads, and 'space miles.'
How has the mass production of images and video affected the nature and significance of sexual fantasy? Sex blogger Violet Blue argues that sex has always been highly visual, suggesting that the proliferation of pornography is merely an extension of natural tendencies.
Wade Davis, author of The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, contrasts Western perception of the Inuit as "savages" with the endless inventiveness he sees in their way of life. "The Inuit didn't fear the cold; they took advantage of it," he says.
Futurist Peter Schwartz talks with Wikipedia CTO Danese Cooper about whether or not there's hope for humanity's future. Cooper relates the story of a technologist who drives a Hummer because he views humanity as a lost cause, while Schwartz counters that a look back at history proves that "the pessimists have got it wrong; the optimists keep getting it right."
Wade Davis, author of The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, criticizes the United States for viewing technological prowess as the only sign of progress.
"Climate change should finally teach us that we're not the paragon of humanity's potential," he says.
Kevin Kelly, co-founding editor of Wired, speculates that science will advance faster in the next 50 years than it has in the last 400.
Wikimedia CTO Danese Cooper describes the demographic that contributes to wikipedia articles -- mainly white males in their early twenties.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, chair of Harvard University's Advanced Leadership Initiative, argues that national service and core volunteers unite diverse communities.
Why do we wait for an all-out crisis to change our behavior, when this habit has proven itself consistently disastrous over the course of human history? Katherine Fulton, president of the Monitor Institute, cites organizational theorist Edgar Schein's observation that people don't change until their fear of survival exceeds their fear of learning.
Theoretical physicist Geoffrey B. West offers his view on the government bailout of "too big to fail" banks. He explains that while the bailouts were counterproductive from a Darwinian view of economics, it was also symptomatic of a wider governmental ignorance concerning science.
"The people making decisions rarely talk to scientists," says West. "They do talk to economists, which may be the problem."
Sex columnist Violet Blue and poet John Perry Barlow weigh the political ramifications of Blue's "sex-positive" URL shortening service, vb.ly, being shut down by its Libyan domain registrar, Libyan Spider.
Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media, discusses what he sees as the problem with online privacy activists and their attempt to close down the global mind. He argues that the future of the Internet lies in sharing and openness, and that too much privacy will limit its potential.
Linguist Lera Boroditsky explains that the euphemism "freedom fries" never took off because this type of word substitution is based on an illogical theory of how cognition and language relate to one another.
Musician Brian Eno and video game designer Will Wright demo how generative systems can be harnessed by digital technology to create music and art. "You make seeds rather than forests," says Eno.
Science journalist Carl Zimmer explains how viral infections throughout history have affected the human genome. Viruses make up "about 8 or 9 percent" of our genome says Zimmer. Startlingly, human childbirth would not be possible without a viral mutation.
Building on his theory that creative collisions of people from differing fields spur innovation, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh envisions remodeling elevators into social hubs that will encourage communication and innovation.
Tony Hsieh talks about his time at LinkExpress - how it succeeded, when it didn't, and why he sold it to Microsoft and joined Zappos.
Marine biologist Tierney Thys shares the results of a NASA study that reports glaciers in West Antarctica are melting, and will result in ocean level rises as well as impacting ecosystems throughout the arctic.
Adam Steltzner projects how humans might be able to make a home beyond the confines of the Earth, but questions the motivations for such an endeavor.
Richard Kurin, The Smithsonian Undersecretary for Art, History, and Culture, decodes the gold cap on Benjamin Franklin's walking stick and its symbolic representation of the founding of the United States at the Long Now Foundation Seminar About Long-Term Thinking.
Renowned marine biologist and explorer Sylvia Earle argues we need to protect the ocean like our lives depend on it, because it does. Earle says understanding and protecting the ocean is our "life support system".
Climate scientist at the University of Cologne Stefan Kröpelin presents his findings of sediment from the Ounianga Lakes that shows every seasonal climate for the past 11,000 years.
Filmmaker and archivist Rick Prelinger shows a film from the 1960s of San Francisco Giant fans leaving candlestick park.
Once the most abundant species of bird in the world, passenger pigeons were hunted to extinction in only a few decades. But as Stewart Brand explains, scientists are now close to bringing the bird back from the dead.
Economist Mariana Mazzucato, author of The Entrepreneurial State, argues that green technology and IT will rock the economy as much as "suburbanization," mass production, and electrification.
Brian Eno, composer and co-founder of the Long Now Foundation, argues that this generation needs to fix problems here on Earth before figuring out ways to land on other planets.
Danny Hillis and Brian Eno discuss the design problem of constructing a clock to last for 10,000 years when the changes in climate over such a long period are unpredictable.
Economist Mariana Mazzucato, author of The Entrepreneurial State, describes how all of the "revolutionary" technologies that went into making the iPhone were made possible by government funding and research.
A History of the Future in 100 Objects author Adrian Hon describes the appeal of imagining the continuation of history forward from today and the objects that may come to define the 21st century.